Monday, August 23, 2004

remains to do

One of the many things that I learned a few years ago when my sister died was that you really should let it be known to others what you would like to be done should the unfortunate happen to you. Even if you are the sort of person who doesn't care that much what happens, you should do it for your family's sake. Because: if you don't, then your family members can end up spending all kinds of time trying desperately to remember anything you ever may have said, however obliquely, regarding death, and they can also get into disputes about what you would have wanted--disagreements made more likely not just because different family members may know radically different renditions of you, but also because in thinking about what another person would have wanted, it's very hard to avoid projecting what oneself would want.

I was talking to someone last night about the process of tombstone shopping with my family. A problem we had is that, although my sister was 31 when she died, she had not married and was still spending a lot of nights staying over at my parents house, and so she hadn't necessarily made the transition to adulthood in my family's mind. As a result, it took considerable ever-so-delicate rhetorical exertion on my part to steer my family away from the seventeen-year-old-girl-dies-in-a-car-crash tombstones and toward the adult-woman-killed-in-prime-of-life-by-a-brain-tumor tombstones. (I could say that I'm sure that this is what she would have wanted, and I do genuinely think this is so, but, that said, it is certainly what I wanted for her.)

Anyway, in the course of this conversation, I realized I may need to update my postmortem wish. What I have made clear to my family is that, unless someone has an inspired idea for how my corpse could be used for a really hilarious practical joke, I want to be cremated.* But what to do with my ashes? My previous line has been that I want my ashes to be surreptitiously scattered into the ventilation system of a large university library, where they could circulate among and settle on the books for decades following my demise. However, even though I love books as much as ever,** I'm not sure I'm really justified in having this wish for my remains anymore, as all the various online services--either having documents available online or able to be ordered online for delivery--mean that I hardly ever set foot in the library here anymore. It would be great if I could somehow have my ashes scattered over the Internet, but barring some ability to make a matter -> energy conversion, I can't imagine how that would be done. Any ideas?

* After donating whatever organs can be donated, of course.

** Indeed, if my recent pathological reading benders are any indication, perhaps more than ever.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lexi suggests you distribute yourself in the ventilation system of Google headquarters. That way you'll be breathed in by various "internet-makers" (ala Gore).

I suggest you have a little speck of your ashes scattered into keyboards across America.