(Note: I am helping LilEnigma judge this challenge, so my entry isn't eligible to win but I couldn't resist entering)
Like the Father, Son and Holy Ghost
the Maiden, Mother, and Crone,
and Birth, Life and Death,
my END will pour threefold
On the first day:
Lie me on a simple slat of wood,
in a room fragranced
by the smoke of Nag Champa
and draped with cloths of purple, blue, and red,
surrounded by fixtures of mixed metal and stone.
There are roses on the walls, one laid on
every seat, and petals spread across the floor
with a sprinkling of tobacco for Legba's quiet guidance.
Prayer candles for Mother Mary, Parvati, and Oshun
must crackle quietly on every open surface.
Cover me with mint, as deemed by Aphrodite,
and place a crown of thornless
Joseph's Coat roses atop my head.
In the background, plays a soundtrack
of delta blues, soulful jazz,
psychedelic rock, ethereal prog-metal,
haunting southern gothic guitar
and the occasional hymn, starting
with Hear My Train A' Comin'
woven with The Parting Glass,
Come Away With Me and
Box Up My Bones, then finished
with Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.
Each guest has their choice of mantra or
verse from whatever belief seems
to meet the moment, and must speak it
into my listening ear or tuck the written words
between the roses atop my head.
There will be no speakers, no public declarations
of mourning, reflections of death will be
our secret, sacred bond.
Everyone will leave the viewing with a stone
from my personal collection; may it bring
them luck and snowballing peace.
Dress yourself in clothes that allude
to our favorite memories; as casually or
formally as you please.
On the second day:
A day of silence, of meditation and reflection
in nature--garden, sea, or quiet wood--
and poetry or prose must be written
about whatever comes to mind.
Psychoactive spirit journeys are not required,
but highly recommended.
Collect pieces of the earth in my memory,
but keep them for yourselves on your altars,
your mantles, your ofrendas and your hearts.
And while my loved ones mourn
in the temple of Mother Nature and Father Time,
grace me with fire, burn me with all the flowers
from my service and the holy texts
that frame my skull.
And finally, the third day:
Make a mandala of ash, bone, and
vibrant sand, a careful, colorful
arrangement to remind us of quiet infinity,
of the ebb and flow of the cosmic tide.
Then gently sweep my ashes and sand
and pour them into beads of glass,
one each for my children, one each
for the loves I leave behind, and finally,
one for the Earth, intended to be buried
with the Mother who cradled
me for a century near--
--for I am from the dust
and to dust I shall return.
The “Twain” Funeral for Me Please, Lil’ Bit
Oh, this one is so easy, and would have worked out perfectly for me if only I had died when I was twelve, like I wanted to do so many times, especially that time I broke the windows with the rocks… eight of ’em… over at the school. I really wished I was dead that time. Or that time I knocked the car shifter into neutral and rolled backwards with it down the hill and into the basement at the construction site. Or that time I set the fire. There were actually a lot of times, but that is all somewhat besides the point, which is that like my friends Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, I might have gotten to be alive at my own funeral, and to walk right in while everybody was crying, and sobbing over my dead bones, and all of them dressed in black; mother, father, sister, grand-parents, cousins, friends… even Meg Bell, the prettiest girl in my class back then, and the one I did all of those wonderful things for in my vain-glory attempts to impress.
And just like for ’ol Tom Sawyer, it would be my most glorious day, and folks would run up to hug and kiss me, and to tell me how happy they were to see me alive again, and to share how awful they’d felt when they thought I was dead, and how they’d been so mean and cruel in administering my punishments, and how very sorry they were for it all.
And Meg would kiss me at the end of it all, with all the guys on my baseball team there to see it, and to die themselves from envy. Just a peck it would be, but our first of many. I would act a little bit ashamed by it, and she would act a teensy bit smitten, and my hand would grab hold of hers as we ran away from this silly celebration of life, and the funnest of games would be on as we hurried away to find a place to play “undertaker,” a game we invented, where one person would lie still as death while the other touched their secret places in an attempt to bring about signs of life.
Leave it to Mark Twain and me to write the very best funerals!
La Muerte Más Loca
In truth, I want the least amount of fuss. Incineration is the fastest, least expensive, and the ashes can be scattered in all the places I love. But, obviously, that is no fun...
Ms. Lil Enigma, I see you tapping your sequin pencil on the marbled counter and "Ahem'ing," about all the wild and cost-free fantastical options. Let's make it a party, right?
