Saturday October 1st 2022

THE LAST LAUGH – I am about to or am going to die

Let’s be real here, famous last words are always far too intelligent and witty to be true. You’d think that with the luxury of dying with some anticipation, as we are, we could plan these things. And we might well both have taken time to compose a little something something -but whenever the pain really hits we’re both reduced to prolific swearing, tears, and calling the names of those we love.

Nope, none of the impeccably timed humour of ‘They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist-‘ for us. Happily neither of us will echo John Keynes’ “I wish I’d drunk more champagne”, we err more on the side of Errol Flynn’s “I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.” And whilst we might not have the presence of mind to say them, we hope we can achieve the spirit of Louis the XIV’s “Why are you weeping? Did you imagine that I was immortal?” or even the simplicity of Jane Austen, who, when her sister Cassandra asked her if there was anything she wanted, replied simply “Death”.

What you can be a little more assured of is your epitaph. You can take your time choosing what words you would like etched in stone memorial for all eternity – should you choose, of course, to follow the good old fashioned western tradition of putting your bodily remains in a box under the ground. But, working on the principle that even a little ash jar could have a plaque, of sorts, we’ve both come up with ours. One of us is embracing the delicious irony of “he hammed it up to the very end”, and the other is opting for fulfilling Clement More’s beautiful: “I think just my name, the date of my death, and best before.”

After all, what we sincerely hope is that we shall not be remembered for our last words, or what is scratched on some container of our body parts. We hope that people will remember us occasionally when they see a breath-taking sunset or hear a filthy joke and wish they could have shared it with us. Every now and then someone’ll find some hideous picture of us in a photo album and grin. That some of our more embarrassing moments will still be legend around dinner tables. That one day in the future you’ll pass our children and think they look achingly familiar. That when our nearest and dearest stop to count their blessings and loved ones, we still number among them.

That’s as far as we got before one of us became too exhausted to write. Too exhausted to do anything really. But she urged me to finish this. “It needs a good ending”, she so wisely said. And it strikes me that that is the point really, of all these last words and epitaphs and eulogies. It’s our burning desire for a good ending.  For an ending that somehow makes sense, that is somehow of our choosing, that is somehow synchronous with how we have lived. For an ending that allows us to shelve that story comfortably. And the truth of it is that no words can ever sum up a life, or a person. The best people are not ones we can shelve. But to those who have loved them, their entire life is their epitaph.

“Go on, get out. Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.” Karl Marx

2 Comments for “THE LAST LAUGH – I am about to or am going to die”

  • Taylor Jackson says:

    You always speak with such truth. I always know I’ll smile and be moved by these. Thank you, so much, for sharing with us. I sincerely hope that the exhausted one of you is a little recovered? And that you’ll keep writing!

  • Last Laugh says:

    Thank you Taylor, for sharing with us. Truth is all there is, really. And comedy and tragedy walk hand in hand. Into the sunset…

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