I’ve reached that point in my life where people I know are starting to die.
Of course, there were others who died back when I was young. But youth and little personal connection meant a somber night at the funeral home because I had to not because I cared. As I grew older there was the occasional unexpected demise of a casual friend or associate but never some-one close enough to move my heart.
I guess I became more aware of my own mortality and that of others when my early morning sidekicks began to pass away. It was those scholars of teenage bliss and angst. My early morning rock and roll companions who trudged with me through twenty-below-zero snow banks to deliver the morning newspaper. They sang to me though my transistor radio and told me all about love and loss and my best years ahead.
One of my favorite song-writing poets died recently. Leonard Cohen spoke to me in a dozen different voices and languages; all of which tugged at my heart and soul.
Now even some folks closer to me, in-laws, parents and relatives have passed on. No one is fixin to die but it’s coming around for all of us. My next door neighbor died a couple of weeks ago. We weren’t close and he wasn’t very friendly but we talked occasionally and joked and philosophized about the world. Now he’s gone too.
Like most past generations, death was one of those topics that seldom if ever was addressed among my relatives. It was never broached in my immediate family when I was growing up. Through either a reticence to admit the inevitable, fear, or abject denial the topic was seldom broached. People grew old, got sick and died. Then someone had to write their obituary.
Strange though it might sound, I’ve always admired those folks with the foresight and fortitude to write their own obituaries.
I think it would be a challenge yet immensely rewarding to write an open honest obituary. I believe a funeral should be the time of celebrating a life well led. A finely crafted obituary can share with friends and strangers happy memories over sadness. It forces the writer to address one key question: what is my legacy? What did I do here on earth to warrant the pride and hopefully the gratitude of my peers, friends, family, and others?
All those thoughts and more have been compiled in yet another file folder for a future musical play I’ve love to write. It’s about a funeral and the celebration that takes place there.
Since none of us have the advantage of knowing how long we’re going to live, I think it’s important to reflect on what we can do now that we’re still alive. Beyond the standard of having a will, staying healthy and exercise, I do have a few more thoughts.
We should each day as if it is our last. Not in a morbid kind of way but rather a daily celebration of the wonder of life and friends and family all around us. Helping others even in the most simplest of ways can mean everything to someone else. And lastly, follow your dreams whatever they are. As the cliché goes, life is too short to live it any other way.