So, it will in that case need to be Sci-Fi. We'll need to discuss the finer details of teleportation and time-travel. Naturally, it wouldn't be a party if Everybody-and-their-Significant-Others weren't duly invited. We'll have to raise the dead. I mean the dearly departed, that we might all be politely reunited in this moment of celebratory crisis. Some of these will need to be disinterred from graveyards in Europe and some reconstructed from ashes, such as my father, whose remains at the behest of his sister (my aunt Teresa) have been separated into multiple jars, and by his request of which were scattered (partly) on the plot of land that he adored so much and had named like a woman, Lotta. Yes, I was forced to compromise with his remains, and I know that he will be understanding that some individuals have trouble letting go of the material, forsaking the immaterial. To be sure, we will have to work on a degree of solid materialization, as he never met my husband and son and I'd like for them to shake hands at this moment and hug. Definitely, we'll be speaking in Non-Babylonian tongues, so that everyone understands everyone whatever, their native language. Scour the lands, for every last soul that I ever had contact with, especially those with "unresolved" issues.
Now is the time, right? to lay these to rest.
If we're all meeting up, for one helluva night, then cremation at this point is out of the question, and we must have a viewing. Make it good Lil Engima. Have fun. I leave you free range to make up my face however you like. It's always been a makeup free blank canvas, so just for tonight have at it and do some smokey eyeshadow, and cat's liner. Make the lips sharp with a gloss to last for each parting casket kiss. I'm ignorant on all these details, but I know there is some sealer, and if I remember vaguely, you put foundation on first to make the lipstick better adhere. Darken under the cheeks and eye sockets for drama, to ensure that romantic lovelorn, knocking on death's door look. Prop the eyes open if you have to, add whatever drops in there needed to keep them fresh and dewy.
I would like for you to personally paint the coffin, no the sarcophagus, with my hand carefully cradled in your own so that I can have the illusion of having taken part in this most important task, which while alive would be a morbid undertaking. But once, dead as such, you-and-I will truly enjoy the team effort. Well, it might be a challenge for you, but know that I will be cheering everybody on in spirit. I'd leave it up to fate, but if I can put in a little artistic direction, I'd prefer something cryptic, with coded letters, hidden images, optical illusions, a little tribal, something robotic, hot/cold gauges, ambient lighting. It will be lonely in there for awhile.
As for the wake, girl, of course I'll need a dress! Something with sculptural cleavage, like they fix up for the Miss Universe pageant, because my husband would love that; and do show some leg by all means! who says we have to be all shrouded and solemn for such an occasion? Heels please, since we're reclining. Five-or-six-inch-stilettos.
I have never understood, in my extended family, the obsession with eating at funerals. We'll forgo this incongruent custom, and instead we'll have a basic communion. Wine and a chocolate wafer. A sip and bite of each will be so luxurious and fulfilling that it will be remembered as a religious experience long after I am forgotten. Everyone will only recall spending a blissful evening recollecting under the stars, with sparkling bubbly people whose words poured like wisdom and understanding. A damn good time. People will write inspired tomes for years to come.
To further ensure that, we'll have some freebies, because everyone loves giveaways. I don't want to say booths, that would suggest a vending atmosphere. No, I'm visualizing more of a labyrinth garden setting where we accidentally traverse from balcony to grotto to water fountain; and we might be welcome for instance to take: a polaroid with loved ones, a precious energy laden pebble as memento, a stimulating scent on instant recall, and a sip of rejuvenation to last forever. You know, Life changing take aways.
I'll be damn sorry to miss it! Lil if there's no other way, low tech, please at least personally escort me around on a stiff plank with peg board and wheels so that I can pretend to see the scene. Otherwise put some juice or something into my system so I can make a standing ovation before we shut the sarcophagus and take it to the secret chambers of Chichén Itzá. Meaning at the mouth of the enchanted waters. Formerly known as Uuc Yabnal or Uc Abnal. The Uuc-variations meaning Seven, Yabnal meaning House, Abnal meaning Ruling-Line. I don't know what it is about the Mayans, but it will thrill immediate loved ones to bury me and my cats there. I am certain it would please my father and my mother-in-law and be compelling to my husband's mystical sensitivity and my son's wild adventurous spirit. They'll make summer pilgrimages, and in the meantime pour over maps thumbtacking where exactly it is rumored that the body is buried.
A chamber is not empty! There will be a glass drafting table. The one I'll get for Christmas. There'll be an exquisite full spectrum lamp, architectural. Paints, brushes, paper, pens, a constantly updated laptop--
I'd like... To be forgotten. No, that's not accurate. I'd like the person they see me as to be forgotten. I'd like to be given a funeral as who I am, not what they expect of me.
I already have a shaky idea of what it would look like if my family - my parents - were to bury me. They would gather relatives I never knew or cared about. Put me in a dress (I'd... Rather not) and maybe even jewellery. Maybe even do my hair in some way to make it seem I was a lovely Christian girl, the daughter of dreams.
