We all go somewhere after we die

  • By Sarri Gilman
  • Tuesday, June 21, 2011 12:01am
  • Life

The truth is that we don’t talk about where people really go after they die. My neighbor, who is retired, just had a death in her family.

Her brother died. His body was cremated, and while my neighbor prepared for a West Coast release of his ashes, she found out one of the family members packed him up and sent him to Buffalo. Buffalo, a place he hadn’t lived in years.

People leave places for a reason, and I hope my family doesn’t ever get the crazy idea that I would want to be sent back to my childhood home on Long Island. It was a place I couldn’t wait to leave.

I realized my neighbor wouldn’t have any ashes to scatter, now that her brother was sent to Buffalo, so as an act of generosity and neighborliness, I offered her some of my mother’s ashes.

Oh yes, my mom’s ashes are in my living room. Definitely not where my mother would ever expect to be in her afterlife.

My neighbor pointed out that she never noticed an urn in my living room.

Where are my mother’s ashes in the living room? I have some explaining to do. My mother is in the cardboard box that looks like an Eddie Bauer return item by the door.

Yes, that’s Mom.

Why is she in the box? That is how she arrived at my door, and I haven’t opened it yet.

How long has she been there? Oh, since Christmas.

I do actually have a vase on my kitchen table ready for some of Mama’s ashes, but I worry that if I open the cardboard box now, she might pop out like a giant genie and wreak havoc in my life.

I’m sure I’ll get past that crazy idea one day and I’ll have another crazy thought, so until I feel ready, I’m not opening the box.

My mother must be watching all of this, and once I even heard her suggest I get a bunch of groovy colored markers and at least “decorate” her box. My mother would love that. She was an artist.

So, sometime this summer, I am going to do some art on my mother’s cardboard box.

My earliest memory is doing art with my mother, listening to Beatles songs, so I’m going to listen to the Beatles, some who may be with Mom in the afterlife, and doodle up her box.

The whole thing just makes me realize that we are all going to have an afterlife. Even if you don’t believe in an afterlife, there is a place where we go, a place we are taken by our families and, for a time, that is our afterlife.

Sarri Gilman is a freelance writer living on Whidbey Island and director of Leadership Snohomish County. Her column on living with meaning and purpose runs every other Tuesday in The Herald. You can email her at features@heraldnet.com.

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