Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stripped, someday to be blurred

I go back and forth about subjects for this blog. I have many that I would like to tackle, but end up shelving because I'm either not certain what I want to say, or I fear that the topic will be too depressing to address. Today's post is one that I've been toying with for days. And hey, I'm a reasonably honest person and this is my forum; if you find it disagreeable, no one's holding a gun to your head—at least not about whether you read this mindlessness.

We're in a period of our lives here, in my home, that I suspect will be blurred in my memory. It's simply not a happy period. It's not bad, not painful, not terrible, we're not suffering, we're trying each day to be thankful and look forward while still enjoying many blessings. But I'd be lying if I said this was a comfortable, contented season. It's full of uncertainty, of instability, rife with worries (even though those aren't biblical, I know) and just generally disconcerting. We have enough, even plenty in the eyes of most of the world. We have a home. We have work and money coming in. I'm writing this on a computer which is for the most part a completely unnecessary toy in that home. I have a stomach full of breakfast food. I am sitting in front of a heater that emanates warmth on a chilly morn.

But this is not a season of joy. I'm trying to find the joy, but many days it eludes me. And I know from experience that in the future, I'll look back on this time and a lot of it will be unclear. I'll have let the sharp memories slip away to soften the intensity of the emotions associated with them. It's been shown that we humans store memories alongside accompanying emotions, and that each time we recall that moment or event, we relive the feelings that we felt then. I have many clear, distinct memories of wonderful moments, turning points in my life, dear fragments of existence that changed me for the better. On the flip side, to be frank, a lot of the feelings of this long, current moment are not desirable to me, and therefore will render the memories less than precious. Good things are still occurring during this time, but they're hidden among lots of other garbage that I'll do my best to toss out when given the chance.

It's funny, how instability and uncertainty are always present with us, but unless we are forced to confront them daily, they seem less powerful, easier to set aside. When the illusion of stability is stripped away, we must face what was always there: the reality that we have no idea what the next minute will bring. It's always that way, but job losses, big changes, concerns, illness and fears bring that reality into stark focus in a way that happy, carefree times never will.

I talked with a friend last night who'd attended a burial. She was deeply disturbed by the fact that at said burial, as the casket was lowered into the ground, jutting up against its resting place were several vaults* that had shifted slightly from erosion and the construction of a road nearby. There stood the mourners, looking into that hole, confronted with undeniable evidence that the bodies planted near this spot were, indeed, still hanging out under all that earth, beneath a slab of concrete. Why was it so disturbing? Between us, my friend and I determined it was simply because the illusion of preservation was suddenly gone. There's no denying that a body placed in the ground will eventually turn into something very unlike a body; it's hard to argue with that when you're looking at proof that the holding tanks are still there, years later. Not to be gruesome or morbid—it's just the truth.

So, we've been similarly stripped of illusions here at my place. And I plan to blur this reality as soon as I am able. I'll keep portions of it, because as I said, there are many blessings within the uncertainty. But the rest I will jettison into the surf like the flotsam that it is. And I will pray, and pray, that this is not the new and permanent reality.

* A vault is the concrete "box" that holds and protects a casket. Yes, I'll admit, I am stupid and did not know this until last night's discussion.


chris h. said...

To your burial point, I don't get the whole idea of being buried in am impenetrable vault for all eternity -- I'd prefer ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Have heard about a movement toward simple burials...not being pumped full of embalming chemicals and buried in a simple cloth shroud or biodegradable casket, in a natural setting, and allowing nature to take her course. I'm planning to be cremated, but this would be a close second.

Facie said...


Here is hoping you find peace. I think back to a Chicken Soup for the Soul story I read years ago about a woman who wrecked her car and was worried about what her husband would say when she got home. Turns out he said something like, "You can be upset about the car. Or you can be okay with it. Either way, the car is still wrecked."

I might not have that quite right, and Lord knows I do not always follow that sage advice, but I try.

And thanks for the timely tidbit about the vault. Having witnessed two cemetary services in three days this past weekend, it is nice to know what that thing was called.

And I am with Chris and cremation.

Mel said...

Chris, I've been a fan of cremation for many years. I like the naturalist "simple burial" movement, too. Makes sense. Plus I have a note on the license about organ donation, so there may not be a lot to preserve if I'm in decent shape when I head on to the next stop. And thanks, Facie, for the peaceful wishes. A couple days of a better week have served to remind me of all my incredible blessings and have reminded me to stop whinging. Even if the car is wrecked, it's still just a hunk of metal, really. Sorry to hear/read about your many sad days of late. Hope that you, too, find peace in the midst.