I wouldn't say I'm rebellious. I spent a lot of my life trying to be perfect for them, actually. It's led to issues I'm working on but regardless, that was me. A version of me. Funny how even when things change so much, those little pieces and incorrect ways of thinking still stick around somewhere like an old piece of chewed gum.
So I do worry. That they'd give me a Christian funeral. Bring in a priest. Speak in Igbo as if I loved it. Talk about how I never got to have a husband or children as if that was a dream I had. About the people I could have been, the career paths I could have chosen, all of which would be their wants, not mine.
I've thought of this before. But briefly. Because back when I wanted to die that much, I suppose it hurt even though it wouldn't matter when I was dead, that the last time my body would be above the ground was going to be an elaborate, rich people party lie. Strangers apologising to my parents, praying for my soul. It reminds me of my eigth birthday party. Adults filling the sitting room. Me, my sister and a few of our friends to keep it down upstairs while they partied on our behalf.
But you're asking what I want. And... I don't know?
Well actually, I guess I do. I'd like to be in a suit. With my hair cut the way I like it. No earrings. Maybe even no shoes cos fuck em. Maybe some bathroom slippers. Remember me as I was in life. Except wearing a "man's outfit" cos I wanna be burned looking hot, I guess? I haven't worn a suit since I had to pretend to be a businessman during a secondary school presentation years ago. I think I'd like to some day when I feel brave enough. Why not the day I'm meant to go, as well?
I think I do want to be cremated. I don't see the point of burials... Personally. I understand wanting to return my body to the earth to be eaten and used for its nourishment. But burials of today mean giant slabs of wood and marble. As if people are meant to stay human-looking and alive forever. I know it seems like that's all we are but we never really were, were we? There's so much to a person beyond the things they've been taught by the world around them. Besides who they've grown to become.
Just... Burn me, man. Let me turn to ash. I think ash is a weird, beautiful concept. The way it moves and fades into the wind. I don't want to be dropped in a specific place. I just want to join the breeze. I want them to take me to different places, places that aren't choked up in noise and city-living... And just... Throw me into the air. Heck, they can travel to do it. A little bit of Paris, a little bit of Italia heh... Why not? My sister and brother should do it... I trust them most.
And then it would all be over. But I worry. That I would be buried the way the parents want me to. It's part of why I don't mind the thought of dying alone, in some strange country... Body never to be found by family. I don't want to go the way they bury their relatives. With the pretence and the keeping up grand appearances. I don't want someone to ask a child "why aren't you smiling more" at my funeral the way my aunt did to me at her mother's funeral, as if being around the guests/relatives/utter strangers meant I had to play a part. Be a puppet.
Acting is overrated. And yeah, it likely won't mean a thing to a dead person, whether there's an afterlife or not but I don't want to have my death the way people made me feel I had to be in life. Just throw me to the breeze, the sea, into the void of nothing that was always a part of me. Let me be sucked away, never to be again... Probably. No way to tell, really.
I always wanted to be a bird, a cloud, a piece of the wind... At least my broken-down body would get the experience of that for a moment. That alone would be enough.
Was it morbid to plan your own funeral? Considering it a task in a day planner, bit by bit, planning the procession, the arrangements? Some would say it's kind to take on the pressure and prevent worsening pain of loved ones.
But my funeral would be doomsday.
Whatever that meant, was something uncertain I had filed away for a much later time when I finally took up my mother's not-so-gentle suggestion of therapy. Because all I could speak about was death. Mortality. The many theories and lack therefore of the afterlife, ever since I was young. Perhaps its due to living next to the towns mausoleum, or one too many horror movies.
I had told my family- only 9 years old at dinner- I wanted Zinnias.
"Zinnia is the morbid cousin of the genus species, connected to negative feelings such as loneliness through its representation of sentimentality and remembering friends. It symbolizes thinking of someone and those absent."
Who could have guessed that the very things we buy, plant, and pick to bring cheerful color and hope into our lives could be bursting with such intense and negative meanings? It shows the endless symbolism of flowers and how they can not only reflect our emotions but even heighten and create them.
And, well, who didn't love being the puppeteer of ones very subconscious?
So, Zinnias. Every where you can fit them. I'd also like my casket to be as gothic as we can get it- I'm talking beautifully carved dark oak, with boning (real or metal, well... whatever you can get your sinister hands on.). I also would like my tombstone to be as foreboding as possible- dark and looming that beckons the teenagers on their adrenaline-filled sneak through the cemetery to fear my ghost will catch on their coats and follow them home. Perhaps engraved to say, "Im Watching." just to create a conspiracy. And you know those cages they used to have, either to stop grave digging or ward off someone crawling back to the earth in horror cinema, where they ring the bell? Yes. That too. Oh! While we're at it, is it too much to ask for a pressure plate you see in Spirit Halloween to play Tiny Tim?
