Grateful Dead


Good morning, my friends. I have my second cup of coffee, I’ve responded to your comments on other posts, and now I’m ready to hit you with something serious this morning. Yes, I’m afraid it’s necessary. It’s something you need to hear, and you may need to act on it right away, depending on your circumstances.

I’ve been writing lately about those who are less fortunate, who sometimes suffer so much that they want to take their own lives. They are hopeless, helpless and feel that being dead, stopping the pain, would be the best way out of a life that they see as torture and a burden that weighs heavily on them. They see death as a friend, or at least a business partner, and they welcome it too early.

The rest of us, bustling through our lives, working our jobs, raising our families, making our money, buying our stuff, don’t see death this way. We fear it. It is terminal, after all, and we don’t want this sweet ride to end. This time with children, grandchildren, traveling, learning, gardening, swimming, feeling the summer sun hot and good on our faces should never end for us.

We don’t welcome death. We push it away. We hide it under a big stack of fluffy plush towels. We put it in a cardboard box, tape it shut and stack it with the others in the garage.

Death is coming, my friends.

For some of you, soon. For others of you (and I hope to include myself in this group!) much, much later.

I’m going through a personal transition period in my life right now.

Part of that transition for me last week was redoing my last will and testament, power of attorney, and healthcare power of attorney documents.

Boy, the things that go through your head when you go through this process.

I thought of all the deaths I have experienced as a child, a teenager, a young man, a middle aged man. I, like some of you, have lost teachers, mentors, grandparents (all of them are gone), a father, a sister, close friends, acquaintances. The list is long. Too long.

I thought of the rest of my life. I will be fifty-six this October. I would love to live another thirty years. With the right mix of genetics, diet, exercise, stress reduction and avoidance of freak accidents, I might just make it.

I thought of what I will leave behind. No, no, not just physical things and money and stuff that folks can squabble over. My true legacy. What will it be? What will people say about me when I’m gone? Will anyone care that I’m gone? Will anyone miss me the day after I die? The week, the month, a year, fifty years after I die?

And of course, I thought about what the immediate aftermath of my passing will bring for my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. The pain, of course, the pain is inevitable. The heartbreak of losing someone close, whether they are stillborn or lost as a child or pass sweetly and quietly in their own bed at home at age ninety, surrounded by those they love.

I thought about all of this and more as I rewrote my last will and testament and the other documents that may make it just a little easier for my loved ones to let me go one day, when it’s time for that. I told them how to deal with it, what to do, where I want to be when life is over, and how to accomplish it all with a minimum of fuss.

I hope they follow my wishes, and I think they will. I hope they lay me to rest simply, quietly, with a soft whisper, a silent tear, and a heartfelt prayer. Then, I hope they celebrate my life and what it has meant to me, and to them, with the joy that only the ones that remain behind can know.

Yes, my friends, this is heavy stuff, but necessary stuff. First things first today. It is Monday, after all.

Make a will if you don’t have one.

Write down how you want your final chapter to be written.

You don’t want to make your loved ones guess how the story was supposed to end.

Have a great day, and I’ll see you right back here tomorrow.