A Bizarre Thought for a Happy Life

Something weird happened the other day. The “Google alert” I set up to notify me if my name is mentioned online popped up with a strange story. It was a link to my obituary.

Sometimes, when we look at the horizon in the distance, it helps us appreciate the sand we're standing on right now. (Image: Amy Spencer)

Okay, so it wasn’t my obituary. It was for a woman with my name: Amy Spencer of Topeka, Kansas. And she sounded like a great person, survived by her mom, a sister and brother, and her life partner Dixie. “She was a sweet and funny gal,” said one friend who posted on her online obituary guest book. (Whoa, we live in a world with online obituary guestbooks.) Then again, it was full of kind words for Amy’s family that of course I had to read. Why?

Well, here’s a secret about me that only my close friends know: I’m obsessed with death. Like, terrified of it. Scared I might die every single day. I’m not kidding. When I make a safe left turn, I’m grateful I wasn’t careened in a crash by someone blowing the red light. When I say goodbye to my parents as they’re about to take off at the airport, I fear it’s our last goodbye until I get the text that they’re home safe. And when I Tweet a link to a video of a cat stuck in a box, I worry that my final message on earth will be, well, about a cat stuck in a freaking box.

But seriously, all the gloomy thoughts? I think they help. I think my fears about death are exactly what make me so appreciative of life. I’m an optimist because I’m so deliriously happy to be alive. I’m happy my legs work, my heart works, my eyesight works and my laugh works! Because I’m always thinking about people who can’t say the same. Any time I think of dying, it shocks me into feeling even more grateful about living. And for that very same reason, I think we could all gain from thinking just for a second—as bizarre as it sounds—about being at death’s door.

Let me ask you this:

What would your obituary say?

Think about it. You might find it’s the kind of thing that makes you realize you don’t people at your funeral saying, “Gosh, she was so busy with work, I hadn’t her in years!” Or “It’s so sad, because I felt like he wasn’t even enjoying the life he had.” Leave behind a better memory by living a more authentic and full life now.

Amy Lynn Flowers Spencer isn’t with us anymore. But I like to think she can be proud about the life she lived based on the comments people left about all the happiness and joy and laughs and love she left behind. Life is short, right? We never know when one hug could be the last. And when one YouTube link will be linked to you forever. And as depressing as it seems to think about that, think about that.

Let’s appreciate what and who we have around us now, while we’re here. Be a life optimist. Love the people around you. Live the best life you can. And be the person you want to be remembered as. Today. Right now. I want people to say I’m “a sweet and funny gal,” too. Really, I couldn’t ask for more.

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Big love,