This is not a letter of good bye. No, I am not in a dark, scary place, thinking about ending my life. Not today. Today I am pondering about life.
Life and death. Death and life. It is a rather intimate relationship; life and death. You can’t have one without the other. Some would add unfortunately, I say thankfully. If there is one thing I value highly it is the freedom to chose wether I am alive or dead. The day I am stripped of that choice is the day I will crumble and fall deep down that hole and never be able to come back up. I should say die right? Yeah, well, I want to have the choice to be able to die, not to live.
My parents are getting old now. I was sitting down a few weeks ago with them, around the kitchen table actually, and talked about what kind of funeral they would like. It would be very surreal if not we had done this procedure 20 years ago when my father was going in to the hospital for a brain surgery with a very uncertain outcome. That time I was in a state of chock and couldn’t really process his words about my uncle holding the sermon, what organist would play a specific psalm or that my other uncles and brother were to carry the coffin. He would like the quintet I was playing in at the time to perform but he understood if I couldn’t manage. I just nodded and smiled. This time however it was different.
My father is a very grounded man with a lot of common sense. He knows that he isn’t immortal. He’s been close to death more than once and he is aware of the fact that he is nearer to death than he is to birth. He has seen a lot of dead people through out his years as a crime scene investigator (and some before that as a “regular” police detective) and he is sure of one thing; he’s grateful that he has lived as long as he has.
My mother on the other hand refuses to admit that she is old. Every little hint that she could be dead tomorrow makes her just as defensive as the most aggressive hockey player in Canada.
That’s what I had to deal with when I carefully raised the subject. My dad and I have talked about it before, in lighter words. He and I have the same kind of morbid humor so it’s easy to talk about serious subjects with him. My mom doesn’t understand me at all. Well, it’s safe to say that she tried to change the subject more than once but he who prevails shall win in the end. Long story short; they know they are not gonna live forever and now I know that they are both writing down how they want me (and my brother who will be of very little help because he is totally convinced our parents will survive both him and me, and our spouses and children) to handle their funeral arrangements. I’m grateful, I don’t think they want to be buried the way I want to be.
Funerals yeah, that is a rather sad business. I understand that people are sad when someone they love dies. And it is okey obviously. You should cry. A lot. But, I want my funeral to be a big party. Sing a happy song too. Like in Love Actually. Make it awkward. I make people awkward all the time so why not keep doing it all the way into the afterlife. At least have a nice afterparty with wine, hors d’oeuvres and popcorn. Celebrate life instead of mourn death.
I wish I could give some of those thoughts to especially my mother so she could find some peace in the fact that she is old but she is just stressed out about this whole thing. Right now they are death cleaning the house so that me and my brother doesn’t have to do it when they are gone. I’d rather they let us kids do the cleaning for them, then sell that huge place and travel for the money or at least drink red wine on the patio at some little condo somewhere nice and warm.
Maybe I change my mind about this whole life and death when I get older. Maybe I am the one refusing to let go of life, rushing around in the basement death cleaning (I doubt it, I hate to clean and I am way to attached to my stuff so I can’t really throw anything away which make me more or less useless when it comes to death cleaning) and talking about funerals with my kids. Who knows what will happen in the future. Right now I just want my funeral to be a huge party where people are allowed to eat as much popcorn as they like.
And when I’m gone, just carry on, don’t mourn…