While the 1992 movie Prelude To A Kiss was only moderately entertaining, the main premise of the story stuck with me because it didn’t make sense…until recently. When a pessimistic young bride agrees to a dance and kiss at her wedding with a strange old man, they switch bodies a la The Parent Trap. We eventually learn it is because at that moment, each wished to be the other. I instantly understood why a cancer-stricken old man would want to trade places with a young woman, but why did she envy him? Apparently, the appeal to her pessimistic outlook was that at the end of life, there was no longer any reason to be afraid. I heard her words, but the explanation fell flat, making no sense to me.
I finally get it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve slowly realized that human existence always has been, and always will be, hard. No one is immune, and that’s coming from someone who recognizes I’m more blessed than perhaps 99% of the world’s population. Philo’s famous request, to “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle” is so true. The older I get, the more tired I get; I wouldn’t be young again for anything.
Yet, I haven’t become a pessimist – quite the opposite. It may sound morbid, but I long ago chose the music for my funeral. I’ve gone to lots of funerals of loved ones–some of which are great memories, though the mood was far from festive. I’ve chosen my music to send a clear signal about my own beliefs. Though it’s normal to be sad at a funeral for those we will miss, I don’t want my family and friends to grieve for me–there isn’t any reason to. I’ve had a good life (hopefully far from over), I’ve been loved, and I feel that I’ve made a difference. Most importantly, I don’t believe death is the end. I’ve discussed why I believe that before.
At my funeral, I want Jimmy Durante’s I’ll Be Seeing You played. I chose this song because I believe it, plus it’s impossible to listen to Jimmy Durante’s voice without smiling. I’ve also chosen Into The West from Lord Of The Rings. It imagines souls as ships passing from this horizon onto the next. Just because we can no longer see them does not mean they are no longer there. And finally, I want The Old Rugged Cross played. It’s one of the old hymns from my early Baptist days, but I mostly want it in honor of my beloved grandfather, who requested it played at his own funeral.
But the finale needs to be this short video of Gonzo the Muppet singing I’m Going To Go Back There Someday. If you haven’t seen it in a while, I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch it…it’s guaranteed to leave you smiling. I suppose that’s how I really want to leave all of you someday.
The Unknown Shore
“A ship sails, and I stand watching till she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says, She is gone. Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large now as when I last saw her. Her diminished size and total loss from my sight is in me, not in her. And just at that moment, when someone at my side says she is gone, there are others who are watching her coming over their horizon, and other voices take up a glad shout … There she comes! That is what dying is. A horizon and just the limit of our sight.”