Obits, Prayers, and Sonograms

My friend Gary’s father often re-told an old joke: in the morning he would read the obits; if his name didn’t appear, he would go into work.

I’m at an age now where I, too, read obituaries. Oh, I’m fine health-wise, despite the rebuilt knees. Everything seems to be working OK but I think the warranty is running out on some of my innards and not all of them have been maintained according to manufacturer’s specs but some parts have actually exceeded all reasonable expectations and that’s why I plan to donate my liver for scientific research.

Anyway, one of the common themes found in obituaries is how so-and-so waged to brave battle against [insert favorite long-term illness here]. I’ve always admired these people; I’m not sure I could do that—be brave while tiptoeing along the edge of the abyss. In fact, I think I’d act quite the opposite. So let me take this opportunity to write my own obituary—which I hope is far in the future—as a way of saving my family from the trouble and inconvenience of lying. Here is my candid, clear-eyed epitaph to my inevitable fate:

Truth is, it’s not my own mortality that scares me; it’s the mortality of those I love. Whatever happens to me on my way to my eternal reward will happen one way or another…but to watch someone else (someone close) suffer through the battle is…well…

The following video poem is really a wish: if a family member is struck by a sling and/or arrow of outrageous misfortune, this is how I would like to act. Spoiler alert: the situation described here is fiction. No one was harmed during the filming of this video, and everyone is moderately healthy except maybe their knees.

This is a prayer that I can be my best self in times of great darkness, that I can be the kind of person my loved ones deserve.

Hopefully we’ll not have to think about any of this for a very long time.

birth, death, life, obituary, sonogram

Mark Collins

Mark Collins teaches at his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh. A regular contributor to Daily Guideposts, he is also the author of Wayward Tracks (In Extenso, 2016), and co-editor with Maggie Kimmel of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Children, Television, and Fred Rogers. His wife, Sandra, is Professor of Scripture at Byzantine Catholic Seminary. His grown daughters still make him crazy, as do the assortment of suffering automobiles littering his driveway. He’ll start on the squeaky Subaru fan belt next week or maybe the week after, it’s hard to say.


Featured Image: Alex Hockett, Untitled (September 6, 2017). Via Unsplash. CC 2.0 license.