It’s my party, I can cry if I want to.
And I did, because for my 25th birthday, 3 of my best friends wrote me eulogies.
Let’s start with the truth: every one of your friends and family members will pass away someday, and it’ll be really, really hard. When they do, you might have to get up in front of a room of people who loved them dearly and read what you loved most about them — what you’ll miss more than words can describe — probably wishing you would’ve done it sooner and that you could see how they felt about what you were saying.
DO IT SOONER.
Hi, my name is Taryn Arnold. I’m a 25 year-old girl living in San Francisco who works at a start-up, has above-average eyebrows and rewatches Friday Night Lights regularly. I’m generally known as the light-hearted funny girl that loves Rihanna and Coors Light’s new branding (all accurate), but what I identify with most is my acute awareness that life is short and I don’t want to waste it.
That’s basically everything you need to know about me, outside of this: I spend nearly every single day with my best friends—this handsome trio of lads named Tony, Tyler, and Sean.
As you can imagine, being the one girl in a package of 4 (we literally call ourselves the “yeah boys”) is constant fun, as expected. I’m romping through San Francisco with 3 hilarious, intelligent, and charming guys, hopefully tricking people into thinking we’re the cast of New Girl. Aside from the fun boy stuff we do — surfing, drinking beer at the park, watching sports, etc—we do some Grade A girl stuff. I’m definitely the instigator of the crying, rom-com watching while juggling 4 pints of Ben & Jerry’s, and talking feelings for days, but I got lucky. These guys are softer (sorry boys) than your average group of dudes. They’ve done Miss America night with me (Anthony’s draft pick won). They’ve comforted me with wine and cheese before an over-the-phone breakup, then sent an uber to pick me up and deliver me to their apt to cry, overeat and have a sleepover. They’ve opened every door and made sure I made it home from the bar safe. In short, they rock. They know I’m always there for them and that I’m always wanting to know what they’re thinking.
For my 25th birthday, I told the boys what I wanted as a gift. I was willing to set aside the material things I’m always looking for (a new Marc Jacobs watch, a glass Smart Water bottle, flights back to Amsterdam) in exchange for something I’ve wanted for years.
“I know what I want for my birthday. I want you all to write me a eulogy.”
After the eulogies were written (hopefully through love-filled tears), we’d get together, just the 4 of us, and they’d read them to me in front of each other. Yes, I’m sure I sound like either the darkest human alive OR the neediest little brat, but there’s a reason I wanted this gift more than anything else.
- *Spoiler alert* In The Fault in Our Stars by John Green—the book-turned movie about a teenage couple simultaneously falling in love and battling terminal cancer—Augustus Waters asks his girlfriend Hazel Grace to write (and read) a eulogy for him, just so he’d be able to hear what she’d share at the funeral after he’d passed. I don’t think I’ve ever cried more at anything than I did at that part of the book. How special was it that Augustus got to hear what his favorite person on Earth really felt about him—no holds barred?
Do it sooner.
I’m such a words person; I always want to know what people are thinking and feeling, and I’m quick to share those things with others. I want to give that to my closest friends because I think it’s unbelievably important for people to know how you feel about them, and I wanted to know what it felt like to hear it coming from your favorite people.
And with that, the boys took me up on my bizarre request and each wrote me a eulogy. We picked the date that these would be read, and I waited.
HERE. WE. GO.
The day was here, and I was ready to bawl out. Once we got home from work (…yes, we all work and live together), we played drinking Mario Kart to ease the tension and the boys gave me 3 separate gifts that they picked out with each other. Picturing them going to the store and deciding on a scarf, sweater and jacket (all spot on my style, of course) was the cutest little bit. They didn’t have to get me gifts, but they did.
In our dimly lit apartment, the boys were about to take turns sitting center stage on a bean bag to read me their letters. Hoping they took it seriously, I was a few moments away from hearing what my favorite people really truly thought about me.
