The wood was mahogany. It’s what I feel like he would have wanted. Then again, I’m sure that the topic of “what kind of wood do you want your coffin to be made from?” never came up in any of our conversations. There were no discussions about funerals or death, or anything even remotely related to end-of-life dealings. I never thought—no we never thought— that this would be coming so soon. It wasn’t expected, and it wasn’t right.
“Sir, will you be setting up a payment plan, or would be it be easier to pay-in-full?”
I wasn’t paying attention. My mind was a maze of twisting thoughts and emotions—anger, sadness, guilt, and confusion. They were all chasing my memories around like squirrels who run around from tree limb to tree limb, only slowing down long enough to stash the occasional nut or piece of stray food away into a hole in a tree.
“Excuse me? Oh, um…” The funeral salesman smiled in that fake way they do, trying hard to pass himself off as compassionate and empathetic, but trying to win his next big coffin and funeral sale at the same time. “I just asked about payment arrangements.”
“I see.” What did I just tell you about funeral salesmen? “What kind of options are there?”
“We can set you up on a payment plan with a very low interest rate, or you can pay in full today and avoid any extra costs.”
“I guess you can set me up with the payment plan. We didn’t really have this kind of thing in our budget this month.” I was trying my best to be pleasant, but my attempt at making this into something even slight humorous or upbeat was morbid, even to me. I regretted the words as soon as they passed from my lips. By the awkward smile that he just gave, I could tell the morbidity wasn’t lost on the funeral representative either.
The coffin purchased—or set up on a payment plan I should say—I left the funeral home wondering how Spencer would have handled all of this had the roles been switched and it had been me that was being put in the ground. It should have been. He’d asked me to drive that day. But I complained of having a headache and not wanting to drive, so being the knight in shining armor that he was, he agreed. It should have been me sitting in the seat when the car was hit by the semi.
As I thought about all of the things that should have been different, my mind wandered through the catalog of coffins again and set itself to thinking about what type of wood it would have been made from. Would I have chosen mahogany for myself? Why had I chosen that for him? Was it important whether or not the coffin was made from mahogany, elm, or any other wood? What difference did it really make in the end?
Mahogany, I thought. My coffin would have been made out of mahogany, and that should have been my mahogany coffin—not his.