So … I’m a glutton for murder shows (do I have your attention?). I could watch Dateline and Snapped every night of the week if I had the time. Something about the mystery intrigues me. The unsuspecting husband, the secretly bitter wife, the seemingly perfect marriage, and then – bam! – the surprise nobody saw coming. It’s great.
Now, please don’t go making assumptions that this guilty pleasure is indicative of something sinister. I have no intention of killing my husband, people. I want to watch murder shows, not star in one. Besides, Geoff keeps me afloat; if I lose him, I drown. The kid’s not going anywhere – at least not if I can help it.
So why am I sharing this with you? Because I’ve noticed something about these shows that makes little sense to me. The victim, you see, is always described as a saint. “He was the nicest, sweetest person I knew,” one friend might say. “He always had a smile on his face.” Or this: “She could instantly light up a room. She was the type of person everyone wanted to be around.”
Did you know that every single murder victim is angelic and faultless? Every. Single. One. What a coincidence … or not.
I understand that nobody with a heart is going to point out the flaws of a dead person. That would be cruel and disgusting, especially since the person isn’t around to defend him or herself. Still, it makes me think about what people will say when I die – what my children and grandchildren will hear about me from friends and relatives. Of course it would be great for them to describe me as sweet and smiley and awesome and perfect. After all, who doesn’t love being showered with compliments? The problem, though, is that I’m not these things – at least not all the time.
I’m also moody, stubborn, impatient, insecure, and far too analytical for my own good. I procrastinate regularly. I forget to take out the trash. I pick all of the mushrooms out of the stir-fry. I use too much toilet paper. I let the TV babysit my kids when I’ve got lesson plans to do. I ignore phone calls. I miss church. I hide in the basement when girl scouts come to my door because I hate telling little kids no. (Yikes. Maybe I should be more worried about where I’m going when I die rather than what people are saying about me.)
I want my kids to remember me as human, not divine. I am not the “nicest, sweetest person you know” and I certainly don’t “always have a smile on my face.” I’m a decent person who smiles occasionally – usually at stupid jokes that no one else finds funny. The point is, I don’t want my dead ass kissed. I want people to talk about the real me, the alive me, not the dead me whose memory is distorted by gloomy nostalgia. Don’t talk about some fictitious ability to “light up a room.” Talk about my annoying habit of never calling people back. My kids will laugh at that, perhaps even relate to it. Talk about my terrible driving skills or my weird obsession with cows. Talk about my love for old lady cardigans and outdated sweatpants.
Talk about the blemished love that I have for my children, the kind that’s confusing and strong and, above all else, imperfect.
Don’t carry me like a fragile doll. Death doesn’t make me porcelain; it makes me real.