It was sunny on the day that I died. There was no water on the road. In fact, the sky was bluer than I could remember it having been for some time. So why, as I sped around the curve and prepared to pass one of my favorite restaurants, did my wheels begin to lose contact with the road? I heard the screeching, and I remember thinking, “at least there will be skid marks.” Isn’t that strange? My life didn’t pass before my eyes, I didn’t scream my children’s names. I was just thankful that there would be skid marks. And as the car crashed through the guardrail, I remember thinking about how weightless I felt.
And then the car made contact with the ground the first time. It didn’t hurt really, not after the first second. The car bounced and rolled until it finally lost momentum. There was the sound of steam and the sight of smoke, and one rear wheel was turning. And there was silence. There isn’t much occasion for someone to look down the embankment, so thank goodness it was a busy afternoon. Several people stopped and began dialing 911. They bent over the remaining guardrail carefully, checking for any sign of movement or life. They didn’t know that I was already gone. Before long the wailing sounds of sirens could be heard. It was as if they were mourning for me. Thank goodness there will be skid marks, it feels so weightless, don’t hurry, I’m already gone.
At the hospital I only remember four faces, and how I wish I could forget them. The pain on the faces of my husband and three children was more than I could bear. I wanted to reach out to them, to speak to them. But it was too late. Eventually more and more faces appeared, family, colleagues, and friends from church. But of course by then we were at home. There’s no need to be gathered at the hospital. So even with its unmopped corners and unwashed laundry, our house became a meeting place for the grieving and the curious.
My funeral was typical. There weren’t too many flowers. I had requested that donations be made to a particular charity, and though many people did not know what it was, they donated. Thank goodness Joseph didn’t allow anyone to sing that awful “Beulah Land” song. I had always told him that if he had that song I would come out of the casket and slap whoever was singing. Someone sang “Where Joy and Sorrow Meet,” and the congregation sang “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place.” I scanned the church and wasn’t surprised by the faces I saw there. And I wasn’t surprised by the faces I didn’t see there. There were tears, and there was soft conversation. Eventually, everyone spilled into the parking lot. There would be no graveside service because I had chosen to be cremated.
And so now my children and husband sit alone in our unmopped house. And though I dreamed of being free of life so many times and in so many ways, this is not how I would have wished it.
written in February of 2010