It was the oldest funeral home in Philadelphia. As an art college student, I worked there cleaning the offices one summer.  Two of my co-workers were also young women - one of the lead funeral directors, as well as the sales person who sold coffins and prearranged funeral plans. One typical sticky, steamy day I was walking home to my tiny rented room, when I saw my two workmates driving the long silver hearse down the narrow cobblestone street. They were returning from a funeral, dressed up and lovely. They saw me on the sidewalk and waved - two young, beautiful women, smiling. And now decades later, as a freelance paintress, that image stays with me, the happiness of the scene, how content people could be at work, and how their joy was not one bit out of place. Choose your own life, their smiles said to me, do not care for one hot second what others think. Sell cremation urns, embalm bodies, see the beauty everywhere in the strange plays we call our lives. Whatever you do, own that life and live it in the fullest way you possibly can.  

Image CC BY-SA 2.0 "rear view" by Sara Edwards