Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Live Like You Were Dying

by Julie Coulter Bellon

Two years ago I went through a difficult heart surgery. I was worried about it since there were some risks and there was a possibility that I could die. Among other preparations that my husband and I made before I went to the hospital, one of them was to get my will in order, including a living will, and I planned my funeral. A lot of people thought I was strange for doing it, but I like to think of it as being prepared, and it would be one less thing for my husband to think about during a difficult time.

I was discussing this with one of my friends earlier today and she said, "Wouldn't it be funny if there was a table at your funeral that said, here are all the things you never knew about Julie Bellon." The statement struck me. As a fairly private person, I think there are a lot of things people don't know about me. To have some things like that on display at my funeral might make an interesting table and for interesting comments. I wondered what people would say about me at my funeral. Usually everyone remembers all the good times. I mean, what would any of you say about me if you came to my funeral? Would it be funny? Nice? Would Rob be full of regrets for all the mean things he's said about me?

(My friend went on to suggest that I have some books at my funeral, sort of like a final book signing. I didn't know what to think about that, but it gave me a good chuckle. Like having that one last shameless marketing plug for my books. Hey, if an artist is dead usually his work climbs in value. Not so for authors. Sad, isn't it?)

As I've attended funerals in the past, I've listened to eulogies and remembrances and part of me wondered if the person who had died really knew how people felt about them. Before my surgery I wrote letters to all my children, making sure they knew exactly how I felt about them and what I wanted for them, and how proud I was of them. I wondered what they would say about me. If I had died, what kind of mother would they say I had been? What kind of friend had I been? Wife? Sister? Church member?

When I came through the surgery, I was so relieved and I really learned a few life lessons. It changed the way I live my life and I'm grateful for the two gifts that our Heavenly Father has given each of us. Free agency and Time. And it is up to us on how we use both of those gifts.

I heard a song on the radio that brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it and reminds me of how I felt then and now. It's called, "Live Like You Were Dying" and Tim McGraw sings it. While you read it, think about the message. And call the people you love today and tell them how much they mean to you. Don't wait for the eulogy at their funeral.

Here are the lyrics.

Live Like You Were Dying

He said I was in my early forties
with a lot of life before me,
when a moment came that stopped me on a dime
And I spent most of the next days
looking at the x-rays
Talking ‘bout the options
and talking ‘bout sweet time
I asked him when it sank in
that this might really be the real end
How's it hit you when you get that kinda news
Man what'd you do

and he said, I went sky diving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
and I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
and I gave forgiveness I'd been denying
and he said someday I hope you get the chance
to live like you were dying.

He said I was finally the husband that most the time I wasn't
and I became a friend a friend would like to have
and all the sudden going fishin' wasn't such an imposition
and I went three times that year I lost my dad
well I finally read the good book
and I took a good long hard look
at what I'd do if I could do it all again

and then I went sky diving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
and I loved deeper
and I spoke sweeter
and I gave forgiveness I'd been denying
and he said someday I hope you get the chance
to live like you were dying.

Like tomorrow was a gift
and you got eternity to think about what'd you do with it
what did you do with it
what did I do with it
what would I do with it?

I went sky diving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
and I loved deeper
and I spoke sweeter
and I gave forgiveness I'd been denying
and he said someday I hope you get the chance
to live like you were dying.


At 2/22/2007 4:15 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Julie, if you die can I give your eulogy?

At 2/22/2007 6:17 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Hmmm....that depends. What would you say?

At 2/22/2007 8:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes silence is an easier way to expres some feelings. If only people knew you the way that I have come to. You just need to know that your friendship is a gift to me.


At 2/23/2007 6:42 AM, Blogger Marnie Pehrson said...

I don't know about that, Rob. You may have to fight me for that eulogy. I think I could do the best job of telling people about the *real* Julie Bellon! :) Julie's like a cherry cordial. You think oh, chocolate, that's a good thing, but the few people she lets in that candy shell learn just how amazingly soft-hearted and sweet she really is. ;)

As for this country song you have posted, Julie. I am shocked! Country lyrics on YOUR blog! You never cease to surprise me - a hallmark to your persona. So does this mean Brian and I are winning in the music wars? :)

At 2/23/2007 7:53 AM, Blogger Marnie Pehrson said...

