Few things in life cause a person to contemplate their own mortality more than the death of someone they’re close to.
My friend, Kathy, was only ten years old when her parents were killed in a drunk driving accident. Needless to say, death sort of hardwired itself into her head at such an early age. That explains why at the back of every journal or diary she ever had she wrote out her funeral plans. They changed a bit over the years. Those plans got more specific at a certain point in her life.
Irony stepped in big time with Kathy when multiple myeloma kicked in. I hate irony. And I hate cancer. But those are two different topics altogether.
Having terminal cancer will bring up the topic of death and dying in an unrelenting way. Kathy and I chatted about it the way most people talk about plans for the weekend. Mostly I was always in denial. She never was. Not ever.
Why do I bring up Kathy? It’s been two years today since she passed away. Two years to think about her, to avoid thinking about her, to process what she taught me, to avoid processing what she taught me. Have I come to any conclusions? No.
I know this much. She wouldn’t want me moping around and being gloomy. She’d want me to celebrate life and live it large and crazy. She’d kick my butt if she thought I was sad in the least bit today.
So, fine. I won’t mope or mourn. I will, however tell you the two things that keep popping into my head.
The weirdest of the two is a Stevie Wonder song. As far as I remember she wasn’t a big fan of Stevie. It’d make more sense if a Beatles song kept running through my mind. But no, no Beatles. It’s this one:
“I just called to say I love you.”
At first I thought that’s what I’d say to her if I could call her up in heaven, collect, of course, and have a chat. “Hey girl! What’s up? I just called to say I love you.” After all that’s how I’d say goodbye whenever I left her house. “Love you! I’ll see you later.” It’s even how I said goodbye the last time.
But then, I thought, maybe she’s trying to call me! Now there’s an idea, huh? I’m sure they don’t get unlimited calls and texts from heaven, but maybe an occasional one on special occasions? Who knows. It could happen.
The other thought for today is from a photo I took on a snowy walk about three weeks ago. It’d be what she’d tell me to do. What she’d tell everyone she knows and loves to do.
She was always all about the happy.
So to honor her, I’ll try to be all about the happy, too.
And since we’re on the topic, I’d want to be remembered as a happy person too. But don’t go playing any Stevie Wonder songs at my funeral.