“The report of my death has been grossly exaggerated,” Mark Twain wrote to a newspaper columnist after the newspaper published his obituary.
If you’re reading Barb’s Obit as a standalone article, note that I am still very much alive. This piece is a continuation of Today’s Assignment: Write Your Obituary.
Barb was one of a kind. It’s hard to put her life in any kind of order because she was all over the place but in a good way. Her obit will be no different. And so, in no particular order, here are the things she’s now knocking on heaven’s door waiting to defend.
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Barb loved fiercely and longed for someone to love her back just as fiercely.
There wasn’t a time in her life when she wasn’t in love. Because Barb didn’t just fall in love with people, she was in love with life.
She had her heart broken for the first time when she was 21. Twenty-one years later, the man who broke her heart told her she was the one who got away.
By then, she lived with the woman who would be her lifelong partner, making sure she never got away.
Although Barb didn’t break many rules, she was no angel. She did things she wasn’t proud of, but she never hurt anyone intentionally.
She liked to say she didn’t have any regrets because she believed everything happened for a reason, and in time, that reason would be apparent.
She did, however, carry one big regret around for many years — one thing she would do differently if given a chance. She shared that secret with only one person, and even though she was absolved of any wrongdoing, her heart still wondered, “what if?” she had acted differently.
Barb’s taste in music was so varied that Spotify had difficulty making “just for you” suggestions. However, she didn’t care for jazz, which she called “musicians tuning their instruments and calling it music.”
And speaking of music, she played a mean guitar and sang lead in two bands in her post-teenage years, talents that writing replaced, but a day didn’t go by that she didn’t fantasize herself performing her music on stage.
She was a true Gemini. Her evil twin didn’t come out to play much, but when she did, watch out!
And Barb was jealous. Oh, boy, was she jealous! However, she was never envious of anyone. She learned early in life that life is not greener on the other side, no matter how many Facebook posts lead you to think it is.
She had a wicked sarcasm but never meant it in a bad way. Her parting words were often: “May everything you send out come back to you multiplied.” It was a blessing and a curse that always made its point.
Barb could kill with a smile; she could wound with her eyes. In fact, Billy Joel wrote a song about Barb. (Well, this isn’t true, but if Billy had known Barb, he would have agreed it described her perfectly.)
Talk to Me
Barb loved deep conversations, but she despised small talk and confrontations. Her body language gave her away whenever she was bored with gossip, politics, or any discussion about reality TV, random celebrities, or things that “don’t matter in the big scheme of things.”
“I don’t give a shit about the Kardashians because they don’t give a shit about me,” was a favorite barbism.
She loved healthy discussions but shut down the minute a debate turned into someone trying to convince her they were right and she was wrong. It’s like she’d do a full-body eye roll whenever the conversation was going nowhere. “Why can’t we both be right?” she’d ask.
Barb was born to Cuban-Lebanese parents who she adored.
She was born in Cuba and loved all things Cuban, but “I’m a defective Cuban because I can’t dance” was one of her favorite sayings.
She was also very proud of her Lebanese heritage and had a deep spiritual connection to her Middle Eastern roots. The thought that she could be a long-lost relative of Khalil Gibran was a fantasy she often allowed herself to get lost in whenever writer’s block paralyzed her fingers on the keyboard.
Gibran’s The Prophet was her all-time favorite book.
Barb loved to travel, but she didn’t miss a beat with her response if you asked her what she loved most about traveling.
“Coming home,” she would say. “There’s nothing better than having your passport stamped and hearing the immigration officer say, ‘Welcome home.'”
The Cool, Sober Nerd
Barb was a nerd before being a nerd was cool.
She practiced yoga before it was “hot” and ate hummus before it came in flavors that would make her Middle Eastern descendants barf in the streets of Beirut.
She loved wine … until it didn’t love her back. She gave up all alcohol on January 30, 2019. She had tried several times before that but was unsuccessful. It wasn’t until she realized her alcohol problem was a spiritual problem that she was able to walk away and not look back.
Barb also loved people, but she was a shy only child. Crowds intimidated her, and she preferred small gatherings to “huge parties where sweaty, loud drunk people who think I’m deaf, ask me if I’m having fun.”
She wanted to be a teacher when she grew up but fell in love with journalism, a love that she defended daily when “Fake News” became the political chant of choice. She spent her career as a journalist and writer and taught via her writing and by example.
Barb never had children of her own, but she loved to teach and mentor, and she often referred to those she mentored as “my kids.”
“Don’t take any shit from anybody,” she’d tell them. They were parting words to live by.
Barb’s love for people was matched only by her passion for animals. It’s a love inspired by Queenie, a 10-pound black and tan miniature dachshund that came into her life when she needed it most.
Barb will live on in “her kids” on Earth, and there’s much rejoicing at the Rainbow Bridge now that she’s on the other side.