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Stages of Death

Categories: Blog, end of life, Performances, stages of life|

Life lessons from the mortuary to the theatre If you're a Central Texan, chances are fairly good that you've seen Bernie, the dark Richard Linklater comedy starring Jack Black in the title role. I saw it with a friend a few weeks after the movie's release and remember vividly the opening scene of Bernie's return to his alma mater as a guest lecturer ... on the process of embalming. My fellow audience members shifted uncomfortably in their seats and let out gasps of "eeew!" I, however, smiled quietly, for I knew what many of them did not: that the onscreen depiction of the process of preparing a body for viewing was spot-on. Read Full Article


Categories: Blog, Poetry, stages of life|

I will kiss the feet of my mother. I am not ashamed to bow down towards grass, wet with clear sky water. I will bow  down to her who birthed me, in whose center I was housed, in whose waters I swam, from conception to the coming out. Bow down to her who gave me life, kiss the flesh--each digit achy with gout, the tireless travel of the old,  the bearing  of things unseen. Harvester of wheat and planter of seeds, the farmland  and the plow, where her hands touched soft, cold earth  crumbling through fingers, the bearing of flesh that rose up out of her,  rising still, her children's children,  and then theirs. I bow down to my human statue, my stronghold.  Sun comes down, and the light around her head is white. And I, last born, on my knees  before her, kiss the bones underneath the skin, the toes that ache with year, eighty-one peeled down like skins of island fruit, each one bearing sweet flesh within, and the bitter pit  we all must come to. This she plants again and sees it rise, not from window, but from her place in skies, when, after years, she will go

Voices From Five Rooms

Categories: Blog, end of life, Poetry, stages of life|

Five short monologues by Mary Crescenzo William I want to sleep in my own bed, if you haven’t sold it at a garage sale. I want the dog to come here or better yet, can you take me home? I want to sleep on the mattress that only you and I have slept on. I want music I love, not the MUZAK that I pay for as part of the bill. I want to sing a song without someone in the next bed telling me to shut up, telling me to keep it down, I know I’m sometimes out of tune. I want to eat a piece of cake and wash it down with ice cream. I want to look out the window and recognize the trees. You say, "You’ll be alright," as if you think you can fool me, as if that makes it easier for you to get through

The Anatomy of Loss

Categories: Blog, end of life, stages of life|

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines loss as “the failure to keep or to continue to have something.” It also defines loss as “the experience of having something taken from you or destroyed”. Clearly, loss is not only defined in different ways between individuals, but between diverse cultures, and it can vary greatly over vast stretches of time. And how we each respond to loss is distinctly unique from individual to individual. For me, loss has always been a phenomenon that is both simultaneously real and ethereal. There is this mystifying duality I must confess I’ve never understood very well. In my world there is the abstract, and then there is the concrete, where boundaries of loss are simultaneously sharp and porous, delineated and amorphous, here and there. It reminds me of floating bubbles – in your hand one moment and gone the next. The last half of the twentieth century has slowly

The Contrasts of Life

Categories: Blog, stages of life|

Life can be seen as a series of contrasts. Everywhere, the rhythms of the natural world are evident, from our breaths (in-out), to our heartbeats, to the waves of the ocean. The light, and dark, the changing seasons, joys and sorrows – it seems we come to know each experience most intensely by also knowing its opposite. Could one even exist without the other? Would light have any meaning with no darkness? It’s ridiculous to think of breathing in, forever, never letting a breath back out again. But somehow, that’s often our mindset when it comes to life and death. We are enjoying the in-breath of life so much, we forget that the out-breath of death is required to make the experience complete. We forget that our lives have a start and an end point. Life seems to stretch out, on and on, and touch infinity – doesn’t it? We