How we stumbled into a conversation on giving each others eulogies, I’ll never know. Leave it to my sister to depress someone into the depths of despair by bringing up their inevitable death. I bet she really does sit over in her house and dream up plans to ruin a perfectly good day. On more than one occasion during the phone call my mind completely blanked trying to figure out why we weren’t having a normal conversation like normal sisters. What’s wrong with us?
“So you didn’t answer my question. Can I give your eulogy?” my sister asked.
“”But I’m your sister.”
“Why are you asking me to die before you? You’re six years older than I am! And I know age has nothing to do with when we die but realistically I should be asking to give your eulogy,”I said.
(First blank. Did I really just say that? Out loud?)
“Well who do you think Mom would pick between the two of us to give hers?” she asked.
(Second blank. Is she serious right now? Is she drunk right now?)
“Stop! We are not not taking about Mom dying! What’s wrong with you? Have you been drinking?” I asked.
“No. Wine gives me really bad headaches so I haven’t been drinking as much. You think I’m drunk?”
“No. I was just curious. I don’t know where any of this is coming from is all.”
“It doesn’t matter where it’s coming from. Don’t try to change the subject. Are you trying to say that I can’t give your eulogy?”
“Yes. I am both “trying to say” and quite clearly saying that you cannot give my eulogy. You hate me! How in the world could I possibly rest in peace if the last public words spoken over my poor dead body are your long list of personal grievances against me? I can hear it now: “Erin sure was a great friend. Not that I would know, because we weren’t friends. But all her friends say so. She never had time for me, her sister, her family. Still, I loved her. I did so much for her. I even bought her prom dress! And how did she repay me? By stealing my dog and my first-born son. She treated me like shit. She never wanted to exchange Christmas presents with me. She never invited me to go out to lunch. She celebrated her birthdays surrounded by friends and not once did she ever ask me to come along. If I called her to meet up for dinner and drinks or to see a movie, she always had other plans. And look around her now. Where are all her friends? Who has to be the one to stand up here and deliver her eulogy? Me. Because in the end, family’s all you got. I think everyone here really needs to pray for her. I don’t think my little sister made it to Heaven.””
My sister cracked up laughing. I did, too. I think i know her better than anyone else in my life. I know her inner workings better than my own, better than my parents and yes, even better than my friends with whom I spend all my time. And what I imagine she’d say about me after I pass is eons nicer than what she’d actually say. And we both know it. (Can we all knock on wood? I’m really shooting for at least 60 additional good years and all this death talk really has me creeped out.)
It is kind of funny to imagine what someone so close to you would say about you after you’ve passed on. Unless it’s my sister, then it’s just sad. But it’s mostly just sad. I haven’t been the best sister and Lord knows she hasn’t been either but I’ve sort of moved away from any expectations of us having a better relationship. Since moving back home to NC, I’m more interested in not rocking the boat than moving forward. We don’t need to navigate the waters as far as I’m concerned. Let’s just keep our eyes on one another and pray no one says anything that merits getting shoved out of the boat without a life jacket. And really, I know she’ll push me out. Luckily, I know how to swim (and I mean that both literally and metaphorically). She does not and that’s evident by the fact that she cares about what I’d say for her eulogy.
“Well what would you say about me?” she asked.
You see? Right there. She’s trying to start a fight. This is a lose-lose situation. If I lie and say I’ll only say wonderful things, she’ll know I’m lying. But dear God, if I tell the truth she’s liable to murder me, blame me for instigating my death then deliver a shameless eulogy.
“I’ll keep it short and sweet. I’ll walk up to the podium and say, “Here’s the perfect opportunity to practice the age-old adage, If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Here lies my sister.””
“What?” she asked. “I don’t get it.”
“What don’t you get? I wouldn’t say anything bad. Although I wouldn’t say anything nice either.”
“Why would you say that?”
“Why would you want someone you so obviously hate to be in the position of giving your eulogy?” I asked. “Make a friend and ask her to do it.”
“Why would you say that!?” she asked again.
“I don’t know why we’re talking about any of this. I don’t know the proper protocol for asking someone to give your eulogy, but it has to be in bad taste to ask for a rough draft. And it’s definitely bad luck.”
“So are you trying to say you don’t have anything nice to say about me?” she asked.
“Not yet. But hopefully we’ve got plenty of time to fix that,” I said. I could sense she was hurt. “Okay, fine. I have something: “Here lies my sister. She bought my prom dress.””
“Whatever. I’m still doing your eulogy. You’ll be dead. It’s not like you can go crying to Mom to get her to stop me.”
This time I cracked up in laughter. And then I blanked. Again. “So even when I’m dead, you have to get your way? Figures. Guess you should know I’m not having a memorial service or burial. I want to be cremated.”
“You can’t do that!” she screamed.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. No services, no eulogies. And most importantly, no fighting over who gives the eulogy.”
“I’m telling Mom,” she said.