January 15th, 2005

Continuing A Theme

I think a lot about death.

(Now that I’ve lost half my readers right there, the rest of us can continue on.)

It’s not so much the spiritual aspect of it, either. (The Bible lays it out pretty clearly that you can know what will happen to you after you die, after all.) It’s the mundane, paperwork-type stuff that I wonder about.

I know two things: Where I want to be buried and what funeral home I want to have handle it. So what do I do about it? I guess the logical choice is to draw up some sort of legal document that spells that out, but where do I leave it? Taped to my TV screen so people can find it when they knock my door in to find out why I haven’t been to work in two weeks? I figure it’s the kind of thing you want to have in an easily-accessible place, or else people won’t find it until they’ve already got you interred, and that would kind of defeat the purpose. Maybe carrying around a card in my wallet would be the best place – I’ve got my Barnes & Noble discount card, my grocery store membership card, and my Roly Poly punchcard in there, so why not an “after I die” card? It could also have an email address or two of people I’d like to have notified, maybe.

Funeral homes like to tell you that planning before you die saves your loved ones from having to go through that process after you die. I actually think that’s a pretty good idea, too. If I didn’t have so many other things to pay off, I just might start making payments on funeral arrangements. Of course, you’re supposed to work it so your life insurance pays that off, but it’d be nice to have a jump on it, wouldn’t it?

Same with the gravesite. I’ve checked into it, and plots aren’t as expensive as I thought they might be. I have a friend who is constantly telling me I need to buy a house because I’m throwing money away by renting. He’s right, of course, but I’m just not where I can do that right now. Renting appeals to me because other people do the yardwork and take care of any problems that come up. Buying a cemetary plot might be a halfway point: I’d own some land, and someone else would still be taking care of the yardwork and stuff.

I haven’t priced headstones yet, but I’ve thought about it. I think I’d like a nice dark gray stone. As for what would go on it, I think I’ll leave that up to other people. It’d be nice to have my name spelled correctly and I’d like to have commas in the birth- and death-dates. Some stones don’t have commas and it looks weird to me. Other than that, maybe I could have a whiteboard or something similar on the stone so people could write whatever they wanted to on it when they visited. I kind of like that idea. You’d see what the last person wrote and you could erase it or add to it as you saw fit. Hmm. I smell a million-dollar idea here!

Something simple for my coffin, please. I’ve got a few things I’d like to go into the coffin with me, but they’re small, so I don’t need an extra roomy one. While it’s tempting to get one painted up to look like my favorite NASCAR driver’s car, I think I’ll pass on that one. One, I think it’s tacky, and two, I don’t have a favorite NASCAR driver. Hey! I just figured out what kind of coffin would be cool! Did you ever see Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan? A major character dies at the end and he gets a pretty cool-looking coffin. See if you can find one of those for me! (I won’t ruin the surprise by telling you which character dies, but I will say that the name of Star Trek III is The Search for Spock.)

Hey, it happens, right? Death, I mean. Tax season is almost upon us, and the old saying is true, so it doesn’t do any good to ignore either subject. Lately when I’ve been thinking about it, there’s a song that runs through my head. It’s the chorus to “Quiet” by Rachel Yamagata, and it’s not about death at all, but I think it’s fitting:

And it’ll be just as quiet when I leave

As it was when I first got here

It’ll be just as quiet when I leave

As it was when I first got here

I don’t expect anything to change when I leave

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