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Monday, January 09, 2023


by Lois Wickstrom

At his funeral, CJ looked as if he would sit up and laugh when he thought we had grieved enough. He wore his best suit and his best grin. But he never ate a bite of the food we brought. Nobody alive could have resisted that long. Nobody is that good at playing dead.

The casket, the rented hall. It’s all theater. Being dead doesn’t require props or an audience. When I’m dead I don’t want anybody to doubt it.

My mother was cremated, at the lowest priced place she could find in the yellow pages. My brother sprinkled her ashes beside one of her favorite mountain streams.

The smoke from cooking her dead body turned the air gray. I do not want my last act to be pollution.

At the green burial grounds, each corpse is wrapped in a shroud of cotton, and buried six feet under.

I like the idea of being eaten by worms. My corpse does not need a room of its own.

During the yellow fever, more than 10,000 bodies were piled up and buried together in what is now the parking lot where I worship. Being dead has not changed. Being buried means the same.

After embalming wears off, caskets corrode, and worms eat us, we will all become fertilizer.

Why wait?

As soon as I’m dead, throw my remains in the composter. Twirl the knob and spread my loam in the nearby woods. When all my organic parts have been consumed by new growth, layer new dead above me. And let them rot.

Lois is a former science teacher. She has written a series of science-based folktales, and turned some of them into plays. In each modernized tale, the protagonist achieves a better ending because of learning scientific principles. Lois likes to garden, ride her bike with her husband, cook, and she votes in every election.