Final wishes

When Eddie and I were first married, I routinely revised instructions for my funeral. I wasn’t worried about homicide, suicide, or accidental death. No, as a newly ordained pastor officiating at funeral services, I was noticing how people are laid to rest. I wanted my final wishes known.
“Honey, please don’t let anyone put anything inside my casket.”
I don't want someone's idea of a shared memory tucked between me and the casket liner. No John Deere tractor toys, pink stuffed animals, baseball caps, or color snapshots positioned around my body as though I were a mannequin in a window display. I have a pretty firm set of personal boundaries.
“I want a simple pine coffin.”
Forget the hardwoods, fine veneers, and semi-precious metals, not to mention rust resistant stainless steel. Why be buried in a material that is designed to resist air, water, and other grave site substances if my body is supposed to decay?
I worry that Ed, in his grief, might cave on a coffin personalization feature or two, like an interior tribute panel. I can't imagine a backdrop of embroidered words for the viewing. Nor do I want a set of detachable, multicolor, three-dimensional angels. This particular “lifestyle design,” as it’s known in funeral speak, appears to confuse family members. I’ve seen the what-the-hell-are-we-supposed-to-do-with-this look on their faces when handed a leaping trout, bald eagle, mallard duck, or mountain landscape that's been removed from the coffin at graveside.
I trust I don’t have to warn Ed against the airbrushing of insignia or screaming fighter jets or the raising of the flag at Iwo jima on the casket exterior. But polyurethaning a photo of our dogs, Parker and Maggie, might be a temptation. He knows how much I love them.
Whenever I stare into the depths of a concrete burial vault, the words “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, earth to earth,” ring hollow. How can my body co-mingle with the soil if it's sealed inside a bomb shelter?
“Honey, I want to be cremated.”
So far, Ed has been accommodating of my requests. Yet I have learned that he has one non-negotiable. If I precede him in death, he wants the streamer on my flowers to read Precious. It's one of his final wishes. How can I refuse?

No comments: