I wrote my own obituary

I wrote my own obituary this weekend. I wrote my own obituary as an assignment for my Death and Dying Across Cultural Perspectives class.

Other brain tumor survivors have had this assignment in their college classes before and turned to me for support. I had always assured them that they could do it, and that it would be fine. That it was just an assignment, and that it wasn’t real. I didn’t realize how hard this would be to complete. How raw and real it would feel.

When the assignment was given, I immediately thought about death by brain tumor. I knew that I could write the obituary in one of three ways: die young from tumor recurrence, die middle aged from tumor recurrence, or die from random other health condition across the lifespan/old age. All three options ended in death by some sort of health condition, whether preexisting or not, drawn out or quick and easy, they still felt terrifying. I like living in the known and for certain, and the unknown possibility of dying from a tumor recurrence is absolutely terrifying to me.

What I think was different about my obituary assignment than my peers’ is that this was the second obituary that I had written for myself. I wrote my first obituary in September of 2012. It was in the form of a video, and I gave a friend the password information to access it if needed. She did not need to access the video; I survived my brain surgery. The video was never viewed by anyone but myself.

There is a rocking chair that I’ve thought about as a source of comfort for the past seven or so years now. It’s a rocking chair that I think about when I have big decision to make regarding my identity. I ask myself, who do I see in that rocking chair, and who is sitting next to me? The answer is always so clear. The influence of others and their impact versus my authenticity are never more apparent than when I envision my true self. And so, I passed away comfortably in that rocking chair with a cup of coffee next to me. You decide the age and cause of death.

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One thought on “I wrote my own obituary

  1. Charlie, I have been facing similar emotional queries myself. For my memorial service, I intend to pre-record toasts and roasts for all my favorite peeps. I want my memorial to be a celebration, not a pity party. I plan to be cremated. I’ll pop up as they put me into the furnace, just like Frida did, and raise the fist one last time. Then I want my chosen family to spread my ashes into the ocean with a mix of purple Kool-aid, just like Harvey Milk did. I want the ashes to be scattered from a dingy like the ones I took sailing lessons on when I lived in Long Beach.

    I can accept that I’m terminal. I have been anxious about the MRI I had this morning because I’m so close to being off of chemo – for good. The last time I had an MRI this close to the finish line, they found a secondary tumor. I did second course of radiation and started doing IV chemo. If there’s a secondary tumor, or the primary tumor has grown, I don’t care. I’ve been scheduling my life around MRI’s and chemo for four years. If I only have 5-7 years to live (even though I don’t buy those numbers), I’m not going to spend it sitting at home or burning time in a waiting room. I’ve got better shit to do with my life.

    As for writing my own obituary, I’m going to give that some thought. Thanks for the prompt. You kick much neuro ass.

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