Relationships

Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

As it turns out, a life well lived has little to do with a great obituary

Erica Ferencik at 25.

I used to be jealous reading about living people in the newspaper—you know, the ones who win awards or actually get things done, but at this age, I've ambled over to the obits to become pissed off and obsessed.

Just this morning one of them caught my eye:

"Leaving the life of a top model wasn't an easy decision for legendary philanthropist Fifi Lipshitz Bergerdorf, but her heart told her that 'modeling beautiful clothes of my own design, though it brought me to the pages of Vogue, had ceased to make me happy. It was time to put a life of luxury aside and change the world.' Ms Bergerdorf spent the '70s in Ghana rebuilding schools for thousands of children before embarking on a career in medicine, winning the Nobel Prize for cancer research just as she summitted Everest for the fifth time without aid of sherpas or oxygen.

"Back home, she continued to shed the trappings of her earlier success and concentrate on community. In an urban park once the domain of drug dealers, Ms. Bergerdorf organized an annual Christmas tree lighting along with hip-hop performances, choral programs and movies projected on makeshift screens. 'Just by being there,' she noted, 'we have moved the drug dealers a few blocks away.' Her famous 'meals on drones' program, though years before its time, promised to change the lives of countless seniors."

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My God, I thought, who are these people? Where are all the ordinary dead shlubs who just shlubbed along, pretty terrified about life most of the time, kind of fat and binging on Netflix every night? Are those the deadies in the small print who just get a puny column and bad head shot?

Inspired, I exited Netflix and took a few moments to imagine my own obit:

"Erica Ferencik, 55, died from eating too much cake one night after guests had not taken it with them as instructed when they left for the evening. Friends have since commented that she died doing what she loved: eating frosting, but that she will be sorely missed by those who knew her.

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"A striking presence who could light up a room especially after three or more glasses of chardonnay, Erica's day-to-day existence was marked by an almost pathological resistance to actually finishing anything. This included projects large and small, sentences and thoughts. A chronic runner-up, purchaser of the ticket one digit off the winning one and raffle loser, she became philosophical in her dotage, preferring to look at any sort of participation, including beating herself at solitaire, as a winning hand.

"In essence, her life can best be summed up as: eclectic. A writer, an average dancer and a reluctant realtor, she touched countless lives during the one time she volunteered at a homeless shelter for a couple of hours one Christmas but left early because 'it skeeved her out.' One observer at the shelter said they would 'never forget that day,' noting that Erica did the work of 'ten people who didn't really know what they were doing.' But the spotlight was one place Ms. Ferencik never wanted to be, always preferring to talk about those she helped—the lives she changed that day—not the fact that she drove into Boston on Christmas for crying out loud to volunteer.

Famous for freaking people out by remembering their birthdays long after she'd lost contact with them, Erica never revealed her birthday to anyone, preferring to say that every day was her birthday. Hence the cake."

So OK, I need to get going on the "life" part of my life, but I think this has promise. Meanwhile, feel free to use the above with a photo of me at age 25.

   
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