Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Event

   In the event of my death, bury me. Was that clear enough? Should she say no burning, no cremation, no urn. She didn’t even care about a marker or casket—a simple pine box cost more than a used car these days. Just bury me, that’s it, wrap me in a sheet, use that awful floral set Agnes gave us—it’s in the wedding-presents-we’d-never-use closet. The sheets are hundred percent cotton, bought before the wave of polyester swept through. They’ll decompose with the body. Dust to dust. Get it? Dust to dust.
            That’s all she wanted. Couldn’t say it more clearly.
            Mom, don’t be morbid. Her daughter.
            Whatever you want, Mom. Her son, the pacifier, not to be believed. He’d always done what he wanted, they all had, no change on the horizon.
            She could add a postscript. Bury me next to Ernie, but Ernie was now in a brown cardboard box, 12 by 12 by 12 inches, one square foot of Ernie 6 feet under. Wasn’t going to happen to her.
            It was a beautiful funeral. Her granddaughter, oldest grandchild, a dewy twenty, all legs, arms, and breasts, mostly showing, slid into a black tube of a dress for the funeral. You told me to wear a dress.
            Maybe it had been. Beautiful. Emma didn’t remember it, not at all, just a dream: music, people standing, singing, sitting, somebody sobbing, the minister who showed up in the pulpit the week after Ernie stopped going to church, talking about a man he never knew. What could anyone say about a man in a cardboard box? She hadn’t listened.
            What could anyone say? She had nothing to say to anyone. Nothing at all. Didn’t want it to happen to her. Not now. Not yet. Not ever.
            In the event of my death . . . death as an event, a happening, a final action. In the event of my death. The words held it out only as a possibility, not as a sure thing. Just a prudent statement, the wise woman covering all the bases. Avoidable, especially if well planned for.
            In the event of my death, bury me. All she needed to say and probably not necessary. Might not happen.

© 2012 Kathleen Coskran

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