This week’s finalist for dumbest thing everybody says:
“At least he died doing what he loved.”
No, no, no, no and no. I do not want to die doing what I love and I suspect that’s true for most people. I imagine the conversations at the funeral…
“Yeah, little Ayden hasn’t stopped screaming since gramps keeled over on him at the park, but at least he died doing what he loved.”
"Eleanor is sleeping on the couch in the den now, but at least Herbie died doing what he loved.”
“Everyone in the buffet line stops and cries when they get to the dent in the pasta bar, but at least Jimmy died doing what he loved.”
Who came up with that crap and who was gullible enough to pass it on, and on, and on, and on….?
Nobody wants to die doing what they love, because they love doing it and want to continue. Much better to die in the middle of the worst, most aggravating, useless, thankless, filthiest task imaginable, the kind of job so miserable that you actually look up at the sky and say, “Please, Lord, take me now.”
Every so often, after a funeral, I’ll think about the guest of honor, both how they lived and how they died, and make a mental note of whether the scenario has any appeal. When it’s a person who lived a long life, spent the last day with family and then died peacefully in their sleep, it’s pretty hard to complain. Other times, I’ll leave with a new commitment not to go LIKE THAT.
But I have never attended a going-away party and thought it would be great to die in the midst of bliss. If you must know, my vision of a great death is more heroic. Perhaps I would collapse right after saving a dozen children from a burning building, or maybe saving a busload of nuns from careening off a cliff. I’m a writer at heart, so I want to leave behind a good final story for the grieving multitude.
I’ve also considered a scenario where I save all the Sports Illustrated swimsuit models from a tsunami, but I haven’t finalized the details yet. Every time I imagine it, it seems too much like something I’d love to do.