Jay Shirley

Striving to be a man of gallantry and taste

I Want to Write Your Eulogy

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Life is so short, but I fear your life may be shorter than mine. Not because you die but because I don’t know how long you’ll exist in my world. I can’t tell how long we’ll have before our paths diverge, when our meeting ends.

Maybe we only have 15 minutes, a quick talk in the subway. Sometimes we get several hours together, flying between homes and conferences. Our meetings are all fleeting. I never learned your value, and the way I talk at you won’t change this. You are more than smalltalk, and I trivialize you with each mention of the weather.

Even worse, I’m distracted by the Rolex watch and I try to extract your knowledge without learning about you. I cook the Golden Goose.

When we’re done talking, you will stop existing in my world. It makes you dead to me, to my mind as I forget everything I didn’t learn. But maybe you don’t have to die when we say goodbye. Maybe I can really learn about you.

Maybe I am the last one standing to write your eulogy. Maybe that will help us, and build a relationship in ways it couldn’t exist before. Maybe it will help me really listen, to be present.

I want to write your eulogy.

I want to know what haunts you and what motivates you. What are your ambitions and your fears that fuel your drive to succeed. What have you lost and what do you wish you could get rid of? I want to hear your voice raise from excitement, or crack from anguish. Even if I never hear your voice again, I want to experience this.

I want to learn not about the techniques that made you successful, but the unquenchable thirst that drove you there. But maybe you aren’t successful, tell me the dreams you had and why they didn’t work out.

I don’t just want to know this, I need to know. I need to know your story to know you. I need to know you because our time is short, and I have to write your eulogy. Maybe you don’t feel important but you’re important to me, right now.

I’m listening, and I’m learning. It’s all from you and it’s for you, and I’m practicing.

I won’t be good at this for a while. I’ll forget. I’ll want to tell you my story. I probably will tell you my story. I’m excitable, and I’m sorry. Don’t give up on me.

I want to listen. I want to learn. Everybody else shares the knowledge I don’t have, and I need to hear it.