For most of my life, I assumed that my final resting place would be a graveyard.
Everyone I ever knew followed that typical American path; you die, you are embalmed, you have a wake where everyone kneels in front of you, praying and thinking “Jeez, she looks awful…..”
In my experience, the end of life was marked by church, uncomfortable black clothes, a wake, a funeral and a big lunch afterwards.
I assumed that one day I, too, would lie there like a sunken, waxy version of my worst self, surrounded by dozens of cloyingly aromatic flower arrangements. I assumed that I would then be lowered into the ground in my gleaming wooden coffin and that a big headstone would be placed there to mark my location.
It didn’t seem so bad to me when I was younger! I have always loved to wander through old graveyards, reading the stones and trying to imagine the people below me and the lives that they had left behind. It seemed sort of romantic in a strange way, you know?
But now I am older. I’m a bit closer to that final rest than I used to be. And I am experiencing more wakes, more funerals, more loss. I have friends who are battling life threatening illnesses.
So I’ve been rethinking my original plans.
First off, I am not so sure that I want to be pumped full of chemicals and placed in a sealed casket. I mean, I eat organic, locally grown veggies. I clean with vinegar and baking soda. Why would I want to spend eternity with chemicals in my veins? And why the super sealed casket, lead lined and “water safe”? Once I die, I realize, I will not be coming back. No need to stay dry.
And holy crow! Why would I want my family to spend that much money on something that will only be seen for four hours? I’d rather have them use the same funds to take a nice trip to Italy and drink to my memory.
So…..I have been thinking about a “green burial”. Put me in a simple pine box, let me decompose and become fertile ground for a nice lilac.
But I had an experience yesterday that made me rethink even that idea.
I was attending the funeral of my wonderful, funny, fun loving, lively Uncle Lennie. We had been to the church, and were now approaching the graveyard where he would be laid to rest. It is a beautiful, green place in a lovely little New England town. Trees, flowers, beautiful thick grass, carefully maintained headstones.
But there was a sign at the gate that caught my eye. It read, “No bicycles. No dog walking. No playing.”
No playing? No playing?
What does that even mean?
My Uncle was a professional baseball player. If we played catch one day by his graveside, could we be arrested?
What if we brought a chess set, and decided to enjoy a calm fall day by playing chess and remembering our Uncle? Would that be against the law?
Could we play a violin or a guitar in his honor?
I don’t understand.
I do realize one thing, though, as I think about my own “eternal rest”. I would hate like hell to be left in a place where dogs were not welcomed. I would never, ever rest easy in a spot where children were forbidden to romp and frolic and laugh and play.
The only thing that would be sure to make me haunt this world would be to force me into a joyless, child free, dogless place.
I am thinking a lot about cremation and the “scattering of the ashes”. I would love a chance to spend eternity in the Atlantic Ocean. Where I would most certainly play with the dolphins!