Monday, May 4, 2009

Classified Information

Peaceful journeys, Domenico, Kaz, and Olga.

May your path be an easy one, Patricia, Yamina and Erica.

Rest well, Evelyn, John, Susan and Cecil.

And thus goes another of the Baroness' daily rituals - the reading of the obituaries. Of investing the whole 5 minutes or so a day that it takes to acknowledge that a person's life has ended, and to honor them by reading the oh-too-brief synopsis of their full, robust lives.

Do you think this is weird?

Most of my friends do.

Until we have "the chat".

You know the one?

The one where we sit and I try to rationalize my fascination with obituaries, and where they sit and stare at me, silently thinking "what the hell was I thinking, ever aligning myself with such a whack-a-doodle?".

Don't get me wrong here.

I'm not fascinated with death. I've had my cha-cha with mortality, and that's enough to do me for, oh, about another 40 years or so (32.92 more years according to actuarial data for 2010).

What I am fascinated by is life. Everyone's life. Because everyone, bar none, has a story. A story so worthy of telling and retelling. A story that brings each and every one of us from the cradle to our final place of rest.

I am in awe of how a life, no matter how spectacular or dreary, can be distilled down into an inch or so of type.

How does one decide what to put in? Who makes this decision? Has the deceased had the foresight to sketch out the broad strokes, so that no pertinent information is overlooked?

Oftentimes, the announcement is a creation of the director of the funeral home. They glean as much information as they sensitively can from the bereaved family, then awkwardly fill in the blanks from their standard lexicon of too-safe and stoic/tactful phrases. These are no poets, my friends.

Which is why we are left with a plethora of "Jane Smith, passed away peacefully....".

(I have already apprised my family that, when the time comes, should they put pen to paper and even dare to think to write the words "passed away peacefully", I will haunt their sorry asses for all eternity. Hell hath no fury like a Baroness scorned. )

(Peacefully, my ass.)

And while I acknowledge fully that death is a sacred rite, I just want to know why all of that good juicy information is often completed eclipsed by such a phone-it-in, trite opener.

Every once in a while, there is a tribute so original, so heartfelt, so obviously pouring over with love, I am deeply saddened that I never got the opportunity to cross paths with this glorious being.

I remember a conversation I had once with a friend while we were at a funeral. During the eulogy, we learned things about this person that neither of us were ever remotely aware of.

"Why", she wondered,"does it take us sitting here today to learn all of these amazing things about our friend?"

"Why couldn't we have honored these accomplishments, these attributes, these talents, while they were still alive?"

Why indeed.

Perhaps its time to cast a loving glance onto the lives of those who we think we know so well.

There may be some pretty praise-worthy classified information waiting for us to discover.


Grace said...

I agree with you 100%. I love reading the obituaries ... The quick glimpses into people's lives. To me it is a way to honour them. It seems that only really good people die!

Anonymous said...

Kinda sad and strangely ironic,
Today marks the day of the 1 year anniversary of my friend's mothers death.
I know this has nothing to do with what you posted, but still a little weird that your post has to do with death when death is at the forefront of my day today.

Leah's random thought for today.

♥~♥ Tracey ♥~♥ said...

Well said. So, what are you hiding from us that we won't discover till your funeral? Tell all.

Mental P Mama said...

I have even gone so far as to cut my favorites out. I have them in their own special folder. Swear.

RiverPoet said...

You know, I wrote my daughter's obituary, the program for the funeral, and the eulogy (which I also delivered). Like you, I didn't want a "phone it in" style of obit/eulogy. No one knew her like we did.

The thing is, it isn't easy. When you're slammed to the ground by grief, writing anything becomes nearly impossible. It was so worth it, though. My daughter was seen as truly special because we loved her enough to do that.

Peace - D

baronessvonb said...

Countess Grace: And do your friends find that odd? If not, maybe I should meet them...

Countess Schmee: Aw, honey. It doesn't seem like a year, does it? The fact that you choose to remember and honor this day with her memory shows great depth and caring on your part.

How is your friend doing? These anniversarys can be pretty tough.

Countess MPM: The more you say things like this, the more I think we were somehow separated at birth. I call dibs on your shoes. Sisters share, right?

Countess Tracey: If I revealed all, my mystique would be shot.

("ha - mystique!", she snorted).

I'm not very good at tooting my own horn. My hoo-hoo, yes. Horn, no.

Countess D: Just as I think of you and your family each day, and wish you peace and strength, I thought of you many times while mulling this piece over. I could have waited, but it's been rolling inside of me for weeks.

I have no doubt whatsoever that you, wonderful, eloquent RiverPoet, could only create the most heartfelt of tributes.

While I can't begin to comprehend the pain you faced in writing Stephanie's announcement, I know from the experience for both of my parents that this is one of the hardest tasks in the process - it's a responsibility that loved ones shouldn't have to endure.

But then maybe facing those thoughts, discussing them, reminiscing begins to infinitesimally start the healing.

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