Don’t Take It So SeriouslySeptember 15, 2012
This morning our friend, Bev Keegan, passed away after a six year battle with breast cancer. She was 36. She leaves behind her husband, a six-year-old daughter, a sister, her mother and father.
I always hate when people serve up platitudes after a loss. “She was such a nice person.” What else are they going to say, “Man, that guy was an asshole.” So instead of going on about how awesome Bev was, and, “Why does this only happen to good people?” I’m just going to tell a story that I think sums her up.
One of the last times we saw Bev, before she was bed-ridden, we were all talking at dinner when she tells this story about going to the dentist.
“I really think some people just take their jobs a little too seriously.”
She went to the dentist to get a routine cleaning. When the dentist comes in and tells her she needs x-rays.
“I really just want a cleaning.”
“We need to do x-rays to make sure everything is alright.”
“You don’t understand. I really don’t want the x-rays. I just want a cleaning.”
“But you need x-rays. There could be something wrong with your teeth.”
She explains to him that she has metastasized cancer and is undergoing chemo.
“I need to x-ray your teeth. There could be something seriously wrong.”
“I just wanted a cleaning.”
“But I have to. It’s my duty.”
Like there is some dentist x-ray law or something.
“I’m sorry, I really don’t mean to offend you, but I really don’t give a shit about my teeth.”
The whole time this woman, dying of cancer, is telling this story in the same quiet, matter-of-fact tone that I remember when I first met her almost 15 years ago. It hadn’t changed her. Because I can tell you this much, it would have changed me. I’d be all flipping furniture and shit. I’m not what you might call “graceful.”
At the same time she reminded me that it’s ok to not take things so seriously. That in the grand scheme, no one gives a shit what you did at work. No one cares about your job title, and annual reviews are stupid. Ok, I just added that because I think they’re a giant waste of time. We remember people for the person you are. And if you were a giant dick, we’ll remember you for that. Don’t make people think of you as a giant dick, don’t take it so seriously.