Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hereafter

by Anna Arnett

Yes, I know, I know, and I want you to know that I know that yesterday was my day to blog, and I didn’t do it. Instead, when I sat at my computer to compose something brilliant, no thoughts would come. Not even mediocre ones. Well, I take that back. I had plenty of thoughts, but didn’t want to write them. I wanted to be up-beat, uplifting, clever. Yet, all I could think of regarded the hereafter.

(Edited by Marsha to reflect Wednesday's date, because she--Marsha--really messed with the blog this week.)

I wasn’t thinking of the old joke about going into another room and wondering what I had come in here after (though I’m guilty of that more often than I care to admit). No, these thoughts were of death and funerals, and all that goes with it. Morbid thoughts, I guess you’d call them. Not depressing. Not even uncomfortable. Actually, rather cheerful, comforting thoughts, but I couldn’t bring myself to write about them. Instead, I left the computer desk and stared at the TV while I knit one and crocheted two dishcloths, added six inches to a knit leper bandage. Still unready, I read a chapter or two in Jen Griffith’s delightfully light-hearted (so far) book with a setting at Utah State, where I began my college education way back in 1944. Still, I wasn’t ready to blog. So I read some in the awesome “Mister God, This is Anna” by Fynn. It deepened my thoughts about moving on.

I suppose these feelings surfaced with the death and burial of a beloved prophet who seemed destined to last forever. At least, he set a record for longevity among our prophets. I quietly marveled at the ease with which another great man stepped into his place, and life goes on. It does, you know.

Then we heard that former governor (and Julia Griffin’s uncle) Evan Meacham died, and his funeral will be this Saturday. We worked on the same shift in the Mesa Temple with Evan and Florence for several years, and her locker was next to mine. I loved and appreciated them.

Yesterday, a fairly long column in the obituaries told of Bob Payne’s passing. Bob and Audry, from the Duncan (AZ) valley, served with us in the Sydney, Australia, temple back in the late ‘80’s. They became very close friends, and I read with interest. “There’s something I hadn’t thought of,” I told my husband. “I could write an obit column for each of us.”

“There’s no hurry,” he countered. “Besides, when would you date it?”

My funeral thoughts came to the fore several years ago when I wanted to buy something frivolous, and my husband objected. “We have to save up for our funerals,” he said. “ They’re terribly expensive.”

“How much do we need to save?”

“I don’t know, but lots.”

“Let’s go right now and find out.”

A couple or three hours later we left a mortuary feeling happy, light-hearted, and curiously smug. Arrangements were made, caskets chosen, and we’d made a down payment on an insurance plan (long since paid in full) that would immediately cover all costs except flowers. We were ready for the hereafter. Now all we had to do was ‘endure to the end.’ (And don’t forget; another objection to my spending had been erased.)

The surprising part is that it’s been a real comfort to both of us to know we’d made one more thing easier for our children. I remember reading of a Chinese woman in a Pearl S. Buck novel being so comforted by having her children bring a casket to her as she lay dying, so she could approve it. It seemed unbelievable to me when I read it, that something so morbid could possibly bring pleasure, but now I understand.

Please do not misinterpret all this. I’m still planning on being around and writing for at least another decade. Life is still wonderful – very desirable, and delicious to the taste. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. But there is a wonderful experience still waiting. I hope to be ready.

3 comments:

  1. Anna,
    You always bring a smile to my heart! It seems that aging has been on all our minds lately. Death of those around us does cause us to pause and think. LOL..I went to the Dr. a couple of weeks ago and his reply to my complaints was, "Well, you are over weight, out of shape and getting older. It's gonna hurt. That's what Tylenol is for." Boy, was I ever mad.

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  2. My doctor told me about the same thing, Kari. I told him he was rude.

    Thank you for your post, Anna.

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  3. Anna, it was so GOOD to see you at the conference. I don't have to even talk to you; just being in the same room as you does me good.

    This is a marvelous posting. It's awesome to stand at the threshold, isn't it, and wait for the call? Full of wonder.

    I was so glad to stop by your house on the way to the airport and to meet Charles. He is very handsome and charasmatic. I can see why you fell in love with him.

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