Driving the body van hither and thither through the wilds of Southern California, I have come to appreciate music I wouldn’t normally listen to. By the time I get out into the great beyond (i.e. anywhere significantly outside of Los Angeles) the available radio offerings start to change. Urban autotuned club jams shift gently into worship songs and country ballads.
Currently, one of my favorite songs on pop country radio is by The Band Perry, a group of three siblings from Nashville? Missisippi? Alabama?… you know, THE SOUTH. The song is “If I Die Young” and not only is it perfect song for carrying corpses, it’s really quite lovely.
Chorus: If I die young, bury me in satin, lay me down on a bed of roses, sink me in the river at dawn, send me away with the words of a love song.
A beautiful vision, indeed. However, I feel it is only right that I dispel the myth that this seemingly fitting tribute to a young lost life is in any way possible in the modern American death system.
Request the First: BURY ME IN SATIN
No. Alas, we cannot do that for you, sweet young dead girl.
It’s true that for thousands of years human society has been just fine burying their dead in simple shrouds- but now caskets are the norm. Nay, the requirement. There is no cemetery in the land that would allow you to be buried in just satin. Think of all the horrible things found in the soil- in nature itself! Bugs and worms that might eat your flesh and mud that might squish betwixt your little dead toes.
If you would, let me talk to your parents for a minute, alright? Dear parents- I’m so very sorry your daughter is so young and dead. Wouldn’t you like to protect her corpse for all eternity in this hermetically sealed titanium casket? It’s only $10,000, and absolutely worth it to know that your daughter is safe and protected from the vile elements found in the earth. She might never have to decay at all! Understand that we’ll also have to put a massive concrete burial vault around the casket. Which you will be paying for as well. This will ensure that the ground doesn’t sink down as her grave settles and cause any inconvenience to the cemetery groundskeeper mowing the grass. All these things are just to “protect” her, worry not.
It’s probably best not to think about how (sooner rather than later) a massive cemetery backhoe gravedigging machine will drive over her grave and break the “unbreakable” seal on her titanium casket, allowing water and dirt to flood in and leave your daughter trapped in a bog chamber for all eternity as she slowly turns in mummified soup.
Request the Second: LAY ME DOWN ON A BED OF ROSES
Yes, we can do that for you sweet young dead girl. But I would not advise it.
I assume you’ve been a healthy, stalwart lass up until the time of your death (I assume this because you say there’s a nice boy in town you’ve been fraternizing with, even though officially you’ve “never known the lovin’ of a man”). In America, if you are young and your death is unexpected, you will be taken immediately to the coroner’s office and autopsied.
During your autopsy, the coroner will first slice open your torso, cracking off your ribs to remove all your internal organs. When he is done poking and prodding your organs he’ll dump them one by one into a bright red plastic biohazard bag. Then he’ll crumple up the bag and stuff it back in your body cavity. Pulling back your scalp he’ll saw off your skull and take out your brain. Your brain won’t go back in, he’ll keep that to run tests on it. Finally he’ll sew you all back up using thick white dental floss and all the skill of a five year old knitting yarn pictures. You’ll look like a tragic deconstructed rag doll, pulled apart and sewn back together in various places.
To finish, the coroner will put you in a white zippered body bag and roll you back into a cooler to wait for some funeral home to come pick you up. There you’ll wait, basting in a brown juice of blood and bile that seeps from your shoddy stitches. Shall we place you on the roses now? Think of that nice young man from town seeing you like that.
Request the Third: SINK ME IN THE RIVER AT DAWN
Oh dear me NO, sweet young dead girl.
Perhaps you could apply to have the United States Navy sink you in the ocean. Getting accepted will be difficult, as you likely have not served in the US Navy, given your age. Am I right? If you have served, and are accepted, you’ll need a giant lead coffin with holes drilled in the sides. The Navy will take you out into the middle of the ocean and drop you to the bottom. But they only go out a few times a year when a ship is deployed, so if you die right after they’ve sailed, you’ll have to wait in the cooler at a funeral home for several months.
As for a river, my dear that is quite impossible and illegal. It’s just not decent! What if you were to coming bobbing up further down the river on the hook of some hitherto happy fisherman?
Viva la muerte!
Photos by Universal Order of the Good Death member Gray Chu.
Please consider joining the Order on facebook, so such glorious ideals of satin and rose petals and rivers may someday be a reality.