August 10, 2012

About all those buried bodies

The other day when I was watching the news, there was a story about idiot kids who wrecked a cemetery. Headstones were overturned, monuments were cracked, etc. It was a sorry sight.

I was struck by the lament of a woman who was interviewed for the story. She said (I'm paraphrasing since I didn't save the recording), "Don't they understand that this is all that's left of us when we're gone?"

That simple statement opened a door for me. I'm always flummoxed when people show fierce attachment to dead bodies. Truly, I don't get it. The instant a person dies, the body is meaningless. We should toss it out or better yet, recycle it. What we shouldn't do is put it in an expensive box, bury the box and then visit it on Sundays. I've never understood that.

But this woman's statement opened a door for me. She really believed that graves represent "all that's left of us when we're gone." What a concept. I guess it's true that if you haven't left something worthwhile behind on this Earth, all you are is a dead body rotting in a buried box.

But who doesn't leave something behind? True; sometimes it's wreckage: harm, pain and evil deeds. But sometimes the person leaves a beautiful painting or a history book that she wrote. If you make something wonderful, it will continue to live beyond the moment of your death. If you were a decorator, there will be homes that still show your style. A construction worker leaves buildings in his wake. Politicians leave laws that continue to function. And parents leave children who, in turn, create other children.

But yeah, I guess if you've done absolutely nothing with your life, all that's left of you is that creepy thing rotting inside a box, six feet under. This doesn't change my opinion at all, mind you. Cemeteries are an appalling notion. But it was good to finally understand what people see in this odd cemetery tradition.

Accomplish something in life. Leave something beautiful behind when you depart this Earth. That's why you're here.

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