I have a weird schedule at work during the school year. My team is small, just 3 people. And none of us like staying till 5 (there’s an 8-5 shift or a 7:30-4:30 shift at our office). So during the Summer, one guy on the team stays late so he can carpool with his wife during the school year. During the school year, the other guy and I split the late shift. I’m a pain in the ass, because Tues & every other Wed I teach a class at the YMCA that requires I leave around 4:20 to make my 4:30 class. So I stay late Mon, Thurs, and every other Friday, and he takes the off days. Anywho, I’m also the one that reliably arrives to work the earliest, around 7. We’re not allowed to have overtime, so this means some day during the week I need to take a long lunch, leave early, come in late, whatever.
This past Thursday, I took advantage of a holiday where my Mom works to meet her for an afternoon hike at a state park. We got a great workout in and walked for over 2 hours, and had some great conversations. One topic flowed into the next, and we ended up divulging our “secret” interests in mortality. We both admitted to having done web searches for old photos of death, serial killers, dead celebrities, even a morbid interest in 9/11. I watched a documentary on the 9/11 attacks while I was recovering from my last surgery. My Mom told a story of how her second husband could not wrap his head around her interest in serial killers-she used to have TONS of books on Ted Bundy, the Green River Killer, and on and on.
It’s not a unique fascination. There’s a crime section of every newspaper, there’s Court TV, that crime procedural dramas last forever on reruns and the like. I know I had a fleeting interest in Sociology and Psychology when in college, though I settled for Communication Studies. The way we all relate to each other, the way our brains work, is a mystery to most of us. Most books we read or shows we watch have some semblance of relatability to us. We’ve all gotten cut off in traffic and yelled at the driver in front of us. I know I’m curious how that fleeting “hey, asshole!” moment in my brain can be the thing that snaps another person. What makes someone snap and actually take another person’s life?
I can remember where I was when we heard about Columbine. When 9/11 happened, everyone at work stopped. We gathered in break rooms, called loved ones in NYC when we could, and in my case, I remember my boyfriend at the time stopping by during his evening shift as a delivery driver just to give me a hug and connect because that day left us all feeling disconnected. Hearing about a mother snapping and killing her children, someone killing for love, for anger, for money….the reasons are multiple and I don’t presume to know much about them. But they fascinate me. And that brings me to the other part of the equation.
I’m also reading the book “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” right now. It’s a book written by a girl who was fascinated with death as a child, especially after seeing a young child plummet to her death in a mall when she was 10. As a result, she worked in a crematorium for several years and wrote the book to relate her experience. It’s fascinating, I started it yesterday when I had a lunch date with myself. Does anyone else ever do that? Periodically, I get a craving to have a meal in public with a good book. I can’t explain why, but it just brings me pleasure. I think it’s because it seems decadent for one person to go out for a meal on their own. Anyway, I had a solo pho meal and it was delicious. The decision to bike there and back, however…don’t bike on a bellyful of pho, take it from me. Anyway, I digress. She makes a lot of points in the book about how society has moved from leaving their dead on the proverbial curb to hiding them in hospitals, mortuaries, and crematories. Also, I think all of us can remember the first time we saw a dead body. I don’t know that I remember my first dead body, but I remember the most important, and I saw him twice: my Grandpa. When I was about 12, he had a quadruple bypass. We all went to see him while in recovery, and I’d never in my life seen a human look so grey. It was terrifying. When he did pass away, around 20 years later, I did NOT want to see his prepared body. I’m of the mindset that what makes you, you, goes away when you die. I don’t want to be prepared. I don’t want to be on display for anyone. That’s not me. I’m already gone. But anyway, with Grandpa, it confounded friends and family that I Did NOT want to see him. People tried to get me to go up to the casket at the viewing, but I didn’t want to. I didn’t need to see him like that. At the church for the funeral, they had him at the back, and thus I couldn’t avoid it forever. It was so disconcerting to me-like a wax figurine. I don’t know how that sight could possibly be comforting to anyone. It’s just so strange to me.
This brings me to another point, question, whatever. Have you spoken with your loved ones about what happens when you die? Jeff knows, my Mom knows, even my little brother knows that I want cremated. I believe the exact phrase is “you burn me, don’t you ever put me in the ground”. I feel a bit strongly about this. I don’t want a gravesite. I’ve never seen the gravesite of my father. It’s in Texas, he passed when I was 5, and I just don’t feel the need to go touch a granite plaque where his body is. Grave Sites bring a whole different discussion for me, but I’ll save that for another time. Jeff and I aren’t sure what will happen if we die of old age, but we sure have a plan for calamitous disease. If one of us passes at a young age, the other is to travel the world and sprinkle a little in Italy, a little on this mountaintop, a little at that ocean. Hold some for yourself if that’s what you need. But make sure one way or another, we get to take all the trips we wanted to take together.
OK, so I like lunch on my own, books about death, and I google serial killers. Indulge me, friends: what’s your secret interest that nobody knows about? Make me feel less weird. And, to indulge our friend Mike, here’s a light hearted gif to bring my blog…wait for it…back from the dead! HA! OK, but it’s actually kinda sad. See, I’m convinced our dogs will NEVER DIE but Jeff doesn’t share my beliefs. We’ve had discussions about what kind of dogs we’d “like next” (pshaw, because Foster WILL LIVE FOREVER AND YOU CAN’T CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE) and we tentatively agreed upon a Shiba Inu. You know, of Dog-e-coin fame. Anywho, here’s proof that they’re just as smart as my Border Collie and we’ll never be free of the smart dog reign which is upon us: