Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Not as sure...

There are days that I just don't know. Days like today, when I find out that an old friend's young daughter passed away last summer on my birthday. Days when I wonder what experience I have--what gives me the right--to be involved with the grief of strangers.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How it is

Let me tell you how it is to be somewhat obsessed with funerals.

Yesterday I had my dissection test on Dexter. I got a perfect score because I knew that rat inside and out. I spent more time last week with him than I did with anyone else (besides Gatsby). And, because I tend to form attachments, I was bothered by the Rat Bin. The Rat Bin is the biohazard bucket under the sink in the bio lab, the storage container for Dexter between the lab and his final resting place.

After my test, I had to "throw away my rat." After, mind you, my professor cut off his foot so that no one else used Dexter for his/her test. Regardless of whatever atrocities I had done to my own rat (cutting his heart quite literally in half, for one...I won't mention how I accidentally nearly castrated him), cutting off his foot seemed particularly mean-spirited. This is because I had begun to say goodbye.

I carried Dexter (and his foot) over to the bin and began to wrap him up in paper towels like a burrito. I tucked his foot back in at the top by his little ear (the other one was in the plastic bag under him, he is forever Van Gogh) and laid him in the trash. Yes, I said a few words (in my head).

It would not have been possible for me to just toss him in the trash. And that, more than anything, is telling more than words could about the importance of funerals--no matter how small or unceremonious--they are.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I'm still here!

I promise...and I have quite a few things to write about, but no time to do so. Finals begin soon, and I'm in the middle of all sorts of craziness. So, stay tuned--I'll be back!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Gainfully employed

I have a job at a funeral home! This is the first major step toward my new career and I'm totally excited about it. The funeral home is relatively close to my house so the commute isn't bad, and, though I had always imagined myself working at the Prior Lake funeral home, I think that the philosophy of my new employer meshes with what I hope to develop as my own practice. It's a family owned funeral home, and this is definitely my preferred working environment since I think I'll get more individual attention here than I would in a corporate run funeral home. I have nothing to base that on, mind you, I'm just more familiar with family owned funeral homes. (Or, as Erica and I discussed a few days ago, funeral parlors, 'cause that's what we small town girls call 'em!)

My job will be part time and will include working at funerals and around the funeral home. There are some limits to what I can do based on licensure and experience, but I know that the knowledge I'll gain from working directly in the field will be invaluable. There's nothing better than spending time in the environment, particularly since I'm still in a position where I can pull out if I find out that it isn't the right career for me. Chris asked me a few days ago what I would do if I hated it--I said, "better to find that out now, yeah?". Making a career error at this point in my life could cost me upwards of about 70,000, and since I'm still not independently wealthy, taking opportunities like this are absolutely worth their weight.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Death anniversaries are hard. Today is one for me, and also one for a good friend of mine for a loved one of hers.
Last year a student of mine who I cared for deeply was killed because he made a mistake that we all make. His death blew everyone away because he was vibrant and youthful and healthy and, well, alive. I wrote about it when it happened and I still mean every word I said. It doesn't get any easier...for his family, for his friends, for anyone who knew him.

Today was a constant reflection on the last year. All of the things I've done. All of the growth and the experiences I've had that people who have passed away in the last year didn't have. Life is such a gift. Every moment that we are given to experience--the good and the bad--is a precious moment. It's heartbreaking to know that some people have those moments cut short and taken away through no fault of their own, or by going through certain rites of passage that our society instills in us as important parts of growing up.

It snowed yesterday, hard. I believe with all my heart that Kyle sent that snow. He was an avid snowmobiler and I know that he would have considered snow in April a gift. I don't know if anyone got out there, or if the snow was too wet or if it was even enough to count for anything, but I know that Kyle reached out and tried to give his loved ones a moment to enjoy and to remember.