Who do I want to be?
It’s three years in the future, and future me is dead. I am lying in an open faced casket. While this is how I am seen at that moment, it wasn’t how I was remembered. How I died was as important at this point as the black balloons, chosen flowers, and the black coordinating dress everyone wore as they stifled their cries.
My mother, the embodiment of strength I’ve always known her for, was called up to the podium to speak. She stared longingly at the open casket, as if waiting for me to wake up. As if I were only going about one of my many long naps. Everyone was quiet. She turned to the crowd, and began to speak, “My daughter, Ashlee. Asheepoo.” The was enough to cause her voice to crack. “She fought hard to stay alive when she was just an infant in my arms. Always positive. Always looking for the future. She was strong in ways I’ve always admired; I knew she was her mother’s daughter. Ash had a way about her to get wherever she was going, no matter what. She never let anyone stand in her way. She gave second chances, but never a third. She knew how to move on, so that when people she cut off looked back at her, they saw only the trail of success she left on her way up. And successful she was. Not just in her career, because she definitely worked hard in that, but also in her sense of adventure. She was going somewhere…” At that, my mother let out a small sob and buried her face into a handkerchief. Scottie, my partner, came up and held her by the elbow and laid a gentle hand on her back as he guided her back to her seat.
Next to walk to the podium was my sister. Beautiful and alive as ever. If anyone carried down the genes of strength of our mother, it was her. So strong, so proud. She looked tired from crying, but she wouldn’t let that sadness stop her from speaking today. “I remember,” she began, “coming home to find teenage Ashlee curled up asleep on the couch everyday after school. She loved sleeping. I think it’s from all this sleep that she really dreamed up the future and where she was going. We weren’t that close when she was a teenager, because after all, how many teenage sisters are? But not too long after she moved to Florida did we really start to connect. I loved finally having someone to talk to, who not only listened, but also understood. We lived different lives, but we were still one blood. Ashlee would check in, she always knew when something wasn’t right. She would tell you how it is, blunt – even if they weren’t the words you wanted to hear at the time. She didn’t coddle her opinion. But no matter what, she was in your corner. I now understand how sisters are the friendship that never fades. Even in her death, I know she is here in my heart. A part of me. That is how she would want to be remembered; as an integral and meaningful part of our lives that even in death never stopped beating passion and drive to push us forward in our own goals. So, Ash, this isn’t good bye – but see you later.”
Danielle sat down. A few other people got up and spoke. The list of speakers was long, so everyone was brief. Whether it was a memory from childhood, or school, or work – everyone wanted to say a word or two. My closest and best friends talked about or travels or high school. They talked about my love for life, even when I couldn’t quite see it myself.
Scottie’s turn came up to speak. His love for me was pure, and came out everyday in gestures, kindness, patience, and love. As I lay there in the casket, eyes closed, he laid a hand on my hand and wiped a tear from his eyes. Everyone loved Scottie, and it was easygoing to listen to him speak and be around him. Even if this moment of sadness and loss, he made everyone’s spirits rise. “Ashlee meant everything to me. When I saw her for the very first time, I knew that one day I would marry her. Which was a bit awkward, because she was married to someone else.” He said in jest, and a small laugh traveled through the crowd. “But I waited patiently from afar, as the only thing I truly cared about was her happiness. As her world at the time crumbled around her, and her marriage hopelessly fell apart, I waited. As I knew she would come out the other side just as strong and beautiful as I remembered. And she did. Not to say, unscathed. But that’s the world, isn’t it – it can be unkind and even cruel; but not Ashlee. She was kind, loving, patient, humble. She’d ask me everyday why I loved her so much, and I wish I had known the words to tell her then what I can see so clearly now. I loved her because she was bold, brave, strong. I loved her because she was quiet, sweet, and small. I loved her because she was loud, proud, and so smart.” He stopped to look at me again. “I loved her because no matter what she came up against, she came out on top. Never, ever letting the world harden her. She only wanted to be loved and to be love, and so she was.
So she was.”
—- Eulogy Writing Prompt from: —-
“Here’s a small mental exercise. Imagine that it’s three years in the future, and, sadly enough, you’ve passed away. Take a moment to visualize your own funeral. Imagine your loved ones – your partner, your best friend, maybe your dearest colleague – giving eulogies. Now ask yourself what you’d like them to say. What sort of person do you want to be remembered as? For what do you want to be remembered?” – The 7 Habits of a Highly Effective Person
A long winded post to say:
What sort of person do you want to be remembered as? Always positive. Always looking for the future. Forgiving, but not a doormat. An adventurer. Not afraid of a challenge or the unknown. Empathetic. Straight forward. Blunt. Supportive of others. Strong. Beautiful, inside and out.
For what do you want to be remembered? Pushes through hard times. Successful; not just in my career, but also in other aspects of my life. That my family and friends can count on me.