Request Line

I’ve been thinking about death a lot lately. Not in the sort of brooding, teen-angsty, “They’ll be sorry when I’m gone” kind of way. Really just in more of a practical, planning for the inevitable way. Somehow my friend Natasha and I started talking about organ donation a while back, and whether or not we want to donate our own organs. Although both of us are in favor of donating our organs, Nat strongly believes that if you actually list yourself as an organ donor on your driver’s license, doctors will let you die so that they can harvest your kidneys. I imagine some sort of diabolical scene:
Evil paramedic #1: “I’ve got a faint pulse! Bring the crash cart!”
Evil paramedic #2: “Wait, you moron! Did you check her driver’s license yet?”
Evil paramedic #1: “Oh sweet – she’s a donor! Go to Plan B: quick, get me that baseball bat from the ambulance!”
I consulted with my brother, who is a doctor, to see what his opinion was on this matter. He said, “Yeah, Jen. That’s exactly how it works. I get slapped with a malpractice suit if someone gets a paper cut while they’re signing out of my office, but doctors all across the world have plotted together in some mass conspiracy to intentionally allow patients to keel over on the street so that we can do risky transplant surgeries with illegally procured organs. That’s exactly how it works.”
Thank you, Dr. Sarcasm. A simple, “No” would have sufficed.
In any case, this discussion quickly led to an in-depth analysis of our dying wishes, or really just my dying wishes: how I want to be disposed of, who gets to take care of my cats, what song should be played at my funeral. Some people may call this a morbid topic, I call it being prepared.
After rattling off all my demands, I realized that I was putting a great burden on Natasha’s slight shoulders. I have quite a few complicated requests, so I figure that by documenting them, all my loved ones can share in this important responsibility.
First of all, I do not want to be embalmed. Apparently there are some state laws prohibiting this, but I’m sure we can get around those by saying that I have some sort of religious objection to formaldehyde. My goal is to be as chemical free as possible so that I can return to the earth more quickly.
That leads to my next request, which is the pine box. No $40,000 satin padded, high-gloss fiberglass, rhinestone encrusted casket for me. Just thin plywood, please. And maybe a little pillow. Again, probably not legal, but I have clever friends who, I’m sure, can figure out the minor details if they put their heads together.
I also toyed with the idea of having all my worldly possessions buried with me, like King Tut, but the more I thought about it, the image of having my Gateway pc and a pile of CD’s shoved into my stomach cavity became less and less appealing. I would, however, like to request that I be buried with my tap shoes on.
Another important detail: I do not want my entire body donated to science. I know that young doctors have to learn their trade somehow, but it’s not going to be on me. I pretty much made my final decision on that topic after I saw an episode of Nip/Tuck where plastic surgeons were practicing face lifts on cadavers. That’s all I need is for some 23-year old pimply-faced intern to be jamming double D implants into my cold, saggy body for extra credit. Is there no dignity left?
The final demand is the most critical one – if you take nothing else away from my lengthy request, I implore you to remember this one point: under absolutely no circumstance do I want to be cryogenically frozen. Look, I’ve seen quite a few science fiction movies in my time, and rarely does someone thaw out from the deep freeze as the same person they were before being frozen. I’m just telling you right now, if I wake up one day in the year 2124 with my head attached to a robotic spider body, there will be hell to pay!
So there you have it. In a nutshell: formaldehyde-free, pine box, no postmortem eye lifts, frozen = bad. Oh, and by the way, my song? Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. Not a dry eye in the house.

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