When I die…
Do not read Psalms 23.
(When the priest asked what he should read at my father’s funeral, it was the only thing I remembered, but found no comfort from it.)
I always think we should have played Three Dog Night’s Joy to the World.
Dad would have liked that.
So sing! Go ahead, sing at my funeral.
But no dirge please, and no nonsensical lyrics about heaven and angels, thank you very much.
For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Sing Green Day I hope you had the time of your life!
Or Simon and Garfunkel Time it was, and what a time it was…
cause every little thing gonna be all right
Read a poem.
One of Emily’s perhaps — she wrote often and unfearfully of death.
Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
Charge my mourners as Thoreau charged:
that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of
our friend’s life also, in our own, to the world
Carve Edna on my tombstone:
I would I were alive again
To kiss the fingers of the rain
Or spread my ashes beneath a stalwart, old maple,
so its roots can comfort me in sweetness,
and I resurrect each spring:
From my rotting body, flowers shall grow
and I am in them and that is eternity.
Then drink! Drink whiskey, my friends, and say Amen.
Look not too far ahead! But go now with good hearts! Farewell, and may the blessing of Elves, Men and all the Free Folk go with you. May the stars shine upon your faces!
• • •
In order of appearance: Genesis 3:19; Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life), Green Day; Bookends, Simon and Garfunkel; “Because I could not stop for death,” Emily Dickinson; Journal entry, February 28, 1840, Henry David Thoreau; “Renascence,” Edna St. Vincent Millay; From my rotting body quote, Edvard Munch; translated quote, The Fellowship of the Ring, J. R. R. Tolkien.
Photo: Ghost Town, Terlingua, Texas, DeLinda Fox, 2004