PS: on that cherry cordial analogy I realized while I did infer, I did not elaborate on the center piece. There's also this zany, bright, somewhat-tart center that takes you off guard, makes you laugh, keeps you on your toes, and that sets the cherry cordial apart from ordinary nugget, nut, or cream centered confections. Yep, Julie Bellon... cherry cordials... they've got a lot in common. Both full of surprises.

At 2/23/2007 2:21 PM, Blogger FHL said...

Don't cherry cordials have alcohol in them? Or am I thinking of something else?

I can't even imagine planning my own funeral - having a discussion about life insurance policies is morbid enough for me, thank you very much.

Is Tim McGraw the same guy that did that Don't Take the Girl weeper? I remember that being a popular slow-dance song. I never really understood why. (The women are saying that's why men don't read romance books.)

oooh, I can spell 'blair' with the word verification letters. Is it a sign?

At 2/23/2007 9:50 PM, Blogger chumly said...

My sister died when she was 21. I try to enjoy some of the life she missed.

At 2/24/2007 11:00 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Since Marnie has dibs on Julie's eulogy (and it's an excellent and apt analogy, btw. Wish I'd thought of it.) I guess I'll settle for writing the obit. I'll just plagarize the cherry cordial thing and go from there. (Expect a novel-length tribute.)

FHL: And here I was going to send you a candy skull with your name engraved on the forehead. I can see now it won't be enough. I'm going to have to take you to a Dia de los Muertes celebration. A couple times around the graveyard with the calaca dancers will help rid you of all those death/morbidity associations. Mark next November 1 on your calendar.

chumly: What a touching way to remember your sister.

Julie: Love the blog! And I'm so very glad you didn't die! There's nobody I'd rather eat Chinise Ice Cream with!

At 2/24/2007 8:28 PM, Blogger Marnie Pehrson said...

FHL, nope, no alcohol in a regular cherry cordial. I think you might be thinking of a brandy-based variety or something.

Oh, and Kerry, speaking of the macabre... I just picked up "Ghost of a Chance" at the Atlanta bookstore. :) I'm at the point where the poor mortician's "client" turns up missing.

It made me think of a big scandal we had a few miles down the road in Noble, Georgia... you probably heard about it some years back ... where the crematorium guy didn't cremate the bodies. He just stacked them up on his property and gave the poor families urns of wood ashes. I never understood the logic in that. Why not just cremate them? Wouldn't that have been easier and less messy?

Weird, weird story. Anyway, I digress. I'm loving your book. Can't wait to have some more time to curl up with it again.

At 2/25/2007 10:25 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

I looked at the transcripts from that story when I was writing Ghost, Marnie. Interesting you should mention it. Yes, it was very weird. Not my kind of "collectable" at all.

My favorite corpse-story happened right here in my own hometown. A group of LDS high priests were helping an active guy move out of his house. He'd duct-taped the deep freezer closed, but one brother cut it open because it was too heavy to move full. Yep, you guess it, his wife was inside. She'd died several years before of natural causes. He said he couldn't bear to part with her body -- he "looked in on her" every Sunday. I have no idea what he told people at the time, but I do bet she smacks him upside the head the second he gets to heaven.

Oh, Julie! How I have digressed on your glorious blog. Please forgive me!

At 2/27/2007 8:44 AM, Blogger Marnie Pehrson said...

Oh, my, Kerry! That's unbelievable. So the question begs... did they move her for him to his next location?

At 2/27/2007 11:17 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Well, that's what I think should have happened, Marnie, but the high priests had other ideas. Her earthly remains now reside underground -- a place her husband insists she would never go willingly because she hated dirt! (The freezer was spotless; just her and the orange juice.)

It's a very sad -- but sweetly romantic -- story. I think Julie should work it into her next book, don't you?


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