Eulogies: Prologue

I never liked the traditional eulogy. “Eu” from the Greek, meaning “good,” and “logos” meaning “words.” Good words, softened by death, for those who have passed. Velvet syllables meant to erase a person, so that the absent sit easy in the minds of the living.

I would rather speak true things of the dead, because in that lies their immortality: to live on the lips and tongues of friends, to pass as stories from loving mouths to open ears. Forget nothing. Smooth over no detail. This is how we can honor their works– to never forget their mistakes, their cruelties and pettinesses, their triumphs and struggles, their joys, their pet peeves, the things they did to piss us off, and the ways they made our lives better.

If we speak only good words of those whom we’ve lost, we are no longer speaking of people. Forget gods and heroes and legends. Remember what was real: I could not understand my grandmother’s harsh critique of dying my hair; I shuddered at the infinite cruelty of beheading the coconut cake lamb every Easter; I was grateful when she kept my secrets; she had no mercy for small cuts and scrapes and was never gentle when brushing out my tangles.