Friday, January 30, 2009

Preparing for THE Graduation Ceremony

I’ve always looked at Death as a sort of graduation. It’s a time to move out and move on into that great unknown. It’s an exciting prospect, and only scary because the time and mode of transport is so uncertain.

When I saw a former seminary student in church last Sunday—the one who had asked me for a letter of reference for a scholarship application—I realized that this is the time near-graduates are busy preparing for their launch, and I’d better get that letter to him. Then, right after seeing that young man in the foyer, the sacrament meeting talks were on Preparedness. Maybe that’s what put it in mind that I should be preparing for my own launch. Or, maybe it’s just that time of the year. I blogged about the same subject in January of last year, too. That time, I was in the cemetery, looking at plots.

This year, my graduation prep took me to the funeral chapel where I sat with a nice, older fellow—about my age—and discussed funeral arrangements and prices. As he gathered information to have on hand to save the family fuss over details, he asked if there were memorials that could be named in the obituary for donations in lieu of flowers. I assured him I’d rather have the flowers. Lots of ‘em.

Last year, when I blogged about cemetery plots, my friend and ANWA sister, Anna Arnett, commented :

… few years ago when Charles was gently nagging me about how we had to save for our funerals, I asked how MUCH we had to save. He didn't know, except it would be lots. So we went to the funeral home in Mesa that our family uses the most. We left with both our funerals paid for, caskets chosen, and nothing left for the kids but flowers and a program. The feeling it left has been amazingly comfortable.

That’s the way I feel about it. This is a service I can do for my family. I can prepare so that my graduation can be a stress-free event.

It’s interesting that just a couple months after Anna commented on my blog, she posted this on her own blog after Charles had just passed away quietly one morning:

Now the house is quiet. It’s nearing midnight, and I’m probably sleepy enough to rest well. Nothing quite seems real, yet it still is. I realize I just made a transition from wife to widow, from part of a couple to a single. I’m not sure I like it, but I aim to cope. I want to prove that nothing is so bad but what there is something good to enjoy sneaking around somewhere, waiting to be discovered. I think Charles would like it that way.

Now, I don’t intend to depart from this world in the near future. I’m healthy. I still work. I’m busy with my writing and blogging every day. And, I’ve just been called to work with the Beehives. That will either keep me young or hasten my demise. I’m not sure which.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Monique said...

Hopefully it will keep you young. Did you read that story on LDS neighborhood about dressing the dead or something? Sheesh.

Liz Adair said...

Actually, I dressed both my mother and my mother-in-law for burial. It's a beautiful experience, and I was happy to do that last service for both women.

Valerie Ipson said...

Your analogy of the graduation made me think. The graduates are always so excited to be finally done, aren't they? They might be a little tearful as they reminisce about the journey to get there, but mainly as they throw that cap into the air they are beyond thrilled it's all over. We would do well to think of that when we have loved ones pass on.

Sarah Albrecht said...

After a full life, my father-in-law died of leukemia last October. Much as we miss him,I think he was tossing his cap for sure. Thanks for the graduation analogy.