Just when you think you’re out of things to talk about with your wife, family and friends, this subject came up: where do you want to be buried? Turns out that no one had any idea what their spouse had in mind and many had no idea what they had in mind. That was interesting. Most people (us included) make a will when they get married or have children, but I guess this is probably most likely a last-minute subject. Assuming one has the luxury of predicting their demise.
The conversation was fascinating— cremation versus traditional burial versus some new composting idea. But the most interesting was the idea of a gravestone or plot of land, some physical marker and some physical place to go to. My own parents have had their ashes spread different places— one in the back yard and then a bush (which has since died) planted in it, one sprinkled (illegally) on the grounds of their Novato home, both in boxes that still sits on my mantelpiece. But there is no graveyard to visit, no headstone to lay flowers by, no memorial bench in a park to sit on.
Suddenly, that feels like a bit of a loss. Like the difference between holding an old letter from one that’s passed on or looking back to see if there’s an e-mail somewhere. The convenient storage of everything in the i-cloud ignores our deep human need for some physical, material marker that allows us to then fly into the sky of memory and imagination. It all got me thinking where I would like ashes spread— near my school music room? In Golden Gate Park? Up at Mt. Baldy Zen Center or on the ground of Antioch College or in Warinanco Park near my old New Jersey Home? Calaveras where we camped with the school kids or Lake Michigan where our family goes every summer? And will there be some kind of physical marker?
I’ll get back to you. Or not.