Last month I booked a burial plot for my ten year old son.
That’s a sentence I never expected to have to write when I first got pregnant. Even when he was diagnosed with a life-limiting condition and I was dealing with all the emotional fall-out, I still didn’t really believe it. That is, I did believe it but I don’t think you can ever truly grasp the reality until you’re closer to it. Let’s face it, when you’re watching a cheeky 3 year old making another bid for escape from the play-park, it’s hard to think of those details.
We may still have years yet before we need it, but we’re definitely closer than we were. Seven years down the line and my chunky active toddler is now a ten year old in a six year old’s body, with the joints and mobility of a much older adult.
Ever since Pudding was diagnosed with MPS (Hunter Syndrome) I’ve always faced this journey we’re living by wanting to know as much as I can about what’s coming. And death is no exception.
And yet, it’s been hard to contemplate the realities of death and all that it seems to entail. A black hearse with flowers in the shape of his name, just like the one in a TV programme that bulldozed Hubby and I when we were watching it. Regimented rows in the cemetery with bunches of flowers and fading teddies. I didn’t want any of that.
I’ve always fancied a green burial myself and when I started looking into that for Pudding I came across the Natural Death Handbook. It was a revelation to me. Not just full of advice about natural burial grounds and finding a funeral director, it’s also got personal stories of how people have done the whole thing themselves. Stories that have made me cry, yes, but also smile and laugh and say ‘Oh yes that’s how I want things to be!’ Stories that take away some of the fear.
We don’t have to have a sombre ceremony in a crematorium. We don’t have to have a hearse. We can hire a hall and decorate his coffin with ribbons and drive to the graveside ourselves. Or not. I don’t know the details yet. But having had a fairly unconventional wedding, it’s comforting that we can do an unconventional funeral too. Our way.
I was apprehensive when I visited the burial ground for the first time. Would it make me sad? Would it live up to my expectations? But when I walked down the little lane in February there were birds singing and bulbs starting to come up. Pushing the gate open and taking it all in, the first thought that popped into my head was of Pudding in his cheekier days peeking out around a tree. And I knew it was the right place for him.
I just hope it will be a while yet before this new reality kicks in.