Jul. 10: What will people say?

I ran into my dear friend Lisa today. We were both walking into um… Nordstrom. Er, Abercrombie. Certainly not Wal-Mart. She, like I, would never, ever shop at Wal-Mart. Anyway, it was lovely to see a friendly face and her two cherubs, and we chatted a bit before shopping. I mentioned that I’d gone to a funeral today, she asked whose, I explained that it was the brother of a friend, she asked if his death was sudden, and I said he’d been fighting cancer for a while. She looked at me as if to say, WTH did you go to a funeral for someone our age who just died of cancer, which you yourself are fighting right now?

Excellent question your expression asked, Lis.

I went to the funeral because I wanted to be a support to my friend and her husband, who are two of the nicest people I know. It’s obviously a very hard time for them. About two seconds after being seated, I realized I should not have come. Because yes, Kary was a 40-year-old who died of cancer, and it all suddenly hit a bit too close to home for me. As I listened to people share their memories of him, my thoughts turned inward. I couldn’t help it.

Everyone had such nice things to say. I mean, anyone with any sense leaves out the mean stuff at someone’s funeral, but I got the impression that there really wasn’t much negative stuff to say about Kary. They talked of how admirable his cancer fight was, how he turned to God and felt honored to have such a close relationship with him.

That’s the opposite of what I have done.

Sure, I’m fighting cancer as hard as I can. But I have not turned to God in my fight. I have not cursed God, but I have not turned to him. I don’t know what I feel about God anymore, but if I were to put one word on it, it’d be ambivalent. (Really clears it all up, huh?)

Kary said he felt like cancer was a gift because it allowed him to know God so well. What a positive attitude, huh? I wish I could see my cancer that way, but there’s not a thing I like about it. I don’t like what cancer has put me and my family through. I think it’s horrible that cancer has touched our lives at all, first through my dad and now through me. I don’t like that medical bills come in the mail every day and I don’t like the stress I feel when I see the amounts our insurance doesn’t cover. I don’t like that the side effects of chemotherapy make me unable to work as much nowadays. I don’t like that some days I feel too tired to fight anymore. I don’t like the way some friends seem uncomfortable around me because they don’t know what to say (really, “how are you?” is fine—I’ll tell the truth). I don’t want to be part of “that” club.

So the idea of cancer being a gift says something about the kind of guy Kary was. I honestly don’t think I have it in me to even come close to that. It’s not who I am.

Another really lovely thing at the memorial service was that one of Kary’s brothers read I Corinthians 13 and compared him to the perfect love the Bible describes. It totally worked, too. Kary was obviously a good guy. This would not work for me, though. I don’t think I’m a bad guy… until I compare myself to a bunch of Bible-y stuff.

Love is patient,

I am not.

love is kind.

I like to think I’m kind. I’m not a total bitch all the time, anyway.

It does not envy,

Sometimes I envy. Not often, but YES, I admit to feeling jealous occasionally.

it does not boast,

Oh, geez. I boast all the time. Look at me, what a fast typist I am! And my feet smell like strawberries! And I rarely misspell words! And I can quote, word-for-word, entire episodes of Seinfeld! And I can program a database! Do you know how completely awesome I am? Sit down here a minute and I’ll tell ya.

See? Waaaay boastful.

it is not proud.

I am not proud of how boastful I am.

It is not rude,

Here we go again. I try to be nice, I really do. But if people are rude to me, I can dish that right back so fast they won’t know what hit them. I am not proud of this. I wish I wasn’t this way. I just really, really hate when people are rude and it pushes every one of my buttons and turns me into a garanimal.

it is not self-seeking,

I think about the consequences of my actions. I try not to hurt others. I think about their feelings. Does that mean I’m not self-seeking? I hope so, cuz that’s all I got.

it is not easily angered,

What’s THAT supposed to mean, huh???

(I am easily angered.)

it keeps no record of wrongs.

I’m getting better at letting go of grudges, I am…

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

This assumes that evil and truth are opposites and that’s just silly. Also, I do delight in evil because evil is funny.

It always protects,

I’m kind of a mother bear type when it comes to protecting the people important to me.

always trusts,

I think I’m trustful and trustworthy. You tell me.

always hopes,

I’m always hopeful. Always. About so many things.

always perseveres.

I don’t know; there are some things I give up on awfully easily. But not the big, important stuff, y’know, like LIFE.

So. Ahem.

I’m thinking that when I die, PLEASE DO NOT ANYBODY COMPARE ME TO 1 CORINTHIANS 13. It will make people laugh, all snickery-like, and they will eventually stop laughing and get up and leave because they will know they’re in the wrong funeral. Listen, if you’re only going to say good stuff about me at my funeral, the service will be really short, so just go ahead and say the bad stuff too. People will never forget it, either; they’ll be all, CAN YOU BELIEVE THE STUFF THEY SAID ABOUT HER? and SHE WAS THE DEVIL, WASN’T SHE?

These are the kinds of things I imagine will be said into the microphone at my memorial service:

  • Um…
  • She had some cute shoes.
  • She hated racism and prejudice, but she also hated mean and/or stupid people. She was a contradiction in terms, and not in the adorably sweet way.
  • She cherished every moment spent with her friends.
  • Her feet didn’t really smell like strawberries.
  • She rarely used “textspeak” when texting because she thought spelling properly was better than saving time and looking like a moron.
  • (She was not a fan of “textspeak.”)
  • Uh…
  • She thought it was really cool that one time she ran into Lisa at Wal-Mart Crate & Barrel.
  • She was kinda bossy.
  • She loved her family and she tolerated her grandmother.
  • Um…
  • She used the same keychain for over 20 years—a sterling silver harmony ball that made a beautiful sound even though it was scratched and dented. She liked it because it paralleled her life. Except for the “beautiful sound” part.
  • Anybody else?
  • Nothin’?
  • She made really good tortilla soup.
  • Thanks. Nobody cares. Go sit down.
  • Looks like we’re done here. Y’all can go home.

I better either outlive all my friends or just not have a memorial service.


P.S. You, especially if you’re my sister, are probably mad at me for talking about my funeral and dying and stuff. But I’m allowed—I HAVE CANCER!—so knock it off.


  1. I, for one, am glad you talked about "it"--not because I'm anticipating "it". I don't need to compare you to 1 Corinthians 13 to determine your "goodness" or "worthiness." Those words don't mean perfection; they are about celebrating your humanity with all it's warts--impatience at times; worry and frustration at other times. Life is a path, my Beautiful Daughter. And right now your path is going through some rocky, muddy, crappy places. And your family and friends are on that path with you and think you're pretty amazing! I love you--WE love you!!

  2. Fogetaboutit Buffy! You ain't goin' down. Not before me anyway.


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