When I Die
It is really funny, we never like to talk about when we die. Everyone dies at some point. When my mom died, she had never shared with me what she wanted to happen. Did she want a funeral? Private or public? Morning or afternoon? Buried or cremated? Gravesite or scattered ashes? Flowers? What kind? Music? Was there a special song? So many questions I had for her. I loved her so and wanted her journey to be hers. I did my best, but I will never know if it healed her soul. I believe we should all talk about this. It matters to those we leave behind.
So my mom had a funeral in a church in the afternoon in mid winter. The music was lovely. A nephew played “The Prayer” on the violin. It was her favorite song. Two nieces sang as well. My mom was a singer, her voice flowed throughout our house on most mornings. Music was her, so music was a part of our final farewell. My mom was cremated and her ashes were placed in a lovely pewter box. Those who were present for her service, took a flower out of a basket while entering the church. After the pastor spoke about love: Corinthians: 1–13
1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
every person brought their flower and placed it in front of the urn. It was a lovely moment and tears were being wiped away from the eyes of those who loved her. The flowers were buried with her. She was buried in a nouveau graveyard. No tombstones and few trees. It reminds me of a cookie cutter track neighborhood. My parents bought the plots many years ago. It actually felt funny leaving my mom there. As time has passed, I realize only her ashes are there, her soul was never there, but continuing on her journey. I hope I see her again as I too travel through life and beyond.
I hope when I die I return to my favorite place. I do not want a funeral. No visitation at the funeral home. I want to be cremated and my ashes put into a lovely wooden box. I think I will select this box while I am alive. I want those who love me to take me back to the sea. I want them to remember me alive, walking my dogs on the beach, with sand on my feet, the sun in my face, and the wind blowing my hair. I would like for them to charter a small boat and take me to the place I love, my life celebrated as my ashes are returned to the sea.
I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea — whether it is to sail or to watch it — we are going back from whence we came. — John F, Kennedy
Perhaps my favorite song could be played by a musician:
For final goodbyes are the moment we realize the privilege of love and life is over. I want my memory to be warm sunny days on the sand, leashes in hands, eyes twinkling with the ones I love.
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand. -Irish Blessing
I think talking about final farewells, makes saying goodbye a celebration. A final tribute to the moments once shared with the ones we love.
So when I die, promise me, the sea.