Planning My Fabulous After Life
Doris Day passed away on May 13, 2019, and it got me thinking about life and After Life again. What happens to “me” when I become “No Longer Me.”
“Me In The Ethers” that is.
Death. That sort of thing.
My, oh my. I fear this may not be the best way for us to get to know each other. I’m barely “in” and I’m already talking about going “out.”
But stay with me here.
I thought about it and after I die, I would like parts of my remains shot into fireworks. Meaning, I want to become part of the fireworks whereby some wonderfully kind soul can strike a match, light a fuse, and shoot me into the glorious night. I will explode into a fabulous burst of red, white, blue, purple, and gold and illuminate the sky. For a while. A short while but nonetheless, things will light up.
Meanwhile, a gaggle of friends down below may watchin glorious splendor. That is, unless the person who lit the match has poor aim and the rocket is sent right through somebody’s living room window, thereby interrupting an otherwise perfect viewing hour of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and if that happens, I truly apologize. (Still, nice to meet you this way, whoever you are. Did you just die when you watched the Season Two finale, by the way?)
Back to business: I fancy this kind of Exit Plan. To be clear: The one where I find my way into the sky. It’s so metaphoric, isn’t it? One moment you’re here, and the next—poof! Gone. Just like life itself in so many ways.
But that’s only the beginning.
Down below, after my friends have watched me explode into the ethers, I’d like to for there to be the fabulous Second Act of my Final Act. Not every particle of me would have been jam-packed into those fireworks, you see. Only portions of the “Cremated Me.”
Allow me to explain …
I am requesting that another portion of my remains be sprinkled into a medical marijuana joint. Not a lot. Just a bit. Well, just enough to not freak everybody out. I’d like to be inhaled by people. You know, passed around in a small or impressively medium-sized to Almost Large group of people who have formed in a circle. Stories of life and death, and, well, me, can be shared. But really, it wouldn’t necessarily have to be all be about me, even though sthe very reason everybody showed up was because of … me.
Smoked. Inhaled. Just a bit. I would do the same for friend. I see no problem getting “high” off of other people. Have a laugh. Binge on chocolate or pizza. That sort of thing.
Look, if people are willing to get a buzz from “pot,” why not from friends?
Next: The Third Act to my Final Act.
I am requesting that other portions of my remains be made into incense or sage or something of that ilk. I’d like to be use as a Native American Indian smudge stick. Not because I am all that, but really, when you think about it, if people are willing to buy sage just for the Sage of it — without any connection to the sage — then why not have a built-in connection to the sage from the get-go? The way I see it: It gives your sage experience a bit more nuance. Depth— meaning, even. Light the sage. Purify a room. Again and again. Look: Even in After Life, I can have your back. I certainly would not wish any bad juju or psychic gunk to linger on your person, or your home, honey, so light me up and let’s get cleansing, shall we? I only ask that when you extinguish me, you do so gently. Knowing me, I’m sure I will still be a sensitive and emotional soul, after life.
Now, the Fourth Act to my fabulous Final Act.
I am requesting that whatever is left of my physical body be placed into an organic pod — a mushroom or biodegradable sack of some kind. I would like to be buried into the soil and become, well, some kind of tree with the idea that a part of me will keep giving back to life in
It’s the least I can do. For life.
Now, I am thanking the executor of my estate in advance for overseeing this plan. It’s a great role for an executor and it comes with perks—á la “Beaches.” And what a bargain. I’m not leaving behind a kid like Barbara Hershey’s character did to Bette Midler at the end of “Beaches.” (Sorry, Millennials, there was no Spoiler Alert for that but, darling, if you didn’t know by now, Babs dies at the end of “Beaches.”)
So … me becoming a pod is a real deal. I’m not leaving behind kids. Just body parts. Super simple.
My dear friend, Hannah, on Maui — she of psychological insight in career and life — noted that there were some major holes in my After Life plan when I recently shared it with her.
“How can you be cremated and have your body buried into a pod sack? You’re either cremated. Or buried. You can’t have both.”
We were seated at the bar at Nalu’s on Maui’s south side. I shook my head.
