Monday, January 07, 2008

Final Goodbyes

Read and weep: a blogging soldier’s final post to the world, to be posted by his friend if he ever died. Andrew Olmsted requests:

"I do ask (not that I’m in a position to enforce this) that no one try to use my death to further their political purposes. I went to Iraq and did what I did for my reasons, not yours. My life isn’t a chit to be used to bludgeon people to silence on either side. If you think the U.S. should stay in Iraq, don’t drag me into it by claiming that somehow my death demands us staying in Iraq. If you think the U.S. ought to get out tomorrow, don’t cite my name as an example of someone’s life who was wasted by our mission in Iraq. I have my own opinions about what we should do about Iraq, but since I’m not around to expound on them I’d prefer others not try and use me as some kind of moral capital to support a position I probably didn’t support."

I find final letters fascinating in a morbid sort of way. In fact, I have a file on my computer called "Letters to be Mailed Upon My Death."

DH thinks that’s weird.

My dad died when I was ten; I only offer that in small explanation for why I have such a file on my computer. Although, my dad died a (slow?) death, well, less than a year, so he had plenty of time to make sure I knew how much he loved me.

Even before he got cancer, it was like he knew he had to pass certain nuggets on before he died. What father tells their eight year old not to marry until they’re thirty?

Sometimes, I think we subconsciously know if we’re going sooner rather than later.

Anyway, I have such a file on my computer because I want those people who were special in my life to know just how much I appreciated and cared for them. Yeah, we try to say those things in life, but when someone dies, we have a tendency to think, "I wish I would’ve done X, or spent just one more day with them."

I want them to remember a happy memory, and I want to say a final thank you and a final I love you. I want them to know how they made my life better, and in a few cases, leave some last words of unasked-for advice, LOL.

I wish my father had left me a letter, but his best friend wrote me one that suited. I treasure it to this day.

So that’s why I have a file marked "Letters To Be Mailed Upon My Death."

Do you have such a file? Have you written some of those letters?

16 bonus scribbles:

booklady 1/07/2008 09:16:00 PM  

I read that final blog post, too. So sad. And, no, I don't have a final letters folder, but now that you mention it it might be a good thing to have.

Anissa 1/07/2008 10:48:00 PM  

I read the soldier's final post as well. As I read, I had a difficult time wrapping my mind around it all. Knowing he'd written it in advance, just in case. What a difficult letter to write. And read. Hopefully, it will provide some solice to his family. Give them a little extra piece of him to cherish.

I can totally see where you're coming from with your letters. I don't have any myself. It never entered my mind. And that makes me wonder why. Something to ponder, I guess.

Bernita 1/08/2008 06:51:00 AM  

No file.
I do not negotiate with death.

Aimless Writer 1/08/2008 07:22:00 AM  

The file on your computer is an amazing gift. I'm too stupidstious to do that. I usually just tell people I'll be back to haunt them.

lainey bancroft 1/08/2008 08:19:00 AM  

Very sad blog post. I hope it is honored.

After dd was born, I had 2 questionable 'girl tests' and started keeping an obsessive almost hourly diary of everything she did in case I wasn't around to tell her how clever she was for smiling at 3 weeks, and how adorable it was that when you rocked her to sleep, she always chuckled for a few seconds before nodding off completely. (my mom said it was gas, I think it was pure baby contentment)

After ds was born and a few 'clean' tests, I gave it up. Partly the time factor of having 2 kids under 2, but mostly the fact that thinking about my death regularly,kept me from living in the moment.

I like that 'old enough to know better but still too young to care' belief that I'll be around to see everything.

If I had a terminal diagnosis, I'd probably start writing those letters again, though.

Zoe Winters 1/08/2008 08:29:00 AM  

I do not have a file. Because I'm never dying. Ever.

Back to reality... Did you take your father's advice on marriage?

StarvingWriteNow 1/08/2008 09:21:00 AM  

I don't have a folder, but I often think I should have something like that. Because you never know. On the other hand, it is kind of... I don't know... like you're testing fate by being so prepared or something?

Edie 1/08/2008 09:24:00 AM  

I read the final blog post too. Heartbreaking knowing he was dead.

My father died when I was five, and I would have loved a letter. I know my younger sister barely has any memories of him, and I have vague impressions.

I'm going to write "just in case" letters too. What a great idea!

Erica Orloff 1/08/2008 10:23:00 AM  

Hi Spy:
I have four kids and if I and my guy both die together in some way, we had to decide a guardian--and it's NOT a family member. Thus we had to make sure our estate was airtight, our instructions crystal clear. My estate planner actually gave me this big green binder with all our financials and insurance forms and so on in it. And a spot to put "what to do at my funeral" and letters for my kids.

My children all know--no pine box, cremate me, scatter me, have a big party. I have left them letters. I have told them who gets what because I don't want them fighting over "stuff" and since stuff doesn't mean much to me, I told them if I live to be old, I will probably give it to them (as the adage goes, better to be given by a warm heart than a cold hand).

So yeah, I think about it. And oddly enough, I guess my blog will live on after me a while.
E

spyscribbler 1/08/2008 01:50:00 PM  

It was heartbreaking, booklady. I cried. His back posts have some interesting stuff, too.

It must have been, Anissa! Although, it's my understanding it's a common practice in the military. I suspect it's likely he wrote one special to his family.

LOL, Bernita. I bow to your wisdom. Scary thoughts!

spyscribbler 1/08/2008 01:52:00 PM  

LOL, Aimless. I have to admit, I have fleeting worries about tempting fate, but ... it's best to be prepared.

My Grandma swore to my stepfather (after he pointed out that Y funeral home was $5,000 cheaper) that if he did not have her laid out at X funeral home, she would haunt him.

spyscribbler 1/08/2008 01:55:00 PM  

Oh, Lainey, that's funny! I hate that gas explanation. I mean, sheesh, just let us enjoy the smile or chuckle, you know?

I hope I'll be around to write 100 novels. That is my fear and my dream.

spyscribbler 1/08/2008 01:56:00 PM  

LOL, Zoe! That's the attitude!

I did end up taking his advice on marriage. DH and I actually aren't married, but we consider ourselves to be. It's just we have this dream wedding in Las Vegas (we long-distance dated for awhile, and always met in Las Vegas so it's special to us), so we are getting married once we save the money for a nice vacation in Vegas. He and I are kinda hoping for this next Christmas.

spyscribbler 1/08/2008 01:57:00 PM  

WriteNow, I worry about that, too. So I have to be in the mood to write those letters. And actually, I haven't updated them since when I was sick, about four or so years ago. I was more on top of them then, even though I didn't have anything terminal.

spyscribbler 1/08/2008 01:59:00 PM  

Yeah, Edie, it's hard for me to remember lots of things and I only have a vague image of him in my mind, even though I was ten. But you remember the hole they leave, for sure. And how much he loved me and supported me, stuff like that. I still cry sometimes, to this day.

spyscribbler 1/08/2008 02:02:00 PM  

Erica, wow, that is so thoughtful. I've never thought about my funeral, though. I guess I figure if I'm dead I won't care. But I don't like the thought of being in a box, that's for sure.

No wonder you knew so much about it in Do You Wear High Heels in Heaven? Love that book.