My wife and I went to a funeral yesterday. I hate funerals. This one was at a Catholic church, and I had almost forgotten how somber and full of rituals funerals are within Catholicism. I don’t have anything against it all… It’s just not my cup of tea. I’d prefer my funeral to be an all-out party.
My wife and I have agreed that we don’t want our funerals to be an occasion for sadness and “silent reflection.” Sure, someone is going to be sad. If either of us survives the other, the odds are good that, one, we didn’t kill the other, and two, we’re going to be sad. But we don’t want the sadness to be compounded by a somber mass full of people wearing dark clothes.
On the contrary, I want people to sit around and chat. I want them to talk to each other and remember the good times — and, why the hell not, the bad times — that they spent with me. I want someone to log into this blog and pick a random post and read it in a funny Mexican accent. Maybe someone else can make a compilation of my YouTube videos and play them.
Maybe someone can have an animated GIF on a loop?
Because, let’s face it, death is a sad thing, and I’ve always confronted sadness with humor, with laughter. I’ve made fun of myself or the situation that is causing the sadness. So why would I want someone to be sad at my funeral?
This is not everyone’s cup of tea, of course. Some people really do need — or want — that silent contemplation of what it means when a life ends. But my wife and I? We’re all about truly celebrating life, and we’ve agreed that we’re celebrating the sh*t out of each other’s life if we should be so unlucky as to go before the other.
With all that said, however, I really don’t want to die. I know it is going to happen, and I know that it has to happen, but I don’t want it to happen. And that’s probably why I write so damn much. It’s my way of putting down all of my knowledge — and wisdom — so that others can open up a random post of mine and read my words. In a way, through sharing what I’ve learned in life, I think I might live forever…
That desire to continue to exist on one way or another is what draws me toward teaching, mentoring, etc. At the funeral today, everyone was quick to mention how much the person who died meant to others as a teacher (and a healer). Her work would be remembered not just by friends and family members but by colleagues and her patients alike.
I want that. I really, really do.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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