Body beautiful

In this news story, Azzo Rezori of CBC St John’s discusses a business called Remembrance Diamonds Corp. The remembrance? Taking the ashes of your corpse and turning them into a diamond.

I like the idea of turning something normally considered vile — a dead body — into something normally considered beautiful — a diamond, but I admit, I’m a big baffled by it all. My body is not me; it’s just a temporary cage … a sick and bloated one at that, though I like my hair and eyes. My body is not me, whatever ‘me’ is. Also, a chronically ill body is a study in the idea of nuisance. I don’t think it much matters what happens to my body after I die, provided the body is not in anyone’s way. I’m all for letting it rot back into the soil. When I visited Salem, Massachusetts, in 1996, I visited the Old Burying Ground, which has, of course, some fascinating gravestones. (I love visiting graveyards; I love surrounding myself with lives and stories lived. Also, you can get good character names, mixing up surnames and first names: the dead are kind. I admit, finding the stones of children and infants, or, as happened in the General Prod cemetery here in St John’s, finding the graves of unmarried mothers who died in childbirth — still separated, still ostracized, away from family plots, away from the others — hurts.) Here’s what really got me, though: the trees. Some of Salem’s oldest trees were in and around the Old Burying Ground, and those in the graveyard stood taller, showed brighter (blazing orange and yellow, good New England trees) and had not yet dropped their leaves, while the other trees wept and showed bare patches. In the midst of death, we are in life. 

I know a woman who got a tattoo to mark the death of her mother; the ink was made up of the ashes of her mother’s body. 

How much heat do you need to make a diamond? Out of human ashes?

What do I want? A cheap box, or just a shroud, no embalming, no cremation — let it rot — get the body out of the way as soon as you can (there is a short Baha’i funeral practice that involves some prayers I wouldn’t mind being said), maybe listen to a few bits of my favourite music, and, if you’re so inclined, have a party afterwards. If I’ve loved, and lived with purpose, I won’t be forgotten.

Gems wander. They like to fall down drains, into cracks, out of tight and sweaty grips. What happens if one loses the diamond? What, precisely, is lost?

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