Whether they're meant to be funny, succinct, or just insulting to the Cleveland Browns, obituaries are usually pretty honest. But one recent obituary, published in The News & Observer on January 7, went beyond honest. The obituary for 94-year-old Wilma Marie Voliva Black didn't just lift the veil off of her life—it lifted the veil and then shined 5,000-Watt klieg lights on the starkness that remained. And oh boy, was it stark. Like, Cormac McCarthy stark. (If Cormac McCarthy ever wrote about women.)
You might think, "Hey, maybe the obituary at least starts softly and eases into the darkness." Hell no it doesn't:
Wilma Marie Voliva Black struggled into life over 94 years ago. Alone, Eva realized that her sixth child wasn't crying and unwrapped the umbilical cord from her only daughter's neck on December 11, 1921.
The obituary goes on to detail Black's difficult childhood during the depression, the discovery that her husband only married her to hide an affair, and her eventual move into assisted living. The single quote from Black in the piece is this, which she said to one of her sons about her time in the assisted living facility: "This is not living, it's existing."
Mere minutes before the time this article was finished, the obituary disappeared from Legacy.com for reasons that are unclear. But part of it is available here, and another section here:
While the story of Black's life is heartbreaking, there's also something really gorgeous about the obituary in its bleakness; it's the embodiment of Bauhaus architecture or a Lars von Trier film. And while she may not know it (assuming her ghost isn't checking the Internet right now), Wilma Black gave us that dark and beautiful gift.