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by Erika Ray

My family has given me powerful advice throughout the years:

Never start doing the checkbooks, shaving your legs, or mowing the lawn.  You’ll never stop. -Mom
Always be on time. -Dad
We’re all going to die.  -Mom and Dad

That last bit of wisdom has led to countless discussions during family meals.  What should be said at our funerals?  What songs will be played?  Tiny bits of masking tape are stuck to the bottom of precious family objects.  The name on the tape is the new owner when Mom and Dad kick the bucket.  We will die.  We might as well plan for it.  We aren’t so arrogant that we think it will make the event any less upsetting.  We hope it will squash family arguments in a time of mourning, but that’s a naivety we cling to in order to have these discussions.  We simply talk about it.  And as our parents get older, it seems to come up more often.  Maybe we do it to accept death.  Maybe it’s because my parents dealt with death early and our lives were changed by it.  Maybe it makes interesting conversation.  Maybe it’s a way to make sure our loved ones are celebrated in a way they’d be happy with.  Maybe we’re just a bunch of morbid assholes.  Maybe we’re realists and understand we have one last event to plan.  Maybe we do it because there should be something fun about death.  It doesn’t really matter why we do it, we just do.  To me, it’s one those important discussions you should have on a regular basis.  Similar to our parents’ reminders of where the Will is located, life insurance policies, and what to say when their security system alarms.  Every few months, these topics should be discussed.  Or so I thought.

The first time we started discussing death in front of my husband, I thought he was going to drop dead at the dinner table.  He kept saying how the discussion was morbid and sick.  We were stunned by his reaction.  Hadn’t he had a similar discussion with his family?  “But you’re going to die,” we kept saying.  This didn’t help because that was the problem.  A problem he didn’t want to have and certainly not one he had to discuss while he was busy living.  He made me realize not all families are obsessed with the End.  Until college, I thought this was a typical dinner conversation.  Nope.  His family is normal.  They don’t discuss dying or the plans associated with the finality of life.  But he’s coming around.  A few years ago, he scribbled his name on some tape and slapped it to the bottom of the pool table.

In the event that a truck runs me off the road tomorrow and my husband is beyond grief-stricken, I’ll list them here.  Be strong, Friends.  Force him to carry out these wishes.  I want one last party.

  • Hold it in a church.  I’m not religious, but they usually have really good acoustics.  Plus it adds a feeling of class.
  • Go ahead and cremate me.  Let’s get this straight.  I’ve never seen one dead body look fantastic.  You’ve never seen one either.  There will be flying cars before there’s a good-looking dead body.  I will not have people stand over me saying, “They did a nice job with her.  It sort of looks like her.”  The last lie we ever tell a person.  Instead, prop up a beautiful Black & White photo of me.  If I start to get really wrinkly, I’ll take one and email to someone.  It will resemble this one.  I don’t care if people are offended.  I’m dead.
  • I’d like very specifics mourners.  Please pick your roles now and practice.  Here are your options:
  1. I want one woman who can’t be consoled.  She must wail loudly.  Her partner must hold her up.  And right before she gets to my picture, she’ll gain composure.  She’ll smooth her dress down and she’ll begin to hold her head high.  But that will last for only a few seconds, she’ll fold with grief.
  2. I want one person bawling and when they get to my picture, grief turns to anger.  Screaming, “Why’d you have to die?!  You asshole.  Why?!!”  He or she will have to be escorted out and the escort will quietly apologize to Mark and the boys.
  3. I want one stoic person in big black sunglass to walk up to my picture.  Produce a small box of wine from her coat.  Pour a little out.  Kiss her fingers and point to heaven.
  • I would like the following songs to be played at some point during the day:
  1. Last Goodbye: Jeff Buckley
  2. The Thrill is Gone: B.B. King
  3. Dynamite: Taio Cruz
  4. Nothing Compares 2 U: Prince
  5. Fancy: Reba
  6. Dirrty: Christina Aguilera (you’re welcome for the link)
  7. Ring of Fire: Johnny Cash
  • Please don’t let the pastor of the church give the eulogy.  I hate going to funerals and the speech starts, “I met Bob at the hospital.  He loved his family and his family loved him.”  None of that fake personal shit for my funeral.  Write it as if I were sitting in front of you.  Write it honestly and don’t worry about offending the crowd.  They’re my friends.  Tell people how I loved to cuss when I shouldn’t.  How I couldn’t stop myself from sharing my opinions.  How when I became obsessed with something, I wanted other people to join me in the glow of obsession.  How I talked with strangers in Target.  How sometimes I talked on my cell phone while using the toilet, but always told the other person I was running water for a drink.  How I had stinky feet.  How daily hair washing meant it was time to get my roots touched-up.  How I couldn’t sing to save my life, but it didn’t stop me from pretending I was a diva.  How I loved a good story.  Bring the crowd down and end it with how I loved my children, family, and friends.  That always goes over well.
  • At the After Party, which will be called After Party and not Wake, there will be drinks.  I’d like extra extra dirty martinis to be served in mason jars with three large olives.  The olives should be stuffed with blue cheese.  I’d like a keg of Summer Ale by Sam Adams and plenty of lemon slices.  And a really good IPA.
  • Scattered around the After Party will be cards with reminders of my fabulous life so people have good and solid talking points.  For example:
  1. Remember when Erika’s tent broke on the camping trip and it poured that night.  And she woke up in a pool.
  2. Remember when Erika threw a fit about having to do Swim Team and she hid under her bed screaming so loudly Mom & Dad were worried about the neighbors?
  3. Remember when Erika took porn classes in college because she thought it’d be fun to minor in Pop Culture?
  4. Remember how she was once obsessed with stripper stories, quilting, cows, Katy Perry, and blogging?
  5. Remember how she told those strangers she was majoring in Scatology, was the producer of a Reality TV show, got married and divorced a month later (She forgot the lie, so she had to get divorced quickly)
  6. Remember how she was awesome most of the time…
  • I’ll let my loved ones choose the pictures, but plenty of Halloween pictures should be used.
  • If people want to cry, that’s ok.  But if it goes on too long, send them to a specific crying area.  Please have the room blasting “Remember the Time” by Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston songs.
  • Family and friends, pick the food.  I’m dead.  I could give a shit what y’all eat.  That’s one detail I’ll let slide.  Scratch that.  Just have buffalo wings as one option.

