I run five days a week and regularly work-out in the gym. I try to pass up the fatty sugars and eat healthy. (Ice cream is my downfall.) I even try to maintain work-life stress balance.
In the end, however, I will die.
So will you. We all will.
An eternal truth
I know that’s pretty morbid, but it’s a fact of life. There’s no getting around it. I’ve reached the point in my life where I think it’s silly to avoid the obvious.
Yes, I certainly hope death doesn’t come knocking for a long, long time. I’d throw a few more “long, long, long times” in there for emphasis if I could, but it’s a waste of time and energy to run from the truth. Instead, I’ve decided to take a different tact. I can’t control my death. I hope it’s well into the future, but if it happens, it happens. I have limited control on the when, but I can make each day count and to communicate to my family how I want to be ushered out when my time comes. (And even then I don’t have real control, but I can at least offer a few suggestions.)
What’s my request: I want a party.
‘Come on and sing along, All night long’
Yes, I want a good ole party. I want lots of family pictures hung up, maybe even a few of my stories and posts. In the immortal words of Lionel Richie, I want people laughing and celebrating “all night long.” I want them to break bread together, share a drink or two, and reminisce and tell stories.
I want my friends to tell silly stories about the stupid things I’ve done, like the time I went along with my block-headed college fraternity brothers and tried to take a shortcut to another friend’s apartment by climbing over a barbed wire fence in shorts and boat shoes. It’s a long story best told on another day, but the short version is that I spent a good portion of the next day in the ER and have yet to live down the story.
I want my wife to tell the story of how we met. I want her too to tell the story of how I nearly let the cat out of the bag on my plans to propose one fall day outside of a greasy dinner in my hometown. She wasn’t sure whether to laugh or to cry. I’ve never been a great schmoozer, but thank God I was able to talk my way out of that one
The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow
But most of all, I want people to dance, talk, celebrate and, dare I say, to be happy. I get that I sound ghoulish, but my Catholic faith tells me that I have a better life in front of me. It tells me that Christ has planned a room for me.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” (John 14-1-3)
If people can’t be happy, then I want to try to breath some fresh air into their lives ala the scene from “Love Actually” when Liam Neeson’s character follows through on his wife’s dying wish to play the Bay City Rollers song “Bye, bye baby” as they carry her casket off to the cemetery. Or even the scene in “P.S. I Love You” where Hilary Swank’s character and friends mourn the loss of Irishman Jerry with The Pogues rousing “Fairytale of New York” and a shot of whiskey.
In fact, most deaths years ago used to have some element of that. The custom for mourners attending wakes in Celtic countries in Europe used to be to keep watch or vigil over their dead until they were buried.
A lengthy and long bucket list
No, no, let me perfectly clear, I don’t want to leave anytime soon. I worry about Heaven and Hell and I still have too many things I want to see and do. I have hopes and dreams. I have a family I love and adore. I have personal goals for myself that I want to achieve. I want to give back to my community. I have milestones I want to celebrate. I want to see my kids graduate. I want to celebrate weddings. I want a long life. I want to grow old with my wife. I want to be that old guy that helps his wife put her coat on when they get up to leave a restaurant. I want to be that old couple that holds hands on the twin rocking chairs. I want a long and happy retirement.
But I also think it’s wrong of me to say, “hey, this is the best that it will get.” My faith tells me that more exists.
Cheers and pass the pasta salad
I’m sure I’m jaded by the handful of funerals I’ve attended over the past three months — all for friends and acquaintances taken way too soon from this life — and I understand I’ve taken a contrarian viewpoint.
When my time comes though, I want people to be happy for me. I want them to have a celebration of life. In short, I hope they remember me, pray for my soul and keep my family in their thoughts in their time of need. I want my friends and family to know that I cared about them, that I loved them, and that I’m in God’s capable hands.
Yes, I’m a little crazy, but whatever can help my family to move on, I’m all for it. And in the end, I suspect we could all use a little happiness in our lives. We could all use a party.