At my funeral, I have a few small requests. If you don’t mind, I’ll share them now.
I’d like you to bring food for the local food bank
And a piece of art, good art, art with soul, for the local shelter.
You brought gifts to me for so many birthdays
And Christmas days and Mother’s days
Why not on this day
Only this time for someone in need?
I’m downsizing anyway.
I’d like to you cry real tears of heartfelt sadness
Because it was good, and it is no more, at least not in that same way
And the goodness it was, the goodness shared between us
deserves to be honored in all its depth.
None of this don't cry for me stuff
You go ahead, you cry. I will, too.
But I'd also like you to cry great tears of happiness
Because I’m sure as sure can be that I'm going to be right there
With you, proof positive life goes on, even if you can’t see me
Even if you don’t know the “for sure” part yet.
You can rest assured I'm resting, assured.
I'd like you to see my dead body with your own eyes, if you don't mind
Unless it's out of the question for reasons too morbid to consider.
It's a thing I have, about not seeing death
And how much harder it is to understand life.
It's good, too, because you'll see I'm not there
That this body-house was always only rented, never owned.
Finally, I ask this for very personal reasons
Because of all the nights I allowed myself to imagine my little brother Ricky
And how maybe he didn't really die, and how I wish I'd seen at least his feet
Touched, at least, his feet, so I would have known for sure.
Now, when you come to the after party
(And that is what I’d like you to call it)
I’d like you to bring a dish of organic food
That you cooked yourself, and even better, that you grew yourself, too
Like my beloved Brian does for me now.
I realize this may mean you have to come empty handed
And there may not be enough to go around
And yes, indeed, there may be hungry people
Sitting in their sadness
But that’s okay.
Consider it my last teaching.
When you lay me in the ground
(I’m all for burning first, that being both eco-friendly and cheaper
But my bones have missed the earth they came from
And I already know you won’t have honored my request
To be left whole-hog in the desert for the birds)
Be sure to notice the breeze
And raindrops, if there should be some
Or sunshine, or clouds
And remember when I said it’s all good
How I emphasized the ALL
As what made it good.
And when you return home
To your table and chairs, to your bed without me
And see those little details around you that hold my touch
(You know, the ones you never noticed much before)
When they grab you by the throat
And mallet-pound your heart
And buckle you at the knees
Let them do that, please.
Let them grab, let them pound, let them buckle.
Feel, my lovelies, FEEL
For that is me, taking up new residence
In the memory places of your body
That is me, shifting from who I was
To who I will forever be
That is me, lending strength to your voice.
That is me, bringing courage to your heart.
That is me, adding bend to your knees, and fortitude to your walk.
Okay, so these are probably
Not such small requests after all.
What can I say?
At least I've given notice.