Recently, I was diagnosed with trigeminol neuralgia.
Those who have it will attest, even if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you wish you were dead. As my neurosurgeon said, “Nothing trumps nerve pain.”
Having TN is kind of like enduring root canals being performed on you 24 hours a day with no anesthetic. Except worse. And I thought having a baby ripped the wrong way out of my womb was bad. Silly me!
Anyway, the good news is, there is treatment and it’s working for me. But it was three weeks of debilitating suffering before that miraculous discovery was made, and in the interim—when the lightening strikes of electrical nerve pain weren’t making me black out—I gave a lot of thought to the subject of my own death.
As in, “Please let me die and hurry up about it, damn you.”
During this time I saw something that promised the kind of eternal peace I was longing for: a biodegradable urn which is planted in the ground and then sprouts into a tree, using your own ashes as the building blocks for whichever of these marvelous organisms you choose to incarnate as; Weeping Willow, Pin Oak, Red Bud. I don’t think Giant Sequoia is on the list, but everything else seems game depending on the ecosystem you happen to be buried in.
In between the stabbing attacks of molecule ripping agony, I fantasized about my body being reduced to a can of innocuous ashes. I imagined my loved ones unceremoniously dumping those ashes into this wonderful urn, burying it without a lot of brouhaha, and then coming back to water me a couple of times a year and check on my tender budding branches and slowly widening trunk.
“Oh Erica”, they would say, “How wonderful that you are finally at rest and enjoying life again as a beautiful tree, which is most notably free of a central nervous system! What a blessing!”
(As you can see, I get dramatic when suffused with self pity.)
But after we got the pain under control, I still had that urn on my mind. In all seriousness, could there be a cooler way to leave ones body behind?
Now that things are looking up, I’m not fantasizing any longer about my own demise, but I’ll tell you this; when it does happen that is how I’d like to end it.
No funerals, or monuments, or mahogany boxes, I implore you. Just cremate me, put me in this cardboard cone with an acorn or something, and be done with it. Let my casket be the sky and my monument be the the wind that whispers through my leaves.
Why stop there? If everyone could be convinced to participate, cemeteries would become forests. Mourners could climb the departed as chipmunks jumped gleefully from trunk to trunk, startling a flocks of starlings from their perches.
Imagine a woods filled with such spirit laden free growing stock— what a magical place to contemplate the impermanence of life and the eternal nature of our soul.
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Editor: Renee Picard