When I was in my 20s, death was just an abstract kind of thing to me. It was, like, who knew?!
Now, a coupla decades later, it’s, like, uh-oh.
Over the years, I’ve lost grandparents, uncles, aunts, my only brother, a dog and countless cats. And I wonder if I’ll ever see them again.
Sometimes I waffle back and forth in my head about the afterlife thing. Yes? No? Maybe? Will I see my Bro and relatives and cats again just as I knew them on Earth? Will it be like a grand reunion around a dysfunctional dining room table? Or will I and the rest of the gang just be unrecognizable blips of cosmic bright light?
The Bright Light thing sounds kinda boring. I’d rather see my Bro again, shake him really hard and say, “What the HECK were you THINKING???? ” And then we could trade familiar venomous insults back and forth. And when the dust settled, we could talk about movies and The Andrews Sisters.
But, of course, there’s no way of knowing what awaits me beyond this strange Earthly life. I just hope it’s interesting.
Interesting, like, for instance, a Field Trip that I went on with a church group recently. We visited a local mortuary in downtown Sacramento and received a grand tour of the whole building.
The business side of death is just as fascinating to learn about as it is to ponder the intangible mysteries of the spiritual side.
Stepping into the nearly 100-year-old mortuary was like entering a parallel Time Zone. It’s an old-fashioned place with faceted glass door knobs and skeleton keys, white ceramic floor tiling, old light fixtures. There’s a 100-year -old humongous heating system that spreads its pipes throughout the building like tentacles. There’s an eerie elevator big enough to hold…well, a coffin. There were stairways that seemed to go to places that were farther away than the building. It was a veritable Winchester Mystery House of intrigue.
The 3 IBM Selectric typewriters in the office space caused me to feel a tad OLD, but otherwise the place was oddly comforting. It was kind of like being on the other side – kind of cozy. And I’ve always liked old-fashioned buildings.
And, of course, we saw caskets and urns with jaw-dropping price tags, the Refrigerated Room (30 degrees), the pure white embalming tables, stainless-steel tools of the trade, the sinks where the…well, never mind.
We started out in the nondenominational chapel which was quite peaceful despite nervous murmurings, puns and er, comments.
This was where the owner instructed us on the dreaded topic of MAKING PLANS.
Well, shiver and all that, but what I came away with was that the business of after-death can be quite simple and practical: $150 cardboard box and cremation and then scatter me at the seashore.
At least Death is the one thing in life that can be planned for and it’s for certain that it’s going to happen.
Because I tell you, I’ve made a ton of “plans” in my life and darned if God‘s little twists and turns (and jokes?!) haven’t gotten in “my way” a zillion times. So I’m working on being more mindful of the moment-by-moment journey and trusting in God for timing and the other good stuff.
In the last episode of “Six Feet Under,” the youngest sibling of the Fisher family, Claire, finally leaves her home in Los Angeles to follow her dreams. She gets in her car, takes the on-ramp to the Santa Monica Freeway East and begins her drive to New York City. She’s alone, she doesn’t know how things are going to turn out. She’s scared and she sobs, but she keeps on going along the lonesome desolate highway.
Well, Metaphor Alert now, but that’s life for you: A journey with lots of twists and u-turns, detours and changes from Plan A to Plan B, but ultimately a one-way journey that we all take together. However and with whomever we travel, we all wind up at the same destination.
I just hope it’s not boring there.
Copyright February 2009 by Phyllis J. Hanniver