I found a book that looked interesting: Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral. It's about a woman who dies from cancer, and she orders her ashes to be sent in a box to her girlfriends along with instructions. The friends are to be her pallbearers on a fabulous traveling funeral, taking them all sorts of places to have all sorts of experiences. The book is not supposed to be about dying, but about living. I thought the premise was neat, so I bought the book and started reading it at the airport back in July, when I was on my way to my Grandma's house for Scrabble therapy.
Before I could reach the end of the first chapter I was finished with the book. It was too R-rated for me, and my eyes were starting to catch fire. But I still think about the premise, and I later shared the idea with my husband. He doesn't exactly like talking about my funeral, but he indulged me with the conversation. I explained that I wasn't a cremation kind of person, so maybe I would just give him a lock of my hair (or the ziplock bag that collected the hair I lost during radiation treatments) with a list of places to go (taking the kids with him). He added to the idea: he'll leave a hair at each place. Like the book, the concept isn't about my death so much as it is about him living - for me, for him, and for the kids.
I started making my "hair list" of the places I want him/them to go, and the things I want them to do. The first one on the list is the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It was my favorite field trip spot when I was in grade school, and I loved going there when I was older and would have occasion to return to Chicago. I always loved the giant heart that you walk through (hope it's still there), and later they added a fabulous fairytale dollhouse exhibit (which enthralled me as a young collector of dollhouse stuff). I also remember seeing a display where they took a corpse and sliced it into hundreds of thin pieces (reminds me of deli meat), giving an icky but interesting view of the human body. It's just a super darn cool place, and my son is at an age where he would start to love it.
The list goes on to include more sentimental favorites, as well as places I've never been. It includes ancestral homelands and the church in Denmark where the original Christus statue is located. I always liked that statue (there is a replica on Temple Square in Salt Lake City), because when people would say "The Christus Statue" it sounded to me like they were saying "the Krista Statue". I know - it's ego-centric, but what kid isn't ego-centric? I also like it because it is a very comforting and welcoming depiction of Christ.
As I compiled the list, it occurred to me that this list could have a dual purpose. It could also be a list of places to go and things to do while I'm still here. When I was first diagnosed with cancer I balked at the cliche idea of "go and travel and see the world before you go." But now it sounds kind of fun. And there's no pressure to make sure I get everywhere, which is good because I don't want to drain the family savings for my "farewell tour". After all, whatever I don't see in the flesh I will be sure to haunt, and it's nice to know that at least my DNA will be there when my husband drops a hair at each spot. The words to the song, "Seasons in the Sun" always come to mind: "Think of me and I'll be there..."
(I think I have the only blog that has a soundtrack.)
Remember...it's not about dying. It's about living.