It seems that when you die, you only have two options: burial or cremation. But, see, I don't care for either one of those. There's something about being underground or intentionally placed in a roaring fire that just gives me the willies. My ideal post-death situation: just leave me on a mesa somewhere in the middle of New Mexico and let me rot in peace. I don't care if the animals eat me. I just want to disappear and get it over with. I think there's some silly fear that I will wake up from death in one of two equally sucky situations: a) watching the flesh melt off my body or b) gasping for air and finding myself with a claustrophobia I never knew I had.
If I'm lying on the mesa in the middle of nowhere when I wake up from my pseudo-death, I can just hop up and be on my merry way. Of course, if this happens too long after death, I am aware I may be infested with maggots and missing my eyeballs. Maybe a coyote will have scampered off with a hand or two. I still feel that this is preferable to the other options. I also realize that other people find this strange, perhaps even revolting. Go ahead, wake up in that inferno, I don't care.
Most people also tell me that my way is illegal. I understand that it would be a health hazard to the still-living to have rotting corpses everywhere, but it's just me, right? Well, guess what else. It's not just me. You see, there's a place right here in the United States where they study decomposition of bodies. People donate their bodies to science, and then they are just placed neatly on lawns, like they are relaxing at the park on a summer afternoon. Only they are dead, and rotting. And people are looking at the stages of maggot larvae and bloating and how much goo had oozed from them as their organs liquify.
I'm sorry if you don't want to end up like this, but I do. And I'm putting it here in writing just in case something happens to me.
How do I know all this? I'm reading a fantastic and fascinating book. If you don't like reading about maggots and rotting corpses, "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" by Mary Roach may not be the book for you. But if you always wanted to know -- I mean really know -- what happens to the human body after it dies, you're not alone. It's a New York Times best seller.