I consider myself an avid reader. Bookworm, if you will. Step into my apartment and you will see Readers Digest and animal and cat magazines and stacks of fictional and cookbooks all over my coffee and kitchen tables and even on my bed. I often read two books at the same time. I go to the library religiously at least two times a month just to get lost in the aisles among all these authors, writers, and creators and lovers of words and stories. As everyone picks up their Kindle and Tablet, I love nothing more than the feel of the pages to flip through and the intoxicating scent of a book in my hands.
I am ashamed to confess to you that the one reading material you will never find in my possession is the newspaper. I rarely ever pick it up. I find shuffling through the pages cumbersome. Sure I can scope out the latest news headlines and bulleted factoids on the Internet, but, again, I love nothing more the paper and pages over keyboard and mouse clicks. However, lately with my sister as a journalist for a newspaper, I find myself drawn to and picking up the newspaper much more often. Immediately, I target my two favorite sections: The Comics and The Obituaries. Such polar opposites, right? I just think that The Comics and The Obituaries summarize life. There is birth and death, laughter and tears, joy and sorrow, and living life as loud as can be or as quiet and calm as can be in the chaos.
The Comics is only about one page or half a page. Garfield and the Peanuts/Snoopy are my favorites. The Obituaries take two or three pages or even more. Nearly all the obituaries are wrote in third person and hone in from the reporter’s perspective and research of where a person was born, age of the person’s death, remaining loved ones, interests and hobbies, perhaps even passions and purposes, and how the person died. I devoured reading these obituaries that I felt was much more about life than death.
I was very surprised when I came across an obituary that was written in the first person. It was a woman who went into full detail about her life, her loved ones, her purpose in life of how all she wanted to do was help people, and how she wished for her funeral to be fun and full of laughter rather than tears. I thought how smart of this woman because the best person to write about his/her life was the actual person, but how very difficult it is to actual write about our own lives from an unbiased point of view. The one missing piece in the obituary is HOW she died. I read the obituary aloud to my sister and asked: “How do you think she died?”
My sister said, “Maybe she was suffering and wanted to make it a point to write her own obituary. It could have been an assisted suicide.”
I gasped and sputtered, “That’s terrible! I hope she didn’t kill herself or assisted suicide because she was suffering!”
I thought about this woman, knowing that I will never know how she died and came to write her very own obituary. I thought about pain and suffering, and how we all go through it. I thought about the fight for life and hope, and how we all may not have it to hold on to. If it were not for pain and suffering, how would we as a society and people birth and grow compassion, purpose, character, strength, and, above all else, hope?
Suffering, struggles, and pain are essentials in life to develop character, strength, and hope. By no means am I going cheerleader on anyone going through the worst or the bad, but if it were not for these and if everything was perfect and just dandy, how would we appreciate what we do and do not have? How would we come to know and grow into ourselves and into life? Would we ever see the beauty of hope, faith, and ourselves in the face of adversity? Would we ever taste victory when we overcome our obstacles? And, if you were to write your very own obituary, what would it say?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,