Got it?  Print this out and stash it somewhere.  When Mark says, “No.  We’ll have a dignified ceremony.”  Gently remind him that I was anything but dignified.  He’ll be in shock.  Once you remind him, he’ll be on board.  Throw the party and then get on with your life.

Deal?  Thanks.  I owe you.

If you want something at your funeral, this seems like a good place to make those wishes known.  Also if you’d like to be a mourner and have a role you’d like to play, run it by me.  I’m open to all sorts of drama.

Comments

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  1. May 3, 2012

    i think i would like the role of #3. though i think with your list of friends many of us will pour some form of drink out of our purse/camera bag and maybe i could get the whole gang to do the non pose pose with your b&w photo flipping everyone off “dead center” HAHA get it?!?! yeah i am so hilarious… but instead of wine i think i will bring a can of pbr. i will slam half and leave the can by your photo for you. i bet joeylynne can be your resident cusser. and tiffani can host a class on hooping in our bikinis while jessica spins your playlist on vinyl….
    it will be rad. and we will end the day drunk off our asses wrapped up in your mass of quilts.
    i bet jop

    • May 3, 2012

      Seeing you all snuggled up under my blankets, almost made me cry. But doing the non pose perked me right up. Don’t forget, ok?

    • joelynnej #
      May 3, 2012

      “i bet joeylynne can be your resident cusser” Kristin’s got my fucking BACK! I want to get so drunk I fill all the roles plus more in a rapid cycle throughout the event. Then I’ll end the evening by stealing your photo and curling up with it in the coffin in the adjacent viewing room. Waking up the next morning to a strange corpse I will yell “ERIKA!!!!???? What THE FUCK did they DO TO YOU!!?!” Rinse, repeat, start the process over again until they have me arrested for punching a priest in the face.

      • May 3, 2012

        I would want nothing more for you. I’ll go first so you get to be your best. Please expect the same from me if you fuck up and die before me.

  2. May 3, 2012

    I’ll be the one who approaches your picture with a sharpie, draws a mustache on your face and then yells, “Fuck yeah!” at the crowd, before breaking down in a sobbing mess.

    • May 3, 2012

      Just promise when you get outside, you keep screaming “FUCK YEAH!” until you’re blubbering it through tears and snot.

  3. kate #
    May 3, 2012

    Oh no, no. I fear death. I wake up at 2am many nights just knowing that that enormous bag of peanut M&Ms I inhaled after supper is the actual bag that kills me. Literally the bag that broke the camel’s back (“she’da survived if only she’d stopped before the M&Ms”). So while there is lots of ER visit imagery floating around my head (where do I want my IV; what do I say to the really bitchy blond nurse, it might be my last chance to put bitchy in its place), there is no funeral shit. There is not enough insomnia time in the night to fear death and to plan for the aftermath. When I die, I die….just use my death to teach people about the dangers of peanuts and chocolate.

    • May 3, 2012

      It’s funny, but I never think about how I’ll die. I figure it will be on the road or just as a super old broad. I’ll remember this safety tale the next time I eat M&M’s. Thanks for that… ;)

    • Jill #
      May 3, 2012

      Sorry . . . I had to stop laughing for a bit after the “She’da survived if only she’d stopped before the M&Ms” comment . . . because I have that same thought about Bleu cheese dressing.

  4. May 3, 2012

    If I was your friend, I’d like to be #3 but with the wine, I love wine so I’d pick for you a bottle of Brunello of Montalcino,the wine is friendship and fun.(La Cerbaiola – vintage 2006 is considerete the best!) However I find your choices interesting……. thank you!

    • May 3, 2012

      Boom. You get that role. You be the classy broad that does it out of a bottle. Someone needs to class the event up.

  5. May 3, 2012

    My Mom and step dad had the two oldest children (I am one) witness their living wills and yes, we too have masking tape stuck to the bottom of objects with names on them for who gets what when the parents pass on. It isn’t just you.

