I'm neither a morbid person nor one who thrives on the macabre, but my health struggles do make me ponder my physical mortality. I once saw a TV show about a creative writing/speech class where the university students were to write their own obituaries and present their own eulogies. I have said for a long time that my death really wouldn't matter much. It still may not, but if the success of conquering my health struggles helps other people, the failure to conquer them would cause potential harm. For me, dying at 41 would definitely spell failure.
If I died tomorrow, my obituary would read:
Life celebration services for Miss Shannon Maddox, 41, will be held at 2:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville with the Reverends Timothy Harper and Derek Staples officiating along with music provided by the worship teams of Faith Temple Christian Center and First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. The family will receive visitors an hour before the service. Miss Maddox died at her Jacksonville residence. She is proceeded in death by her niece, A. Wade, and her father, M. Maddox. She is survived by her mother D. Maddox, her brothers M. Brewster, M. Brewster (Laura), T. Maddox (Marie), and D. Maddox; her sisters M. Cox (Jerry), M. Wade, L. Barlow, C. Bradford (Bernard), I. Guzman (Ramon), and a host of nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews. Known as "Auntie" by those who knew her, Miss Maddox was an artist, musician, writer and Bible teacher. In lieu of flowers please send donations to Sav-A-Life of Calhoun County, Calhoun County Community Band, or to Jacksonville Christian Academy.
Pretty plain and ordinary, huh? Is "life celebration" too much?--I want it to be a happy occasion, not a sad one. Anyway, I don't have enough chutzpa to write my own eulogy. I think it would sound too much like I was running for office instead of lying dead in a box--or in an urn waiting to be sprinkled on the Ladiga Trail if everybody's broke. So, I'll just list some requests:
- Play upbeat praise music the whole time. There will be someone around who knows what I like. BTW--if anyone even suggests playing I Can Only Imagine, please punch them in the face. I liked that song when it first came out, but I've had to play or hear it at so many funerals I'm tired of it. I really don't think MercyMe intended the song as a funeral anthem.
- Wear cheerful colors. This is a celebration of either my life or a celebration that I'm dead. Either way, dress the part.
- If I'm in a box instead of an urn, bury me in something white. I was never a bride on earth, so dress me to meet my Prince of Peace.
- Also, I want to have my Bible in one hand and my crochet hook and a paint brush in the other. My bass guitar is too big to be buried with--give it to the church for the new person playing.
- I tried not to live my life so that the preacher would have to lie at my funeral, so keep it real.
I don't think I'm asking too much...
03/24/2018 Update: The answer is yes, I am asking too much. In the nearly four years since I wrote this, I have been disturbed by my own scribblings. How arrogant, how self-serving, how presumptuous of me to even dream that anyone would attend my funeral.
BTW--I am now 45 years old and I still feel like dying this young makes my life a failure. That in itself is a reason to keep on living.
First and foremost, if I died today, someone would have to delegate my emergency fund to pay for the cheapest funeral possible. The most cost-efficient for everyone is to cremate me (not my first choice, but it's cheap) and dispose of my remains with no service or flourish. Don't even waste the money on a fancy urn, put my ashes in a pickle jar, a pork 'n bean can, a barbeque grill, whatever.. I don't care. I'll be with Jesus, so I can finally cease to care about what anyone thinks.
Second, I'm in a new home, job, and church with no place, no name, and no community. Both them and those back home will be simply done, not sad. No one is obligated to come 1400 miles or more or even across town to watch a pickle jar be buried in the ground.
I apologize for my arrogance. I regret even believing that I should expect so much in death when I've not earned it in life.
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