January 5, 2011

Choices. Who would have thought that death brings so many choices with it? Not for the deceased of course but for the ones they leave behind there are so many choices. First of all I guess there is the choice to end life support. Not everybody has to make that choice for their dearly departed but for those of us who do it’s a daunting choice. My mom didn’t want to remain on life support in the event that she got critically ill, so we followed her wishes. I am glad that she helped us making that choice by letting us know what she wanted. I can’t imagine making that choice if you had no idea what the person wanted.

After the death you have to decide what is going to happen with the body or the remains as they like to call them. Not sure why we have to change the name, a body is a body, no? But like so many unpleasant things we created a euphemism. So the remains, what do you do with them? We had a meeting this morning at Sands to decide that very thing. Burial or cremation? Mom wanted cremation so that’s what we went with. Thank you mom for choosing cremation. I am thankful she choose cremation for a few reasons, the first being that I don’t have to picture her body, um, I mean remains, in the ground rotting and getting eaten by worms, kinda gross. Second I think cremation is the greener choice isn’t it? Space is going to become a shortage as is wood, so cremation may be the way of the future; way to be green mom! And third it really limits more choices that have to be made. With cremation you choose to either embalm the body or not and you choose what they put the ashes in, oh I mean remains. Did you know they donate any money that results from metals left from the body to charity? I didn’t know that. So my mom is not only green she is charitable.

There are heaps of options for what to put the remains in. All kinds of urns and keepsake stones and jewellery and even a teddy bear. I feel bad for passing judgement on another person’s grieving process but that one kind of struck me as odd. A teddy bear? So you can cuddle with remains all night long? Now I know some people might find this comforting, but I guess I fall into the category of people who do not find snuggling with a body burnt to a crisp at night. I just got a shudder. It’s hard enough to sleep at night. We opted for a modern and classic container to put half of her ashes in for the cemetery and the other half will go in a transportation certified container to be drifted in Maui. Yes I said drifted. I have decided that I hate the term scattered. I am not scattering her. Scattering sounds painful or unresolved. Whereas drifted sounds lovely, drifted in the sea, drifted off to sleep. Yes drifted is way more peaceful than scattered.

My mom always talked about going to Hawaii so she’s finally going. At the funeral home they told me that they will give me a letter to go with the box and we will take her right on the plane with us. Do we stow her in overhead or put her by our feet or on our laps? I wonder if the container is obvious or is it an unmarked package. I can predict some slightly awkward exchanges that will result from travelling with my mom. Hey now, it will kind of be like she is actually there!

If mom had chosen to be put into the ground we would have had to choose her eternal resting place. Yes, I actually read that phrase on a casket today. Um, side note to the advertiser who created that advertisement… technically you won’t be there for an eternity. Within one year all that’s left are your teeth and bones. The bugs get you. And then those bugs die, and who knows where they will die, but it’s likely not right where you were buried. Did you know that in a tropical climate a corpse can become a moving mass of maggots in 24 hours? I didn’t know that, but I Googled decomposing body in research for writing this and this decomposing fun fact came up. Anywho, caskets… there are so many choices in regards to wood and hardware and secret drawers and hidden memory capsules. Oh and then the lining, what kind of material do you want… ruffled, flat, quilted? What colour? Do you want special embroidery, or a picture or the flag of your Country of origin? You can even have a fancy knob thinger made of a hummingbird or a fish or a deer head. YES! That’s what I want on my casket, a good old 10 point buck. My grandpa says this isn’t that weird, and wouldn’t be weird to me if I was a hunter… good point grandpa. My main point here is that there are a HEAP of choices for a casket. Make it easy on your loved ones and do the research, find out what you want and write it in your will. That’s my PSA for the day.

Tomorrow we were supposed to go “positively identify the body,” before the cremation took place. Yes you have to say this is so and so my loved one, you can go throw them in the oven now. Can you imagine? The official next of kin and legal document signer gets to do this fun job and guess what, that’s me! My grandparents kindly offered to come with me. And then today the phone rings and it is our helpful funeral director and he shared, in the kindest and smoothest of voices that he didn’t think viewing the body would be a positive experience for me and my family and that he recommended that we not come in. He explained in nice terms what happens to a body after it dies… I was listening to him all the while knowing exactly what he was talking about and in the not so nice terms because I had Googled that this morning. As far as I am concerned I have dodged a bullet on this one. I was not looking forward to walking in and seeing her in a casket or um, her eternal resting place (lol). It might have been nice to see her wearing the outfit I bought her, but I can see that in my mind, and in my mind she is happy and healthy and smiling.

So now we don’t have to ID the body, but we do have to go to the cemetery and pick out a place for half of her remains to stay. And we will have to pick out how to identify that it’s her who rests there. Do you think the dead truly rest? If I were a ghost the last thing I would do is rest, I will tell you that. I would be all over the world. This is another thing people should pick out for their loved ones. Of course we know the things that mom was into, we know what she liked, but who knows what she would have picked for herself. It’s hard choosing something like that, it’s how people are going to see her for a looooong time. It is more daunting than picking the outfit she will wear for two hours that’s for sure.

All of this is keeping me busy. Being her official next of kin there is so much that needs to be done. I got this huge folio from the funeral home with all these discs and handouts and brochures and I am staring at it now. It’s taunting me. I am not scared to get it done, it’s not hard work and it will keep me busy, but once it’s done it’s done. I think that’s what taunts me. When it’s done I haven’t got it to focus on anymore. I have to actually focus on my life. It’s easy to go through the motions and almost forget what you are doing and why you are doing it.

Yesterday I didn’t want to go to bed. I had been up for 20 hours of the 24 hours that made up January 4, 2011. I told B that I wasn’t ready for today to become tomorrow yet. I wasn’t ready to say my mom died yesterday. I remember feeling this way when Everly was born. I didn’t want the day to not be May 10, 2009 anymore. I wanted the day to last forever. I think with mom’s passing I know that the farther away the date gets the more I am going to forget and the more I am going to realize that she’s gone. Right now it feels like she could be on vacation. I know that on my birthday I will feel it, and on Everly’s birthday I will feel it, and on mom’s birthday when she should have turned 47 I will feel it. I think I will feel it most of all in August on whatever date this baby decides to arrive.

I lay in bed last night staring at Everly and I was jealous of her peace. I stared at the wall and I was jealous of it’s peace. And I cried. The second night in a row that I have cried myself to sleep and likely not the last. I have been told that there will eventually be a day when I don’t cry before I go to sleep and I will have my own peace and I won’t have to be jealous of anyone else’s, but what no one tells me is how long it will take that day to come. I guess it’s different for everybody.



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