John Updike puts everything so beautifully here, in this poem, which sums up why you need to make absolutely sure that the people in your life know you love them, so that when it all goes “poof,” they will know, without question, that you left this earth with a piece of them in your heart. Because really, the petty jealousies, the misguided outrages, the inferred insults — they just don’t really matter.

Perfection wasted

And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
which took a whole life to develop and market –
the quips, the witticisms, the slant
adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.
The jokes over the phone. The memories packed
in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
Who will do it again? That’s it; no one;
imitators and descendants aren’t the same.

Vanessa McGrady

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