The outpouring of grief over Steve Jobs is not unexpected. He was a brilliant innovator, inspiring business leader, a role model — in short, a remarkable guy. But that’s not why I was moved by his death. What touched me was that he was only 56-years-old.
It’s different when we lose someone who’s made it to a ripe old age. Of course we’ll miss them, but when someone goes before their time, that’s tragic.
Dedicated readers of the obituaries, like me, think about this every day. Look how young he was, we say to ourselves. We try to read between the lines to discover the cause of death, and are silently thankful it wasn’t us.
Now that I’m pushing 50, 56 seems very young. And I bet when I’m 70, 76 will seem too young as well.
When you’re dead you can’t really control what happens to you, but I’ve left some funeral instructions anyway.
I’ve written an obit and given a few basic guidelines on what to do with me (cremation). If you want to bury something, the ashes will do. There are also a few musical selections for the service: Simple Gifts (Shaker Hymn), Battle Hymn of the Republic, and Barroom Hero by the Dropkick Murphys.
But I digress. What I do not want is to be flushed down the toilet.
In Belgium, funeral directors are seeking permission to to dissolve corpses in chemicals so their liquefied remains can be sent down the sewer. The method is said to be more environmentally friendly than firing up a crematorium and burning you to a cinder, which uses quite a bit of fuel and releases your carbon into the atmosphere. Melting you would leave behind a small pile of silty ash that could probably just go down the drain with the rest of you.
The dissoving in chemicals part sounds good. I imagine you could go down to the boat launch and pour me into the river. That would be cool. Or maybe it would be interesting to have my murky slurry shot out of a hose by my fellow volunteer firefighters. Don’t get any on you!
What concerns me is the idea of getting flushed down the toilet. That’s terrible, terrible symbolism. And what would you tell the Roto-Rooter man if the pipes get clogged up?