And When I Die

by dpreyde

How are you going to be remembered after you die?

I think this is is something a lot of people worry about. I mean, what if people remember you in a way that’s totally insulting and disrespectful, or in a way that directly contradicts your most deeply held beliefs and values?

For disabled people it’s a perfectly realistic fear.  I’ve repeatedly seen dead disabled people described as inspirational, surprisingly normal, or- God help me- finally free. I’ve seen disabled people’s legacies get boiled down to “they were almost normal” or “they weren’t a burden” or even “they became disabled in a really messed up way”. I bet you’ve seen this stuff, too. It happens all the time, and it makes me sick.

So I got to thinking about how I’d like to be memorialized, and I wrote this poem.

I do not want to be remembered

as inspirational

courageous

strong or brave

as someone who was almost

normal, as good

as everyone else

a saint, scrubbed clean

of human behaviour

and feeling.

Come on and tell the truth about me

don’t be scared

be honest

be real

Come on and tell all the tales about me

all the things that you know

the embarrassing secrets

the rough, rowdy details

that make up a life.

Show the sweat and the stains

the uneven lines

the crooked and dirty

and vile

Don’t you dare leave anything out.

Don’t make me a statue

an example

of all that is good

of what can be overcome

The only thing I overcame

was life itself, and you will too

someday

Feed me to the earth

remember me as human

I didn’t live on the cross

I lived among you, even though

I was never of you

Tell the truth about that, too

I do not want to be remembered as you, but.

I was the other

and don’t you forget it

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