    • May 3, 2012

      I love when I encounter other fellow Morbid freaks! Nice to meet you.

  6. May 3, 2012

    Your awesome Erika – one of my favorite blogs yet!!

    • May 3, 2012

      Thank ya! I’m glad this didn’t freak you out. I’ve learned that it might for some people.

  7. May 3, 2012

    You seriously do that? Put duct tape on the bottom of your folks stuff??? We just talk about doing it to special items (red stickers, not duct tape) in the hopes that the other siblings are TAKING NOTE. But you guys….very courageous!

    • May 3, 2012

      We do! And now it’s on stupid shit. Like decks of cards.

  8. pencilfox #
    May 3, 2012

    well, since i’m probably closer to “dying age” than are you: i’m saving this post.
    i have never identified more, i have never laughed harder….
    LOVE it!

    • May 3, 2012

      I’m so happy you can find the humor in it. Seriously, we all might as well. That being said, if I die tomorrow, I hope people are devastated… :)

  9. May 3, 2012

    I want to be the woman at your party/after party that shows up with a flask of whiskey and makes passive agressive/derogatory remarks to the other guests implying that while you may have tolerated them, I was in fact the very best of your BFF’s. And I knew you better than anyone. And maybe insult someone so much it starts a brawl.

    I’m going to start tagging all my parents shit with tape and my initials…I have a head start since no one else is in on it, so I should get all the best stuff!

    • May 3, 2012

      That is the best mourner. Even do it to Mark and the kids. I’ll be smiling down on you. Or up to you depending on it I believe in Hell at the time I kick it. Don’t forget to tag the crap you really just want to pitch.

  10. kristenbbi #
    May 3, 2012

    See, my mom is jealous of your parents because they have actually GOTTEN you and your siblings to attach your names (literally, via tape) to the things you want when you die. (Our family talks about death a lot too. And poop. We’re classy like that.) In fact, my mom’s recurring requests are: 1) Please, put some tape on the stuff you want so that no one fights over it when I die. 2) I’m so, so sorry that you’ll have to clean out my closet. (I guess she has an “it’ll get done when I die” motto about said closet.)

    Anyway, your funeral plans sound awesome. Truly.

    • May 3, 2012

      I’m doing it at my IL’s house too. I took some shit about that from my husband, but I will own a very cute dog teapot one day. Hopefully a very very long time away, but it’s mine. Remind me when we have dinner to tell you what my MIL told us after a funeral. She’s got plans.

  11. Becky #
    May 3, 2012

    Wheh, the slot for #2 is still open. What a relief. This is how it’ll go down- I’ll go up to pay my respects, and out of nowhere a flood of rage will wash over me. I’ll start by releasing a string of expletives. Someone on either side of me will grab my arms and try to get me out of there. Then I’ll go bat shit crazy. I’ll struggle to get away and will flail around, ultimately kicking over your urn and your photo. Ashes- everywhere, which will really set off the wailers. I’ll show up at the after party late, and will throw punches to defend Tiffani during the brawl.

    • May 3, 2012

      God I want to be around to see this. If there is a God, he/she will let us watch the party unfold. Since I can’t, let’s practice our senior citizen wedding crashing moves this weekend. Let’s act like we’re crashing it.

  12. Jill #
    May 3, 2012

    Dude, I’m #1 . . . and don’t expect me to be sober either because that shit ain’t happening. And you know that the After Party will have to be at the Lions Den (not the porn shop . . . but then again, maybe that’s an alternative) so perhaps we could auction off the leftover buffalo wings and shit. Plus, I’ll make a solemn promise to not let anyone drop you in a fabric store before hand.

    • May 3, 2012

      It has to be at the Lion’s Den. Do me a favor and steal the big Lion photo from the women’s bathroom. I want our family to own it.

  13. Laura Yurs #
    May 3, 2012

    I’m bring our mugs so we can all toast you properly…
    And I’ll make sure no relatives try to hijack your play list…
    And at the end of the night when we’re wrapped up in your quilts and the flasks & mugs are empty…(and that brawl that Tiffani & Becky started has finally cleared out)…we’ll spin your playlist one last time and I’ll break out the bottle of Old Pogue that I’d been hiding from the guests who are still offended that Becky knocked over your urn (GEEZ PEOPLE it was ACCIDENT) and we’ll toast you …a good woman.

    • May 3, 2012

      I knew I could count on you ladies to make my exit worthwhile.

  14. May 4, 2012

    i have no idea how you could narrow down that list. that is some serious dedication and planning. i think that your family is already tagging stuff is a great idea. my grandparents have 7 children and i know some things have been claimed, but when my gramma passes i think things could potentially get ugly, even though most of the important stuff has been sorted out.

    i’ll be the one carrying the giant jug of whiskey with the custom fuck yeah label (which will also be my weapon of choice when i have to leap into the brawl that tiffani starts) and calling you a cunty asshole while my mascara is running down my face.

    • May 4, 2012

      Please have the mascara. Please. Nothing says grief better than smeared black eyes and some whiskey breath.

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