Funeral Speech

by gabbybates

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I don’t hate many things. Having cold, wet feet… witnessing someone be mean to someone else… getting locked in a dryer… These are the only things that come to mind immediately.

Oh, and the idea that I might not get to speak at my own funeral.

This is why, every year on my birthday, I sit down and write a speech to be given, on my behalf, should I die within that year. The process alleviates my anxiety and (added bonus) makes me super appreciative of everyone in my life. Yesterday was my birthday.

I began with the sentence: I do not think anyone has ever had a greater life than I.

And I meant it. Which is a little crazy. If this speech is ever delivered, it means I died at age 23. By that fact alone, I don’t think anyone would say, “Wow! What a lucky young woman!” But I meant that sentence with all my heart. At the risk of sounding completely full of myself, I stand by it. I do not think anyone has ever had a greater life than I.

There are so many orphans. Who am I to have a village of mothers and fathers to encourage and inspire me throughout my entire childhood and beyond? Why do I get to stand on a bluff on San Juan island under a harvest moon while a ferry ghosts across the bay? Why do I get to see churches made of bones, ramble through Chianti vineyards, and dance, and draw, and kiss? There are so many lonely. Why do I get to hitch my wagon to the star that is Andrew Stahlman, the most intelligent, humble, and thoughtful man in the world, wake to find his arm across my chest, breathe the appled scent of our mornings?

Things go my way almost without fail. It’s November, and yet I can see Mt. Rainier like thin white paper pressed into the blue. The sun is strong today. My body is strong. I don’t have a single ache. My fingers smell like the cold Louisiana satsumas I just peeled and ate by the segment. I spend my days reading poetry and writing it. I walk from our apartment to Bauhaus, where I take off my scarf, order a cup of drip coffee with almond milk, and write the rest of the morning. I go for long walks and memorize poems by Hopkins, Wright, and Keats.

I am grateful beyond words, which for a poet, is both humbling and a little annoying. And so I digress.

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Here’s to you, whoever you are—

may your life also strike you as the greatest ever lived.

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