I had always feared my eventual resting place ever since i was a child. I worried that if i died my parents would bury me somewhere far from the trees and nature that i loved. I was worried i would either end up amongst cactus and flat open spaces without any trees in sight or sandwiched between neighboring corpses like a sardine in a can or those cookie cutter houses in a row in the suburbs. It was probably the thing that haunted my thoughts the most; where was my body going to be when i died? I was quite sure that my spirit would leave my body, as it would be a straight bummer to stick around once the body was done living. However, my body was the only form i’d ever been familiar with and it was near impossible for me to think of it as something other than part of me. So even if i wasn’t going to be in it, i wanted to know what was going to happen to my body once my spirit wasn’t in it. I wanted it to rest some place nice with lots of trees, no unnaturally-bright plastic flowers, and few other people. I was reminded time and time again that all cemetaries would have “other people”. I was endlessly annoyed with this detail. I didn’t want my corpse to rest like a sardine. I wondered if it would be possible to save up enough money to buy the four plots around mine to make sure nobody else’s corpse could crowd me. But this created a new worry. Which family members and their offspring would i be survived by, and if they became desperate for a little extra cash, would they think much of selling the plots off, resulting in the inevitable crowding of my former shell anyways? Every time i passed a cemetary i noted how far apart the tombstones were and what type, age, and number of trees existed amongst the graves. There was nothing remotely close to what i was looking for. The graveyards with 200 year old trees were already full. There were no available plots for newcomers. The best and biggest trees, it seemed, stood in the cemetaries for veterans and you could only rest amongst them if you had risked your life serving our country, which i had not. In college i was in Oakland California and i did a photojournalism assignment on a crematorium there. It was beautiful. I took some of the best photos i’ve ever produced with that camera in the oakland crematorium. There were trees growing out of the floor in that building, stained glass windows, fountains, streams, frosted sky lights filtering diffuse light onto a cement floor, and rooms and rooms of boxes built into the wall with glass windows on the front. Next to each box was a plaque that told you a little bit about the person inside and then in the middle of the box would be an urn. Each urn was different and the words printed next to each box were different, chosen by the family to represent the life of who they had lost. I really enjoyed being there and thought how wonderful it would be to reside there in the days after death. But of course, it was full. There were no more boxes available to put new urns in. After watching what was involved in the cremation process i found it to be a rather unnatural process. Most of the ashes were not belonging to anything human and the parts of the human that wouldn’t burn had to be ground into powder in a rather abrasive way. I wanted to be buried. It seemed less violent. For a while i jumped on the bandwagon of a growing trend. The corpse was folded into a seated position in a bag surrounding the roots of a tree. That tree was planted in the ground and the decomposing body gave the roots of the tree nourishment so that it may grow. That would be one way to ensure i got a tree near my grave plot. But the idea of roots poking through my whithered skull as the tree grew started to creep me out a bit. So, 8 months after i bought my property it occured to me; i’d make a family graveyard and be buried on my land! That way i could pick a spot next to a 200 year old tree and make sure strangers weren’t parked around me like fish in a can. I spoke to my mother about the idea. I decided to choose a spot near one of my 2 really old oak trees. I didn’t want to disturb its roots so when the time came i would hire someone to cut down a couple mature cedar trees opposite of it so that there was room to dig a grave. My mother, my grandmother, myself, and any of our dogs that had gone to be with the lord could all eventually rest together under the shade of my oak and cedar trees. It was super important to me to find the right spot as once a family graveyard was cleared and fenced, i was not moving it. I thought how nice it would be to always have the dogs close; in life and in death. I thought how nice it would be to visit and speak to the tombstones of beloved companions that had passed and introduce them to four legged siblings that came to join the homestead after their passing. I texted a picture of the spot to my mother and asked if she and my grandmother would like to rest there when the time came. It certainly was a beautiful spot and it meant that i wouldn’t have to leave my land, even in death. Well, now that i had the next 60 years planned out i could relax and stop worrying about final resting places. My final resting place was home.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: