“It’s not a wake. It’s a ‘wake the fuck up'”.
Direct quote from my friend Denise as we planned my 50th birthday party. i’d played with the idea of using a “Practice Wake” theme — to make sure the folks in my life know what i expect them to do when i die… but she thought that a bit melodramatic.
She’s right, of course. So it’s just gonna be a big ass ol’ fashioned throw down.
My forties have been rather spectacular. Not sure if my fifties can top them, but that’s the goal… Try as i might to ignore the significance of a milestone birthday, it’s tough not to notice that i’m well past the halfway point in my life, if things go according to statistics.
Which they don’t always do.
My imaginary friend inside my computer, Bad Yogi, has been my virtual muse for the past 18 months. He’s done the hardest thing i can imagine. He buried a child.
As i tried to support a friend who was going through it, Yogi was my spirit guide. Reminding me to pay close attention 3, 4 and 5 months out — when others begin to pull away. It was good advice.
He just marked the second year anniversary of the death of his daughter, Alysia. He did it with this piece.
And this is just what i want my friends to know before i go “poof”.
“When you hear that I have died, think of this.
“Think of cool nights breezes while you walk to meet your friends for a beer on a Thursday. Think of waking up in flannel sheets on a snowy morning and kissing someone you love. Think of hung-over diner breakfasts and the best cup of coffee in the world. Think of the sound of tires on seamed highways while you travel, think of French kissing and leather jackets and push-up bras and bourbon, think of the joy of hard work with friends. Then think of me.
“Not sad, not the melancholy solitude of empty skies, but the full days and crowded bars and signed contracts, a smile too big for my face, remember I said I stay busy enough to fit three lives into one.
“When you hear that I have died, know that I want laughter, and dancing, real dancing, to music that makes you move without thinking, you’re wearing boots and jeans and a great t-shirt and wondering if the girl at the edge thinks you’re cute. And you motherfuckers had best DANCE, none of this bullshit rock-nod hands-in-the-pockets shoegazer nonsense. No, make an ass out of yourself, feel your hips, kick off the high heels and sway on the shoulder of a stranger.
“When I die, you’d better be laughing your ass off on sidewalks, eating deliciously unhealthy food, drinking shots and tipping your bartender well no matter how much money you make.
“When you hear that I have died, the best thing you can do is to get laid that night with a comfortable stranger, use my story to get their sympathy, and when you kiss them for the first time, think of me then.
“When you hear that I have died, and you will, remember your best revenge is to live well, take risks, save up money and chase your perfect happiness. Beat the system and learn to make your art really support you, craft into something your audience can’t live without. Then make the world an even slightly better place ― stop throwing your cigarettes on the ground, vote in the next election, graffiti your life on the eyes of the hungry.
“Then just do me one last favor. Please. Love some thing. Anything. Start with your self, but find passion in everything, from an apple pie to a novel, make a family, get a degree, walk what ever path is yours with your chin up and feet planted firmly. Have the best stories to tell in the old folk’s home, about life long friendships and epic love affairs, about the time you lost every thing and yet found yourself happier than when you began.. and remember that time we got in SO much trouble…
“Poets, remember: This is the story that never ends. When one of us leaves, another walks through the door. The pages turn, the sun keeps rising. All you can do in the meanwhile…is to speak for yourself. Raise your voice high, tell your story, join hands against the dark and sing our souls to the sky. Know the best in me comes from the best in you, that as you tell your story, you will be telling mine, and our lives will be linked together for ever, and every one who hears you will become a part of the change we make.
“So when you hear that I have died… just …live.”