Everyone he knew was pushing him, enthusiastically cheering him on to write his life story. But Dave was modest in all ways, especially about the possibility that he or his life might be special. He had impostor syndrome as much as any of us, even though he lived large, authentically, and more fully than most people while trapped in that shitty, paralyzed body of his.
I was probably the most assertive person in his life pushing him; as I pushed him to write, he resisted until, after decades, he shifted tactics and tried to talk me into writing it for him, which I repeatedly resisted. It didn’t feel right. I offered to take dictation or edit because it was his story to tell in his words. I am not one to give in once I have taken up a position, but his is such a great story, and it’s not like I can argue with a dead guy.
I am reluctant because what if I get it wrong? What if I can’t remember everything that needs to be said? I haven’t even finished grieving all the way yet or fully accepted that he is not here to laugh with about all of these hilarious and ridiculous stories, including his perfectly timed, untimely death.
This book time travels his epic failed autobiography, not because he failed at life, failed because he died suddenly without notice or really starting. He dictated a few skeletal drafts of oddly random stories; we’re talking less than five full pages of his very big life. I admonished him to only write the good stuff, “And don’t start with the day you were born like Steve Martin’s character Navin Johnson in The Jerk.” I found a from birth essay on his computer, I am sure, left for me to find as a joke. Typical.
Quitting was uncharacteristic of him. He legitimately played the best excuse for not finishing something ever. Nothing is more epic than or beats death, right? He would have LOVED how perfect pulling the death card was for forcing me to finish what he wanted me to do in the first place. That was the second thought that hit me when I got the bad news phone call that morning. “You really would go to any extreme to force me to write this! Damn it, Dave!!!”
So far, what I have experienced is that grief is truly beautiful; it holds every memory of our time with our loved one forever within its infinite stages, sharp edges, and layers as unexpected, complicated, and as inevitable as death itself. More than a decade of years on, the irony is still hilarious that I am a ghost’s writer as I laugh myself to the best of tears, talking with his friends and family, revisiting our collective memories, trying to remember everything I can remember, creating this hybrid biogra-moir, and learning how to grieve in the process.
Thank you for checking out Viking Funeral, for checking out my brother Dave.