It’s easy to wax poetic about your own life, especially if you’re a bumbling 20-year-old kid. I could easily write paragraphs and pages about the struggles and thoughts that happen in my day to day life.
“The inner machinations of my mind are an enigma,” said the great philosopher Patrick Star.
Whatever happens in my life, I can question and prod at until I either don’t care or understand. I can shake things around and reevaluate parts of it until I’ve got a full diary or something.
But it’s nearly impossible when it’s someone else’s life.
I got assigned a life story while on general assignment Saturday. I read, reread and re-reread the email and family obituary we had received. I tried to contact the members of the family, but I failed on most accounts. One brother was unlisted, the other had suffered a stroke and was unable to speak. I’m still trying to get into contact with her nephew, who I hope I can finally get in serious contact with to end this extended game of phone/email tag and actually write a life story.
I ended up writing a Missourian obituary, which is effectively a restructured and restyled obituary based on the information given us. Even then, just restructuring factual information was nervewracking. It kept hitting me that this was someone’s full life. Decades of experiences and relationships wrapped up in a few hundred words. My personal feelings about death and legacy mean nothing since this is someone’s aunt, someone’s family member, someone’s best friend that I have to try to summarize. It’s an extremely interesting but uncomfortable process. If done poorly, people would be devastated.
The burden of proper reporting is a lot more visceral when it involves an entire life. But it’s all a part of the process I guess.