Romanticized Life

Trigger warning: This post contains an extensive discussion on the topic of  being terminally ill and death.

My posts never seem to lighten up, the same will hold true for this one. But I hope to throw some light into my next one, so please do bear with me.

I have attended so many funerals I have no idea if I could ever count them. Between knowing the deceased and all of the time I’ve spent being a ghost in the cemetery, I’ve seen countless. One thing they hold in common is the way the deceased seems to end up over romanticized. I know the purpose, to put those who knew them at ease, to paint a final lasting image of the better parts of them. I get it, I do, and I appreciated it when standing at the funeral of my friend who chose to end his life before the whole classroom of us. They spoke of him so kindly, despite the tremendous amount of agony he caused.

But a thought can’t help but creep up on me.

What will they say about me?

I’ve known for a long time, that I wasn’t supposed to make it. That time and time again it was ‘my last’ health struggle. That has painted many relationships in my life. I feel as if being close to me is guaranteed to hurt far more than it is worth in happiness. Though those around me go to all sorts of lengths to persuade me to believe otherwise, it’s a shadow that lingers.

So spending many nights among the dead, hands laced through the cold blades of grass watered by the many tears of those left incomplete by death’s hand, I wondered. What could I do to make the things to be said at my inevitable funeral, true? How could I become a person impossible to over romanticize because I truly did that much good?

Though I try not to think on it much, the ticking of my clock grows louder each passing day. I am nothing special, we all have our expiration dates. We all should aim to live life as if today is the only guarantee and even then, all of today may not be granted.

But it’s hard to do good when you’re assumed to be the bad guy all the time. Because I fall somewhere among the gray of morality, people don’t think I’ve changed. As if they’re waiting for me to return to the life of dangerous delinquency I left behind, they say my clean up is simply an act. So maybe being remembered as a young man who was too good to over romanticize may be out of my reach. But I’m still going to try. Even if I don’t do it the classical way, even if the best thing I’m known as is being that friend of questionable morals who enacted revenge for those I loved, I need to create a memory of myself.

Because if I died today, I know what they’d say.

The person giving the parting speech would look out to a crowd of maybe six people, maybe. They’d wonder who I could have been, to be important to so few. They’d say the same bravado, that I was a kind young man who was taken by illness too soon, that I had great lovely dreams or whatever. They’d send me off with some form of religious commentary, and like that, I’d fade away. Not a single flower left at my grave after a year’s time.

That is, if my family even bothered to give me a funeral.

That thought doesn’t sit well with me, that I’ve been on this Earth for two decades and yet perhaps six people would attend my funeral. Not that number really matters, but it speaks volumes when it comes to the good I’ve left in the world. The biggest way we live on is through the core of others. So before I go, I need to make sure to touch the fiery hearts of enough people that when I’m gone, they’ll be able to light lanterns with my flame and send them into the sky with the stars.

It brings me solace knowing I’ll live on in this blog, too. That the struggles I dare not tell most about will be here for those who care when I’m gone. I am endlessly thankful I can leave these parts of me behind. Because as long as someone can come on here and see my words and maybe, just maybe, feel less alone, my flame can reach them too.

I really do try not to think on it, not because I fear death, but I deeply fear the pain it will cause. My significant other, my best friend, my family, all those who I talk to on occasion. Some of them have even gotten close to me without knowing of my illness, that every ‘close call’ brings me a little closer. I feel as if I have betrayed them, not disclosing the pain knowing me could bring. I would tell them, but things change when I tell people.

When I turned my life around, I vowed to not seclude myself. That I wouldn’t go out of this world, having not touched the heart of another. There are many things I wish I hadn’t done, things I wish I hadn’t chosen to spend my time on. But now I do everything I can to spend that wisely, because I can’t do anything about the past. The future isn’t a guarantee, tonight isn’t even, so every moment I take one at a time.

I do hope that you’re not like me, but if you happen to be, it’s okay to be afraid. I am scared witless on the topic. But please do promise me, dear reader, that if your clock is like mine, you won’t let fear steal your time.

Life is really, truly, too short.

Over romanticized personas have their place, but I dare you, no matter who you are, to make it impossible to do. Be the best person so that your eulogy writes itself. Love so fiercely that the loss of you will be so universally felt that your heart will transcend time.

Though I fear hurting those who care about me when I die, I fear hurting no one, more.

It only hurts when you lose something you loved.

So, ponder this, dear reader: What will they say about you?

-Love, Bulletproof-


3 thoughts on “Romanticized Life

Add yours

  1. Hey Bulletproof, I really related to what you said here. I don’t have a terminal medical condition (you know, besides being alive), but I’ve still found myself confronted time and again by thoughts of whether I’m wasting my life, or if I’m genuinely helping those around me, if I’m living to my true potential. Like I’ve said before, that’s part of why I decided to start this blog, so I could know that I had made a difference. Goodness, I even took my pen name after a character whose struggle centered around knowing that she only had a year left and had wasted her life thus far.

    But what they’ll say about me in the end… I don’t know. Like you said, they’ll probably over romanticize it. But hey, I’m an INFP. I over romanticize life anyway. XD

    But friend, your life won’t have been wasted. I’ve seen how much you do try to make a difference, and maybe not even to the full extent, and believe me, you have, and that’s speaking for myself. I can’t begin to tell you how much it means to me to have so much support, not only in this blog, but also personally. Your encouragement to me on my post, “I Am Inadequate,” meant — and still means — so much to me. It still helps keep me going.

    No matter how long you’re here for — and I hope it’s much longer than the doctors say — you will have made a difference. Please don’t doubt that. ❤


  2. Dearest…

    Again, distance has placed a barrier between us. I would reach through the screen and pull you into a hug, in an effort to show how much you mean to me.

    Words are so easy for me to manipulate that sometimes I don’t know how to use them to convey all that I want them to. I don’t know how to tell you my feelings, because I don’t feel in words – it is something special when I can be silent around someone, silent because I am comfortable and safe, not because I am frightened and hurt.

    I would say that you are sweet, and funny, and caring. You are wise, and bright, and I love your smile. You have been such a good friend to me. You’ve helped me so much with just these words that float between screens from one side of the country to the other. You were the first guy I have told about my abuse and molestation. And I was surprised, actually, by how gentle you were. How much you didn’t blame me. I blamed myself, dearest, I thought it was my fault. You flipped my world around.


  3. To be honest, sometimes the thought of leaving others in pain when I die is a comforting one, because I spend so much time convinced that I take up too much space and that the best thing to do would be to fade away. I spend so much time thinking I won’t be missed, that people would want me to leave. It’s only when I started opening up about my illness to a few people close to me that I realized that wasn’t the case, that the illness was lying to me.

    I know that’s not fully connected to what you said, but your post made my thoughts follow that bunny trail. Although I do believe that if you were to die today, you would have more people at your funeral than you expect. I believe this because there are people I love who do not know I love them because I am afraid to tell them. I imagine this sort of thing happens frequently.

    But you have made me feel far less alone with the things that I have suffered and am suffering, and to change one person’s world, even in just one area, is to leave a mark that death cannot erase. Please don’t feel like you’re wasted.


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