Open Letter to Friends and Family

Dear Loved One,

Someday, you will die. Sorry. I’m sure I’m not the first one that has told you this. Maybe you’ll outlive me. I’m not sure, and, frankly, I don’t care who dies first. I just need you to know something important: If you die first, I will talk rank shit about you, and I expect you to do the same for me.

Look, it’s super popular to valorize the dead. “He was a pillar of the community.” “She was the nicest person we ever knew.” “Gramdma was a saint.” “He brought so much to our organization.”

Fuck. And. That.

I expect you to stand up at my funeral and tell everyone about that time you lent me $200 and how I never paid you back, because I am conveniently forgetful about things concerning money but weirdly skilled at remembering things like the capital of Burkina Faso (Ouagadougou) or the chemical name for the compound commonly known as Viagra (sildenifil citrate). Seriously. I’m kind of an asshole, and I fully expect, nay demand, that, when I die, you spend a good deal of time reminding everyone of how I was kind of a shitty person sometimes. If you won’t, who will? And if nobody is there to acknowledge my failures alongside my successes, then will my life have truly been celebrated? I think not. To celebrate my life is to celebrate the obscene as well as the sublime. Are you willing to rob me of my foibles? Do you deny me a full 97% of my human experience? (This approximation is based almost entirely on how frequently I returned library books on time, because I’m not sure there is a better metric for morality.)

I’m not going to die anytime soon. But I can’t say the same for you. Look. Here’s the thing. I’m not going to pretend like you were a saint when you die. We’re going to have a nice long talk and then I’m going to let you go. But I’m going to tell everyone what they need to know about you to truly mourn you. And I hope you’ll do the same for me.


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