If I Die Before I Wake

A few weeks ago, I attended a funeral. It was for my grandmother’s sister -Aunt Sis, as we affectionately called her.

If you want to talk about living, REALLY living, you can talk about Aunt Sis. She always had life around her, and it seems surreal that she isn’t… here anymore. She’s always been here, you know. Then she had the audacity to up and leave.
For a few years now, we’ve known that Aunt Sis had cancer. Cancer is such an awful word. There’s so many words out there that might be absolutely darling if they didn’t have horrendous meanings attached to them. Syphilis, for example.
Anyway, I was grateful to be able to attend Aunt Sis’ funeral. The program was perfectly put together, the programs were LOVELY, and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed her funeral.
Then it dawned on me: it’s because she PLANNED it.

Earlier that week, I sat next to my Grandpa Hansen on a Sunday evening as he finished off a bowl of ice cream.
“Are you going to Frances’ funeral?” He asked.
“Oh yeah,” I nodded.
“I’ll be there. Playin’ the organ.” Grandpa has a wonderful way of pronouncing it “arr-gun” that I just adore.
“Oh yeah?”
“I saw her a while back. I didn’t know she had the cancer. She stopped me and asked me if I’d play the organ at her funeral. I says, ‘If you’ll sing at mine!’ because I thought she was making a joke. Then I saw her a while later and she asked me again. She didn’t look sick. I didn’t know… and then your Grandma G.G. called, said Frances had passed, you know.”
“Said she left a paper with a note written that I was supposed to play at her funeral.”

Grandpa and I had a good chuckle because that is just SO Sis.
And so he played, and I sat in the congregation and listened. I love to hear Grandpa play. There’s really something about his big fingers going over those keys.
–On a side note, a few weeks ago my mother and I were talking about music. I remarked that, if she promised not to tell any of piano students, I’d tell her a secret: I could hardly stand listening to piano renditions of basically anything. She only laughed and told me Grandpa Hansen was the same way. Oh, how I love Grandpa. He’s my bud. —

I’m getting off subject. But as long as I am:

And before we get back:

As I curled up in bed last night next to my favorite person in the entire world… we naturally began planning our funerals.
It's funny because it's true.
We want our funerals to come off as smoothly as Aunt Sis’ funeral did.
“At mine, I want two songs sung for sure. ‘Simple Gifts’ and ‘For the Beauty of the Earth.’ And if you can somehow make it happen, I want the youtube video of “The Lord’s Prayer” projected onto a big screen. Julianne can’t be asked to help do anything at the pulpit because she’ll cry and she’d hate that. Maybe you ought to ask Steven to handle the life sketch…”

I’ve always been attached to Simple Gifts. I happen to detest Allison Krauss, but it seems a combination of Yo-Yo Ma and Shaker lyrics can almost redeem her.

The song speaks volumes about my feelings. It’s a GIFT to be simple. It’s a GIFT to be FREE… ahhhhh. Perhaps when I’m dead, my children will belt those lyrics. “It’s a gift to be FREE!”
And then there’s For the Beauty of the Earth. Why do I love this song?

Gratitude. Gratitude is why I love it. There should be gratitude at my funeral. Har, har. Also: please don’t misinterpret my wanting “For the Beauty of the Earth” sung at my funeral to mean that I’m so arrogant as to presume my being buried in the earth MUST improve it’s beauty.
It would be a lovely thought, though. Plant me and watch flowers spring up!

I then asked my husband if he had any “switches”… something that got him instantly feeling the spirit when he needed to -even in the STARK middle of chaos. He said, “I dunno. Some songs, I guess.”
Ah, HA! Some songs! I then asked, “Why IS that? I mean, I know scientist have proved that music excites certain parts of our brain to react the way they do to music. Blah, blah, blah. I don’t want the scientific reason… I just want to know WHY, really WHY, music touches our souls the way it does. For that purpose, I’ll be glad to die. I somehow feel like being down here and being mortal is like a long drawn-out state of perpetual stupidity. When I die, I’ll KNOW things I can’t know here, and that will be so nice! That, and I’ll be able to finally see.”
My husband laughed because he knows JUST how blind I really am.
My husband also knows that I listen to this song at least once a day, and every day it takes me RIGHT to the peace I need.  It’s my switch.
I know I’ve posted this before, but please: if I die, see if there’s some way we can blast it at my funeral. There’s nothing I’d love more. Nothing at all.

The extent of my husband’s planning went something like this:
Me: What was that song you wanted sung at your funeral?
Him: I have no idea.
Me: YES! Yes, you do!
Him: I don’t think so.
Me: YEEEESSS because you TOLD ME you wanted it sung. What was it?
Him: Babe. I don’t know.
**I think I must be something of an irritation to my husband at times. Particularly when he’s trying to sleep and I’m prattling on about how stupid mortals can be.**
Me: It was a song. It’s your favorite, and you love it and one day it hit you hard and you told me about it and I fell asleep while you were telling me…
Him: I Need Thee Every Hour.

THEN he remembered! He’ll never forget my falling asleep in the middle of him sharing something special with me. And I’ll never forgive myself.

Me: That’s it. Okay. I’m going to write it down. I’m going to write mine down too because if you can’t even remember what you want for your own funeral, how are you supposed to remember everything I just told you?

Hence: a blog post titled “If I Die Before I Wake.”  All thanks to Aunt Sis.

May your pillow talk be just as sweet.

(**incidentally, facebook suggested I add Aunt Sis as a friend the day after I attended her funeral.  I had no idea she was on facebook, and of all the days facebook picks to suggest her?  Ah, the irony of social media…**)

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