The Way We Were

Hello my loves!

I’ve been feeling good and introspective lately. Or morbid. Could go either way. I am chalking it up to an August in and out of the hospital, a crapped out heart, and the fact that this ridiculous heart monitor doesn’t let me forget for a second that my ticker is on the fritz.

So, it gets me to thinking about things that aren’t super fun. Like, what happens to my little fam if I were to suddenly perish.

Don’t have heart attacks, kids. They can mess with your whimsical calm.

But I got thinking about what sort of life people would remember me for. I’d hope it was a good one. But I want people to remember me for who I really am, not what they choose to remember or what they wish I had been. Worse, what I wish I had been.

I had this uncle who died a few years ago. I loved him, he was a good uncle. He was always very nice to me.

But dude had a nasty side. He could be downright vicious with his opinions and while we all loved him as family does, he hurt a lot of feelings in his living years and caused a few scandals.

When he died, I remembered the good and the bad. Apparently I was the only one.

The funeral carried on speaking about his wonders, his greatness, his solid moral fiber.

Which is great, that’s what you want people to think about you when you’re gone, right?

But it wasn’t true. And it really bothered me. To hear people standing up in front of God and family telling stories about this guy that just weren’t true. Actual untruths.

It felt really strange to me. He was a pretty good dude, overall. There were lots of things people could have said about him that would have cast him in a shining light, but that were rooted in the reality of his life.

Instead, people seemed keen on undoing the bad memories, the harsher reality, by retelling his life through rose-colored glasses built with good intentions and buckets of lies.

I remember sitting during the funeral, trying to keep my face as mournful as possible, not letting it show that I was pretty confused.

I get that people want to never speak ill of the dead. I get that you want to remember the good things.

I kept thinking, “If someone wants to be remembered for a good life, they should lead a good life…”

I felt like a Grade A prick, by the way. I do funerals wrong. Clearly.

There’s nothing perfect about me. Not a damn thing. There never will be.

I’m terrible with money. Like, terrible. I have a weird temper. I swear too much. I am legitimately the worst house-keeper this side of an episode of Hoarders. There’s lots of things.

But, I also try to be a good person. I’m pretty awesome as a mom. I have a white knight complex. (Is this a good one? I can’t tell.) I like to make people laugh.

So, when I die, and hopefully there are people that are bummed about that, when they get up to remember the Summer that was, I hope they say those things. “Summer was funny. She had great taste in t-shirts. She was an awesome mom. Her house was a disaster of clutter and tumbleweeds made up entirely of pet fur. She occasionally cried in people’s faces. She had dreadful taste in music. ย She was dramatic as fuck. She made me say fuck because she had a mouth like a Port-a-Potty and that shit is contagious. Some days, she could be a real jerk. But for the most part, she did okay.”

I try to live the way I want people to remember me. If I wanted everyone to see me as Saint Summer, I’d live a saintly life. I can’t help everything, but I do have choices. Choices that affect those around me, and those choices will be what I’m remembered for.

Again, this is all being sprung into my brain by dramatic circumstances, but that’s okay. Sometimes that’s what it takes.

We rarely stop to think what other people really think of us, and that’s mostly because it doesn’t matter. What matters is what you think of you, what your loved ones feel when they are around you.

But when I’m gone, I want there to be good memories. Honest ones. And I will do my damndest to live a life that grants me those memories.

And dude, ten bucks says my last word is “Fuck.” I assume it will be the thing I say right before I fall into a pit of rabid alligators or similar. Because that’s absolutely something I would do.

I hope you are all grand and wonderful, and that your lives are already full of those good memories. And that you all avoid alligator pits and shit.

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and The Good Life

15 Comments

  1. For what it’s worth, I would remember you as a damn good person. Not a perfect one. Not some kind of Sainted Version of Summer. No one is a saint. And the people who pretend they are? Well, they’re usually the scariest of the bunch. You are funny, sweet, witty, talented, have excellent taste in television AND t-shirts, and you never fail to warm my geeky soul with references and a string of lively curse words. You are, in short, my people.

