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A Life of Joy

I went to a memorial service this weekend. And full disclosure, I didn't really want to go. But it was important to Rob so I agreed because that's what couples do.

All I knew about the deceased going in really was she was Rob's step-mom's sister-in-law. And even though I knew he has known his step-mother all his life, she didn't become his step-mother until he was in college.

I just thought we were going to a service for what was essentially an acquaintance.

I feel like here is where I should tell you that Rob had told me on multiple occasions who this person was and why it was so important to him.

(Also I don't think I have ever in my life spelled occasions with the correct number of c's and s's on the first try. I don't know why I can never remember how to spell it, but I digress.)

But I didn't really pay attention to him and I definitely owe him an apology for that. I've been wallowing in a bit of self-pity the last few months and I have clearly not been paying attention to my husband so I vow right here to do my best to snap out of it.

Rob had known this woman most of his life. She was basically an aunt to him for as long as he can remember. He considers her children his cousins. He lived with (platonically) one of her daughters in college - and she came to our wedding!

Anyway, the memorial invitation (announcement?) asked people to dress casually in spring colors with flamingos being highly encouraged. And I 100% felt wrong getting dressed for a memorial service in a pink sundress but I was just following orders.

When we pulled up to the church and saw men in shorts, I felt a little better.

Once inside and I started to see people I know, that were her children, I realized exactly who she was and I immediately began to feel like a heel.

Anyway several people spoke at her service. And every time someone got up to speak about her, I wished I had an opportunity to know her.

They all spoke of a lovely, kind woman that enjoyed life. She was generous. By all accounts she was the life of the party. She loved pranks and amusement parks. She was a Pinterest mom before Pinterest. She travelled the world with her husband. She was obviously adored by everyone she met.

And as I am sitting there listening to all of these stories about this incredible woman, tears are constantly but slowly dripping from the corner of my eye. I didn't know her, but I was so moved by how much everyone loved her and how much joy she brought into the world.

I know. Big shock that I cried, right? No one cries in my presence alone. But here's the thing - there wasn't a lot of tears. But there was a lot of laughter. And no, they weren't tears of laughter either.

I don't feel like I am doing her justice.

And the tears weren't just for her. They were a little bit for me. Because she was obviously loved and adored by her daughters (and presumably her son but he didn't speak - I assume because it was too much for him or maybe he just doesn't like public speaking. Zero judgement). And once again I am crying because I don't have that. I have never had that.

I don't know what it is like to be loved by a parent like that. And every time I think about it, it makes me sad. I hope that my boys know how much I love them. I hope they know that they made me a better person. That I always did my best. I hope that when I die, it is obvious to everyone that they knew they were loved so much.

In case you didn't know, I'm not much of one for organized religion. I used to consider myself spiritual - I would pray every night thanking God for all the wonderful things I had in my life. But I never went to church. While I do believe there are good church going people, I've had little luck with that personally and I've seen all the horrible things people say and do in the name of religion.

It's not for me.

But I used to sort of believe. I guess I was hedging my bets? And then when my boys were in the 1st grade their best friend died of a brain aneurism. And it broke me. I cried and couldn't sleep for a week - I knew this little boy. He was too young to die. And I haven't prayed since.

Back to the service - although it was in a church, she didn't want a particularly religious service. A few passages were quoted, but it wasn't a sermon. Which I really appreciated.

Susan had been struggling with dementia for years, and the way Brian received word of her passing really stuck with me.

He said the text read "She is healed". And that is such a beautiful way to announce such a sad moment to me.

I don't know if there is a Heaven. And if there is, I have no idea if they will let me in. But if they do, I hope to meet Susan when I am there.

I love this photo of Susan from the '90s - she has such a mischievous look about her. Thank you for allowing me to use this photo Stephanie!

And all this got Rob and I talking once again about what happens when we die. Like here on Earth, not if there is an afterlife. It's something I already spend too much time thinking about anyway. I've had some people I went to high school or college with that have died and there's nothing like the death of a peer to make you think about your own mortality.

I don't fear death so much as I fear it coming too soon. I want to be a grandmother some day and while I am in no rush for that to happen now, I will be sad if I don't get to experience that.

*I feel like maybe I should insert a trigger warning here in case anyone is not comfortable reading about what to do with my body.

I've often told him that I don't care what happens to my body when I am gone. Please donate my organs if they are usable to anyone else. But other than that, I want him to do whatever brings my boys the most peace.

He also knows that as much as I love him, Zach and Xander get first say.

Do they want a gravesite to visit? That's fine but I don't need a fancy coffin and they better come visit if they are going to spend that kind of money. I'm going to need at least once a month visits. EACH.

I used to tell Daniel I wanted him to have me turned into a diamond for his next wife which was funny and macabre at the same time. That didn't age well though, did it?

And I love the idea of becoming a tree or being shot into space. Viking funeral is not off the table.

If I'm being 100% honest though, I'd prefer cremation. Then I want my ashes put in little vials with some edible glitter (because it's biofriendly not because I want you to eat me!) and everyone gets some vials at my service. Then spread my ashes when you travel.

Or at DSW.

I just sort of love the idea of my pretty sparkly ashes getting to see parts of the world maybe I haven't made it to. Or maybe I have and I will just always have a piece (or pieces) of me there forever.

And does the glitter really surprise you?

As for the service, I have often said I do want people to be sad when I die. I want to be missed, even if I live to be 100. None of this celebration of life she's in a better place bullshit.

Partly because I don't really believe there is a better place. And partly because if you are sad then I will know that I am missed (except I won't know because I don't really believe in life after death even though I'd like to).

But mostly because having a party and having fun just felt disrespectful to me. In the past.

Now I do hope you will laugh and share funny or happy memories at my service. I hope that someone that is dragged to my service out of obligation leaves with tears in their eyes, wishing they could have met me. I hope that I live a life that brings others joy.

I still want you to be sad that I am gone, but laughter through tears is my favorite emotion. (IYKYK).

I may not have known Susan but I think she would have loved her service based on what I know of her now. She has left behind a beautiful legacy of children and grandchildren (and other friends and family) that clearly adored her. My heart is so sad that they no longer have her but I know that they all know how lucky they were to have her in their lives.

Rest in peace Susan. Know that you are loved and missed by everyone. Including me.

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You must have purple and pink glitter! I have no doubt that you will be sorely missed by all who know and love you, Suzanne. May that not happen for decades and decades, though. Love you!

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