By Beck

We went to a wake earlier this week, driving through freezing rain in the evening’s soggy darkness.

We looked at my husband’s great-uncle, who was wearing his jacket from the business he ran with his children. “Dad” was embroidered on the jacket, which made me have to whip my head away, my eyes suddenly stinging with a grief that was not mine. And then we made our way over to my husband’s cousins.

Oh hi, Becky,” they said. “Your dad was here this afternoon.”

When my husband and I started dating – WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL – we felt so fresh and unknown to each other that it was MORE than a bit disconcerting to find out that our families already knew each other quite well. My father and my husband’s mother grew up together in the same far-away town. My parents live next door to my husband’s cousins and are good friends with them and in fact I baby-sat for them all through my teens. But we grew up several towns apart and it just felt obtrusive to have this prior, unknown history between us when we should have, by rights, been near-strangers to each other.

I already know where I’ll be buried, unless I die in untoward circumstances – like being lost at sea, which seems unlikely, given my extreme boat and water phobias. Anyhoo. I’m going to be buried in the same graveyard as my grandmother, her parents, and their parents, in the Protestant cemetary half an hour from where I now sit. And across the highway from the Protestant cemetery is, of course, the Catholic cemetery and my husband has already announced that he will be buried there. It’s very romantic when you think about it, although I’d likely have found it more romantic when I was 15 and morbid.

It’s funny though, isn’t it? You think love is one thing when you first fall in love and it turns out to be entirely something else altogether. The way our lives quietly interlocked without our knowledge felt intrusive at first, and now feels like fate, like we were set aside for each other at birth. It’s a very typical small town love story, I guess, and now we hold each other’s hands at the funerals of people we’ve both always known. Fate, I think, and the word seems kind, for once, round-vowelled and generous. There was only a highway between us, growing up, and there’ll be a highway between us again at the end, like a sleepy child crawling into our bed. It’s only a road.

Beck blogs at Frog And Toad Are Still Friends.

34 Responses to Coffins
  1. Heather
    March 12, 2009 | 10:49 am

    Yes, I suppose you won’t much care that there is a road between you then. I don’t know why that makes me a little sad though.

  2. Mom24
    March 12, 2009 | 11:00 am

    Very beautiful. You should be pleased with this. This is exactly what I share with my hubby, not the details, but the connection.

  3. PastormacsAnn
    March 12, 2009 | 11:01 am

    Wow Beck! You are truly a master craftsman with words. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  4. Slouching Mom
    March 12, 2009 | 11:16 am

    Fate, I think, and the word seems kind, for once, round-vowelled and generous.

    What a beautiful line.

  5. Sue
    March 12, 2009 | 11:17 am

    Beck, your writing just amazes me. That was the BEST writing ever on: marriage, death, romance.

  6. Nicole
    March 12, 2009 | 11:21 am

    Very lovely post.

    Whenever I visit the small town in which my grandparents are buried, I always shudder a little at the dual gravestones that have one half of a couple buried, with the spouse’s name but not date engraved on the other half of the gravestone. It always seemed so morbid to me. But, there is something romantic and lovely about this post, despite the morbid topic. Very nice.

  7. de
    March 12, 2009 | 11:25 am

    You’re the master (mistress?) of profound vignettes.

  8. Kyla
    March 12, 2009 | 12:17 pm

    This is the sweetest post entitled “Coffins” I’ve ever read. Who knew coffins could be romantic?

  9. Nowheymama
    March 12, 2009 | 12:58 pm

    “…a grief that was not mine.”


  10. Woman in a window
    March 12, 2009 | 1:01 pm


  11. Mad
    March 12, 2009 | 1:18 pm

    Ya. “a grief that was not mine” was such a wise observation that it stopped me short.

    The post as a whole feels like an English folk ballad.

  12. DaniGirl
    March 12, 2009 | 1:19 pm

    A funeral is an unlikely backdrop for a love story. Nicely crafted!

  13. Janet
    March 12, 2009 | 1:22 pm

    One of my favourite posts you have ever written.


