It’s cyclical, this life thing. As people pass on from this world, smaller people pass into it. I’ve always thought it was funny that babies are often just as wrinkly as old people. Like God saying, “just in case you had any doubt about Buddhism, here’s a reminder: you’re pruny at both ends.”
Recently, people I know have been cranking out babies like delicious hot-cakes. It’s all life-affirming warm happy times when a baby is delivered healthily and happily. Festivals are thrown, people dance in the streets and champagne is toasted as the parents come to grips with the impending assault on their sleep schedule.
Then there are funerals. Not nearly as happy a time. No one likes saying goodbye, especially when that goodbye is forever. I recently attended a funeral and it’s been about a year since we buried my grandfather. Inevitably the somber conversations of rememberance set your mind to the task of contemplating your own mortality, something I’ve been doing for the past few weeks.
Undoubtedly the biggest drawback to having lost religion is the contemplation of death. Sure the human race is cyclical, people come, people go, life goes on. But me? I’m about as cyclical as a scratched CD. In a few score years (hopefully) I’m going to hit a pot-hole in the road of life and I’ll start skipping until someone presses the eject button and then it’s glove compartment time. It’s the constant re-realization of this fact that always make me get a little cold-sweat trickle down the back of my spine.
I’ve got an inkling that this feeling is behind the sadness of funerals. If any of us weren’t really afraid of death there’d never be a tear shed in sadness over the passing of another. So maybe having lost my religion didn’t play into it as much as I thought, but who knows?
With thoughts of mortality jumbling around in my brain, I attended this most recent funeral and observed. First off, apparently I was raised in the mountains because I had no clue that the rest of America already has death figured out. There are certain times for certain things, certain types of flowers to get, certain prayers that are said, etc. It made a certain amount of sense to me that in a time of sadness you wouldn’t want to have to worry about coming up with something new. As usual, whenever I peer into the world of the other 95% I was intrigued.
Over the course of the events for the weekend with thoughts of ritual now added to the already volatile mix of babies and death, I started to plan out how I want my funeral to happen. Honestly, it started off as a joke. Now that I’ve got it written down I’m going to have it formed into a legally binding contract so that my next of kin must carry it out.
Dave’s Funeral Shower
It’s going to be called a shower because babies have showers and they’re fun. I think it’s illegal to wear black to a shower of any kind, even in New York. There are wedding showers, baby showers, engagement showers, even rain showers are pretty fun. You can’t have a sad time at a shower.
Okay, the details:
Cremation seems like the obvious choice. Hell, I’ve been slowly cremating myself since puberty, why not just go all the way once I’ve shuffled off the coil? It’s actually integral to the later more intricate rituals involved in what would be a yearly event.
Yes, yearly. Since the Funeral Shower is going to be both fun and legally binding, it’s going to happen every year on the day of my birth (or an observed weekend, third sunday of May perhaps).
At some point after I pass on, the executor of my estate (the shower planner) will have seven vessels made in my likeness. These hermetically sealed containers will hold my ashes forever. As you can see from the artist’s rendition above, they will be glorious. (They’ll all be the same size, for reasons explained in the scavenger hunt portion of the shower).
Ideally I’d like each of the vessels to hold the ashes from different parts of my body, but I’m guessing I won’t be in much of a state to dictate by then.
The Scavenger Hunt
This is where it gets awesome. The day before the shower the Shower Planner will have hidden my ashes in various places. Around these hiding places She or He will plan a scavenger hunt wherein seven teams of my friends and progeny will progress through clues and terrain to be the first to return to the altar (see below) with the Vessel. The scavenger hunt would take place between the hours of 10 – 1 and from 3 until midnight, depending on the ingenuity of that year’s Shower Planner.
Lunch and The Episodes
During the scavenger hunt lunch break, the seven teams will reconvene for a delicious lunch and the Episodes which are roughly sketches of important periods or events in my life that will be acted out by the different teams. The team with the best Episode will be awarded care of the Altar for the next year. (The altar is going to be built by me, out of wood, at some point)
The winner/s of the scavenger hunt would get to display the Vessels in their house for the following year. Or put it in a closet, depending on how much of a conversation piece they become.
Tell me you’ve ever heard of a better idea and I’ll call you a liar. I mean, it’s pretty obvious where all of this came from. We all want to be remembered. Most people do it through children, whose children will hopefully remember them when their merry-go-round’s music stops playing. It’s the cheapest form of immortality and it’s built-in.
Not to discount the creation of life at all, mind you. Most of my plan involves having a healthy progeny around to fill out the Shower. But honestly, it’s such a bizarre and complex plan for a reason. What better motivation to be good to your friends and family than wanting them to participate in a yearly celebration of your death long enough for it to become dogma?