The death of a distant family member or friend, especially an unexpected one, produces a flood of emotions, to include the need to prepare and plan for the “what ifs”. Over the past week, upon learning of the tragic death of an acquaintance, my husband and I quietly discussed our wishes in the event of one our untimely deaths. It was a subject that we never tackled with our children. Until tonight, that is. And it’s a damned good thing we did….
<Enter Cari’s only one sure-fire coping mechanism for sadness: inappropriate humor>
I breached the subject lightly with Mackenzie and James. Neither one has experienced death so up, close, and personal before. We talked about the stages of grief and how people have different reactions to losing someone they love. They both seemed understanding of the discussion, so I went a little further. We talked about how different people had different visions on what they would like their families to do with their remains. I started to explain the three I am most familiar with (donating a body to science, burial, and cremation) to which my son interrupted.
“Yeah, Mom, I can’t see you wanting to take up space in the ground. We will set you on fire on a boat.”
“Um, wait, what?” I stuttered. “What do you mean buddy? Like, a Viking Funeral?”
Nonchalantly, James replied, “yeah, a Viking funeral. And I’ll be the one who shoots a flaming arrow at your body.”
Huh? So, my 12-year old son has not only already planned for my funeral, a Viking Funeral, but has decided that he will be the one to shoot a flaming arrow in my body??! At this point, I didn’t know whether to be honored or alarmed.
But he wasn’t finished.
“So, is it legal to give someone a Viking funeral?” he inquired.
“Uh, no. No, it is not.”
“Well, we will just have to do it in our backyard. Maybe in the creek?”
“James,” I started to explain. “The whole purpose of burning a body on a boat, is so the flames overtake the boat and it sinks to the bottom of the body of water it is floating on. Our two-inch deep creek is not going to cut it.”
You could see Jameson’s wheels turning. I guarantee that the next time we are out and about, he is going to be scoping out the best body of water to hold my Viking funeral in and whether he would be able to get away with it or not. What is the deal? Does he desperately want to set my body on fire, or is it the one time he would be allowed to shoot a flaming arrow at something? I am (hopefully) leaning towards the latter.
I tried to change the subject. “So, uh, yeah… James, you are right. I do not want to take up space in the ground. Plant a tree for me, if it comes to that. I would like my organs donated to people who can use them first, then the rest of my body donated to science, and then I would like to be cremated. The only thing that I ask is you sprinkle my ashes on a beach, somewhere tropical. And maybe each of you kids could keep a tiny bit of my ashes to put in a necklace to wear around your neck, so I will always be close to your heart.” I beamed, thinking of the sweet thought of always being with my children, even after I am gone.
“I want your skull,” Kenzie declared. <Pretty sure my mouth hit the floor at this point.>
“Uh, ha-ha, um. WHAT?!”
“Yeah,” Mackenzie started to explain, “so I can wear it as a necklace. Close to my heart,” she added as an afterthought.
Doesn’t look like I will be getting much sleep tonight. Or any other night, for that matter. Okay, so we build body bags out of trash, we have some kick-ass, scary-as-fuck Halloween parties, and read spooky stories on the regular to our kids. I guess I am more than slightly to blame for their morbid thoughts.
Just do me a favor, dear readers… If I end up missing, please comb the creek bed behind the house for my charred remains. My skull might be missing, but it shouldn’t be too hard to miss. Just check for it hanging around my daughters neck….