A Life Less Blog


Burned
July 13, 2010, 10:31 pm
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I couldn’t bear to have her cremated.  Just the thought of flames consuming her and the idea of her flesh turning into ashes was too much.  I want to be able to look into her face on the day of her funeral.  I want to be able to kiss her cold, cheek and wipe away the tears of mine that have fallen across her brow.  I don’t want to be one of those creepers who carry home an urn of ashes.  Ashes cannot be viewed by family and friends.  Ashes cannot be remembered.

I am already forgetting the exact lines of her face.  I can still call it to mind but it is getting fuzzy around the edges.  Hopefully, when I see her open casket tomorrow it will all come rushing back.  I wish they could have a camera that continuously runs and broadcasts what is going on in her casket.  This way when I go to her gravestone and can’t remember her face, I can gaze upon it as it ages naturally.  I mean, eventually she will turn to ashes and dust…but by that time I will be lying next to her and it won’t matter anymore.  It doesn’t seem fair, the husk of ourselves that is left behind for our loved ones to “dispose of.”  Almost like a last minute thing, or an afterthought, an “oh, by the way, would you mind cremating my body for me, thanks.”  I see now why the Egyptians mummified their corpses; this way they could look at them longer and spend time with their loved ones even after they had been dead for some time.  Have you ever noticed the beautiful sarcophagi of Egyptians?  I would rather visit something like that, than a drab, cold, stone any day.

I just wish there was some way to see her again whenever I wanted.  I mean, I hate to admit it, but she is actually easier to talk to this way.  I have told her things today I never would have shared with her when she was alive.  I mean, one, she can’t interrupt me, and two, she can’t criticize or make fun of what I am saying.  It is like she is silently agreeing with everything I say and do.  It is kinda liberating.  I mean, when she was alive, I couldn’t wear this one pair of sneakers because they were “old” and they reminded her of “a homeless man’s shoes,” but I could wear those sneakers to her funeral tomorrow and she wouldn’t be able to chastise me for it.

She always did criticize me when she was alive.  She never seemed particularly happy with anything I did.  Sure, I probably could have been more attentive and brought her more flowers…taken her out more.  We used to go more places.  We used to just get in the car and drive without a care as to where we were going.  We had so many adventures together.  Of course, lately she would never have gotten in a car without a destination in mind…”Gas is expensive,” she’d say; “Do you know where you are going? Or are we just going to drive around aimlessly.” Yeah, she wasn’t too into spontaneity anymore.  But now that she’s gone I could just get into the car and drive.  I could just leave her funeral tomorrow and head north and if I felt like it I could turn left or right or left again and it wouldn’t even matter.  I could drive all day, and who cares about the cost of gas.  That would be a good homage to her, I think.  If I just took off after the funeral and drove to all the spots around the country she wanted to visit.  There were so many places we wanted to go together, but we never had the time; she was working, or I was working, or we had to pay the cable bill instead.  Life just got in the way.  I think if I left tomorrow, it would be like she was sitting next to me, living again, living vicariously through me.  I can see her now, with the windows down and her hand pushing up against the wind outside as we glide down the coast.  I can see her smiling underneath some silly ostentatious sign advertising shrimp, or the world’s biggest thermometer.

Why did she want to be cremated anyway?  How unfair to deny her family and especially me, one last look before she is lowered into the ground.  What am I supposed to do with an urn, set it on the shelf by her favorite books?  Light a candle and say a prayer?  Dust it every Saturday and strap it into a seatbelt on Sundays for church?  I think if there is even the smallest piece of her left for me to hold onto it would be too painful.  It would be like she isn’t really dead but set up inside an urn staring at me through an invisible lens, daring me not to pick my socks up off the floor, reminding me to hang my wet towel back on the rack after a shower.  All those petty little annoyances I dealt with when she was alive amplified in my mind.  I wouldn’t be able to move on or to let her go.

I don’t want to take her home in a vase.  I don’t want to forget she is in there one day and start to fill her up with water and shove stems into her base.  I mean what is the alternative?  A plastic bag?  A mason jar?  How can one person’s entire being fit inside a mason jar?  What happens to her teeth?  If I get a see-through container will I see bits of her bones sticking out?  Will the cleaning lady think I emptied out the vacuum cleaner bag one day and just toss her out with the trash?  This is too ridiculous!  She is not a pile of ashes; she’s the love of my life!  I have to start remembering to refer to her in the past tense.  Do I love her enough to cremate her, if that was her wish?  Do I love her enough to burn her up? Would she be able to do the same thing for me, if that was my wish?  She is not an object, something to be put on a shelf and gather dust.  I can’t think of her as a decoration, I would rather remember her as my wife.

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