Thursday, June 20, 2013

I am NOT dying

Let's just get that out of the way. I have no intention of dying anytime soon.

But I recently read this article about a prep-school teacher who tasked her 14-year old students with writing personal suicide notes based on the book they were reading, The Secret Life of Bees. Parents were livid. A friend of mine commented that "back in the day" she was given a similar assignment based on Romeo and Juliet and thought nothing of it. It's certainly a different world today.

I had often thought that if I ever had the opportunity to teach an upper level writing class (high school or above,) I would assign my students to write their own obituaries. What better way to dig deep into their souls and write about the topic that's one of the most difficult to write about - yourself.

What I'm getting to is this. So often we wait for something tragic to happen to tell people how much they mean to you. Or worse yet, important words are left unsaid, never to be heard by the ears that need to hear them most.

I recently "borrowed" a counseling session because I just needed an ear for an hour. I was overwhelmed. I had just lost my job, my mom had unexpected, life altering surgery, and I was struggling with trying to keep it together while still caring for my kids. As the counselor talked me down, he said something that I won't soon forget: "Keep short accounts." He kept repeating it. Keep short accounts. And while I understand this phrase has more to do with cleansing and forgiving, I think what he meant in addition to that was, "Don't leave anything important unsaid."

So I'm going to say it. Now. Before it's too late for anyone to hear it. Consider this a "suicide note for the living." Too personal for you? Check out now. Intrigued? You might make my list. 

Top props go to my parents: You guys have been through heaven and hell and back with this family and with each other, and you've survived over 55 years together. I hope you realize what a gift your marriage has been to your children. There are no two people in this world I more admire than you two, Mom and Dad. If I can ever be half of what the two of you are or find half the love and commitment that you both have for each other, I will consider myself truly blessed. You have my infinite love, respect and admiration.

To my oldest son: You were my first everything. You and I were a team in those early years, and I love every 6 feet 2+ inches of you, from the top of your long, curly-haired head to your gargantuan feet. You have been my challenge, but you have never ceased to make me proud of you. I never knew a mother's love could be so fierce and unconditional until I had you. During finals week, I sent you a note that said, "If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves." Astound yourself, son.You have already astounded me.

To my youngest son: You have given me a new outlook on life. You are kind, compassionate and genuine, and you make me look at the world differently with your warm heart and your caring outlook. I love that you still want me to snuggle with you, play basketball, toss the football, or watch you on the trampoline. I look at you and wonder what you will be, and hope the world doesn't jade you. You make me smile every single day. Never lose that light and that ability to see the good in people. You will make a difference in this world - you already have.

To the father of my children: I wish life had been different. I wish I had been able to roll with the changes. I wish we would have tried harder. But I know God put us together to create these two amazing kids, and I am so thankful that even though we are divorced, I can truly say that you are one of my best friends. Note that you still drive me absolutely crazy, so don't get too comfortable with that.

To my sister: I have looked up to you since I was a baby. I have never stopped. Know that I admire you so very much. I am so sorry for any bumps in the road we had along the way, but know this: I think you are an amazing mother, nurse and friend. You give of yourself so much every single day, and there is nothing you wouldn't do for someone you love. I am very lucky you are my sis.

To my younger brother: I am sorry I bullied you when we were little. You may laugh, but I carry that in my heart every day and will take it to my grave. You are one of the smartest people I know, and you have a heart of gold. You, too, would do anything for anyone - and you do. You are more like your father than you realize, and I would be very lucky to find someone like you (who obviously wasn't my brother.)

To my older brother: You have taken care of me when I needed it most, whether you knew it or not. I so respect you for what you have achieved over the course of your life, but most importantly, for the parent you are. How many daughters can say that their dad is their best friend? You are an AMAZING dad and that will be your legacy on this earth. Thank you for your humor and your wisdom - I cherish both of them.

To my friend who has been there for me like no other for so many years (you know who you are): Who would have known when I came into the neighborhood that I would haunt you for years to come? You are my rock - a shoulder to cry on (and I've drenched it for sure), a confidante (we can never fight because we have too much dirt on each other) and the person I can laugh my ass off with. You are the epitome of a great friend and you have never, ever let me down. I can only hope that I am half the friend to you that you are to me.

To the redhead who tells it like it is: Who knew life would put us together? You are WAY wiser than your years and one of the funniest people I know. You keep me grounded and have been there for me whether it be at the next desk or via iChat. You will have an amazing life. I admire you more than you know.

To the friends I've made over the past few years: I cherish you. I really do. I so want the very best for you. From the blond with the baby on the way to the mom of the sweetheart who's just been born, to the matriarch and all the CO gang, to the woman who found this house I call home to the crazy, loveable KJo fanatic and all the friends I communicate with on Facebook who keep me laughing, I adore all of you. I am not the kind of person to have a ton of friends, and I think I've hit the jackpot with the few I have in my circle. You guys rock.

To the ex I'm still getting over: You warrant mention only because I want you to know that I was all in. ALL IN. But I wasn't as high on your priority list as you were on mine. Simple as that. I know you'll never understand that, and that's OK. But I wasn't going to do it again to play second (or third, or fourth) fiddle. I'll wait, thanks. All the money in the world won't compare to having someone by your side when you're old. I'd rather be broke and loved than rich and alone. But I sure did love you. 

To my dog: I don't know why I have you. I am convinced God crossed our paths. You're the perfect dog for me, and even thought I don't let it on, there is nothing better than walking into an empty house and having you bound up to me with that wagging tail and big old drooly grin. Love ya, Domino.

There you have it. Lovefest done. Am I embarrassed? A little. But I know if my writing doesn't scare me a little, it's not worth writing. And this is worth writing.

Keep short accounts. Go. Do it. Whether you write it, say it, or sky write it. Say it now. Why not make the people whom you love feel good now? You may never get a chance to say it in the end. To me, having the ones I love NOT know how I feel about them would ultimately be the true tragedy.

1 comment:

  1. Well said. I had to write a 5-year plan for a college class; I made it my obituary, which I thought quite clever. I died living abroad, riding the bestseller list with my first novel. It didn't happen in five years and if it's gonna happen that way I have work to do. And a bigger move to make than the one in two weeks.


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