If you knew me better you would know that I’m a little skeptical of the American way of life these days. I think that we are overly stimulated and overly dependent on technology and that we have lost sight of what’s important. Yes, I see the hypocrisy in a blogger being skeptical of technology. Just ignore that. Moving forward, one aspect of life in which I think Americans have failed is the way we handle death. In the United States, death is a terrible, tragic, event that spurs days, weeks, months and sometimes even a lifetime of mourning.
Does it really have to be that way? We all die. Even you. How can something that happens to every person in the entire world be considered tragic? I think it’s natural for us to feel sad but I also think that it is okay to move forward with life and be happy.
My father died two weeks ago of esophageal cancer. He was an amazing man, only sixty seven years old when he passed. There is no way to describe the larger than life person that he was, but I can tell you that he touched the life of nearly every person who crossed his path. One thing he did before he died, that we all sort of questioned but turned out be really smart, is plan his own “End of Life Party.” He didn’t want a funeral with a bunch of people he barely knew, moping around in black suits and dresses, crying and mourning his death. So, he left us specific instructions detailing how we should celebrate the end of his life. He planned the menu, told us where to buy the food, provided the location and the time of day, indicated a few people who should give speeches, and requested a final song. We followed his wishes step by step and it was a really great party. It was a meaningful celebration of life. People were sad, and they cried when they needed to, but it was still a celebration. We told stories. We laughed. We talked about the future. It was inspirational.
About half way through the party, each member of my family and a few close friends of my father gave short speeches about the impact my dad had on each of us. There is one speech in particular that really stuck in my mind. A close family friend of ours from Samoa talked about how they handle death in Samoa. He said that when someone dies, there is sadness on that side of island, but there is a celebration on the other side of the island, where that person is received. In Samoa, they understand that death serves a purpose. They acknowledge their sadness but they understand that when one person dies, another is born. Death brings life. It’s a circle. If we didn’t die, there wouldn’t be room for the next generation. Soon, this side of island will rejoice again.
I myself have found my father’s death to be surprisingly inspirational. My father was an extremely successful business man. He was an investment banker in public finance in the 70s and 80s and then became a real estate developer, completing several successful co-housing developments. While I feel that I have accomplished a lot in sports and on a personal level during my life, I really haven’t hit my stride in any career. I was a somewhat successful mogul skier when I was much younger. I have a wonderful, healthy, two-year-old boy. I have a loving husband. I love exercising and being outside. I eat healthy food. I am generally happy, but I still feel like there is something missing. I haven’t really found a career that I love.
For some time now, my family has been telling me that I should pursue writing. I write a lot of poems for my family for birthdays and holidays. I’ve written some funny stories here and there but I never really considered myself a writer. However, within a week of my dad’s passing, I was writing. I ‘m not sure if I’ll ever make any money writing but that’s not really what’s important. And, since this is 2017, I’m starting a blog. Aren’t I cool and trendy? I’m learning about social media marketing and creating an online resume. I’m making it happen. I’m inspired.
I loved my dad with every fiber of my being but I don’t want to mourn losing him. I want to celebrate having had him. I feel honored to have had such an amazing father and I feel inspired to make my life better because that is what he would have wanted. So this is how puravidamomma.com begins…