14 June 2006

Not dead yet

Half the Sky wrote a post about a friend who died young and left his funeral planning to his family, who werent particularly close to him, and how oddly off the ceremony felt because of it.
Of course, you get to plan the wedding yourself, but the funeral is unfortunately--unless you've got intentions to leave the planet soon-- the domain of those left behind...and not necessarily the people who know you the best. And what 45 year old with plenty of living to do sits down and writes out a funeral program? Clearly our friend did not.
What 45-year old? Well, um, me. I guess I am some kind of freak, but I have been to enough bad memorial services to not want to leave mine to the whims of other people. I'm not planning on kicking the bucket soon, but I have a folder labeled "What to do if I get hit by a bus" (a title inspired by Brian Lawler, supergenius) in my file cabinet. Mr. Stapler knows it is there.

The document lays it all out. It bans Bible quotes, with Psalm 23 expressly forbidden (all that anointing and "in the presence of mine enemies" stuff creeps me out).

It has quotes I DO want including from A Course in Miracles, one of which is hilarious for a funeral, I think, because it says "Where would I go but heaven?"(since most people think that outcome is in some doubt - especially for someone like me):
You are my goal, my Father. Only You. Where would I go but Heaven? What could be a substitute for happiness? What gift could I prefer before the peace of God? What treasure would I seek and find and keep that can compare with my Identity? And would I rather live with fear than love?


The hush of Heaven holds my heart today. Father, how still today! How quietly do all things fall in place! This is the day that has been chosen as the time in which I come to understand the lesson that there is no need that I do anything. In You is every choice already made. In You has every conflict been resolved. In You is everything I hope to find already given me. Your peace is mine. My heart is quiet, and my mind at rest. Your Love is Heaven, and Your Love is mine.

If they aren't crying by the end of that, then I have also planned music. Sweet Honey in the Rock is the most amazing a cappella women's group on the planet and "Breaths" is their song I have conveniently copied onto a CD in the "In Case I Get Hit by a Bus" folder (organization, people, organization!). The lyrics say:
Those who have died have never never left
The dead have a pact with the living
They are in the woman's breast
They are in the wailing child
They are with us in the home
They are with us in the crowd
The dead have a pact with the living...

'Tis the ancestors' breath
In the voice of the waters

Ah, that makes me tear up just reading it. That is my whole goal. Give the peeps a good cry at my memorial so they can get those toxic stress chemicals out of their system and get back to eating, drinking and having wild sex.

I also have a bit in there about scattering my ashes, but today I was thinking maybe being eaten by crows would be more satisfying - at least my stinking corpse would be food and doing somebody some good, instead of contributing to global warming by burning the thing.

I feel better, having written all this stuff down. Just knowing no one will have to sit through that 23rd Psalm for the 1000th time makes me happy. I also have a will. Hey, stuff happens.

How 'bout you? Are you ready for the Angel of Death? The Toltecs say we need to make friends with her, because she helps us to see how short and amazing life is. That is what I am going for.

As far as being actually dead - well, I will take the words of my spiritual advisor, Mary Olive Hill (who passed away a few years ago at 90) to heart:
"You don't know how many times we have laid down our bodies and risen up, laughing." Sounds good to me.

Linkateria today: Bush acts like a jerk (again), Ginga Joy on reality TV, Mom to the Masses on paying the bills - and other stuff, too.


nathaniel said...

not quite yet I guess.

gandhi rules said...

I'm so very moved by this post Bob. It will be no big suprise to know my desires are very similiar. I love the words you want spoken, the song and what your spiritual mentor said. Just beautiful, really. Love you.

super des said...

I can honestly say you are far more prepared than me... however, now the idea's in my head so I may start planning.

Holly Capote said...

Suebob, any girl that contemplates death is my kind of chick. Have you ever read, "The Denial of Death"? No one should be allowed to live or die until they read this book. There's a nasty chapter about how homosexuality is cowardice and another chapter about how Michaelangelo had to be queer, but other than those oozing sores, it's a brave and beautiful body of notions. You put the fun in FUNeral, hun.

I like the crows idea. I think it takes about 40 gallons of gasoline to burn a body. And whereas cemetaries are semi-parks, the whole notion of erecting a rock and thus semi-living forever is sillier than The Gong Show.

Keep writing, suebob. You do it well.

SUEB0B said...

Thank you, Gandhi. Coming from you, that means a lot to me.

Christina said...

I have made no plans for my death yet, although I know I should get on that. After having Cordy, everyone keeps pushing us to get a will and plan out what should happen after our deaths. I guess I just haven't felt like dealing with it yet.

Valerie said...

Found your blog page while trying to find the right title of that Sweet Honey song. Thanks! The reason? 3 weeks ago a good friend died after long illness. We did the funeral ourselves -- washing and annointing the body, the coffin built by a family member, days of the "lying in." It was an amazing experience. Funerals are important passages and there is no reason to give that up to an funeral home, and pay them a lot of money for it in the bargain. I applaud you thinking about your own death and about crafting the funeral yourself. To end, I was there when my friend died, and I feel now so clearly that the Sweet Honey song is right: those that have died are with us in ways we intuit but don't have rational explanations for.

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