60+ Christmas Cards

Cancer Blogs, Death by Lettuce — By on December 11, 2009 at 6:12 am

I went to a funeral tonight. I am…. not so good with funerals. I avoid thinking about the person. I fuss about what to wear. And I search for exits like I run the risk of being trapped there. I feel awkward in churches now. Especially Catholic churches, where I know all the words to all the songs, and can’t help but compulsively sing along.

Tonight, as most people in attendance got up to receive communion I watched as my step-grandmother got up, but my Aunt, her husband, their two children, my parents, me, and my uncle and his wife… didn’t move. And it was a relief b/c I was afraid of being the black sheep that wouldn’t get up. I know I can go through all the movements, but really my heart just isn’t in my religion anymore. But that’s not what this post is about… it was just merely an observation.

There was well over 200 people in attendance at the funeral. Pat had a way of making every individual person feel like they were her best friend in the world. It’s hard not to shed a tear for someone like that. But it also makes you think a lot about who would show up at your funeral.

Death doesn’t consume my every waking moment quite the way it did when I first heard the word cancer. I think in general, even though thyca isn’t all that deadly… its still the “c” word; it just triggers thoughts about what comes next, and what I would like to have done.

Funerals are tricky. I know that I want everything planned out before hand. I don’t want a loved one guessing what I would and wouldn’t want. I like old traditions. Like coins over the eyse to pay the ferry… I think that’s pretty neat. But I believe I’d want to be cremated. I would donate everything possible to medical stuff. Even my retinas, if they are able to use them. Science has kept me alive this long, and in reality thanks to science I’m essentially living on borrowed time. It’s good to give back.

I wouldn’t want a big Catholic mass… A little awkward with how many non Catholics, or even Christians I have as friends. Maybe just a reception hall. I don’t even know if I want my ashes there. I do know that if I did have some sort of service, I would want the recessional to be a New Orleans style funeral march… Pat chose “I feel good”… The immediate change in pace made almost everyone cry.

I would want to film my own message. Say my goodbyes. I would set up a slide show. I know a handful of songs I love: Beatles, “In my life”… the Cure, “Please remember me”… and Violent Femmes “Sweet World of Angels”… plus a few up beat songs. And I would write letters, if I had the time, to those that would need them.

But sitting in the church tonight, I couldn’t help but wonder who would come to my funeral? Think of which friends would be devastated… who would help with arrangements… tonight, my mom arranged someone to do the flowers, and my step-dad delivered all the alcohol to the reception. All for his mom’s best friend. Would someone do that for me?

How many lives have I really touched? How many enough so that they would want to say their farewells? How loved am I really? I’m not good at telling people or showing people how much I care. I’m emotionally reserved… or defunct… in that area. But I consider a lot of people to be much closer friends to me than they might know. I’m not great at keeping up communication, but I do it more than a lot of people. And I have little ways of showing that I care. Like Christmas Cards.

This year, I’ve already written out more than 60 Christmas cards. They go to friends and family. To random people I’ve met during my travels. To old friends I want to reconnect to. To old bosses, and doctors, and a couple of teachers that have affected my life. At first I questioned my motives. Am I just shallowly filling out cards? I question my motives on a regular basis, if you can’t tell. I can’t help but wonder if I’m really as genuine as I want to be. But for the cards… its my way of showing these people that they have impacted my life in some small way. Just enough to keep me thinking about them… even if I don’t say so on a normal basis. I would like to think that has some sort of impact on people. Even if i can’t write a note in every single card… just the idea that your being thought of or remembered… thats a good feeling.

And its only something that’s gotten worse since i got cancer. I’m afraid of being forgotten. I want people to remember me. And I want them to know I remember them.

So do I think that several hundred people will show up to my funeral if i died tomorrow? I don’t know… maybe. I’d like to believe that all these people, that I write my cards to, they have been impacted by me in the same small way as they have me. And there is a certain satisfaction with that.

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