For some unknown reason, I have recently been strangely fascinated by my impending death. Not that I'm wanting my life to end any time soon, but I just spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about things like this. I think it may stem from my utter lack of imagination when it comes to my future. Growing up, I couldn't imagine leaving my family and going off to college. I became convinced that, since I couldn't picture it, Christ was simply going to come back before I reached that point in my life. In fact, my brothers and I would wish each other goodnight each evening by saying, "Sleep well - maybe Jesus will come tonight!" Well, high school came and went, and no sign of Jesus' return. Eventually, getting married replaced leaving for college as the thing I couldn't envision for myself. Surely Jesus will come back before I get married - I just can't picture it!
As you're all aware, the last trumpet call has not yet sounded and here I am, happily married for almost six years. Up until this point I never thought about my death - I just thought that the world would end before major events could happen in my life. I guess I've become a little less egocentric in my thinking since then, because I have abandoned this notion of the armageddon fitting any timeline related to me. However, my imagination about the future hasn't improved at all - instead of thinking Christ will return before (fill in the blank) I think, "Surely I will die before (fill in the blank)" I can't imagine having children and getting to be a mother - I wonder if I will make it that long or if I'll be taken out in some freak accident?
A few weeks ago, disturbed by my preoccupation with my own death, I tried to determine what it is that leaves me so convinced that things that happen to everyone else around the world couldn't be experienced by me. I think it all comes down to a sense I have that my life is too good to be true. I don't even believe in "too good to be true," but there's some sick part of my subconscious that tells me to be careful about getting too comfortable because it could all be taken from me in an instant. Meeting and marrying the love of my life was too good to be true, but it happened nonetheless. Having children with this man seems WAY too good to be true, which may be why I just can't imagine it. I can't believe that something so completely wonderful would happen to me, even though wonderful things have been happening my whole life. It just seems crazy that any one person should get to be so blessed.
ALL THAT TO SAY...
Since I've spent so much time thinking about my eventual death, I have of course considered what I would want for my funeral. Following are two versions - the dramatic version and the realistic one.
It's my 100th birthday. All of my friends and family (which consists of beautiful children and many, many grandchildren, as well as a few greatgrandchildren) have come into town to celebrate the occasion. I am confined to my bed but am still sprightly and in my right mind - there's nothing sickly about me, but I'm just old - I'm 100 years old for goodness sake! We have a wonderful visit together and there's lots of singing going on as everyone is gathered around my bed in the sunny spacious room. Finally, they bring in the birthday cake (I haven't yet decided on the flavor, but I have about 72 more years to come up with something...) and I blow out the candles. I eat each delectable bite with all of the enjoyment of my younger years. After the cake, I set my plate down and gather everyone around me. I take turns looking my loved ones in the eyes as I make a grand speech about life and love and all things important - with all of the wisdom afforded me by my 100 years on this earth. After I have shared my heart with everyone, I lean back, breathe a deep sigh, and die with a smile on my face.
My family takes me down to the shoreline (the ocean would be preferable, but I'd settle for a large lake) and lays me on a wooden raft. They say a prayer over my frail body and place a bouquet of flowers in my hands. I am wearing a dress of a color that brings a glow to my cheeks, even as my life has left me. A small symphony (maybe a string quartet or something) plays on the beach as they shove the raft off into the water. The music soars as the setting sun illuminates the water, my body becoming smaller and smaller as it drifts into the distance. An archer takes an arrow and, lighting it on fire, releases it from the bow. It soars over the water and sinks into the wood of my funeral pyre. My loved ones watch from the shoreline, tears in their eyes, rejoicing at the thought of my spirit ascending to be with the Lord at last.
I have changed my mind about this. The dramatic version sounds so darn wonderful, I'm just going to imagine that as the way it's going to go. If for some reason it doesn't go down exactly like that, what will I care? I'll be in heaven...