Some final thoughts
When I am laid to rest
Gone to the other side
I would hope that my friends would encircle me with
Those things that have surrounded me every day.
I would rather my coffin be dotted with wild asters
And mildewed hostas than draped with tropical flowers
Whose journey to my grave is longer than any I have taken.
I want no showy flower heads, with bright orange beaks
All that vulgar beauty
I want no flowers that like some relatives
only show up at funerals.
Perhaps, some beloved seaweed
Spent sea grass.
A tide’s collection of bleached shells.
Maybe, if I pass away in deep autumn
A branch from the holly bush
Its red berries in bloom.
Or maybe, my partner’s favorite flower, not mine
For the gesture is for the living, not the dead.
For the comfort of feeling that one has loved as well as one could.
I would hope that there would be no talk about my soul
Returning to its maker.
I would dream that someone would preach that my soul
Like all others
Joined together many stolen parts.
All my life I have taken measure for my own
Of what I have believed to be
The essence of those I knew and loved.
The kindness of some
The compassion of others
The tenderness they shared
The lives, those ineffable moments we lived.
When they lay me down with pieces of them
Elements of many others
I have the warmth and the beat of their hearts with me.
Published in Befriending Death: Over 100 Essayists on Living and Dying, Michael Vocino and Alfred G. Killilea, Editors. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 5-6.