Let's all sing Hallelujah when I'm gone

By Kate Stewart

With the life forms sporadically attending school for exams, the extra time spent at home has certainly been testing for the aged and withered crone and me.

The elder of "the cloned ones" was under strict instructions to put this downtime to good use and clean out his cage. Progress was painfully slow and in the eight days it eventually took I could have brokered peace in the Middle East, resolved the Novopay debacle and still managed a family shop that was void of beef, lamb and salmon.

When I finally ventured into the dark dank cavern and realised that the filth had just been redistributed around the room, I also realised that for a successful outcome I had to get in there and do the job myself. Armed with garlic, disinfectant, holy water, vacuum cleaner and an emergency supply of oxygen, I attached myself to a safety line and headed into the abyss.

That you are reading this is testament to the fact that I did make it out alive, barely. I mistakenly thought at one point I had uncovered Noah's Ark, but was thrilled to retrieve the missing pieces of a cutlery service, despite the fact they were covered in life forms of another description. Even Waffle manned up and ventured into the great unknown.

My point is, having survived the cage cleaning and armed in the knowledge that my vitamin depleted body could surrender itself to death's grip at any moment, it dawned on me just how unprepared I am for my own death. I can honestly say that death does not frighten me, nor do I find it a hard thing to talk about, quite the opposite. Despite the rumours, I was actually raised in a family of funeral directors so the subject of death was and is "normal" for me. But as for making plans in the event of my own demise I have to admit to being ill-prepared.

And so my question this week is how ready are you for the final curtain?

Apart from stating the obvious, which is I can't afford to die, it got me thinking that if I had to fork out such obscene amounts to money to expire, I have the right to enjoy my own funeral, so I have now decided to have a "living funeral". A celebration of my life to be shared with family and friends, where I get to be the star of the show and call the shots.

There will be invitations, goody bags, a cheese sculpture and theatrics. Quite the event. Prior to the ceremony I will be on display in my blinged out coffin, where guests will, one by one, pass by to pay their final respects, each one feeding me a bite-sized delight from an arranged array of amuse bouche. There will be smoked salmon crostini, mini beef tacos and horseradish, lamb cutlets in a spicy mint glaze and ginger and lime cheesecake, eliminating, albeit briefly, my dietary deficiencies.

Sufficiently repleted, I would then be rolled into the chapel for the service. Lying in comfort as I listen to the eulogy, speeches and music all of my choosing, while watching a slide show of my life. Then, with Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah booming out a commercial crane would lift me from my coffin and my white feathery wings would slowly open wide as I ascend to the heavens with all the grace and artistic prowess of a ballerina, before being slowly swung over to the reception lounge and lowered to the ground to receive my star-struck guests before we all tuck in to the traditional sausage rolls, club sammies and a cuppa.

Go on, admit it, it's pure genius and I'm sure there is an opening in the market for such events. I really think this living funeral thing could take off.

I could even be present for the reading of the will. Watch the looks of stunned disbelief as I equally divide my debt and lovingly gift it to the life forms. Oh how sweet revenge will be. Who wouldn't want to be alive to witness that?

When I am in fact dead, what real purpose does a pricey coffin have? I will have no use for flowers and wreaths and I certainly don't want tacky service sheets that spout the generic hymns and psalms. There's nothing personal in any of it. Finally I don't want my final resting place to be topped with an overpriced headstone that family and friends feel obliged to visit. Visiting someone who is not even there is kind of creepy.

I'm happy to be chopped into pieces, shovelled in to rubbish bags and placed on the curb on rubbish day, the part of me that loved and laughed has long gone.

I'm okay with being a memory for those who are nearest and dearest to me. A memory that can be visited anywhere, anytime. My greatest hope is that the memory will be a happy one more often than not.

My homework for the coming week is to make my bucket list, which I am really looking forward to. No surprises for guessing what next week's offering will be about.

Until then live each day like it's your last and despite all the crap life may throw your way find a reason to smile loudly and pass it on.


- Wanganui Chronicle

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