What would you want inscribed on your tombstone?

Back at college, I remember a time when a man came to speak in one of our assemblies. This guy, I think his name was George, was HIV positive. He spoke about his partner who also had the disease and passed away about five years ago. My college was a Roman Catholic one, and our assembly was in the chapel. I wasn’t really sure what the purpose of the talk really was, apart from informing us of the danger of aids.

He spoke about how his partner and how she was aware of how long she had left to live. In that little time, she had organised her whole funeral exactly the way she wanted it to be. She got the coffin to perfect size, took it to her flat, painted it pink, red, blue, green and yellow as if it was multi-striped. Inside it, she used a scalpel to transcribe George’s name. She had selected the hyms to be sung at her funeral and she also told George the specific space she wanted to be burried, next to her mother.

She also told George what shape she wanted the tombstone to be, what she wanted carved on it and what type of material she wanted used for it. She wanted pure white marble, shaped like a chapel entrance and on it inscribed, “the one who lived life to the fullest.”

For me, sitting there and listening to this made a little chill run down my back. I was taken aback with such a peculiar story, but something inside me was inspired to continue leading a life that I loved, and promoted my belief in really being able to design exactly what I want to do, be and have. I felt myself sit up, back straight and motivated to get out there and bring to my reality all those dreams I’ve ever had and will continue to have. Every now and then, I mentally take myself back to that chapel, sitting in the second row and captivated by this wonderful story, I relive those moments to hear the story and get re-inspired and motivated to continue on my path towards success.

At that point, my thoughts turned from how unfortunate she was, to really how fortunate she was. The little time she had made her think about her situation and actually spend some time looking at her life and how she had lived it. Was she feeling successful, or was she pondering over all her missed opportunities and notable failures? I think that by being told that she had only a few months to live, she was really able to grasp onto the fact that life is there to be lived and she was able to do all that she had written down on a list nearly 5 years ago when working on her goals. Not only did she achieve all she wanted and left with satisfaction, she was also able to express how she felt to the world with the inscription on her tombstone.

My message here is for you to live today as if you were told that you only had a few months to a year remaining in this life. Look over your life and ask yourself, “have I really achieved everything I wanted to?” If the answer is no, make a list of what you want to do, and commit to beginning that process of completion today. If you feel you’ve completed everything, and when you have done all you wish too, “work on your funeral!” What do you want people to remember you for? Although I never knew George’s partner, I know that she felt that she lived life to the fullest, and for me when I see an individual utilise their full potential, it movitates me to strive for more excellence in my own life.

The thing is, I feel George’s partner was really lucky. She was lucky that she got told she only had a few months left. Many people don’t even get told this. Yesterday, my partner’s best friend’s father unexpectedly left this world. He collapsed and that was it. I’ve learnt to take each moment as if were the last. In each moment, I will give my all, and be present in the moment and live it for what it is. I shall play full out.

If I could design my funeral, I’d have some really cool motivating songs sung from the Jackson 5, Mariah Carey and Paula Abdul. I’d leave out the slow, sad hyms and devotional songs because they wouldn’t be a reflection of who I am in the particular moments of life. Of course there are times when I love slow songs, but those are the ones which inspire and motivate me to get even more juiced.

At my funeral, I’d like to be placed in a coffin that bore the flag of Nigeria – green, white and green. I feel a particular connection with the land of West Africa and would love to be put away to rest in peace with my personal nostalgia going with – that’s where my real attachment lies, I think. I’d like the funeral after-social to be held at a beach, with the sound of the soft waves resembling my coolness and compassionate attitude towards all life. After all, the beach is my real home. Also, I wouldn’t want so many people to say a “few words” about me at the service, but there are a select few I have in mind. I’d like to keep it that way for now.

On my tombstone, I’d want the following inscribed: “son, father, husband, brother, musician, geneticist, scientist, coach, consultant, forensic expert, brown-eyed, drummer, multi-percussionist, income generator, writer, speaker, author, blogger, entrepreneur, traveller, bread-winner – just a few things to show that I am a proud life-experienced individual”

Let me make one important point: as you continue through life, you’re values, beliefs and thought system will continue to change. Appreciate the fact that will also alter what you want transcribed on your tombstone.

Those of you who know me will realise that I am not ready to go, for I have not totally achieved what I want in my life. I know that I shall continue to manifest what I want to until I am proud of really being a “life-experienced” individual.

What would you want inscribed on your tombstone?

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