by Roger Zotti
For L.A. Justice, Boca Raton, FL, writing the “Here and After Book” wasn’t easy. “I came up with the idea while I was sitting in the funeral parlor with my best friend Sari’s two daughters,” L.A. said. Sari and L.A. were best friends for 28 years. In January, Sari died from breast cancer. “She hadn’t told anyone, so we were shocked,” L.A. explained. “But she had time to put together a list of friends to call, notes on what kind of funeral she wanted (a beach ceremony with drumming), the songs she wanted, and she left messages for her daughters. [I knew] everyone needs this.”
At the same time, L.A. realized her own affairs weren’t in order: “When I go, my daughters wouldn’t know which of my friends to call. They wouldn’t know about the bank accounts and CDs I have squired away…” What L.A. did, she said, “was push through the pain of her friend’s death and put together something positive from such a sad experience.” The result is the “Here and After Book” – a sensible and relevant booklet that enables the wishes of the deceased to be carried out exactly as he/she intended. The booklet, L.A. hopes, “will help others make the transition easier for those left behind.”
L.A. was sad and angry by her friend’s death. Angry because, she explained, “[Sari] hadn’t taken charge of her breast cancer when it began.” Sad because their long friendship “was over when it didn’t have to be. She died two weeks short of her of her 70th birthday and I just missed the heck out of her.”
Writing the booklet proved therapeutic, though. Said L.A: “Every time I sat down to work, I began to cry for my loss and for her daughters’ loss. But in the end [writing] was a good way for me to deal with it.”
New York Daily News columnist Denis Hamill praised L.A’s work. Employing his unique brand of humor, he wrote : “[It’s] an 18-page list of questionnaires [that] helps you put all your affairs in order … if you want to make sure the right people get what you desire and that you can stiff a loudmouth in-law even while you’re a stiff, here’s the place to get it down on paper.” On a serious note, Denis ended his column this way: “After a member of my family died a few weeks back, leaving no will, his papers and records scattered like his postmortem ashes, I sure wish he’d filled out one of these books.” Feedback about L.A’s booklet has been positive. “Nearly 500 copies sold by word of mouth since June,” she said. “I feel it’s Sari’s gift to me as the orders roll in.” Such a booklet is necessary, “especially for people who live alone. As we get older, many things weigh heavily on our minds – pets, plans for funerals, etc. Those things are covered in the booklet.” Visit www.hereandafterbook.com for more information.