Sitting in hospice care just a few days before losing her battle with pancreatic cancer, Emily Debrayda Phillips called over her husband and their two grown children. She opened up her laptop and read them the obituary she had written for herself.
This week, the whole world got to read that humorous, sassy and compassionate farewell.
The obituary went up Tuesday in the Florida Times-Union and became the top-read story on the publication’s website.
“It pains me to admit it, but apparently, I have passed away,” Phillips wrote. “Everyone told me it would happen one day but that’s simply not something I wanted to hear, much less experience. Once again I didn’t get things my way! That’s been the story of my life all my life.”
Phillips died March 25, just 29 days after her cancer diagnosis. She was 69.
The obituary drew more than 3,000 likes on the paper’s Facebook page from readers applauding the way the retired schoolteacher celebrated her life with what her daughter described as a typical mix of energy and sweetness — with a knowing wink thrown in for good measure. At the end of her obit, Phillips encourages everyone to “make something amazing out of your life” and not shed any tears for her because, “Today I am happy and I am dancing. Probably naked.”
Her daughter, Bonnie Phillips Upright, said anyone who knew her mom wouldn’t be surprised by what she wrote, or that she decided to write it in the first place.
“She was a teacher until the very end. For all her career, she taught elementary school students, but wow, what she taught adults here at the end is just as impactful, just as special,” Upright said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my mom. It’s just really amazing that she was able to do it under such yucky, awful circumstances and maintain her sense of humor and her sense of grace.”