As many of you are aware, I recently set my aims at Blogger Idol. I figured I would give it a shot, hoping more than anything to chase away all my awful, relentless self-doubt and force myself back into writing more frequently. My aspirations didn’t exactly turn out as planned as I failed to become a finalist. So, self-doubt remains a nagging little bitch that just won’t fucking get a clue and get out of my life. Regardless, I also have this kick-ass warrior woman that occasionally emerges in me and yells, “Don’t give up!” and then karate chops that bitch down for a small reprieve in which I regain my ambition and a bit of confidence. Having recently knocked doubt to her knees, despite my loss, I decided to once again participate in the play-at-home links. I described these links last year, so I’m not doing it again – do your own damn research. I will provide you with this week’s prompt though so you are not at a total loss (or concerned about contacting my therapist ASAP) as you read the following words. Thanks for hanging around and still reading a little loser like me. Wink. Wink. Smiley face.
This week, the finalist’s assignment is to introduce themselves to the Blogger Idol readers. But in true Blogger Idol style, there’s a twist. They were told to do it by writing their own eulogy.
The assignment follows:
It is odd to find myself in this exact moment, in this exact place, perched to deliver a tribute and memorial to the woman I probably knew better than anyone else in this life, and yet the woman who still perplexed and confounded me like none other. I have struggled with the right words. For those of you who know me well, you know that words often came easily to me. Yet, I felt myself at a complete lack when it came to composing this eulogy – as though my fingers had been forbidden from typing and every pen’s ink had dried and every pencil’s lead had been dulled. How does one go about eulogizing such a profoundly complex woman, especially given our unique and complicated relationship?
Let me just start by saying that in my life, I loved her deeply. I was immensely proud of her – for all the obstacles she had overcome, all the lives she had impacted, all the empowering words she shared. I loved her laughter – the way it could fill up an entire room, the way it could break tensions, the way it comforted and supplied a genuine feeling of home. Her humor was whip-smart and I laughed more often with her than with anyone else. That sharp humor was often dark and dripping with sarcasm, but I also loved that about her. I loved her smile, and that gleam in her eyes that accompanied it. Her mouth could be hidden from view, but her eyes always revealed when she was smiling. The charm of that smile, and those adorable dimples – was simply undeniable. And she smiled a lot – more than most others would have given the enormity and range of her struggles and setbacks.
Those are some of the parts I most hated about her – the battles that I was all too aware were wickedly waging just under the surface of that bright smile. She struggled with chronic illness, including colitis and fibromyalgia. However, her biggest battle was probably with mental illness. She suffered from bipolar disorder, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. While her suffering was not always visible to many of you in this room today, she did not hide her suffering in shame either. She often publicly shared her struggles, in both personal and professional settings, as a means of ending the stigma surrounding mental illness, and promoting mental health awareness. Most recently, she became a member of a local task force on suicide prevention. Of course, we all recognize the bitter, biting irony in this role – and this is why I hate her too. I hate her because I didn’t want to see her go so damn soon.
I didn’t want to see her go because I know there was still so much fucking good that she was meant to yet do in this world – so many more people that needed to hear her voice and know her struggles, and know that they could be strong too. Fuck. I thought she was strong. Excuse me. You must excuse my language and my tears, but you must also understand how hard it is for me to stand here today and tell you that what most amazed me about Angela during her life was her ability to survive and overcome, and yet here we are. Here we fucking are.
But I didn’t come here today to be angry or pissed or incite my rage against God or Angela for this final decision. No, I came here to celebrate a remarkable life and thus I continue with my deepest regrets for my digression.
There were two things Angela always wanted to do in this life. She wanted to be a mother and a teacher. I am pleased to say that she fulfilled both of these roles, and inherently excelled at each. As I look about, I see many of her former students are here today, and I have no doubt that they would speak the same words of kindness and gratitude regarding her today as they once did in her classroom. In considering what I would say today, I looked back at some of Angela’s teacher evaluations. She is often described with words such as “excellent, best, fantastic, amazing,” and the like. She is described as a “leader” and an “inspiration,” and in what is probably my favorite comment, she is called “a female Jesus.” That might seem like high praise if we consider our own past teachers, ones we probably cursed while attempting algebraic equations at midnight. But, the truth is that was just her. She was a naturally gifted teacher and her personal struggles provided her with unrivaled empathy and understanding for those she taught.
Amid all the faces of friends, family, and former students, who she is undoubtedly looking down upon with warmth, there are two faces that are of the utmost importance to her. To her children, her son and daughter, I offer my deepest condolences. There is nothing – absolutely nothing – in her life that she loved more deeply and truly than the two of you. You were her sunshines, and I assure you that while she is no longer with us in physical form, her love for you remains unconditional. She will continue to watch over you and guide you, hoping for you the same happiness and immense joy that you brought into her life. Know that her deeply regrettable choice is in no way a reflection of her love for you. That love will run true forever.
In her life, Angela was always honest. Many of her close friends would actually bemoan her “brutal honesty,” but I admired it. It was refreshing in a world full of euphemisms and platitudes. And so I’m not going to tell you that I know she’s gone to a better place or that time heals all wounds. I am going to tell you that her absence, and her means of departure, smarts like a motherfucker and I know this pain will linger. I am also going to tell you what I honestly would like to tell her right now – that I love her like crazy, but I also think she’s a selfish bitch. But, you know, she always forgave me – no matter how many times I fucked up in our relationship. She was a well of forgiveness and compassion, and so I forgive her and I’ll eventually forget my anger. I promise to never forget, though, that humor, that capacity for love, that leadership. I will never forget the remarkable woman whose skin I was ultimately so damn lucky to live in.