My greatest fear is dying young. Or old. Or middle-aged. So, really, just dying. Dying is my greatest fear.
Coming in second in the fear power-rankings is how I’m going to be remembered after I die. Because someone else who is not me is going to write my obituary. And chances are I’m going to have issues with the style of the prose if nothing else.
But it’s not like I can write my own in advance, you know?
Famed author and comedian Ian McGibboney died Tuesday of cancer of the wit at the Floating Hospital for Really Great Bloggers in Pasadena, Calif. The writer of such seminal works as “If That’s What You Want,” “The Loner Who Found Love,” “All the Bullies Who Peaked Early,” “The Bible II” and his autobiography “Hit Hard in the Head,” Ian was 726.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Jennifer Lawrence McGibboney; his son, Drew Sproles McGibboney; and his daughter, Melissa McGibboney-Bieber, the 58th President of the United States.
Ian had died five times prematurely, but doctors were unable to transplant his brain into a seventh clone body.
A fundraiser to pay his medical bills will not be necessary, because single-payer health care is a thing in the U.S. now. In lieu of flowers, donate or volunteer at the charity of your choice.
Funeral services for Ian will be held at the Not Right About Anything Superdome, followed by a party at his house in Lake Tahoe. Flag football and Twister will be played. Dress comfortably and stretch.
See? It just seems so ... prideful.
So I’ll accept the fact that someone other than me will be charged with writing my death article, and with everything else that comes with being an expatriate of this mortal coil. I hope it’s none of you alive now. But in case it is (or if someone’s reading this 693 years from now), I have some requests as to how my death should be handled:
• Tell people I died. I didn’t “pass away,” “pass on,” “go home to be alongside the Lord” or any other flowery, parochial euphemism. I died. Ceased to be. Am no more. Bleeding demised. An ex-Ian.
• Disclose how I died. Honestly, this is the first thing I always want to know when someone dies — especially if they go young and/or unexpectedly — and it’s what everyone will want to know about me. Let the information flow freely. If I die in a teachable-moment manner, let it be a lesson to others. If I croak in some shameful or embarrassing way, well, no one will be surprised by that.
• If someone killed me, don’t kill them. It won’t bring me back, and it certainly doesn’t jibe with what I believed in life. Keeping my assailant alive ensures that they have a long time to reflect and redeem. Or, if applicable, rot.
• Let the funeral reflect my life. By that I mean, fast-paced, cheap and chill. I didn’t live my life listening to hymns, so don’t play any at my funeral. Play Coldplay’s “Clocks” or “The Only Moment We Were Alone” by Explosions in the Sky if you want an accurately poignant song. If you absolutely must quote from the Bible, quote the parts about love, peace and being a religious hypocrite. Better yet, quote the AP Stylebook. That’s the journalist’s bible (and one that truly guided my actions and stoked my fears).
• Dress me accurately. I tend to take suits and ties off halfway through a given formal function, so obviously I don’t want to wear one forever. Send me off in jeans and either a plain black T-shirt or the football jersey of an acceptable team.
• Don’t say I was something I wasn’t. I’ve lost a lot of family and friends in my life, and almost all of their funerals were highly revisionist of their religious beliefs. Read this blog about my beliefs and eulogize accordingly. As far as wake décor, take a cue from the funeral of my great-aunt, who died when I was 6: someone made a wreath with a winning bourré hand. That was her. Do something like that for me.
• Quote my writing on the program and everywhere else. Use the life-affirming statements of your choice. Time-saving tip: avoid blogs from 2005-06 and 2012-13 and any tweets from Saints losses. Anything from 2010-11 and the past four months is most likely safe. On second thought, maybe just quote Bartlett’s instead.
• Do something productive with my corpse. I’m an organ donor. Feel free to lend my body to science as well. Use my carbon for the good of humankind. Autopsy away, if necessary. My point is, make the worms (or flames) wait.
• Don’t dwell excessively in the sadness. I give you all permission not to do this. Seriously. Mourn a little, then celebrate. It’s often said, “It’s what they would have wanted.” Well, you’re reading it right here. Party on, Wayne.
• Don’t let it tear relationships apart. I’m doing my part by having nothing to leave anyone. I once read a quote attributed to Errol Flynn that said, “Anyone who dies with more than $1.98 to his name is a jerk.” If it means not tearing family apart over an inheritance, I’ll be a jerk. Yeah, that’s the ticket!
• Write my obit exactly as cited above, or cooler. Don’t worry. I won’t make a liar of you.