Essays of the Dying: Emily Debrayda Phillips

Emily Debrayda Phillips, 69, died on March 25, 2015 of pancreatic cancer. She wrote her own obituary within a few days of her February 24 diagnosis. It begins:

It pains me to admit it, but apparently, I have passed away. Everyone told me it would happen one day but that’s simply not something I wanted to hear, much less experience. Once again I didn’t get things my way! That’s been the story of my life all my life. And while on that subject (the story of my life)…on February 9, 1946 my parents and older sister celebrated my birth and I was introduced to all as Emily DeBrayda Fisher, the daughter of Clyde and Mary Fisher from Hazelwood. I can’t believe that happened in the first half of the last century but there are records on file in the Court House which can corroborate this claim.

I admire people who are brave and funny at the same time. Humor is a wonderful way to deal with the tragedy of death. Emily continues by describing small details from her life. Elementary school teachers who inspired her to become a teacher, playing with her sisters, getting married and having two loving children, and the joy she has had in being “Nana” to her grandchildren. She apologizes for her shortcomings, but displays a proper self-love too. I’ll let her speak for herself:

I’ve been a devoted daughter, an energetic teenager, a WCU graduate (summa cum laude), a loving wife, a comforting mother, a dedicated teacher, a true and loyal friend, and a spoiling grandmother. And if you don’t believe it, just ask me. Oh wait, I’m afraid it’s too late for questions. Sorry.
So…I was born; I blinked; and it was over. No buildings named after me; no monuments erected in my honor.
But I DID have the chance to know and love each and every friend as well as all my family members. How much more blessed can a person be?
So in the end, remember…do your best, follow your arrow, and make something amazing out of your life. Oh, and never stop smiling.
If you want to, you can look for me in the evening sunset or with the earliest spring daffodils or amongst the flitting and fluttering butterflies. You know I’ll be there in one form or another. Of course that will probably comfort some while antagonizing others, but you know me…it’s what I do.
I’ll leave you with this…please don’t cry because I’m gone; instead be happy that I was here. (Or maybe you can cry a little bit. After all, I have passed away).
Today I am happy and I am dancing. Probably naked.
Love you forever.

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