Candles burning, Christmas lights shining, tears lowkey brewing. I sat on the couch clenching onto a pillow for dear life as Tony got situated on the bean bag first—it was his prize for winning the Mario Kart circuit, of course.
I tried so hard not to cry as hard as I was, but man: Tony’s letter was SO raw. He was so honest, so direct, and so clear. He sat on the bean bag with his floppy red beanie and poured his little Italian heart out all over the place. I cried and cried and thanked God for the blessing of his friendship. He hit so many parts of me that only Tony would be able to say. The thing I loved most about Tony’s letter was that he said he always looks forward to tomorrow because I’ll be there. It makes me tear up as I type it, but I don’t mind: tears never felt so good. After he was done, he handed me his letter so I could keep it. I opened up an almost fully blank piece of paper to see the words, “WING IT. YOU GOT THIS TONY.”
The guys and I died laughing. They rolled on the floor, then literally stood up to jump with Tony for how well he wung it. It was precious. I cried harder during that moment — to see my best friends celebrate Tony, and that I momentarily thought that he made that up on the spot… #tricked. He said he was kidding and handed me the real letter. It was so well done, and so perfectly Tony.
He started his speech by very, very gruesomely describing my death-by-scuba-diving accident. Tyler was the only one that kept to the script, and although deeply disturbing, it was closest to the prompt, so points for T. Once we passed the suffocation imagery, Tyler’s letter was exactly what I expected it’d be. It tugged on all my heart strings. He joked about therapy (something only he could do) and thanked me for my empathy. He understands the depth of my emotions and the way I feel what I feel. In a group of jokesters (albeit deep), I am so lucky to have Tyler who can level with me on how fervently I feel things. It was the most special thing to hear how safe and vulnerable he feels with me. He said that he feels better when I know what he’s worrying about. What a special thing to say to someone. OF COURSE, I cried and cried and cried.
LAST ONE TO GO
Sean began his letter and almost instantly, I was holding my head in my hands sobbing. Sean started by saying that he didn’t know how to describe how he felt about me other than saying how comfortable and proud he feels introducing me to someone — anyone — in his life. His family, his friends, a stranger. He feels better with me by his side. I cried. I bawled. WHAT a thing to say about someone. It hit so close to home, as that is the very quality that I look for in someone that I want to spend the rest of my life with. He reminded me that we’ve been friends for 10 years, and I couldn’t believe how fast the time flew by. Time really does cruise when you’re having fun, or in my case, when you have Sean. He talked a lot about Yeah Boys and what this group means to him. He said how much it means to him to have a foundation of friendship. It was the most amazing thing I could’ve imagined hearing. Sean never talks feelings, but when he does, it’s too good to be true. I am so happy I have had Sean in my life.
I cried so incredibly much that night—a nightmare for most but heaven for me. When the boys were done with their letters, they gave me a group hug. Of course, I cried more. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe I got so lucky. I am so happy to be alive and to be living the life that I’m living.
There are two huge reasons I think you should do this:
People will surprise you. People want to surprise you. You’ve just gotta give them the floor (or bean bag) to do it. I’ve always felt close to these boys, but now, every day, I cannot WAIT to go into work. I can’t wait to see them again. We joke and fight and play every single day, but I feel so much closer knowing exactly how they look at me.
I carry myself differently now. Knowing what people love about you will do that — it will change your natural tendency to magnify your flaws and actually shed light on your best qualities and the lovable quirks you didn’t know you had. You see yourself in a new light.
I’m 25 years old, and while I know this is young in the grand scheme of life, I also know this for certain: you should tell the people you love exactly how you feel.
Life might be beautiful and weird and hard and sad and magical, but we know for sure that it’s always short.
You might not have as long as you want to tell people what they mean to you, so throw yourself on a bean bag and make them cry.
**You don’t HAVE to do the whole bit — the candles and the deeply emotional live readings. Just pick up your phone.
Oh, and pretend you’re in your favorite movie. Realllly ups the feels.
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