A cheerful news release recently arrived in my in-box, announcing an opportunity to speak from beyond the grave.
If you or I sign up for something called MyObitList.com, it said, we can write up to 200 messages that will be promptly sent to our friends and relations after we die. The service is aimed at seniors and baby boomers, but I’m sure anybody’s welcome to shell out for it.
“With MyObitList.com, your ultimate thoughts will not go unexpressed. Your last words will not go unsaid!” the release pointed out.
A video link told me all I needed to know. “What would happen if you died today?” its narrator began in a mellow tone of voice, instantly making me regret that my last lunch had been bean-based. “Outside of your close family and friends, who would tell all of your online friends of your passing?”
Frankly, I doubt my “online friends” could care any less, but in the video, a cartoonish figure is seen smoking a pipe and wondering sadly “Whatever happened to Jim?”
The narrator informed me that if I sign up at MyObitList.com, I can write private messages that will be stored –- at a one-time cost of less than $100 -- until I shuffle off to Buffalo or Beelzebub or wherever. At that point, anybody I have chosen, including my lawyer, can simply press “send” to deliver my last words.
Over the course of a lifetime, the video posits optimistically, I will have earned myself many buddies, acquaintances and business contacts. Without MyObitList.com, they might remain sadly ignorant of the fact that Kate Zimmerman of the North Shore News and the City of North Vancouver, formerly of the Calgary Herald, Lisgar Collegiate Institute and Elmwood School for Girls, not to mention Crichton Street School and Camp Otterdale, had made her big exeunt. Wouldn’t it be better if I wrote notes to all my associates now and said everything I had to say, so they could be alerted -- and, possibly, insulted -- posthaste?
The answer to that, of course, was a resounding “Yes!” I instantly realized that I couldn’t die with myself if I didn’t tell Dean Kekanovich I was sorry I’d rudely turned down his wedding proposal in Grade One, and I hoped he’d gotten over it and moved on to a better pair of eyeglasses.
As I contemplated all I might have to say to these fictitious cling-ons, mourners and admirers of mine, I quickly decided to focus on old boyfriends. Imagine how they’d feel hearing from me after I’m defunct -- talk about making an impact. (Just try not remembering me now, Shane Spencer, who dated me for three weeks when we were 15, before summer school cramped our style!) And easy-to-do? I dashed off the following gem practically in my sleep.
“Dear Colin Firth, I’m sorry I looked away every time you stared out of the screen at me while I watched the Pride and Prejudice series, the Bridget Jones movies, and What a Girl Wants, where you wore those leather pants. I was discombobulated by your evident passion and concerned that returning your blazing gaze might result in the ruination of my family and, more importantly, your career. Now I’m gone so we are both out of danger. Cheers!”
I guess you aren’t really supposed to use MyObitList.com to settle old scores, but that would also be tempting. You’re likely meant to leave your pals words of wisdom or tender anecdotes that will stir their hearts and, Glen Campbell style, keep you ever gentle on their minds. Alternatively, this is probably the place to tell your old partner Skeezer where you buried the gold bullion. Your privacy is guaranteed, so go for it.
This is clearly the venue for those deathbed confessionals that people used to gasp out in the bad old days, and especially in the bad old movies. “Your sister … is … really … your … brother” can be clearly expressed in a posthumous e-mail, with pertinent evidence attached. And this way, the recipient of your revelation won’t be left wondering if it’s just the morphine talking.
Best of all, with MyObitList.com, we can update our comments as often as we wish. We can even post important snippets on a daily basis, right up until some attendant pries our laptop out of our stiffening claws. In other words, I can write “Not feeling great today, just waiting for you to call, as usual” -- until the day when this mortal coil unfriends me. Think of the guilt I’ll be able to inflict! Now, that’s power.
Skeptical about the value of MyObitList.com? You can test drive it for free for 14 days. The down side is that somebody will have to kill you to prove it works.