My dad chose the perfect location for my first time behind the wheel of the biggest car Toyota manufactures: the roads and pathways are smooth, there is no pedestrian traffic to worry about, and moving at a top speed of 5 miles per hour guarantees the living's safety. I may have ran up on the expertly manicured grass a few times, but no one died who wasn't already dead. Move over, dead rockstars. Greenwood Memorial Park is now for licensed teenagers overflowing with angst and Good Charlotte patches safety-pinned to thrift store jean jackets.
I hadn't really thought of driving around Jimi Hendrix's traffic circle elysium until today when I went to visit my grandparents. Faye and Rose are side by side next to a large marble sundial. Their gravestones are simple, nothing special, basic. They weren't fans of giant ornate lettering or photographs carefully etched into giant slabs of specially obtained rock. It's almost as if their gravestones are the last tangible evidence of their quaint and simple lives above ground.
The last time I was in Riverton Crest Cemetery was when my grandfather was buried in 2004. He was laid to rest with my grandmother who died of breast cancer in 1992. They each requested to be placed next to the giant sundial so that they would be "easy to find" after they go. And sure enough, they were easy to find. I swiped some dirt and dead grass away from the stones and looked up at the flight path to Sea-Tac. For 34 years, they lived on the opposite side of the flight path from where I was standing. It's as if they could never escape the peaceful rumble of a 737.
Graves make death seem so final. HERE IT IS. THE END. UNDER THIS EXPENSIVE SLAB OF STONE IS THE END. Some people choose to be cremated or do that New Orleans funeral thing where your family sticks your body on a pyre and yell voodoo chants with bourbon and sweet tea while you spread as ashes over the unsuspecting. In the coming years, I'll have to have that talk with my parents. How can I, the only offspring, respect their wishes after they are gone? If I have to travel to the ends of the earth or even a distant planet to ensure their final demands, and if I have enough insulin to last the trip, I will.
There are numerous ideas I've had about what I want done with my body after I die. Please don't give the following list to my attorney:
- Cremated and scattered in the Pacific Ocean
- The Thelma and Louise treatment
- Cremated and kept in a Folger's can until scattered in La Jolla
- Tied to a weather balloon and sent to space (sponsored by Red Bull)
- Buried under a floorboard in haunted location so I can fuck with the Ghost Adventures crew
- Rolled up in a carpet and thrown in Puget Sound so I can fuck with the police
- Placed in a time capsule so I can fuck with kids from 2075
- Transformed into an art installation so I can fuck with people at Burning Man
(Obviously there are a million ways to go about this, and I'm not really married to any of these. I just kind of want to fuck with people after I die).
Death. I've told myself and others on occasion that it is comforting to know that at some point, none of this will matter. But what is "this," you ask? "This" can be anything annoying you, teasing you, depressing you. "This" can be your most prized accomplishments. "This" can be your family, or the one that got away. I'm looking forward to never having to order a fucking refill through Walgreens ever again. I'm looking forward to not planning my next meal. I'm looking forward to dying with massive amounts of student loan debt I never paid off. In short, none of this matters, but we try to survive anyway. The need is within our biological drive: when rain falls from the sky, you seek shelter (or if you're really depressed, you just stand in it). When you're hungry, you search for food. When you're tired, you sleep, sometimes too much. When you feel threatened, you flee or yell at someone on the internet until someone gets blocked or reported.
This blog will be dead and gone in a pile of unpaid domain names. Your Facebook account may live on, but only because your friends think of you from time and again and want to share stupid graphics and memories with everyone you were ever friends with. I wouldn't say I'm welcoming of death, but I am very much at peace with the fact that none of this will matter. I remember this simple facet of philosophy when I'm in crisis mode. Did my insurance company assume it was okay to switch holes and fuck me in the ass? Yes. Did I really want to drink after I had a huge falling out with someone I was close with? Yes. Did I ask this series of questions just to prove a point? Yes.
Simply, when I'm in a crisis, I think of death. That sounds way more menacing than I'm intending to illustrate: I momentarily remind myself that at some point in the future, I can relax forever. And if that ends up being in a time capsule for the next 65 years, so be it.
The day before my grandfather died, he told my mom and my dad that he was "ready to go." From his hospital bed, he made peace that the end of his life was near and that his beloved airplanes would be a thing of the very permanent past. It was as if he found comfort in that none of "this" matters. I'm not dying, but I get it: the weight of life has been lifted. The trying, the living, the communicating, the going through the motions, all of it is done.
Just like this post because it got way out of hand. Keep it going for death, everybody!