We all curate our personal brand on social media platforms now. As authentic as I proclaim to be, I admit that there is definitely some curating going on. Like I clear the clutter in the house before people come over, I clear the clutter before appearing out in public on the interwebs. You only know about the messes I ‘fess up to. Imagine that, I get even messier than you are aware of. Trust me, it can be ugly.
But. But here’s the thing. I cannot stop staring at my current Facebook profile (minus the pink ‘stache covering my last name for some modicum of discretion/privacy for this essay). This isn’t about curating or vanity. I can’t stop staring because I can’t believe how much this silly social media profile IS ME. Sure, I’ve led with my trapeze pictures, my glitter, my glam. I’ve led with my good side, with sucking in my stomach, with vacation pictures. I’ve led with what I want to show people. But this. This is ME.
The pure, unadulterated joy. The moment my soul settles. The moment my soul realizes it’s home. I look at my cover photo, my profile pic. And I see peace and joy and contentment. I see courage. Somehow two blurry pictures an 8-year-old took of me captured who I am in this moment.
And I realize I can die tonight and be ok. I realize I’ve made it. I realize this is all I ever wanted. When I was a kid, all I ever, ever wanted was to play the drums and write and be brave. It never occurred to me that these were possible realities. These aren’t realistic goals for an Asian kid of immigrants who sacrificed everything to give their children a better life. And yet I write now. And I’m a drummer now. Sure, I’m keeping my day job, but today I write and drum. So I’m a writer and a drummer. Because I was brave. When I die, I will have died a roaring success. No one can ever take this away from me. I’ve had failed relationships, I’ve had missed opportunities, I’ve made my share of mistakes.
But I will die happy. I worked really hard to be kind. I tried not to hurt people. I tried to make a difference in this world. I did hard things, and that’s how I fulfilled my passions. I write for me. But I think my musings have helped people, my words have touched people, inspired others. I drum for me. But I think my courage to drum clumsily and so publicly inspires others. I hope the music I create makes someone happy.
So if I die tonight, here’s what my obituary will be:
<Insert age and cause of death>.
She died with a full soul. She moves on to a perpetual Happy Hour with a heart full of joy and contentment because she totally won in this game of life. She has no idea how her friends and family will take her passing, but she hopes it involves laughter and celebration and glitter. Lots of glitter. And wine. Because she lived her life full of laughter, celebration, glitter, and wine. She lived this life after she got out of her own way and finally accepted and embraced who she really was, cracks and bumps and bruises and stretch marks and all.
Susanna leaves behind two conflicted but empathic children who can tell you many tales of questionable parenting, but can also tell you an equal number of tales of fierce parenting rooted in deep passionate love that some days were misguided. She leaves behind trusted therapist friends who have committed to providing therapy services at reduced rates for my two loves.
Susanna lived the first third of her life in fear, in the shadows, mired in shame. She spent her mid- life swimming in guilt as she inadvertently hurt people in her quest for authenticity. She sends her genuine apologies to these lovely people caught in her path. She however, did not regret her path. As it brought her to this last chapter in her life.
And this is what she was most proud of. Her authentic self. Please reference photo above. Susanna leaves behind memories embedded in numerous dear friends who will recall silly drunken escapades, deep mindful conversations, angry recollections of selfish decisions. She leaves behind countless patients who shared their most intimate fears and failures, and she hopes to God she had a positive impact in their growth and development. And quite honestly, she knew that to be a truth. She leaves behind a legacy of colleagues and friends who now know anything is possible, who know not to accept “no” as an answer, who have seen what Hope and Perseverance can accomplish.
She had many flaws, but she was damned good at a handful of things: she was a damned fine therapist, writer, friend, baker and cook, supervisor and mentor. She was a mediocre parent, drummer, house-cleaner, and a piss-poor runner. Patience was not one of her virtues. Subtlety was lost on her. She had a complicated relationship with Grace.
Susanna was prone to excess. Too many shoes, too many purses, too many drinks, too much passion, too loud, too overbearing. Too opinionated, too self-absorbed, too impulsive, too absurd. She also loved too much, felt too much, and gave too much of herself away. Extremes were part of her charm. She aged well though, like the fine wines she so loved. She became kinder and gentler with each passing year.
She hopes you’ve been able to hold a piece of her in your soul, and that the piece you choose inspires you. Because she was mindful in ensuring those in her life were good to her and for her, that those in her close circles inspired her to be a better person. She posthumously thanks you, though she hopes she let you know this while still alive.
So please, in lieu of flowers or tears, do these things so you can die happy too: Please, live an authentic life full of soul-filling things; go beat your own drum. Please, be brave and do hard things and be scared; go tell someone you love him. Please, do what resonates with you instead of what others say you should do; do something reckless just because it feels right. Please, be and give grace; you can never have too much grace. Please, remember it’s better to be kind than right; you automatically win when you’re kind, so doesn’t that make you right? And please name a strong cocktail after her; an intense, fierce cocktail that will make hair grow on your chest and cause instant regret the next day.