I picked out my coffin today. It was wrong, I know. Usually, and quite often naturally, the person purchasing a coffin isn't the dead one whose body will inhabit it for many lifeless years to follow. No one went shopping with me. I couldn't blame them.
It could be a bit early to pick out a coffin that I fancy. What if someday they ("they") invent an impressively stylish one that I like more than the one I put on lay-away today? Maybe then, I should make an annual sport of picking out the coffin most suitable to my contemporary tastes. I don't see why not. Now there's a new year's resolution: If I die this year, at least my bones will rest in style. (With the liberty of finding my own coffin, can I also request to have my arms behind me, cradling my head and my ankles crossed at the other end so, though entirely bereft of feeling, I can at least appear to have died while relaxing in a hammock?)
Is it perverse? Does it make you think I'm preparing to die? I don't think so. What if coffin prices steadily rise over the years that I'm not dead? Maybe I'll be saving myself a few hundred, even thousand dollars by getting one now. That's just thrifty.
Does it make you think I want to die? I don't think so. I mean, I know I will eventually. It was in the not so small print when I signed up for life. In a religion class the teacher said a little something about Hugh Nibley dying. Ben, whose life is one to be lived with mental challenges, asked, "Why did he have to die?" to which one of the class members replied, "Because he was born." I'm one of those that's been born.
Can you ever be prepared to die? I guess you could create a will, be sure you're out of debt, be living a nice, clean life.... As the last hours of sand slip through the narrow glass neck of life, is anyone really prepared to do what it is we do when we die? To no longer be paired body and mind? "They" say death is a beginning. Other "they"s say death is not an end. Can it be simultaneously unending and a new beginning?
Not that a coffin really matters to me, but it's interesting to think my body will be housed in a box of coexisting ends and beginnings. The unfortunate thing is that I won't be able to tell how that feels or how it happens, and the unfortunate thing for you will be that I'll be dead. But at least you won't have to worry about getting me a coffin.