Oh im getting ahead of myself- I apologize, as I mentioned I do quite love the whole macabre scene. For the funeral itself, let's keep it classy. You know the Helena music video by My Chemical Romance? - exactly that. Get a body double to crawl out of my open casket to freak out the people who are undoubtedly going to attend who I never liked in life, even less in death. My whole family is told to put on a performance, and dress like Tim Burton characters, and I would like the same done to me. Make me look horrifically gaunt and gothic to tie the whole ceremony into one beautifully catastrophic event.
Thank you for helping me create a funeral no one will ever forget! You can put any therapy expenses on my tab. Or, the tab of whoever is stuck with my debt.
As a filament of imagination
I would like best to
be laid to rest
among the great texts
like the Dead Sea Scrolls
and all the lost Gospels
yes, bury me on p. 411
of the one millionth Ed.
as a comma , between
paragraphs six and seven
directly before term eight
a word which i am sure,
somewhere in the Vedas
is undoubtedly a verb...
a wholly man of action
might fear it glum fate,
but for myself there's
no better nor nobler
to fall upon the page!
Buried with someone
else's nose and furrowed
brow with eyes that have
grown (for concentration)
blood-shot while parsing
the significance of this
quite miniscule mark,
which on a far future
died on that very spot.
The END challenge @LilEngima
Día de la Muerte
Out like a Mouse... Cute but, held by the tail, with concern about eventual Smell. In the Garbage pail. Oh, my where to put It? in the Toilet? maybe, too big? in the decorative Ceramic planter, packed out back? Won't fit in the fill. Oh, what a dilemma for sure, now. They'll have to worry 'bout disinfecting the half brush and shovel!
I'd like to eliminate all these problems of artifice. I am pained to think Anyone should be forced into Bedside manner. No matter how Heartfelt, the weight would be sooner or later a Burden, I confide to myself. And yet, I've cared for the dying, and it's Not like that. I never wished to "Hurry it Up already!" Or, if the Thought crept up, it was with sincere Regard for one who really was in midst of Suffering.
Nevertheless, for myself I hold nonesuch Devotion. If perceived my Time was coming, I would most certainly be Hurrying it. It would not be worth the Clinging, to prevent others from going about Life.
So yeah, maybe not like a mouse in a glue Trap... but more final. I'd take my Day like a Rat. And then Cremation, paid in advance. Do what you will with the Dust and finger prints.
My Last Dance
Come to the lake
those who want to celebrate
not those who feel obligated.
Water, music, dancing
bonfires and singing
my best times were these.
As it grows dark
add my ashes to fireworks
and shoot them over the water.
What remains please take
if you will bring me
to places that I loved.
Send me down the brook
that flows behind my home.
Take me to the Grand Canyon
and toss me into the sky.
Bury me at the library
where I spent my life.
Take me to Europe
and out on the Celtic Sea.
Scatter me on the water
and I will dance my way to Atlantis
where I belong.
I’m gone now, but please, do not mourn me. Instead, if I’ve touched your life in any small measure, celebrate with thankfulness for the time I spent with you. Take my ashes and let’s ride the skies, drift through the clouds, and visit the one place I always felt in the depth of my heart to be my home. Cross the vast ocean and take me home to Italy, the place where I know my soul has always lingered. Once there, rent a villa and be comfortable – make yourself at home. Enjoy yourself. Drink wine and Negronis (don’t forget the orange slice), partake your fill of pasta, cheese, gelato, and cannolis, allow as much Renaissance art as possible (especially Michelangelo) to enrapture your soul, and beneath a star-filled sky, listen to the wondrous music of Puccini until it brings you to tears. In all these things, I will be beside you. I will experience your endeavors vicariously from the beyond, and they will bring me such peace and profound joy to know you are there, in Italy surrounded by my love.
Travel the country and little by little, leave a bit of me wherever you know I’d be happy. You will not lose me in doing this, but instead, you will allow my soul an opening to flourish and replenish. Know that only then will my dreams – and more – have been fulfilled.
Once you’re back in your home, look for me for I will visit often. I always want to be assured you’re happy and well, and remind you of my love that transcends the spectrum of time.
Until then, you may find me in your dreams or in the smallest, simplest of things: an orange butterfly, a sunflower, a crawling caterpillar, a hummingbird, a cooing infant, or a playful kitten.
Do not mourn for you are still loved.