And If I Die…

Guest Blogger and Grandson Dominic Bonaduce, here. If you’re reading this, Betty Bonaduce, Grammy to many, finished her final performance early Sunday morning, peacefully and surrounded by family. She wrote this a couple of years ago, and while speculative at the time – as most concurred that she would live forever – she entrusted me with the privilege of announcing her final curtain call. A round of applause for Betty Bonaduce.

Elizabeth Steck Bonaduce (1924-2022)

It occurs to me as I edge toward the end of life as we know it – that I never really thought about how the star of the funeral would feel about leaving this world behind.

Oh, sure, I know about the fear…I don’t really believe anyone who tells me they will  face that vast unknown without at least a smidge of fear. But I’d always rather assumed that fear would be the paramount emotion.  

It isn’t. At least, for me it isn’t. 

For me it is the loneliness and the jealousy when I realize that someone other than me will be comforting my nearest and dearest; that I won’t be able to calm my family – all of whom NATURALLY, will be awash in pain at my passing.

It is jealousy, that the moment of death is the moment I will begin to disappear, physically and metaphysically (is that the word I want? ) 

Of course we know that this has to happen.  No human could live without the gift of forgetting.

I know everyone offers comfort with the words that time eases the pain. And, thankfully, that is true.  But in my heart of hearts, I selfishly want it not to be.

I want to be remembered. And missed.  And needed. But I know for a fact that the calendar will erase me. 

It was so much simpler, growing up as I did, listening to and believing in the tales told by the Sisters .  They spoke knowingly and lovingly of the wonderful world beyond the one we have here. And all we were required to do was “be a good girl.” It wasn’t until later I began to wonder…How “good” did one have to be?

I wish I believed again, as I did in childhood, that there were pearly gates to walk through and a wondrous “Forever Land,” where I will meet again my family and best friends.

But I don’t believe in the rainbow bridge where my favorite dog will be waiting, tail spinning crazily with joy, as he recognizes me. Nor, conversely, do I believe in the raging eternal fire where a righteous but still loving God with a really bad temper will send me if I fail.

And what about ashes to ashes?  Do your ashes remake themselves into a whole recognizable person that others who lived and loved you through your life will recognize? Seems damned unlikely doesn’t it?

So.  I know all these things I no longer believe..

I am told that it is a “spirit” thing.  Not a physical entity that inhabits the unknown. 

I am told that my spirit can hang around for a while as it prepares itself to leave forever.  

Birchrunville School House

I am told that my presence can be felt by people who need it.

I am given choices as to how I leave. Perhaps whole and entire in a plush, satin lined coffin, dressed in a lovely gown with my hair combed and my make up on more perfectly than it ever was in life.

Or maybe as ashes collected in a lovely urn and entrusted to a small tomb.   

Or maybe, (and this sounds the most inviting to me) as ashes tossed out over Birchrunville, PA.

Yes.  I think that is what I will go with.