What one thing really matters to me? I’m promted to think of other ways in which we get to know what things really matter to others.
So today I died.
How does one properly eulogize oneself? In preparation I consulted the always reputable source of the internet and was granted step by step instructions for success.
1. BE CONFIDENT
We all struggle with the first step. Megan struggled with it. She knew that if for a minute she seemed vulnerable and the whole charade was revealed she would somehow be subject to a critique of a different caliber. So her tendencies toward self doubt revealed themselves in various ways; sometimes through questions, tangents, neurotic habits like picking her cuticles, and most common – sweaty armpits. The body and the mind within the paradigm of time move at variations of the same speed creating inconsistencies and incongruent paths to incomplete ideas. In this place she often referred to the ten channels of “Megan” which were both necessary and inconvenient. They kept her in a perpetual state of struggle to complete a thought, but without this struggle she realized she may have never understood it’s importance.
She always tried to straddle the line, a diplomatic attempt to find the sweet spot where she could perhaps disappear. Megan wanted nothing more than to be the most confident person in the room, but she was also aware of what that may cost her. Perhaps the reasoning she had cultivated. And what about her ability to listen? Would these things disappear? Because the only way she could mentally visualize a room for ‘ballz out’ confidence meant pushing everything else aside.
2. CHOOSE A TONE
The tone here is: Understanding and Lightness.
To do this properly I need to take a few steps back to zoom out, evaluate this situation from all sides; look at the past to understand the present and perhaps gain the foresight to see the future without misrepresenting that which is wholly “Megan”. Which leads me to #3.
3. FIND INSPIRATION IN THINGS THAT REKINDLE OLD MEMORIES, STORIES, OR FEELINGS ABOUT THE LOVED ONE.
Most fundamental to who she was and what mattered to her was family and place; two things so intertwined they will be discussed as a single unit. She was a fifth generation Scrantonian and although the course of her life would suggest that of a traveling salesman, the single constant of Scranton perhaps meant the most. Both of her parents grew up blocks from each other in Scranton and they have been running from the place ever since. Little did they know their only child would worship everything about this place and it’s history.
For those of you who have never been, to sum up Scranton through idealized language would be a farce. The place is a shit hole, but a special shit hole. There was a time when the railroad and coal mines provided a comfortable middle class existence for most, but like most other steel cities after the industry left there has been a struggle to fill it with something equally as promising and providing. Time there moves slow, chain restaurants only started effecting the economy 10 years ago, people still have 10 kids without blinking, neighbors are folded into the family, porch swings are common, and there is a 2-3 degree of separation between everyone related or otherwise. It’s small town America and it’s disappearing fast; a characteristic not very unique to Scranton, but how much does that matter? What mattered to Megan was that it held her roots. She could eat a burger at Chicks Diner and wonder if it tasted the same as it did for her grandmother in 1942 on her first date with her grandfather or sit in the back room of her grandparent’s house in the chair where her great-grandfather smoked cigars every day, all day.
This photo (not shown) is from Megan’s 8th birthday party at her grandmother’s house on East Mountain in Scranton. She’s the one in the Body Groove Bikini, her uncle is the boy in front who has no idea what’s going on and in the background you can see other cousins and her grandmother, Pauline. Everything is here. Megan would have wanted us to acknowledge her six-pack, her awesome bikini, and also her lightness. A funny thing happens here, language becomes the mediator to something beyond language. The uncanny valley of memory. One may never get to the root of the root or the bud of the bud, but we try. Photos and stories become entry points into who we are and where we come from not only for others but for ourselves. They offer a window into our unique perspective and perhaps a way to reason our actions and inactions. But these stories are also memories in practice; the repetition builds lore, a self referential lore built on top of preceding generations for the generations yet to come.
For Megan Scranton was a place of great inconsistencies, vast fields of greatness bordering on deep ridges of despair; and the same can be said about family. With deep love and support usually comes rooted dysfunction, functioning dysfunction. The crutch often used here was laughter. A necessary therapy, laughter, like a good stiff arm was capable of keeping the wild affect of deception, drugs, and lost priorities at bay. But it is still particularly healing. For her it was an avenue of understanding. Understanding to the point of laughter might be the only way to understand, but it’s the laughter here that reveals the pain, the anguish, but also the support.
She too could get caught up in her own world and lose sight of what it meant to step in another person’s shoes and laugh. At times, the task of managing her own life seemed to overwhelm her and it was during these moments understanding and humor seemed far away and out of reach. But then I remember the time she walked square into a pole while walking along a busy street. She wasn’t paying attention to what was ahead of her because she was trying to still understand the thing behind her.
The remaining steps:
4. Create an outline.
5. Expand on the thoughts you have written down already.
6. Craft a draft and remember it will not be perfect.
9. Give the Eulogy.
The recommended remaining steps in this process of eulogizing would have also mattered to Megan. Most of her time was spent thinking about art with small moments of actually making it, and here process was fundamental. Fundamental, but constantly in-flux as were most things about Megan. Nothing was ever set in stone, always capable of fluidity and movement.
So here we are. I stand in front of you as we attempt to finish a thought together. Assign some characteristics to this person who we all knew at varying degrees depending on how much time you spent or how much time you listened. But what strikes me as the clearest realization is that beyond shared history there is never a fixed point of entry toward knowing someone else, only the space we are constantly creating for an ever evolving present.