Friday, June 22, 2012
Museums, Mummification and Memories
Three years later, Harald is gone from the Earth. And I was at the Field Museum with Lucy and my mother in law and sister in law. We all wanted to see the mummy exhibit. As we walked around looking at all the dioramas and mummified bodies and Egyptian burial trinkets, Lucy started asking about Harald.
"What if Harald died here?" "Did Harald's body get buried in a box like this one?" "What did Harald look like when he died?" "Did Harald's brother have to take him somewhere when he died?"
I answered her questions as my mother-in-law looked back at me sympathetically. It was actually kind of sweet. I told Lucy that Harald's body was turned into ashes and that someday I would go with his family and we would sprinkle his ashes around the house he built in the forest and he would become part of the Earth again.
Once we got outside, I saw that I had a voice mail and checked it. Strangely enough, it was Harald's sister. She was letting me know that his obituary was posted.
At the Amtrak station, Lucy hung onto my hands and said, "Mommy? What do people's skin feel like when they die?"
"It feels mostly the same." I said. "Just not as warm."
"And it feels really weird?" Lucy said, "Because they don't have bones anymore?"
"Well...they still have bones... But it does feel a little weird, because they don't have life anymore."
I looked up and saw that the woman behind us in line was smiling. "I was wondering how you were going to answer that." She said, "Good job."
Then Lucy swung back and forth on her heels, her hands still in mine. "My body is making my bones move right now! How do my bones do that?!!"
And we all laughed.
I still miss Harald. And strangely enough, it's nice talking about him, even hypothetically, as a mummy, in a museum.
You can read his obituary. here.