the business of being dead

| | |

👇🏿 ain’t got no time for that? press play for the radical radio recording ✨

what if…

we speak openly about finding shoes for our dead bodies.
and what it means to joke in a room full of empty coffins.
and how that feels after me, brother, and mother, spend the previous minutes in a conference room with a director of death, who walks us through processing the body of our perishing padre who is in the refrigerator out back. naked. grey. lips pursed in a solemn, slim grin.
and how we talk on process, and who to contact, and things necessary and needed, and a schedule and outline for “to-do’s” in the death rituals we continue after a life has passed.

what are we doing with his decaying, dead flesh?
what are we thinking when we think of service…
what the fuck?! who actually thinks about this stuff.

having never been touched by death this intimately, i certainly have not.

and for why, do we have these rituals, these ceremonies.
and for who, do we have these rituals, these ceremonies.

a place to burn the dead.
a place to honor the dead, the loved ones.
a place to connect once more with the fleshy remaining bits of our dearly departed.

“who are you going with?” my friend asks. it’s an innocent enough, curious question.
“i don’t know… h-w something, off the highway across from the super eight.” i reply.
“oh, yes, they’re good.” she coos.

i’m confused. good? what? what does that even mean? over time i gather it means that even in the business of being dead there is such thing as “1 star” service providers.

oh, ok. well good to know, i guess. though what’s really good about this? what’s really good about any of this!!!!!!!!!!!!

also, this place, the burial center, is the first “like” on my dead dads new company’s facebook page only three months earlier. what are the chances?

any-time later, after leaving the burial center, i drive me, mother, and brother south on the highway as silent thoughts swirl around us. ritchie’s cremation is to happen on a tuesday night, after the viewing earlier that day. the death director’s voice echoes in my ears, “we can’t do it much later than that…” yea, i bet his body would get pretty smelly… do they get bloaty and smelly? i wonder to myself.

“so i guess when we drive by and see a billow of smoke, we’ll know that’s ritchie.” one of us says. we three meander down this tragic trail of thoughts together.

“there he’ll go, up in flames.”
“and if we ever see big billows of smoke, we’ll know another goes too…”
“that’s probs why they do it at night; into the dark of the night, up they go in smoke.”

the morbid banter receives a quiet chuckle, though that dark comment goes too far this time. what to do? this, simply a momentary reprieve from the clouded vision through our trauma, tragedy, and tears.

the business of being dead follows me around from place-to-place-to-place-to-place. i care take through all of this. i scribe as texts flow in-and-out through my phone, immediately post suicide death, and i continue to be the “point person” on all communications relating to mother’s life, extended across provinces.

i care take: food, eating, fires, pets, car care, fuel levels, oil changes, mail, sleep, laundry, wood stocked; where’s your purse, coat, glasses, cellphone, ipad; when’s your nail appointment, funeral home, coroners, doctors, insurance calls, bank meetings, lawyer meetings, bank meetings, bank meetings; what needs to be paid, funeral costs, phone bills (three cellphones and multiple home phones), multiple internet and tv bills (in different provinces), insurances (life, vehicle, house…) lawyers, more bills.

and at each meeting, re-telling the circumstances.
and at each meeting trying to hold back bursts of tears or blankly staring at the deliverer of more processes, hoops, and tasks to chase.

an incredible milieu in the business of being dead.

☾ᐧ post script ᐧ☽

i’ve since learned that ritchie’s body needed to be processed, and cremated, by tuesday night in order to have him in ashes for the service happening that friday. the director of death informs me that unless the body is already degenerating with some sort of disease prior to death, a dead body takes awhile to get “bloaty and smelly” like i initially think they do.

Similar Posts