This may sound a bit morbid, but I got thinking about this question after reading a really beautiful obituary in the papers today. What would my own obituary read like? What would I want it to read like? I don't know the deceased in this case, but here's his obituary:
I, Ong Peck Lye,
I was born into poverty and uncertainty.
Circled myself with friends smarter than I,
Married a woman better than I,
So I could have children greater than I.
I spared no ego nor expense,
To show others I showered my family,
The beneficiaries of my simple heart.
I never got to see my father be
A husband to my mother so
I made mistakes being both,
Trying to be as human as I know.
All my acquaintances and my friends
Thought I was this perfect man.
My best and closet knew
My conflictions were quite a few.
My poverty became prosperity,
My hunger became my food,
My simplicity became complexity,
My ego big beyond me.
A wife who fretted over my meals and medications,
A son who cut and stroked my hair and nails,
Calmed my nightmares, lift me up and tucked me in.
A wife who cowed when I stood over her, stood beside me.
A son who dared stand up against me, stood up for me.
A last I got to see my legacy,
Ensured, enshrined in good hands.
I dared to live and now I dare to die.
I am Ong Peck Lye.
I especially loved the last 2 lines. Dared to live and now dare to die. I am so-and-so. Even in death, those lines sounded so powerfully life-affirming. It's easy enough to eek out a life, to subsist minimally, to survive barely, but to dare to live to such completeness and fullness, takes courage. And that same courage to live, so to die as well. So brave, so unafraid in facing the ultimate end, that he said his name. This is me. I am here, and I am not scared. Death can take away my existence, but it shall not take my courage, my life well lived, my legacy.
When I pass on, I want an obituary like this. Not in the same words, but in the same spirit. But more importantly, I want to live a life that would make such an obituary a true celebration of that life. A fist punched into the air, in that final dying breath. I had lived. This is me!