Funerals are for the living, by now this is something you should already know. The expensive casket, the songs of tribute, and let’s not forget the eulogy that lasts far longer than it should. So much effort goes into this final presentation where everything a person has accomplished is laid out right alongside their body. One thing that has always stood out to me, are the promises that those left behind work so hard to fulfill for the people they loved so much.
“Her hair needs to be in a ponytail. As high as you can get it. She loved that long ponytail.”
Anna was very particular about every little detail of her sister’s service, but nothing was more important than how she looked in her casket.
There was one problem.
Anna’s sister had died under very mysterious circumstances and the police were still investigating what had happened.
This meant that she’d had a full autopsy. For those of you who might not be too familiar with autopsies (because, why would you be?), there is an incision that is made stretching from behind one ear crossing the crown of her head and all the way down behind her other ear.
I explained to Anna that pulling her hair so tightly might draw attention to the very thing we were trying to camouflage, and she wouldn’t budge.
“I promised her I wouldn’t send her off without her ponytail. I owe her that much.”
They ended up cremating her, and nobody aside from Anna actually viewed her body. I informed her that the scarring would be visible and explained what she was about to see. I walked her in to view her before she was cremated and she had the highest, tightest ponytail I’d ever seen.
“She’d love it. Scars and all. She’d love it.”
She choked back a sob and went out of the door.
I signaled the crematory operator and we loaded her into the chamber.
After making sure she was all set, I returned to the mortuary, and sat at my desk to finish up some paperwork. It wasn’t a particularly warm day, but I could feel myself overheating. I grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and sat down.
I put my hair into a ponytail and got to work.