According to the saying, “A diamond is forever.” That’s why engagement rings have diamonds – they symbolize permanence. But I know a rock that makes a diamond look as fleeting as a Popsicle on a summer sidewalk, and that’s a tombstone.
My husband and I just bought cemetery plots.
This shouldn’t be a big deal – after all, I’m on our church cemetery board. But I must admit the experience has me a bit rattled. When you buy a grave, you’re coming face-to-face with some major-league, weighty truths:
- I am a grownup. I can think of a million things I’d rather spend our hard-earned cash on: designer clothes, exotic vacations or cosmetic surgery. We could have bought a sophisticated condo in the city or a beach-front time-share in Waikiki. Instead, our secondary residence is a little getaway in Forest Lawn. I’m hoping 57-year-old Peg’s righteous glow of self-satisfaction will eventually outshine inner-21-year-old Peg’s disgust at such a sucky use of money.
- I am going to stay here forever. My parents dragged us around the cemeteries in my hometown every Memorial Day when we were kids. We weeded around the headstones while Mom told us how the people under them fit into our family tree. Now we’ve got a place for our kids to weed and recite our lineage. Nothing tethers you to an area like being permanently planted in the ground there.
Don’t get me wrong; I like it fine here. But I’ve always held the secret fantasy of living somewhere a bit more exotic. I could see myself in a hut on a tropical island, living off fish and coconuts (supplemented by a monthly supply boat full of Little Debbie Snack Cakes.) Fat chance of that happening now. We’ve done the last real estate deal you’ll ever do.
- I am going to be with this person forever. Most of us mean it when we take our marriage vows; I certainly did, and after almost 35 years I think it’s safe to say this relationship is going to last. But there’s always that teeny, tiny voice in the back of one’s head whispering, “If this doesn’t work, I’m outta here!” No more. You don’t know the meaning of the word “commitment” until you agree to lie side-by-side with someone for eternity.
- I am going to die. We’re all going to die, obviously. I don’t have any immediate plans to do so, but who knows? I believe that life is a preparation for eternal happiness with God, yet knowing something intellectually and believing in hazy euphemisms is entirely different from coming face-to-face with the reality that I am personally going to shuffle off this mortal coil. My essence is going to flee my body (hopefully accompanied by angels singing me to my heavenly reward) and my earthly remains are going into a box for the final move to our cozy, little hideaway, complete with pastoral views.
Any one of these concepts is tough to handle; all of them stacked together makes a reality sandwich that’s hard to swallow.
I’ve become more reconciled to the idea now that we’ve signed on the dotted line. I can even see a number of benefits to this arrangement. Snow removal and yard maintenance are constant hassles at our current home in the country. When we move to our new place, we’ll be able to lie back, relax, and let someone else mow the grass. Right over our heads.