Call it morbid. And, maybe, it is. But sometimes it takes standing in the dark to locate the light.
Try and imagine your funeral. Don't bother with the how or the why that you are gone. You just are. Besides, no one can really say why the Earth tires of us and insists it's time to leave. Don't contemplate what is to happen after, but what took place before. Picture this experience as if you left this world as you are, right now, today. Now attend it as a guest. Go ahead and mourn yourself. Open the doors to the space where you lay motionless, without breath, without life.
Enter the room and absorb the scene. Who sits in the pews? Who lays in distress on the steps that lead to what is left of you? Who did not have the courage to come? These are the people that make up the comforts and discomforts of your life. Walk to them. Notice them. Embrace them.
Wrap your translucent hands around their faces. Pick someone. Is it your distraught mother? An unfamiliar father? Maybe it's a sibling that just wasn't ready to see you go. Perhaps an old friend who lost their way on your journey in friendship or a lover who left you scorned. Go to them. Go to them, one by one, and tell them the things you need to say that your physical being could not find the strength to.
Wipe their tears or warm their cold and shocked expressions with your hands. Now speak to them from the heart that they no longer see beating. What would you say? Would there be apologies for wounds left open? Would you tell them that secret that you've held onto for far too long? Would you whisper to them about just how beautiful you know they really were? Maybe beg them to see themselves the way you did?
Then do it. Have the conversations with them that you have run out of time to put on hold. Grab the hands that helped mold you. Kiss them and thank them for their sacrifices in your name, for the love they were not forced to give but did anyway. They gave it for a reason. Count these reasons and take a moment to feel what you truly were. Loved.
These are the people that will talk to you in their cars when they are alone, hoping that somehow you will still be able to hear them. These are the people who will smell your clothes and sleep in your empty bed just to feel your closeness one more time. Take a part of these people with you and leave pieces of yourself with them.
Now, take the knives of the ones there who have shoved them in your back and place them in their hands. Tell them you didn't deserve it. Or tell them you did, but, be brutally honest when placing the blame. This is your time to confess your truth. Express your hurt and confusion. Paint for them the images of bruised memories they have caused you. Help them to feel the way it felt to be you in the dark hours of your life. Tell them how much you still love them or about the sleepless nights when you wished that you still could. Scream. Laugh. Cry. Forgive. Heal.
But you've got to do it now. You do not have any more tomorrows to be taken for granted. You only have this small amount of time for these big moments. Seize them.
What would they say to you? Let them speak without the desire to interrupt. Let them express to you the ways you have frustrated them, the moments with you that will never leave them, the hopes that they had for your life and what part they longed to play in it. Take in their pain, their shortcomings, their hurts. Let them scream and laugh and cry and forgive. Allow them the chance to heal.
How does it feel now that these things are out of you? Now that you have told them how they have helped you survive, how they have made it difficult to wake in the mornings, the ways that you feel they have taken you for granted or inspired you to be a better version of the good person you wanted to believe you could be. Do you feel lighter? Free? Good. That's how we were created to feel.
Now it's time to talk to yourself. Forgiving others is a walk in the park compared to coming to terms with the person you were or have been. But it must be done. The only way to spread your wings is to find the courage to truly forgive yourself. You have to lay those things to rest, too.
Approach your body with an open heart and mind. You are finally outside of yourself and able to give the advice you were never able to take when it came from within. Visualize your last day you lived before it came to an untimely end. What did you do? Did you call someone just to say hello? Did you take to the sting of bitterness and refused an apology deserved? Did you see someone who needed your help? Did you give it to them?
Maybe you stayed in bed all day with the blinds shut tight, smoldered in the hurts caused by others or yourself. Did you ignore the phone call of a loved one because you were just too busy for them? Did you pick apart your body and groan with disappointment? Did you skip a meal in hopes to fit in a dress? Did you let someone else's cruel words cause you undeserved shame?
Or did you wake up and open your window to let the air of a new day come over you? Maybe you put on your sneakers and took a long run. Did you sing in the shower or smile at a stranger? Did you thank God for another day even though you were unsure of what was to come from it? By chance did you get an offer from a child to play in their make believe worlds? Did you take it? I hope you did.
Weigh in on how you lived most of your days. Do you feel compelled to apologize to the body in front of you? Do you feel like thanking the still hands for what they have helped shape, comfort or create? I hope it is both. I pray you find twice the amount of good in every memory of the bad.
Here is the great part about this funeral. You are not actually dead at all. You are picturing this occasion with a living, bleeding and beating heart. I told you there was a light to be found.
But don't leave yet. Finish what you've started.
Begin with the guests. Walk through the room and ask those who deserve the time in the remainder of your life to stay. Thank them for doing so. Now ask those who have taken your heart for granted to please leave. Escort them to the exit and thank them for the lost love, the life lessons and the good times that were once had. Wish them well and meant it with every part of your revived heart. Their time here is through.
It's time for the burial.
This is where you get to choose what finds a new home six feet underground in a place to be forgotten. Agree to bury the hate that has taken root in your soul. Bury the fear that has paralyzed you from chasing a dream. Bury the hurt, the pain, the shameful nights. Let the victim that guilt has wrongfully shamed you into becoming be the one to rest in the dirt. Pull yourself away from this unfortunate fate. There is still time.
Walk away from that grave knowing that you are more than just a body. You are someone's good morning. You are someone's good night. You are an emotion and a passion and a caregiver. You are a movement.
When you turn your back to that grieving stone, use that movement. Use it to shake another's world. Use it to still the storm in another's heart. Use it be the person you were created to be and to do the things you were designed for.
Decide to be the person that calls to you in the night, waiting for a chance to shine. Decide to take direction from your soul and listen with your heart. Decide that there is no one else who can be YOU. Promise yourself that you will do everything in your power to do and be what you were placed on this Earth for.
The ones who live this way are brave and that kind of courage can be hard to find. But by saying what is on our hearts and telling those around us how they have changed our lives, shows you where you can find the places to collect it. Because with every proclamation of unconditional love, every statement of hard earned truth, each testimony of trials prevailed and with every ounce of forgiveness received, a new feather sprouts on our eternal wings.
One by one they will emerge until, finally, you will no longer be afraid to fly.
So, what is it you are waiting for?
Speak the truths and create the things that will plant the seeds of good in life. These are the things that will continue to grow even when you are gone.
Why? Because you will have lived a life that has inspired others to tend to them in your absence, to keep your good works and memory alive so that another can be touched in the same way you once touched them. By doing this you will learn, not just how to fly, but what it takes to soar.