After I Die

Fredrick Hudgin

© Copyright 2023 by Fredrick Hudgin

Photo by alex pshenianykov on Unsplash
Photo by alex pshenianykov on Unsplash

After I die, I want my body composted instead of being buried.”

My wife just stared at me without saying a word.

In 2019, Governor Inslee signed a bill that allowed human composting in Washington State. What possible good could it do the world for my body to be in an air-tight, water-tight coffin six feet underground in a cemetery when it could be helping plants grow and flourish in the sunshine? Or worse, have a cremation, producing five hundred pounds of CO2 along with God knows how much carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide. And what the hell do you do with the urn—put it on the mantel? Say ‘Hi, Fred’ whenever you come into the room?”

What does it cost?” she asked. I could see she was struggling with the concept.

About the same as a cremation—something around seven thousand dollars. The composting process takes two to three months to transform what’s left of my body into soft, fertile soil.”

What do you mean, ‘what’s left of my body?’”

I’ve donated blood my whole adult life—something around ten gallons now—and I’ve saved lives doing it. I’m also a body parts donor. I told the Driver’s License people that, when I die, I allow anyone who needs anything from my worn-out body to remove it and send it to them. Within an hour of my death, my heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, intestines, and eyes will be on their way to their new homes, changing lives all over the country. And my blood type is O-negative. Anyone can receive my parts.”

What do you want me to do with the compost? It isn’t going to have eyeballs and bones in it, is it?”

Nope, it’s just dirt—wonderful, fertile dirt. That’s what composting produces. Your plants should grow like mad.”

I’m not going to grow vegetables, flowers, or fruit with the dirt-of-Fred.” She told me firmly. “Even the thought of eating a tomato grown from your body is repulsive. It makes me want to puke. And flowers? Picture a vase of dahlias on the dining room table. Could I cut them in the garden, put them in a vase, then watch them die after watching you do the same thing?”

That’s why I want my compost used to plant trees in that pasture you gave to Adam. There should be about a thousand pounds of it after they add all the wood shavings and stuff to make my body transform into compost. I want it split among four Sequoia Giganteas, planted about thirty feet apart in a square. And I’d like a durable bench in the middle of the square with flowers around it so anyone could sit on it and listen to the wind in the trees. The sequoias are endangered. This is my way of compensating for the overlogging that has plagued the West Coast.”

I could see she was having a little trouble with the whole concept. She already had a conventional grave plot reserved in a nearby cemetery beside her previous husband, who had passed two years before we met.

After the process is complete, I’ve offered some of the soil to all four of my children. They have accepted my offer. Each of them will get a four-pound parcel to plant flowers, trees, or anything else they choose to grow and add beauty to their lives. If anything is left after the sequoias are planted, it’s to go to the Bell Mountain preserve in Battleground to help restore 700 heavily damaged acres in Southwest Washington.”

So, I’m supposed to watch you die, then ship your body up to Seattle, somewhere, so they can chop it up and turn it into dirt?”

The place is called Recompose, and, yeah, that’s what I want. Do you think you can do that?”

If you had a grave site, I could visit and talk to you there.”

That’s what the bench is for. As usual, you’ll talk, and I’ll listen.”

I love you.”

I know. I wouldn’t ask this of you if you didn’t.”

What if I die first?”

Then my son will do the honors.”

And you will bury me next to Beau?”

If that’s what you want.”

Yep. I promised him.”

OK. I promise it to you also.”

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