“Oh no? Well, I’m sure I can. I’m sure somebody can just saw off my right arm. You know, after I’ve taken my last breath. They can cremate that. On second thought, make it my left arm. I rarely used it anyway. It just hung there waiting for me to lift a weight or something and make it look good. But let’s get real: For the majority of my life, my right arm has carried the weight of relationship. The left — it just went along for the ride. I give it up. Saw it off. Cremate it. Use that part of me for the fireworks … and the sage … and the medical dope.”
Hannah reached for her pale ale. “I see. Go on.”
“The rest of me can go into the pod. This isn’t brain surgery. It’s simple math. Subtraction, if I recall correctly. Wait — that is where you remove one thing from another to get a lesser something-or-other, right?”
“Sure. Division works, too.”
“Too hard. Let’s just stay with subtraction. It’s easy. One less of something is, well, one less of something. Smooth. Uncomplicated.”
Hannah rolled her eyes. “Honey, you will not find a crematorium that will just cremate your right arm.”
“My left arm.”
“Your left arm. Whatever. They won’t do it.”
“Because they won’t.”
“No, they will not. You can’t do it that way. Besides, why are you pressing this issue? Pick a death square and land on it, already.”
Maybe Hannah had a point. It seems that even in death, as in life, I will be spreading myself too thin. But I was not about to give up.
“Look,” I went on. “They can just saw off my arm beforehand and somebody can take the arm to the crematorium.”
“Somebody? Don’t look at me!”
“Well, whoever. Designated Person A can hand it to Creamatoriumist A …”
“That’s not a word, you know.”
“It is now … and they can toss that little bit of me — my precious left arm — into the furnace.”
“Precious? A moment ago you didn’t want to have anything to do with your left arm.”
“Well, potato, potaaaato … the point is, what with the new decade coming on and politics being so contentious and everything, I’ve got to fight. Fight, I tell you. To get it right. Besides, people will do almost anything if they get paid to do it, right?”
Hannah shrugged. “I see you’ve really thought this through?”
“You think so?”
“I was joking.”
I sighed and leaned over the bar. “Think about it, Hannah. A four-part memorial.”
“Yeah, but wouldn’t balloons suffice? Can’t we just … let you go that way?”
“No. Saw off my arm. Cremate it. Fireworks me, smoke me, sage me. And then plant the rest of me in a organic pod, dammit. How much clearer do I have to be?”
“Chill, honey. No need to have a heart attack about it and drop dead on the spot.”
“Well,” I countered. “At least you’d know what to do with me.”
Later that evening, as I applied Joy essential oils over my wrists and positioned myself in the center of the new infrared Amethyst BioMat I borrowed and which I had been sleeping on for the last few weeks — trust me, I do know what that sounds like, but really, you must get an infrared Amethyst BioMat; look here — I pondered the state of affairs and what could have triggered some of this After Life brouhaha.
Sure, I’ve been living a full life. It’s not been dull by any means. It’s been magical—pretty much. Filled with love. Stellar friends. Great stories to tell. Mood swings. Transformations. All that. Still, life, and After Life, has been on my mind with the recent passing of my dear 91-year-old Polish aunt, Janina — she of gregarious nature, elegance, wisdom, and big heart.
Was it the grief of her passing that sparked this After Life conundrum?
We breathe so naturally. Days can go by where we hardly realize we’re actually inhaling and exhaling.
But after our very last breathe … then what?
As I closed my eyes and sunk deeper into the BioMat, I wondered if, perhaps, all this life and death is too big for any of us to truly figure out and process. Maybe the very best we can do is just try to do our very best and give back to the world in some interesting way— even during those times in life when if might feel as if we’re in a messy state of major life transition and don’t really know how to give back.
Sure, fireworks can be fun …
Or getting pressed into a vinyl record. (I may have somebody saw off my right foot for that.)
Or become art. (Perhaps my left foot?)
Or sent through power lines on the grid. (Thinking, thinking.)
Or that organic pod thing:
But for now, maybe my fabulous After Life will have to wait. “Being present” and giving back is just the way to go.
Raise of hands: Who’s in?
For the record: That was my left arm that went up. I knew it was good for something.)