Obituaries tell you in black and white all the facts. But it’s just the facts. Back in the day when my mother died, they were horrible things. They mostly just listed the survivors — as if managing to live when someone else in your family had just died was worthy of getting your name in the paper.
At least now they talk a bit more about The Life. The Joy. The Vision. All The Gifts we hope linger and rise to the surface after the grief passes. All the Real Things our Life has meant.
For none of us want to be remembered for those hard last moments of our Lives. Transition is an incredibly difficult process. It can take a soul within themselves and leave loved ones to their own coping devices. Our culture is horrible at understanding it and supporting families and individuals through it.
We want those who love us to remember our Life, to remember we were more than the end days, to remember the part when we were busy living — not busy dying.
We want them to remember all the times we showed up. All the times there was laughter. All the times there was love.
We want them to remember the comfort of our arms, the twinkle in our eyes, the crookedness of our smile, our too big for our face nose.
We want them to remember the sound of our voice- murmuring comfort, raised in song, or laughing with joy.
We want them to remember the smell of us, the taste of us, the feel of us, our very presence near them.
Because all of that will never leave them.
These pieces of ourselves we leave with those who love us walk with them long after we have gone on to The Next Thing.
You can’t put that in an obituary. You can’t put the lived experience of knowing, loving and burying someone in black and white.
But eventually — when grief loosens its stranglehold upon your heart — you can walk towards the place where you can sit and remember The Life Well Lived. All The Things we want to be remembered for. All The Important Things to All The Important Humans who loved us in our Life. We can remember this about the people we have loved who have gone on.
We can let ourselves feel their presence wrap around us. We can lift our faces to the scent of them on the breeze. We can smile to the echo of their laughter in our ears.
We can know that A Life Well Lived isn’t written in the black and white lines of an obituary — it’s written in the hearts of every Life we touched.
Dedicated with much love — to the mothers who have left behind daughters who remember. ❤