I have thought a lot about my eulogy. Is it because my 80th birthday is just around the corner? Partly it is because I recently lost two dear friends. I have no plans to leave Mother Earth. Yet life is a mystery. We do not know our expiration date.
Many eulogies sound as if they are burying only the good parts of a person. I have asked my family to say everything about me; the good and the not so good. I want all of me buried. I have worked so hard to embrace my total self. All of me needs recognition. Otherwise, unspoken parts might drift to an alternative universe. Those aspects might end up like unclaimed coats in the cosmic lost and found.
When it comes to my accomplishments there is one thing to say. “She wore her scars like wings.” I have, like far too many, experienced childhood trauma. I use those experiences to lift up others and myself. That quote by bestselling poet Atticus, says it all.
It is also important to note the word “scars” not “wounds.” Wounds are raw and unhealed. Trauma never totally goes away. However, through compassionate helpers and my own demanding work, my wounds formed scar tissue. As Hemmingway said so beautifully, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
I count myself in that category.
Participants were asked to write their own eulogy in one of my workshops. It is a daring act. It certainly focuses one’s attention. How do we take stock of our life?
How do you want to be remembered?
How do I want to be remembered?
My thoughts immediately go to a favorite song as I search for an answer. Poetry and music often are the best places to find profound answers. The song Seasons of Love struggles with this very question of measuring a life.
Lyrics: Seasons of Love
How can you measure the life of a woman or man?
In truths that she learned,
Or times that he cried.
In bridges he burned,
Or the way that she died.
Then the song offers this answer. Measure your life in love.
We know people by what they protect. We know them by how they invest their time and money. We know them by where they place their attention.
We know people by what they love.
We know ourselves by what we love.
What do you love?