    I never really understand the tendency to whitewash a person’s memory just because they died. Being dead doesn’t mean the shit that happened DIDN’T happen. All it means it that the person can’t pull the crazy shit anymore. For me, it feels horribly false to honor the IDEA of a person, rather than the actual person. That’s privileging fiction over fact, which is only good in BOOKS.

    Do you remember that episode of Dawson’s Creek where Abby (I think?) died? And everyone was saying such lovely things at her funeral? Except Jen got up there and told the truth? That’s me. I’m with you. I’d rather say goodbye to the actual person, instead of fantasy-based version.

    HUGS YOU TIGHTLY.

    • YEEEEES. That episode.

      Around that time this girl I went to high school with had died and people did the same thing. I remember being like, “Are…are we talking about the same person? Didn’t she literally punch you in the face two weeks ago?”

  2. This is perfect post. My husband and I lost a friend recently. It was tough. And it started some weird conversations.

    If I’m given any advanced warning at all, I called dibs on selecting the photos that go on my posterboards at the entrance to the funeral home. One of them will be all the photos I love of me with my husband and kids. Another will be me in all of the goofy photos I’ve been in – the one that looks like I’m barfing up a geyser will be in the middle. And the last will be photos of me sticking my tongue out at the camera (I do this a lot).

    Because these were the honest moments. Me loving my family, being awkward, but still trying to make people laugh.

  3. I would remember you as one of the most awesome people on Twitter EVER, like Megan Whitmer-level awesome. Potty mouth and all. >;D

  4. All you can do is be honest, be you, and live. Celebrate what makes us unique. Perfection is overrated.

  5. As soon as I started reading this post, I knew EXACTLY what story I would tell at your funeral – although, for the record, you’re actually not allowed to die, sorry. It is a Summer Being Awesome story, but it’s also a story that just I think really sums up the kind of person you are and sums up a lot about why I love you.

    And it’s you sitting at that table in the atrium at MWW this summer for like three days, endlessly helping people with their queries and their novels, really only getting up to go to panels that you were on or to go make sure an agent heard about a novel you thought they’d be excited about, and honestly looking FUCKING EXHAUSTED and also a little manic, but still making jokes and giving hugs and using your crazy awesome writer instincts and query knowledge to help anyone who needed it.

    That was a really fucking long sentence, but. You get me. YOU GET ME.

  6. I’ve never met you and would totally remember you as this zany force of life who made me laugh and love her in a 140 characters and less.

    Me, on the other hand? I’m forgettable while alive. I don’t have many friends and those I do have tend to be temporary. Situational. When the situation changes, so do the friends. I’ve never figured out why.

    Even my relatives drop me. Recently, my aunt posted a snarky comment on a Facebook picture I’d posted: “When are you going to see your family?” They have not invited me anywhere in 20 years. The only time we see each other is when someone dies.

    Actually, not even then. When my mom died, I didn’t hear from a single one of them. But when their dad died, I went to the wakes and the funeral.

    I get what you’re saying about making the memories matter but sometimes, I just feel like there’s no point in trying to change the mind that’s already made up.

  7. I only know you on Twitter/Facebook as a fellow writer but I love your blogs and your status updates and would remember you as a funny, kind, blue-streaked hair lady with a great sense of humor and kindness for her fellow authors. Oh and for her love of all things SUPERNATURAL and TENTH DOCTOR WHO and CAPTAIN JACK HARKNESS. I hope your heart heals soonly and you can get back to doing what you love.

  8. Summer you are funny as fuck. I laugh every time I read your stuff. But you also have some great insight and good advice. I think you can be proud of the you you’ll one day leave behind. Stay away from alligator pits and other fucked up shit! XO

  9. Summer, my kindred spirit of the blue-haired sisterhood,

    Don’t ever question that you leave a mark (in a good way) on people’s lives–with your words, your heart, and of course your madd mama skillz.

    That last part is the only thing that really matters, btw.

  10. Love your post, and thanks for the great reminder. Peace out and shit. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.