Dead People Cannot Read Our Words
Crass title, huh? Still, it’s true.
The Hottness, mE, the Divine Ms. M, AKA, Marvelyne, my wife, is known for making this statement: I don’t want people to say things at my funeral they wouldn’t say while I’m living.” Makes sense, but if you’ve ever met my wife, you know there’s not much that can be said that’d be bad.
We’re all humans. We’re all flawed. We all have our shortcomings. And, a funeral is not an appropriate time to point out how the deceased was shallow or cheap or a jerk. I mean, what would that prove? Yet, the flip side of that is that I’ve attended the funerals of a few folks who were just plain mean. Again, not to point out their mistakes, but it’s also pretty inauthentic when they’re described as generous or loving or caring or whatever. The person is dead, we don’t have to flat out lie about his/her life.
A few days ago, I read the obituary for one of my old football coaches, Jeff Holloway. I have nothing but fond memories of Coach Holloway, so please don’t think I’m tying anything to the afore written paragraphs.
My most vivid memory of Holloway was him standing on Bertha, the seven man offensive line training sled. Hat on backwards, doing exactly what a football coach should do; yelling out stuff to motivate our probably underperforming offensive line. And, as an offensive tackle, I was a key player in why we were probably getting the business from Coach!
The last memory I have of Coach was having a short conversation in the hallway of my old high school in the summer of 1994. I was less than a year into blindness and still going through a lot of physical recovery and healing. We shook hands, talked a little about what was going on with my healing and we parted ways. A year or so later, Coach moved onwards and upwards to another position at another high school. I moved back to college and worked on getting my life back together.
When I learned of his passing via Facebook, there was a link to his obituary. The funeral home also had a message board where messages and memories could be posted for friends and family to read. I saw a lot of really sweet comments on there talking about how Coach had helped them or how he was a good memory of high school years or whatever. And, as with all these things, some people posted a note directly to Coach, thanking him or complimenting him, etc.
I don’t know why precisely, but there’s something that just makes me say, “Yeesh, if you have such nice things to say after someone is dead, why not make the effort to tell them while they’re alive? Wouldn’t it mean more?”
People move in and out of our lives. That will happen with the natural progression of just simply living. For those of you with several decades under your belt, I’ll bet you now have friendships you didn’t have, say, 30 years ago? And vice versa, there are probably relationships from 30 years ago that are no longer active due to proximity or falling out or death or, well, just anything that goes along with the human condition. So, I don’t begrudge people for not having told Coach these things while he could appreciate them. I just hope this may, in some way, encourage you to reach out to someone who has influenced you and tell them thank you before your only opportunity is to write it on the message board of their obit.