When you wake the dead

plastic skeleton posed on a log in front of cemetery

Just a short story this week as I am still working on the final pieces to publish my book. And good news, it should be available for pre-order in December!! Stay tuned and thank you for your patience. 

Most people have a routine when first coming to work in the morning. Start the coffee maker, transfer the phones, fire up the computer. My routine at this one particular funeral home was to walk through the back entrance, enter the embalming room and look at the deceased who had been received throughout the night. At this firm it was customary, after embalming, to place the body on a portable table and drape a sheet over them from head to toe. As I walked up to each table, I would pull back the sheets one by one, look at their faces, stroke a head or pat an arm, then cover them back up. It was comforting getting to know each of these people who in the coming days would be dressed, cosmetized, casketed and funeralized. In these moments, I learned their names, had small one-sided conversations with them and hoped things would go smoothly for their families’ sake. If there were people that I myself had gone to receive during the witching hour, it made it even more personal. It was important to me to know them and have a sense of them before the families came in to make arrangements.

One morning, I made my way to the embalming room, like always, and started pulling back sheets to say my hello’s. I pulled a particular sheet back, and suddenly, the body sat straight up into a sitting position and the person shouted “Good morning!”

OK, breathe…a…minute… I thought to myself and as the adrenaline rushed through my veins, I recognized my coworker laughing hysterically at me from his sitting position on the table. Mind you we kept a clean and tidy house there, but all I could think was “Gross!”

So, for those of you who are not intimately familiar with the dead, they do not sit up, they do not breathe, or blink, or yell “Good Morning”. What they do is lie on a table and wait for someone to move them. They may moan a little as the air trapped air in their lungs escapes through their lips, or maybe give a tiny sigh but short of a real zombie apocalypse, the dead do not move on their own, or yell words, or wake up. I know disappointing huh? However, that is the way it is.

So, back to silly coworkers scaring me almost to death. I myself have never lain on a table just to scare a coworker and this was the first in a string of pop up sheets until I learned to look for signs of life and play a trick of my own, a little cold water anyone?!

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