I opened my inbox to the find the following email, “Thank you for your submission to elephant journal! It’s official: your words have somehow inspired our hearts and we’re accepting your piece for publication.”
I busted a beat with my lips, “boom, boom, boom, boom, boom,” slid my shoulders side to side and snapped my fingers once to put the diva-touch on my happy dance. I texted my sis, “I got in!”
Then I went back to work.
Do this to Know what you Really want from Life went live on the 6th of July, followed by a flurry of views and shares. In it, I told my story and suggested we can write our own eulogies to understand now what we want our lives to be about—before they’re over.
I got a writer’s high as my words romped around cyberspace. But I woke up with a hangover as I realized I hadn’t actually written my eulogy yet. Sure, I’d thought about what I would write, even planned on writing it—but I got distracted and busy. And frankly, it was easier not to.
I do my best to tell the truth. And the truth is that eulogizing my eulogy is easier than writing it down on paper.
It’s gut-wrenching to think about saying good-bye. I am madly in love with life. Sometimes I want to grab life by the face and kiss it hard and long on its luscious lips. Sometimes I want to give it the Audrey Hepburn slap then quickly beg its forgiveness because I can’t stand the thought of it leaving me. Either way, I’m a clinger, but writing the aforementioned piece revealed to me that life is a fragile thing to cling to.
As Walt Whitman says, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large; I contain multitudes.” His wise words helped me see why my eulogy is problematic. I’m a complex character.
Walt’s words also gave me the courage and structure to write what I said I would write.
My eulogy, like my life, is a work in progress:
“Amy was a hot mess on an even hotter mission.
She screwed up regularly but knew how to grab hold of the grace she needed to keep growing (except when she forgot grace, especially with herself, and grace had to come find her and rearrange her like a martini shaker).
She strived to include everyone and exclude no one (except when she felt totally excluded herself and she would like to apologize, if in her own isolation, she ever made you feel left out or alone).
She tried desperately to please absolutely everyone and fix each broken thing (except she was badly broken too and shocked to learn that very few people actually needed and/or wanted “fixing”).
She would search for the teeniest, tiniest speck of light in the deep, dark places and try to help other people see it too (except when she couldn’t see it and others had to tell her it was still there).
She loved her son wildly and knew he was created for great reason and responsibility. She gave him wings and taught him to fly (except when she pecked him back down into the nest and smothered him with her sitting).
She recognized and respected the image of God stamped upon every soul (except when she forgot to recognize and respect it in her spouse and tried to put her own stamp upon him until she realized he was quite marvelous without her meddling).
She adored her family and loved them without judgment or condition (except when they pissed her off and she got all judge-y and conditional).
She treasured her closest friends who loved her and kept her secrets when she said outrageous and inappropriate things (except she became brave one day and started writing some of her secrets on the internet).
She was fun and fabulous, especially when she was drinking red wine, and she drank it most days, so she was constantly fun and fabulous (except when she was abstaining for fear she had a drinking problem and then she was a giant pain in the ass).
She really did quit her day job and follow her dreams and became an “overnight” success (except that nothing in her life ever happened over night, not even the miracles, and she just wanted her lasting message to be, “Trust the process and the One who presides over it”).
She hoped, through her words, her work and her walk that people could find a genuine invitation to rub up against the real Jesus rather than stub their toe on the many propped up, self-righteous, religious reproductions (except she feared getting stoned for saying so then said it anyway).
She promised as many people as she could reach that they are deeply loved, infinitely valuable and positively put on earth for a purpose (no exceptions).
More than anything else, when they lay me down and someone stands up, I hope they say that I did my part to make a way across the great chasms of separateness, shame, fear, rejection and emptiness with the infallible framework of Love.
Author: Amy Crumpton
Editor: Alli Sarazen