“I have something important to tell you,” C. says which usually means she is going to talk about our neighbor who recently passed away. “They rearranged the furniture in her living room…You remember where the long couch was? They put her hospice bed there so she could look out the window at the water…” C. was tearing up as she told me that our neighbor had propped an icon of a guardian angel that I had written (painted) on the grand piano so she could contemplate it from her bed. And the icon is still there. “She didn’t want anything to do with religion, but she sure loved that angel,” C. said. I was touched…icon writing was a side project that I began in 2010…my neighbor bought one at my art garage sale before I left for Redwoods Monastery. The huge angel cradles a soul in one arm. The medievals liked to symbolize the soul as a baby in swaddling cloths but it always reminds me of a cocoon.
I said, “That’s how I want to go, looking out on the ocean.” I asked about the funeral service and C. said it was a green burial. “Oh, you mean she was buried in a wooden casket?” I asked. “No, a shroud…they wrapped her body in silk and laid it in the ground, covered with flowers.” Each of the guests was given a flower to drop on top of the body if they wanted. There were also three piles of dirt and shovels for guests to use to help bury her. I loved the honesty and simplicity of it; I didn’t know it was legal to bury a body without a casket. C. said how well it suited our neighbor to go that way with her love of recycling and composting. “And in 3 months, they’re going to plant an oak tree where she was buried,” C. added.