  14. Minnesotamom
    March 12, 2009 | 1:26 pm

    How long do you sit and ponder these things before they turn into posts? Or does your brain just think in this “Beck language”? Either way, I love it.

  15. christine
    March 12, 2009 | 1:27 pm

    that picture of you two holding hands at a funeral. . . now i just want to run and wrap my arms around my husband who is also my best friend.

  16. Nadia
    March 12, 2009 | 1:59 pm

    That was lovely Beck. Truly lovely :)!

  17. gretchen from lifenut
    March 12, 2009 | 2:04 pm


  18. Kat
    March 12, 2009 | 2:06 pm

    I always wanted to be buried in the cemetary by my house. My sis is buried there, my parents both have plots next to hers, and my grandparents are there as well. I remember being very upset with my mom and dad for not getting me a burial plot next to them and my sister, but they told me they assumed I would be buried next to my hubby. Imagine my surprise when my hubby says he wants to be cremated and not buried! I’ll be all alone after all. Damn it! I told him he’d better change his mind or I’ll have to be buried next to my 2nd husband. 😉 That seemed to do the trick.

    I love this post. After all, it really doesn’t matter where you are buried. I’m sure I won’t care then.

    And I love the idea of fate and how you were destined for each other before you even knew it.
    Lovely. 🙂

  19. Stephanie
    March 12, 2009 | 2:28 pm

    Beck, wow. This is a good one.


  20. suburbancorrespondent
    March 12, 2009 | 2:50 pm

    That last bit struck me as more macabre than beautiful, but have it your way!

  21. Alison
    March 12, 2009 | 3:06 pm

    If there were a literary genre titled “bittersweet,” you’d fit right in it.

  22. becky
    March 12, 2009 | 3:39 pm

    Lovely! Well said! And I love what Alison said just above. She is right about you.

  23. Susanne
    March 12, 2009 | 4:46 pm

    Very poetically lovely, Beck.

  24. Subspace Beacon -- sophisticated city slicker.
    March 12, 2009 | 6:56 pm

    That’s a lovely tribute.

    My husband’s great grandparents’ ashes were recently re-interred because the house was being sold and one of the conditions of the sale was “removal of human remains from property.” Did I mention I married into a hill-billy family?

  25. His Girl Amber
    March 13, 2009 | 1:11 am

    I love looking at things through your “formerly” morbid eyes.

    It’s a beautiful post, and I love the way you make words do your bidding. I picture you smiling maniacally as I reach for a tissue when reading your artwork.

  26. Marta
    March 13, 2009 | 4:03 pm

    Beautifully written, Beck.

  27. crazymumma
    March 13, 2009 | 8:42 pm

    You will hold hands underneath that road. roots growing out and finding each other as day turns to night.

    lovely post Beck. Really lovely.

  28. Michelle
    March 14, 2009 | 12:15 pm

    I thought I would find it sad that you both will be buried in separate cemeteries, but somehow you made it not-so-sad after all, just poignantly beautiful.

    I’ve wondered where I’ll be buried, and Joe, we grew up as military brats so we don’t have a “hometown” and neither of us have families that have grown up rooted in one spot, in one town, so it feels strange to not even know where I’ll end up being buried.

  29. Jessica
    March 14, 2009 | 4:38 pm

    As you recently tweeted that your are dying, it’s fitting you would discuss such a topic. :o)

    On a serious note, I’m glad I stopped by here today! Lovely post!

  30. mimi
    March 14, 2009 | 10:13 pm

    yes, but more importantly: which is the graveyard you morbidly moped around in your goth phase taking arty photos of the stones all a-kilter (the photos, not the stones).

    um, or was that just me?

    for my money, the catholic cemeteries are better for mopiness. all the popery and such 🙂 (writes the catholic, tongue-in-cheekily).

  31. Jennifer
    March 14, 2009 | 11:34 pm


  32. Kelly
    March 15, 2009 | 3:37 pm

    I’m still a mix of amazement and melancholy over this post — and I read it three days ago.

    It lingers.

    Just like love, I guess.

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