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13 May 2009 @ 08:30 am
Theatrical Muse: Week 282: Question 282  
Name: Dr. Sid Hammerback

Fandom: CSI: New York

Word Count: 922


Cremation or burial? Talk about funeral arrangements.


When she died, my wife had it in mind that she would like to be cremated and spread over some flowers in Central Park. If our children met an unfortunate fate before they were old enough to decide for themselves, then they would, under our love and care, be remembered in the same way. It is nothing we had against being buried in the ground, but my wife and I, we were always very free spirited people. Even before she died, I had seen some of the worst cases of decomposition, the worst cases of grave robbery and bodily destruction after death. It seemed like a better choice, at the time, for our bodies, in death, to be given to the ground, where some part of us might be incorporated into the flowers and plants that we loved so much. We were part hippy, after all, so even if that simplistic idea is taken into mind, it makes more sense than being buried and left to rot inside a wooden box for all the rest of eternity. In the scheme of things, it also takes up less space.

It was not the choice of my wife, nor my sons, nor myself, for them to be burned by flames and crushed under the weight of falling concrete. It was not any of our collective choices for Marianne, Christopher and Michael to be buried under the remnants of the Twin Towers, and neither would we have ever desired to die in such a fashion, any of us. No, it was never a choice we had, it was never a decision we had to make, it was something, so far beyond our control that I still, I still, I still struggle with the fact of their complete and utter absence. What pains me now, is that when I had a funeral for the three people I never should have lost, while the physical body may be irrelevant in the totality of a person’s personality, I never had anything to bury. Oh yes, there were remains that were found in those days and weeks following, and the odd case of bones being found on top of buildings in New York City many years later. I was there, I saw the towers fall, I knew, know of, many more people who died there, more than just my wife and children alone. And for all the people who found something of what was left of their loved ones, their friends, their family, I had nothing. For all I know, what part of my wife and children that wasn’t turned to vapour, what wasn’t melted into the floor, was probably carted off as part of the impenetrable wreckage left behind once all the burning was done and dusted. While we had a concept and idea of how each of us was going to end up in death, it wasn’t anything like we could have ever imagined.

When it came time to have a funeral for Marianne, for Michael and Christopher, they each had a coffin, but it wasn’t burned, it was just buried. I know, I could have done the same thing, and spread the ashes of empty coffins, but it wouldn’t be the same, and bless me, I wanted something, needed something that would stand there and would serve as a reminder of them. I needed something physical I could go to and stand by, so I wouldn’t, so I wouldn’t forget. Long ago, I know I learnt that my physical body does not constitute all of what I am, but there was nothing left of my loved ones, nothing I could in good conscience spread and call a part of them. So, yes, instead, I bought coffins, I arranged for them to be buried in the plots we had bought a long time ago, through tradition, and through the need to know that somewhere was reserved, even though, in death, we all intended to be spread elsewhere. What did I bury that day? I buried three coffins, each containing a photograph of who they should have held, I buried memories, I buried sadness, I buried regrets and remembrances.

In my death, I hope that I die through natural causes and not by murder or by accidental death. The only thing I really fear about dying is that my body will never be found, and, well, to me that seems reasonable, considering my past experiences. So, yes, now, I would chose burial. I have a plot next to the empty caskets of my wife and children, and I would like to be buried there. I still prefer cremation, but I no longer prefer the idea of my ashes being spread over the flowers in Central Park. In death, I would like to be cremated and buried in totality next to the memories of the three people I lost far too soon, and who I never had any choice over where they ended up, except to box up the memory of their physicality and push far down back into the dirt. In death, in dying, the only thing I will nourish is a memory of what was, and what could have been. For my ashes, for my body, there will be no flowers, no trees, no dirt, just a position next to the empty containers that may have held the three people with which I could have done so much, and who I will miss, for the rest of my life, for as long as I continue to live.
 
 
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