“So, I was thinking, I want you to be desperately unhappy when I die,” I say altogether too excitedly to Husband who doesn’t glance up from behind his menu. “Hmmm, do you think I should eat the fish? I probably should eat the fish,” I see Husband tapping his chin, clearly only concerned about the merits of the menu in his hand, knowing better than to take my bait. I continue, unperturbed by Husband’s preoccupation with filling his belly, “I mean it though. I don’t believe in all of this nonsense about people moving on after their spouse dies. And I don’t want you looking for a hot, new wife going around telling people ‘Its what Denira would have wanted, she would have wanted me to move on’. Uh-uh, now you know what I really want. I want you to spend the rest of your days being absolutely miserable.” I nudge my glass into his menu unsuccessfully trying to get his attention, “Oh my goodness, I love it. You’d be heartbroken and even if you gave one single thought to being happy, I’d swoop down on you to torment you for the rest of your life!” I finish with a flourish, giving up the nudging and choosing instead to finish the remainder of my drink. “So, what do you think?” I ask, my chin resting on my hands. I wait all of two seconds before I play the only card I know will work, “Heeey, are you even listening to me?” I pout, “This is important.” I finally have Husband’s attention when he lays down his menu and says, “Of course, I have. You said that you’d want me to be happy when you die. That I should move on and find a lovely new wife”. Husband smiles at himself before noticing my empty glass and calling the waiter over so that he can order us drinks in what he thinks is broken Portuguese but probably resembles no language known to mankind. “I wonder what this new wife of mine will look like” Husband says, his brow furrowed in concentration. At this point, I’ve had enough caipirinhas to find that impossibly cute instead of annoying and before I can respond a dreadlocked, barefoot hippy arrives to sing a surprisingly beautiful rendition of “Redemption Song”. Husband leans over to give me a kiss and says “Of course, I’d be miserable, I wouldn’t know what to do without you.” I roll my eyes, pretending I don’t believe what he says before I can’t help but smile. I squish Husband’s face between my hands and tell him that I knew I should have married rich to which he nods enthusiastically before ending the topic with a kiss and sip of his caipirinha.
If only all conversations that have the “when I die” precursor could be tied up with kisses and caipirinhas. But, most often I’m told that I’m morbid when I discuss my death. As if my desire to be pragmatic about things is morbid. I don’t know no one recognises my questions of “Do you want this teapot?” or “Who will love my books when I’m gone?” for what it is; a futile attempt at making me feel like I can control things posthumously. Seriously, you’d think there would be some gratitude here. I have a lot of things. Stupid things, sentimental things, things I should throw away. I have mountains of things and I worry that no one will never know the meaning of those things. Take the beautiful teapot that my grandfather gave me, it was my grandparent’s wedding gift and somehow when I look at it, it kills me to think of it ending up in a second-hand store where no one knows of the love that was shared between my grandparents. Don’t even get me started on my books, thinking of that keeps me up at night. Sometimes in a mad frenzy I run to my favourite books fervently whispering promises to write inside every one of them about how they have touched my life so that where ever they end up, people will know that they meant something, people will know that they held more than just the pages between their covers. But I digress, I know that I often do talk of death and that no one really wants to hear any of it but I was thinking about how we should all have funerals before we die. There can be nothing morbid about celebrating life, can there? We can call them Alive-als and we can have a catchy tagline like Alive-als: Putting the FUN in Funeral. No, I’m not a nutjob (well not a serious enough one to be institutionalised anyway), so hear me out on this one.
Maybe it’s the funeral playlist I’m creating, maybe it has something to do with me reading Tuesday’s with Morrie last year or maybe I’m being just a little self-serving but I would love to actually be at my funeral (yes the playlist is that epic). Truth be told, we always so much kinder when people die. You’d forget that I killed Lucy (Kerissa), or that I made fun of your handbag addiction (Natty), or that I couldn’t remember your name for the first couple of months I knew you (Husband). When I’m gone you’d miraculously remember all of the things you liked about me, of course you’d probably have to search deep, deep within yourself to actually remember that you liked me at all, but I think you’d get there, eventually. You’d also drop whatever you were doing to attend my funeral, the excuses you made during my life would mean nothing, you’d show up. Apart from all of the crying and sadness that usually accompanies a funeral, I can’t really think of a reason not to be alive at my own funeral. And no, not spiritually, I want to be alive to hear the kindness, to know that I meant something to you and that you’ll look after my books. I also want to be there to pour the tequila (what’s a funeral without tequila?) and to remind everyone to drink responsibly (in odd numbers). I almost want to invite people to my funeral so I can be corny enough to reply to questions about whether I’m dying by saying sagely “No, I’m not dying. I’m living.” I want to laugh and hug everyone I love and tell them how awesome they are just for showing up. I don’t know why, but I know we’ll be on a beach, laughing into the sunset and then waiting for the sun to rise with just the sound of the waves crashing for company. What I also love about this is that having a funeral while you’re still alive is a great way for those opportunist few to get one last crack at making into the will, so it’s really a win-win come to think of it. And I’m not trying to be extra here, I don’t want two funerals, just one, the one where I’m not dead yet. Doesn’t it make sense though, to actually celebrate someone’s life when they are alive? To know that when someone dies they die knowing how much you loved them, how big of an impact they had in your life and that more than anything, in this big, chaotic world, that they mattered to you.
When I actually do die, I want zero fanfare, just ship me off to the nearest crematorium, shed a tear from sadness or relief (your choice) and perhaps have a cup of a tea or a large drink. The main event should have been my life. So I’m planning my funeral, are you coming?