When I die

I am fully aware that I’m being dramatic, and definitely I am overreacting. But I think it’s not entirely unreasonable, given what’s happening in the world today.

About a month ago, in my absolute paranoia and panic, I worried that I had COVID-19.

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My symptoms were so vague: body aches, extreme tiredness, headaches. I didn’t have a fever, or a cough or cold. I hadn’t lost my sense of smell or taste. Still, I was worried.

My mother called our barangay, and the health officer referred us to the City Health Office. Somebody called me, asked for my symptoms, and told me to check my temperature daily, so I could inform them if I had a fever. One of them said that my symptoms were so vague, and maybe I should get a checkup.

I called the nearest hospital, and I told them my symptoms. They told me to go to the ER. So I went. After some tests, and several hours of waiting, it turned out to be a simple urinary tract infection.

On the one hand, all that panic, for a fucking UTI?? On the other hand, thank God it’s just a fucking UTI!

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Still, it got me thinking about what my family would do if I had indeed caught the virus, or something else equally fatal, and I had died. Obviously there were practical concerns: cashing in on insurance policies, updating all my bank accounts, informing my work colleagues. And there were the immediate postmortem concerns: cremation immediately after death, a simple gathering with friends and family if conditions permitted it. Absolutely no roses or tiger lilies anywhere, because I hate those. Maybe some note paper for people to write messages for Lucas to read when he got older. And all my favorite food: pancit with liempo, leche flan, brazo de mercedes, pasta with roasted veggies and sausage. Ooh, and 90s music!

Do you ever think about what people will say at your funeral? I’m not expecting fancy eulogies, but if people do want to say something, I certainly hope there’s no drama or tears, no blame thrown around or passive aggressive resentment.

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If people are going to say anything, I hope their words are punctuated by loud guffaws and corny jokes, and recollections of the things that made me laugh out loud. I hope their recollections include the things that made me angry, that propelled me into action, that moved me to tears.

I don’t want people to make a list of the things I’ve done in life; you can find that on my LinkedIn. I’d rather people remembered that I tried to be brave, even if I was scared or worried all the time. I’d rather people remembered that I tried to do the right things, and I tried to be honest and kind and patient, and I didn’t always succeed. I’d want people to remember the things that broke my heart, so that they could try to make the world better, for my son and everyone else.

I don’t want flowery language and praise. I don’t want sobs and wails. I want honesty. I want people to remember how flawed I was, how sad or angry or petty I could get, how vain, how gluttonous, how selfish.

I would want Lucas to know that I tried, in what little ways I knew how, to make the world better, to show others what could be, to tell stories that might change lives, to give love. I would want Lucas to know that I wasn’t the smartest, the most efficient, the most organized, but God I tried. I would want Lucas to know that I loved him fiercely, and that I always tried to teach him to be a good person.

I guess I can only hope.

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