The obituary

Today I’m writing Husband’s obituary.

He sits across the living room from me—still breathing—and slurps from a cup of coffee as he tells me the events of his life. No pressing reason why we need to get it written today when his expiration date is a fuzzy question mark off in the distance. Or maybe that fuzzy question mark makes today the perfect day to tackle the job.

From the point when I became a dot on Husband’s timeline, I learned facts about him. Many of his earlier details, however, are blurry and out of order in my mind. So, as he talks, I type up the noteworthy parts—parts the masses expect to read regarding the deceased when the time comes.

My hands come off the keyboard, though, when Husband relays the pure gold, the stories too entertaining and earthy and precious to make the back of the funeral bulletin:

He mowed lawns for money at eight years old—before he was tall enough to reach the handle on the mower.  

Before he hit double-digits, he got caught for shoplifting a box of Hot Tamales.

On his paper route at age ten, a dog bullied him daily from behind a gate. One day, the animal popped the gate open, knocked Husband down, and stood on his chest, snarling, for what felt like thirty minutes.

On a mission trip at twenty-two, while he was driving a van of college students around in Brazil, a truck ran him off the road.  

Before we started dating, he came to a fundraiser where I was selling popcorn balls. He asked how much they cost. “A buck a one,” I said, and my face reddened at my fumbled words. And that was the moment he fell in love with me.  

But these—and other stories—don’t make it in.

Husband recounts the last of the history we need for his death document, and I finish typing it up and save it. While it’s bland and outlines only what he’s done—not who he is—it would please the kind of funeral director who likes to check the boxes. Because when someone dies, our culture prefers the table of contents to the book.

I reread the record of my man’s life up until now; it’s satisfactory. But we’ll keep the warm, living, and amusing tales to ourselves to enjoy today while he’s sitting across the living room from me, drinking his coffee.

Because those stories are too good for the obituary.


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*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.