Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry. (p. 161)
There we were at a great crisis in our lives, and it had to be, it could only be, death with us as an ordinary thing....My tears were falling into the bowl of beaten eggs and then my nose dripped into it. I flung the whole frothy mess into the sink. I said, "Well, what are you planning to do? Just die? Or what?"
I couldn't turn around. I heard him fold the paper. After a minute he said, "Dear Hannah, I'm going to live right on. Dying is none of my business. Dying will have to take care of itself."
He came to me then, an old man weakened and ill, with my Nathan looking out of his eyes. He held me a long time as if under a passing storm, and then the quiet came. I fixed some supper, and we ate.
May my death and that of my dear Jim be "an ordinary thing." May we "live right on" until we die. But we will not have a lot of choice in this matter.
However, I can state some choices for the process afterwards. I do not want to be embalmed. It doesn't have to be done even if an undertaker thinks it should be. I do not want an open casket. There can be plenty of photos of me in my youth and as the old lady I hope I will be--or am!
The service should have lots of music-- "Now Thank We All Our God," "Fill Thou My Life, O Lord, My God," "In Christ Alone." I'll think more about the Scripture passages. Psalm 23 probably and parts of Psalm 73. Burial or cremation? I'll think more on that too. What is the point of being buried in South Bend if none of my loved ones live here?
A few flowers are fine but it's better that donations be sent to Doctors without Borders or World Renew.
Everyone in our tradition seems to use the first Q and A of the Heidelberg Catechism as a part of the service or the "In Memoriam" folder. Maybe not. How about the saying on the stone in the labyrinth in Elsah, Illinois--"Bidden or not bidden, God is present."
I'm healthy and in good spirits. I'm not being morbid. I am very aware of our vulnerability these days however and wanted to put these thoughts in writing.