Yes, I just turned 22, but I beg you to keep that Taylor Swift song away from me.
Typically we don’t start blog posts talking about “the end.”
Disclaimer: we’re about to chat about death.
For those who don’t know, when I’m not helping to run Shut Up and Go, I work at an event venue. I am usually a waiter for weddings or other celebratory functions. Yep, every Saturday and Sunday, I get to experience couples, young and old, live the “most important” day of their existence. These very rare and coveted moments, for them, always find a way to shift into a repetitive ceremony for me. But the event last week was bizarre. Firstly, I worked on a Thursday. I must admit, I definitely questioned who the hell would be having a wedding on a Thursday.
On my way to work, I smiled with joy as I thought about how this would be my last weekend working these events because I would soon be traveling for the next 3 months – oh, and my birthday was coming up! Let’s just say so many emotions and thoughts were swimming around in my mind. Freshly clocked in and confused, I soon found out this event wasn’t a wedding nor a birthday party nor a communion… it was a funeral.
As the evening began, I mentally prepared to see a sea of mourners, dressed in black with a Kleenex box at hand.
Barely! They wore their pastels with pride and raised their champagne glasses high.
When I asked my manager why the family decided to have the funeral with food, drinks, and music, she firmly replied, “Because before she passed away, she demanded that everyone celebrate her life rather than mourn it.”
Let that sink in for a moment.
Although there were tears – lots of them – it was obvious that the crowd was feeling a mix of sadness and joy. As friends and family approached the podium to reminisce on their experiences with the recently passed, they described traveling, drinking wine over Netflix marathons, chasing boys in high school, and all of these other intimate moments that knitted together a joyous memory blanket from which to remember her. But more importantly, almost every person commented on how she was committed to and deeply appreciated her career. She made sure to invest her time in a job she loved and felt rewarded by.
Standing in the back in all black – not for the funeral but because it’s uniform – I would smile and tear up at what was being said.
I didn’t know nor have I ever met this lady, but I felt deeply for her and her family. At the same time, I was so happy that crowds of people were bonding over her mainly because she was an awesome person who enjoyed the life that she lived. In a way, I felt connected to/ inspired by her. It’s ridiculous how human nature works in bizarre ways.
From the speakers, I gathered that she was someone who lived her definition of a fulfilling life. As I went over to the board to see a picture of this adventurous and missed person, she didn’t look a day of 50 years old. I believe that she wasn’t, she was just taken too soon during a draining war with cancer.
50 is super young. At 50, we all think we’ll be like Samantha from Sex in the City, but for some of us, that’s not how our stories will go.
Then, I quickly began to think about my cousin who passed at age 28 a few years ago. And a few hours later, I went home and received a notification that fashion blogger Kyrzayda Rodriguez had also just passed away at age 40.
Rest in peace.
Not to get on morbid on y’all, but the funeral got me in my feelings:
Although death happens plenty of times a day and we usually don’t give it much thought, there’s a shift in our perception when we are near it. Moments like these confirm how rapid life is, can be, or will be. In return, these unfortunate moments give us a first-hand realization that life ain’t no joke; she’s precious, hunny. And if we got it, we betta live it. You never know when it could be taken away from you. And for those who think I’m being a tad dramatic… maybe you’re partially right, but for god’s sake, Jo got shot and could’ve died. So, literally, anything can happen when you least expect it.
When we only have a certain amount of time and energy to live out our existences, we have to decide what sort of path we want to take. So whether you want to drop everything and move to Berlin, or take that trip and laugh with bizarre strangers you just met at your hostel, or take an extra vacation day to go to your favorite lake, or even just sit at home and listen to your grandmother tell you stories about her childhood, do what’s going to please you.
Before we “go,” the best feeling is going to be realizing that there was something we wanted to do and did it, regardless of how others felt.
This ain’t nobody else’s journey but your own, so treat it that way.
On my 22nd birthday, I want to raise a glass to everyone who lived and continues to live a kicka$$ life (whatever kicka$$ means to them).
Originally published on shutupandgo.travel.
Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.