‘My Dirty, Sexy Obituary’

(Editor’s note: I was assigned by my church group an unusual assignment: to write my own obituary. I know, most people would write something a bit more sober. Here it is. All of Virginia’s quotes come straight from her. Honestly.)

Kevin Donahue, who lived a life of love, compassion, humor, and integrity, died early this morning at his home in Eagleville, Pa. He was 47.

“I made him a chicken quesadilla last night, we opened a $7 bottle of wine, and afterward I left him alone for a bit and he watched an episode from the second season of ‘24’. He told me that was the best year for it,” said his wife of 20 years, Virginia Kirk. “Our former neighbor, Sandy, stopped by to pick up an item we had borrowed and when Kevin asked how she was, she said he didn’t care and instead was being ‘sincere in the moment,’ like he was with a neighbor who was widowed years ago. He shook his head and agreed. He was a hard guy to fluster.

“Then we went to bed and made loud, passionate love until about 1:30. I hope the kids didn’t hear. That would be, I don’t know, haunting. He must have gone sometime before dawn.”

Mr. Donahue was a journalist, and spent the last five years working for Men’s Health magazine, where he managed production of the Web site. Previously, he’d spent 15 years at the newspapers in Philadelphia. He also worked in northern New Jersey, Delaware, and Maine. In recent years, he worked as an adjunct professor at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications.

“It’s hard to believe he’s gone,” said Andrew Daniels, an editor on the Men’s Health Web site. “Just yesterday, we were discussing a study that revealed the typical belly button harbors more than 2,000 types of bacteria. Then someone mentioned that the belly button is an erogenous zone. Kevin just blurted out, ‘Your dirty, sexy belly button. Make that the headline on that story. I dare people not to click on that.’ He could turn a phrase.“

A fitness enthusiast, Mr. Donahue enjoyed the weekly basketball games at work, testing new fitness programs, and long weekend bike rides with his wife. He often said he thought the key to longevity was to keep moving; apparently, he was wrong.

Mr. Donahue identified as a Universalist, and was a member of the Wellsprings Congregation in Chester Springs, Pa., for the past two years, after 15 years at the Thomas Paine Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, in Collegeville, Pa. He was eclectic in his religious leanings, finding wisdom in the writings of Thich Nhat Hahn (“the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth”), John Shelby Spong (“I think that anything that begins to give people a sense of their own worth and dignity is God”), and Yogi Berra (“The future ain’t what it used to be”).

Mr. Donahue was born in Englewood, New Jersey, on Nov. 15, 1965, and grew up in Aberdeen, N.J. He attended St John Vianney High School in Holmdel, NJ, and the University of Delaware, graduating in 1988. He married Virginia Anne Kirk on March 7, 1992, in Dover, Del.

Mr. Donahue leaves behind his wife Virginia and two sons, Peter, 18, and Robert (Kelly), 15, all of Eagleville; his mother, Maureen Donahue, of Aberdeen, NJ; a brother, Christopher Donahue, of Atlantic Highlands, NJ, and a sister, Susanne Underwood, of Tinton Falls, NJ; five nieces and nephews; 812 Twitter followers (he’d appreciate it if his posthumous follower total reached 1,000. His username is @kevdonahue); and a three-year-running streak as coach of the champions of the local high-school rec basketball league. He requests that former team members serve as pallbearers—except Shane Burke; he sometimes had trouble holding on to the ball.

Mr. Donahue loved his family dearly, and his fondest wishes were that his children grow up to be good and loving people and that he and his wife enjoy together the adventure of life after the kids left home. At this point, the best he can hope for is 1 of 2.

“He was very level-headed and at times it could bug the shit out of me—don’t even get me started on his flat affect when I was emotional,” said Ms. Kirk. “But though our approaches differed, we shared a set of values and a perspective. We were a good team and, gosh, I loved him. Did I mention the sex? Incredible.

“Excuse me, but I think I’m gonna cry now.”

Services for Mr. Donahue will be held this Saturday, Nov. 24, at Wellsprings Congregation, with a brief reception afterward at the family’s Eagleville home. Leftover turkey sandwiches will be served, as well as several kinds of beer (Ms. Kirk says it all needs to go or her 18-year-old son will be in to  it like stink on a skunk).

Mr. Donahue was a journalist and collector of writings and thoughts. His personal blog included the following two quotes, which would be good items for his tombstone, but it’s unlikely he’ll end up in the ground, as he thought that caskets and cemeteries were pretty inhuman places for one’s body to spend a thousand years. He preferred a cardboard box, maybe one that held a large appliance—a TV, perhaps—and an unmarked spot tucked in to the backyard, near the trees. Anyway, the quotes:

Anyone who thinks sitting in church can make you a Christian must also think that sitting in a garage can make you a car. — Garrison Keillor

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. — Howard Thurman

Instructions for Kevin’s service

  • I’d have it at Wellsprings
  • Ken Beldon can officiate
  • Kent Matthies gets 10 minutes
  • My brother and sister can have all the time they want, but can’t talk about the time Sue scared me and I dropped Chris on his head from the bunk bed.
  • I’d like somebody to gather up my 10 best analogies ever
  • Anybody can say whatever they want. Just keep it quick. This service should be shorter than it will be. This service needs an editor, and I won’t be around.
  • The music. I leave it to Matt Gordon to make the final decisions, but I’d like him to play “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love & Understanding,” Mark Hart to sing “Orange Sky” by Alexei Murdoch and the Wellsprings band to play “We Are Marching in the Light of God” at the end, but only with the English words. My relatives won’t go for the South African verses.

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