Sunday, August 11, 2013

All I Want is a Viking Funeral, Irish Wake, y Fiesta

My dad died last week.

That’s not why I’m writing, not really. I might enjoy blogging, but I detest sharing feelings (an anomaly amongst student affairs grad students!)

You see, in all the chaos of me making all the arrangements for my father’s body and funeral I realized that I had no idea what he wanted. Most of my decisions were subsequently based on purely financial limitations. Now, my dad was a thrifty guy, so I’m pretty sure he was totally cool with my clearance flower arrangements from Kroger (trust me! The flowers looked real pretty!) and other decisions. But it got me to thinking – no one would know what my wishes were when I died.

I know, I know – you’re looking away from the computer screen right now, likely questioning how I could be so morbid. 

It’s a pity, really, that we’re so afraid of death. It is the only thing certain in this world yet we like to pull the covers over our head and pretend it’s not real. I’ve contemplated about death a good deal – chalk it up to spirituality, my love for writing fiction, and my mild obsession with Buffy and Supernatural (aka TV series where the characters all die multiple times). 
How I feel about BTVS and SPN
 As a professional-related aspect – the fear of death permeates most societal institutions and people, so it is natural to assume that most student affairs and higher education professionals are unlikely to give the topic much thought either, unless death has affected their lives significantly. But since it is a fact of life, shouldn’t we confront it? For we will all work with students and colleagues who may need our counsel and friendship when confronted with death and grief.

That aside, now it is time for me to consider death and to lay out my wishes.

Basically, I want a freaking Viking funeral/Irish Wake/Fiesta.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Concerning My Remains
First I want to be cremated.
In my spiritual belief, we were created from ash so it makes perfect sense to full-circle this body back to its original state. Further, I believe that the body is a vessel for the spirit – with no spirit it is an empty husk that does no one any good. Not to mention, it is SO not environmentally friendly to steal a plot of land from the earth to hold a metal box of bones.

If possible, I want all my organs/body parts donated first. I live my life to give, and I would like very much to serve others even after my last breath. Besides, what am I going to need a heart or eye afterwards? (ok, actually my eyesight is on par with a bat, so I doubt anyone wants my eyes!).

Second, I understand my preferred method of cremation may be illegal, but I want a fucking¹ Viking Funeral

Yep, a lot like that one Game of Thrones scene, except make sure you have better archers
 With what’s left of me after organ donation, I want you to send me out on a boat. It can be a rowboat if you like, but I’d really like a reproduction of a Viking serpent ship, preferably with a carved engraving of Norse god Loki on the front to represent my mischievous trickster side (bonus points if it’s a duel carving of Loki/Gabriel from the show Supernatural). Send me out over Lake Erie (my hometown area) and have 6 archers shoot flaming arrows at my ship. As the ship burns, I want someone to do a rendition of Eowyn’s funeral song from the extended edition of The Two Towers.

Bonus points if the singer cosplays as Eowyn

Also, let’s throw in some weeping women & men garbed in black wailing and gnashing their teeth in a beautiful chorus of sorrow. Oh, and two ravens named Huginn and Muninn (Odin’s ravens) should be released because…well, really because that would be badass.

Finally, I want my best friends (you know who you are) to fall to their knees, shake their fist in the air, and cry out “Noooooooooo!” Extra points if one dresses as Darth Vader, one as Aragon, and one as Luke Skywalker (to represent the best “Noooooo!” dialogue moments in my fav movies). 

But, alas, if no Viking funeral is permissible, then someone must take my ashes and scatter them in the beautiful pockets of the Earth where I have yet to travel – for my goal in life is “to see every nook and cranny of Earth before I become one with it”. 

The Irish Wake/Fiesta

The weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth shall desist following the fiery engulf of my remains. I’m about half Irish and pretty hardcore into my heritage, and soy Latina en mi corazon, so I believe that with death comes a celebration of life!

Funerals and wakes are a method of coping for the still living – American society has deemed it indecent to enjoy oneself but that isn’t the case at all. Yes, life has been extinguished. Yes, there is a deep grief that can take its hold on a person. But at the end of the day, we must reflect back on our loved one and celebrate the impact they have had on us and the world.

So basically, party!
The tradition of the Irish Wake is rooted in the harsh oppression that the Irish were forced to live under tyrannical English rule. It was deemed only legal for the Irish to group together for special events, such as a funeral. Henceforth, a wake extended to three days and was quite the party since it was rare to spend time with one another!

That’s what I want. Nothing pleases me more than when I can bring people together, especially people I love, even more so when they’re from different parts of my life (tis why I love planning parties and socials!).

Bring on the food, bring on the alcohol, bring on the dancing! Heck, nothing would please me more if there was a piñata for the kids!

However, please note that the piñata should be a man (Spiderman, Superman, whatever Mexican Town in Detroit has). That way, when kids hit the piñata with a stick, they can say they are “Sticking It To the Man”! It would make me laugh, knowing there is a generation of rabble rousers, activists, and the politically minded left in my absence!
The wake should be kicked off with a classy powerpoint, starting with the slide “Then” or "The Road So Far" (a’la Supernatural’s season finales) with an overview of my life while Kansas’ “Carry On My Wayward Son” plays in the background.

Then I want there to be speeches. Kind of like giving a toast at a wedding….except not. Everyone can talk about how much they loved me and how awesome I am, and how life will never be the same (I’m a Gryffindor, not a humble Hufflepuff!). Bonus points if anyone uses quotes from Lord of the Rings, Buffy, Harry Potter, or Supernatural in their speeches. Also, incorporate a drinking game for words deemed most likely to be associated with tales of my life (“clumsy” “eccentric” “social” “weird” “token”)

There absolutely must be dancing. I want some old school jams like Tupac’s “California Love” mashed up against Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina”, some Celia Cruz, Britney Spears, Metallica, and classic rock.

At the end of it, when the wake is over, I want some terrible ‘white people music'² to be played in order to kick people out, just like at the Bowling Green bars. “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Sweet Caroline” are my suggestions for a rapid exodus.
You know they're in their Snuggies jammin to Sweet Caroline
There it is. My final wishes.

Not that I plan on these wishes coming to fruition any time soon. My father’s death has only made me further realize my responsibilities on this earth – to care for my mother, to care for my brother, to love deeply and powerfully, and to fulfill my mission of making change for a more just world.

There is so much to do. More than I can ever seemingly accomplish in a lifetime…but I’ll do so, or die trying.³

¹foul language is not always professional, but neither is death. Allow me my sailor talk! It is amusingly one thing my father taught me very well.
²Re: White People Music. In case you are unaware, most bars that play dance music will play terrible white people music to force everyone to leave at the end of the night. White People Music includes many hits from the 80s.
³[this was a joke…it is okay to joke about death!]