17 March, 2019
If I saw “After Life” in my 20s, or even my 30s, I’d have been yawning in its first 5 minutes. I wouldn’t have gotten any of it. Now in my late 40s, married to someone so precious, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Ricky Gervais’ new miniseries on Netflix last night. It’s a black comedy featuring Tony, Ricky’s character, going through unbearable sorrow following his wife’s death.
“After Life” was both extremely sad and hilarious. And totally relatable as I’m turning 50 next month. I applauded Tony when he declared that his wife was one of the two’ human beings’ he liked and the other was his dog. My husband is one of the only two humans I like and the other was our deceased hamster, Hamucho. It took me years to recover from her death back in 2016.
The only thing that I couldn’t relate to in “After Life” was Tony’s frequent visit to his wife’s graveyard. Why bury your loved one in one place? In the show, Tony is a devoted atheist. I’m not sure if that’s what I am, but I am happy today perhaps largely because I don’t feel I have to follow religious teachings or practices on a daily basis, like some of my family members and relatives do.
There is my family graveyard at a temple somewhere in north Tokyo, but I can’t recall the last time I visited. When my father passed away, my mother didn’t want to bury his ash with his ancestors. So she kept him at home for a long time.
But, you see, in the Buddhist practice, you should do so after 49 days, and if you haven’t prepared a family thumb stone, you should do it within a year. After a few months, friends and relatives started to ask her when she was going to bury him. Plain stupid. “She could keep him as long as he likes“, I thought. I still think the same today. I don’t see a point in keeping ashes in one place far away from where you live, and have total strangers (i.e. monks at the temple) look after them for a fee (temples charge a hefty annual maintenance fee for your family cemetery plot).
I already told Marcin that I don’t want a funeral or a thumb stone. I want him to cremate me at the cheapest public facility and hold no ceremony or any form of gathering. My hard earned money should not be wasted on a useless object made of stone, a party I can’t attend or monks I never met.
Instead, I want him to take a pinch of my ashes, throw away the rest (down the toilet if convenient), get my life insurance payout and go traveling with them. I’m sure there will be still some places where we’ve never been before my death, so I want him to go there, maybe with his best mate, Pete. It’s on me, boys.
Throughout “After Life”, Tony keeps watching his wife’s dying messages and the recordings of their happy times together. We live in a convenient time when we can record everything digitally. Our everyday in Japan is recorded on Apple laptops, iPhones and a GoPro. As if that’s not enough, last week, we finally purchased a DJI Marvic. All these things cost a bit, but the way I see it, it’s much cheaper and more fun than having a funeral and a stone.