I love the mother/daughter conversations Emma and I have as I drive her to school. I cherish these conversations because she’s almost 16, and soon enough, she’ll be driving herself, and this moment will be gone forever. Sometimes though, the conversations take a wrong turn. Like today’s. It went something like this:
Emma: When I die I don’t want to be buried underground.
Me: Really? Where do you want to be buried?
Emma: That’s not what I meant. I want to be cremated.
Me: Me, too. Remember that, okay? Chances are, I’ll die before you and I want you to cremate me. Saxon, too. We both want to be cremated.
Emma: I know. You’ve told me before.
Me: You can spread the cremains out at Sparrow Hawk or something. I don’t care.
Emma: Oh no, I’ve already decided what I’m going to do with your cremains.
Me: You have?
Emma: I’m going to buy a nice urn. It’ll be gold with inlaid scrollwork and will have your name on it. It’ll be shaped like a vase, but with a lid.
Me: Lids are important. I don’t want to fly up somebody’s nose. Or be statically stuck to the TV screen.
Emma: Mom, be quiet for a moment. Let me finish.
Me: Oh. I thought you were finished.
Emma: Then I’ll build this alcove in the house. You know, in the foyer over by the stairs.
Me: Wait. You’re living in my house?
Emma: Yes. Because you leave it to me in your will. Now listen. I’ll build the alcove. There will be a ledge where the urn will sit. I’ll have a waterfall splashing down in front of the urn, so you’ll be behind the waterfall. And there will be these little pin lights around the waterfall for mood lighting. I’ll pipe in some nice, relaxing music. Maybe change it out with sounds of nature. When Saxon dies, I’ll save money by—
Me: Wait. I die before Saxon?
Emma: In this version you do.
Me: You have more than one version of my after-death?
Emma: Hush. Saxon dies and I mix her cremains with yours. That way you can be together forever. (pause) Plus, it saves money on buying another urn.
Me: I’m finding this very troubling. The fact that you have my after-death all planned out. You’ve given this a lot of thought, haven’t you?
Emma: Yes. Know what else I think about?
Me: I’m afraid to ask.
Emma: You, me, and Saxon are stranded on a deserted island. Guess who I kill and eat first?
(I brake in the school parking lot.)
Me: Here we are. Get out of the car now.
Emma: But, you’re not fully stopped.
(I give Emma a little push until she’s out of the car.)
Layce: Make good choices! I’ll pick you up after school. . .
(I drive away.)
Layce: (muttering) . . .If I’m not dead or eaten by then.
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“Stinking briliant!” KMG