While more and more people are penning their own obituaries these days, it’s difficult to imagine doing it on, well, deadline.
Jane Catherine Lotter knew her time was limited as she was suffering from metastatic cancer. By the time she took advantage of Washington State’s Death with Dignity Act, and died peacefully at home July 18, she had written her farewell. Jane was 60.
In her poignant and inspiring obituary, she approached her life, her reality, her goodbyes, her personal story and her thank yous with humor and aplomb.
"One of the few advantages of dying from Grade 3, Stage IIIC endometrial cancer, recurrent and metastasized to the liver and abdomen," she wrote, "is that you have time to write your own obituary. (The other advantages are no longer bothering with sunscreen and no longer worrying about your cholesterol.)"
She goes on to recall her birth in Seattle, education at the University of Washington, and her career – from telephone orders for B. Altman in New York City to award-winning writer and editor. She also wrote a comic novel – The Bette Davis Club – and says, "I would demonstrate my keen sense of humor by telling a few jokes here, but the [Seattle] Times charges for these listings by the column inch and we must move on."
Among those whom she thanks are, of course, nurses and doctors for their care and support and her sisters, daughter and son for their love and support. Then there is her husband, Bob:
"I met Bob Marts at the Central Tavern in Pioneer Square on November 22, 1975, which was the luckiest night of my life. We were married on April 7, 1984. Bobby M, I love you up to the sky."
Her parting words of advice to her daughters:
"And may you always remember that obstacles in the path are not obstacles, they ARE the path."
And in signing off from this earth, Jane wrote:
When the cancer recurred last year and was terminal, I decided to be joyful about having had a full life, rather than sad about having to die. Amazingly, this outlook worked for me. (Well, you know, most of the time.) Meditation and the study of Buddhist philosophy also helped me accept what I could not change. At any rate, I am at peace. And on that upbeat note, I take my mortal leave of this rollicking, revolving world-this sun, that moon, that walk around Green Lake, that stroll through the Pike Place Market, the memory of a child's hand in mine...
Beautiful day, happy to have been here.
Susan Soper is the author of ObitKit®, A Guide to Celebrating Your Life. A lifelong journalist, she has written for Newsday and CNN, and was Features Editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she launched a series called "Living with Grief."