Death has followed me for many years. It disguises itself as my shadow without my permission or approval. This time, not trying to shoo it away I confronted it like the stubborn Taurus I am. I impaled it with a horn in the form a documentary titled, “Dying Where My Heart Is”. A study of people who choose to make the transition into eternal life in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. With an agenda, to lobby Government on providing financial support during this trying time.
At times like these my thoughts dislodge from the cobwebs of my mind, bringing forth new ideas and queries that float on the surface of my psyche like helpless little bugs at sea, bobbing randomly among Japan’s estranged, derelict earthquake debris.
With its gritty snicker, the zipper of the body-bag challenged me. As the Coroner slid the mocking little zipper closed in what seemed a time-lapse, I began to consider not only the disposition of this body, but my own as well. I studied Social and Forensic Anthropology in University. Always fascinated by the means in which other Cultures disposed of their deceased members. I compared their ideologies to Western ways and thought our imagination sorely lacked in this department. With that thought floating on my waves of reason, I began to research my disposal. I was under the impression there is no way to dispose of me that I approve of. And, knowing how swiftly I can cease to exist I decided at that moment, I had best figure this out for fear of roaming in purgatory.
Standard burial and cremation are not an option for a soul like me. Neither is burial at sea due to legislative restrictions that seem a little to stifling and claustrophobic. How about Cryomation? Sounds relatively acceptable except for the part that explained my body would be frozen to minus 18 degrees first. Not much of a winter person I’m not. I joke that when the sun drops below the horizon in the evening, that’s a little too much winter for me. Acceptable none the less when compared with the others. Still, I had a niggling of doubt and discontent. The concept didn’t quite suit me for I love the water! How could I fit that into my body-disposal itinerary I wondered? And then I found it. Aquamation! Elated to say the least.
It appears Aquamation has been utilized for years to dispose of diseased animals. A new fad now suited to us ‘Green Conscious’ body disposal lovers. Man, I was almost dying to sign up! And then I read the fine print. The process in and of itself suits me. Gentle streams of temperature regulated, pH balanced water gently licking the flesh from my bones … It almost felt like it would tickle. Ah! Finally, there was hope for my body yet. But wait! What happens to the water when my flesh is transformed and my naked, non-insulated little skeleton lies shivering in the empty steel vat?
So … I emailed the company that developed the machines and researched companies that use them in the U.S. Turns out a percentage of the water is used for agriculture or, typically has been in terms of disposing of diseased animal corpses. Now however, the water is used for both agricultural means and, (plug your ears!) the rest is pumped back into the municipal water system! My was I surprised to hear this. And I thought our Culture had no imagination on this matter.
I now chomp ravenously on this food for thought. If we drink dead bodies through a straw and not masticate the fleshy parts with our teeth does that make us Cultured Cannibals? And, if we take part unknowingly in drinking cadaver water are we still guilty of this offence?
What are the benefits of this recycled water? Is cadaver water more nutritious? Is it considered a ‘whole food’? What if I’m a vegetarian? Does it balance the pH level of our water, remove the chlorine, heavy metals, bacteria or fluoride? In the long-term will we suffer from something related to Kuru (a spongiform cousin to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy – Mad Cow Disease)?
Even further analysis leads us to choke, not swallow the following morsel. What does this imply about cremated remains? Are they fit for human consumption and legally edible as well? Perhaps the benefit is this. Water doesn’t stick in my teeth. Perhaps too, it is legal to drink cadaver remains because they don’t resemble my uncle.
So now I muse. Will I be Aquamated or buried under a shovel full of dirt in a Green cemetery Feeling a sense of community with the skeletons beside me. I believe, I will drink to Aquamation! How ’bout you? Or is it too gross to even think about? Cheers!