“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.”
Holy shit. I’m speechless.
i read that piece a few days back and couldn’t get it out of my head… it needs a wider audience…
It’s fantastic, so glad you found and posted it. Putting your birthday present in the post tomorrow xx
thanks, darlin’… internet is a funny thing, isn’t it? so much crap out there… but it is possible to find these things that were buried not all that long ago…
What a great bit of writing. What a great attitude. And a wonderful way to be remembered.
And now something for that 50th 🙂
“Several cannibals were appointed as engineers in a defense company. “You’re all part of our team now,” said the boss during the welcoming ceremony. “You can earn good money here, and you can go to the cafeteria for something to eat, so please don’t trouble any of the other employees”. The cannibals promised. Four weeks later the boss returned and said, “You’re all working very hard and I’m very satisfied with all of you. However, one of our janitors has disappeared. Do any of you know what happened to him?” The cannibals all shook their heads no.
After the boss had left, the leader of the cannibals said to the others, “Which of you idiots ate the janitor?” A hand raised hesitantly, to which the leader of the cannibals replied, “You fool! For four weeks we’ve been eating Team Leaders, Supervisors and Project Managers and no one noticed anything, and YOU had to go and eat the janitor!”
“Team Leaders, Supervisors and Project Managers – OH MY!” Thanks for a delicious laugh… off to snack on the guy with the MBA….
I have spent most of my life among people who seem fundamentally different from me. Who worry most about the things that seem to matter least, and approach the most significant events in ways that I can’t begin to understand. Thoughts like this, and the community of thoughts like this, yours, Yogi’s, Ms. Bouliane’s, remind me that I am not alone. And remind me to call my old roommate, with whom I got in SO much trouble.
i find myself shaking my head a lot. people get bunched up over the damndest things… not that i can’t get lost in inappropriate details, mind you. i will never understand, however, the appeal of fashion magazines that strive to make women feel inadequate. spending yourself into insurmountable debt just to have more “stuff”. or the failure of western society to deal with the inevitibility of death in a more rational manner….
oh, and you need to call that roommate. want a full report on the blog!
a great piece of writing… I doubt I’ll match up to that when I’m gone. A friend of a friend died the other day, I saw a photo of his funeral cortege – it was on a motorway, about 2 miles of bikers… that is a person who has earnt some respect in their lives.
I love the wake idea for the 50th – I think I’ll suggest that to my nearest and dearest… I don’t even have to show up then! Result!
Ours will end up being family and a very few close friends and a buffet on the dining room table. Whatever – I’m frankly not too bothered. I remember my 30th… I went to a pub on my own! 40th… oh yes went to London and Mrs F bought me the red Gordon Smith that adorns the top of my blog. I then went to the pub on my own no doubt… one thing I can say will hopefully be different this year… I’ll not be drinking anywhere
nothing like a biker tribute… there’s a group of bikers here “Rolling Thunder” who make sure that all veterans get a motorcycle escort. it’s a nice touch…
oddly enough, because i’m hosting – what looks to be over 50 people in my home over the course of the day – i will be having a couple beers at most. my job will be to take keys and manage the guests… but looking forward to the intersection of many “Venn Diagrams” in my life… these folks may never have a chance to gather together again… until i die… and then? they better dance, damn it!
hot damn, sugarpie! and i gotta add an amen, sistah to that! i am fucking proud and honored to know y’all. next time, drinks are on me! xoxoxoxox
i gotta find another excuse to get to Savannah! would love to take you up on that, darlin’!
Now THAT’S how I want MY wake!
I have spent far too much time in my life grieving.
You’ll ROCK your 50’s Ms.Fae because that’s who you are!
Thanks for sharing that piece …. it’s amazing! 🙂
I had to comment again.
I have read and re-read this post many times today.
It’s very appropriate in my world right now ….. tomorrow is the 33rd anniversary of Mom’s death and I KNOW this is how she would have wanted us ALL to think of her and remember her.
So thank you for reminding me that yes I miss her, but it’s OK and even GOOD
to rejoice and celebrate her LIFE!
I shall be dancing, drinking, eating chocolates and celebrating tomorrow!
I’d be thrilled if y’all joined me! =)
there’s an important place for grief – dancing won’t cure the pain of a loss. i’m sure losing your mother at such a young age was pretty awful. this little essay really focuses on the “get on with it” aspect, though… i will see if i can find myself some really nice dark chocolate tomorrow and shall raise a glass toward Buffalo in her honor! and if the music is right? who knows what parts of my 50 year old carcass will start shaking…
Dammit … I wish I’d thought of a practise wake for my 50th … or my 60th. I might have to save it for the real thing now I suppose. HAPPY BURPDAY!!!! … when is it again? … and what’s for tea?
“practise”? is that like “practice”? sorry… can’t resist those easy, cheap shots!
the official burpday is in another week… but the party goes this weekend. please join us! i’ll track down some gingernuts just for you!
Wow. Just… wow. I want that attitude. And I want to have that piece at my next birthday party and every birthday thereafter. Happy 50th.
Welcome to The Park, Diane… and yeah… this gal seemed to have a fine grasp of the language, didn’t she? i think reading this annually is a very good plan… thanks for stopping by!
Happy Birthday, my Gemini sister! Don’t sweat your 50’s. Shoot, you’re just gettin’ started!
that’s how it feels! i think the only ‘bad’ birthday i ever had – for no apparent reason that i can remember – was 38. whatever. onward! there are multiple lives to be lived…
And multiple personalities to be explored! Bob Hope once said, “I’m a Gemini and so is my wife, Dolores. We’re the four nicest people you’ll ever meet.”
We are generally never lonely. Even when home by ourselves… 🙂
Would love to be there for the throw down. Instead, throw someone down for me. 😉
Happy 50th, babe. I’m so glad to know you.
Thank you! i’m working a plot to get to your part of the world sometime this fall… still sorting details, but perhaps we can have a belated mini-throw down then! will let you know if it comes together!
I’m kinda crying here…
Happy 50th Birthday!! I’m sure it’ll be a blast! 🙂
sorry to make you cry… those are some powerful thoughts, aren’t they? i’m not in a funk — far from it… i’m looking forward to what comes next. whatever it is… thanks much for cheering me onward!
This was great and that photo of you at the end – simply BEAUTIFUL my friend!! What a way to celebrate fifity! Oh and you have very wise friends indeed. 🙂
Very wise friends… You are also one of those folks who has taken the hardest thing life can throw at a human being — but turned it into something miraculous. Thank you, my dear, inspiring Lynn…. xoxo
This is frighteningly apt, Daisyfae.
been thinking of you… hoping things are going as well as they can…
Ever watch the movie Get Low? You should . . . Happy day to you, my dear friend, even if a little late . . .
thanks – i’ll add this to my “really need to watch this, damn it” list! it’s technically a little early. b-day is actually this coming weekend…
You don’t seem 50 to me. Do you feel 50? I’ll bet not.
not sure what 50 is supposed to feel like… so i’m not sure i can answer that. i know that when i was 10, 50 seemed like ‘nearly dead’. by the age of 20? i started to identify 50-year-old men that i found attractive. by 30? it didn’t seem like much difference…
i do have a lot of aches and pains, though. i’m a busy gal. i eat ibuprofen like M&Ms or i wouldn’t be able to function at all… is that what 50 feels like?
This is exactly what I needed.
me too. glad you stopped by tonight when you did – as it got me back to this post, and made me re-read that little essay. exactly what i needed in this moment as well… thanks, muse…