All Soul’s Eve. It didn’t seem so strange to me. My entire life was centered around the dead and dying. Holy water. Unholy moments at a loved one’s casket. I’d seen it all. Why we wouldn’t celebrate the spirits who’d passed seemed stranger to me. And still, from a place called Cloud Space, I look down now as one of them on the tired lives of the living and see the beauty in death. It doesn’t have to be scary. It doesn’t even have to be bad. For me, life was death. And I guess it still is now, a year after my passing. Strangely, I feel more alive than ever in my eternity with Owen. Still, it never hurts to look back. Or shouldn’t. That’s what this day is all about. For me, it may even become tradition. I’ll light a candle and ring bells every Halloween – only, now, it’ll be for the souls of the living…
Excerpt of My Dead Life
Caskets are like shoes. They come in every shape, form, material and color too. Copper, stainless steel, cherry, oak, walnut and even mahogany. Hell, there’s even an 18th century vintage-style casket option for the rare goth-inclined woman who hopes to rest eternally in a silky tiger print lined box. Inside, the wild animal pattern is accented with thick black lace. Outside, like the cheeks of acquaintances who are taken aback by the very sight of it at the viewing, it shines a cherry red. I like to think of it as the casket for the type of woman who would, indeed, wear five-inch red stilettos to her own funeral like Mrs. Kingsley did. For an additional $800, we can put a memory tray on it. She did that too.
Not for you?
No. Don’t worry about it. There are other options. Color and material are only the start of it. How fancy and pricy are you willing to get? Just how much do you care about your newly deceased? And what does that say about you? These are the questions we don’t exactly ask but they are there – lingering like the soot of organic tissue that clings to crematory air. Twenty gauge if you hope to protect your loved one into eternity. If you don’t mind them getting wet, sixteen. (What kind of monster are you?) The thickness of the metals means everything, just sayin’.
I’ve become great at guessing grieving family members’ choices ahead. Lavender caskets are always for Grandma. Inevitably, a granddaughter or son will say the same thing, “Oh, she’d like that.” It takes everything in me not to remind them that at sixteen gauge and no vault tent, Grandma’s going to get wet. But I’ve come to realize it’s never really about the dead. I would know.
My family’s been delivering the dead for as far back as I can remember. When the phone rings at 3 a.m., it’s our job to help people get through it. It matters zero what else we might have to do. I’ve gone to final exams and even SATs fresh off a three-day Muslim burial stint and not even blinked. My parents are no different – juggling the rare young person car accident with Aunt Ethel’s preplanned arrangement. It’s just what we do.
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