That’s right. The day you hear I have died, I want you to laugh. Feel free to start now, of course, but I’m talking about that time sometime in the future when I die, be it tomorrow, next year, or 15 years from now.
It’s not that I want to die anytime soon. It’s a wonderful life. I’m having a great time. I have had some incredible experiences and I certainly hope to live many more years before I die. But that’s not up to me. Consider this conversation overheard in a hospice:
Volunteer: How does it feel to know you’re dying?
Patient: How does it feel to pretend that you’re not?
My birthday yesterday reminded me I ‘m still alive — for now. One more spin around the sun. But this last spin of mine included the death of my brother, Scott, spiraling me off into a season of grief and contemplation of death. In a time of loss and grief, it becomes even more important to celebrate life while acknowledging we are all temporary here.
Death awaits us all. I find that being aware of that inevitability makes me appreciate every moment along the way that much more deeply. And I feel that appreciation most deeply when I remind myself to laugh despite life’s difficulties.
So, on the day you hear of my death, laugh loud and long for me. Cry for me, too, if you want. That’s perfectly appropriate. But I’d rather leave you laughing, so once that initial shock and pain subsides even a little — laugh. Remember something I said or something we did together. Anything to raise a smile and start you laughing. Shouldn’t be that hard. People tell me I’m a funny guy. Tell a funny story about me to someone else so they get to laugh that day, too. Pretty sure I left plenty enough funny stories to share.
I have passed this request on to my friends for years. More recently, I added another detail, this one regarding music for my memorial service. There’s a specific song I want as my exit music — “Cobwebs & Strange” by the Who (video below).
These are your marching orders then: have a “Cobwebs & Strange” hum-along march all around the yard or house, complete with crashing cymbals, if possible.
Am I serious? As serious as a heart attack. As serious as a rodeo clown distracting a rampaging bull from a fallen rider. Death is coming to us all. Grief overwhelms us all. Laughter in the midst of grief can remind us of the joy our lost loved one brought us, lifting the heavy burden of loss just for a moment, just a little bit. Laugh in the face of grief.
So, in the future, if you should hear that I have died, on that day, laugh loud and long for me. Tell a story or two to bring others along into the laughter as well. Cry if you want, but try to do that on your time, not mine.
Kazoos up, kiddos — let’s put some “fun” in my funeral!