Following the peak experience of our book launch last Sunday, I said to my son with a mother’s convoluted logic, “Thank you for flying in for this. If you hadn’t, I would have been thinking If only Isaac were here, it would be perfect; and, now, it is perfect.”
Perfect. What do I do with perfect? I’m not used to it. I look around the room to smile at my daughter, husband, and son. My sister shares every moment with me. I see the faces of old friends, new friends, consultees, book group members, Meryll’s minions, and the wonderful people whom neither of us recognize all alight with interest.
Importantly, Bonnie is there as well. Bonnie is a physician, who has accomplished the miracle of cloning herself. Wherever I need Bonnie, she appears. Even when I haven’t realized yet I would need Bonnie, she is present. It might be to check on my daughter’s endoscopy or to remove stitches from my Mom's chin (even though she is an ophthamologist). Today she came early just to help set up, and ended up assisting in putting out an extra 50 chairs and attending to the treat table. She is still cleaning up when I take her aside as she tells me for the umpteenth time how amazing Meryll and I are. I say, “Bonnie, it was perfect. Now I can die.”
“But wait, I can’t die because I don’t have a cemetery plot.”
Bonnie understands my dilemma. She is the friend who offers me food and money to ensure I arrive safely on my twenty minute trip home. She is a born baubie. My highly prepared friend has, of course, bought her cemetery plot. No doubt, Bonnie would be the best person to be next to for eternity. She will have packed everything.
Now since I base my ideas about the afterlife on Thornton Wilder’s, Our Town, the afterlife is quite vivid to me. In Our Town, the dead are sitting around on lawn chairs and chatting as they survey the town. Bonnie will bring extra lawn chairs and binoculars. She’ll also bring sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and chocolate banana bread.
So the choice should be easy of where to buy a cemetery plot. However, do I really have to be buried only among Jews? It gets tiring. I like my non-Jewish friends, and there’s an awesome cemetery in our neighborhood that overlooks Lake Harriet. It is good enough for Hubert Humphrey, so it should be good enough for me. You see my dilemma? It should be your dilemma too. How do you solve this problem?
Plus there is the egotistical part. At our Jewish cemetery, we’re not allowed to differentiate ourselves with gravestones or plantings. I hate that! How can anyone find me? What if I get lost walking around and can’t find my way back? Why can’t I be different? I am obviously missing something about this Jewish burial philosophy. Even in Russia, while the Jewish cemetery is horribly overgrown, each person is allowed to be unique.
Bonnie looks at me and laughs, “So that’s a ‘yes’ that you’ll be on the cemetery committee.”
I beg and plead and tell her to wait a couple of months until I’m no longer famous. Bonnie answers, “I forgot that you don’t know how to clone yourself.”
So, my friends, beware of perfect. It leads to dangerous thoughts of one’s mortality, or so it did in my case.