Friday, March 31, 2006

women and urns

I've decided to make a new rule that only men can pick up cremated remains. The women realize they're going to pick up mom, dad, husband, whoever and carry them out of the building. I can tell the second the realization hits them. A woman today was carrying out her 41 year old husband, well he would have turned 42 yesterday had he not died three days earlier. She filled out the paper work fine, talked about engraving the urn, then it hit her. She lost it, grabbed him up, and started rushing out. Tom rushed after her to comfort her. I sat still and tried to hold back the flow, it didn't work very well. When he came back I asked if it was still hard for him. He said it's time for him to retire. So much sadness. It's draining me.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

funeral director's song

Tom started singing this and the boss' daughter joined in. I was very frightened.

Peace and sorrow fill the air
People dying everywhere
Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Buddist funeral - Day 3

I didn't go to the actual funeral service, even though I sort of wanted to. It was a Saturday and we had other plans. However, I did get the honor of cleaning up afterwards. HA! Steve helped too, poor guy. What a disaster. One huge garbage bag of trash from the chapel alone. More vacuuming than I've done in the last year. Our dumpster out back was already full, now it's completely overflowing, hopefully no cats attack. Steve was entirely freaked out, I think he had two sets of gloves. He was a huge help though. He kept reminding me that this was my career choice not his! At least he was too busy cleaning to get too hung up on being in a building with dead people. He was more freaked out about germs than death.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Buddist funeral - day 2

It's 7pm on the second day of "viewing". The family got here at nine and hasn't left yet. Luckily I got here about 8:15, as it took the whole 45 minutes to throw out garbage, vacuum, clean up the chapel, sweep the front, pick up cigarette butts (yuck), and restock the bathrooms (bigger yuck, no one told me i'm the bathroom girl too).
The Buddist Monks came this morning and they just got here again. They wear orange robes, just like on Anger Management. Again, I wish I knew Viatnamese, so I could understand what is being said. Chanting through out the day. Long sermons, well I don't know that they're sermons, but it seems that way. People milling in the lobby and in front of the home, out there they smoke. And smoke. And smoke. Incense, cigarettes, and death. What a smelling sensatition. Of interest, earlier, was a power play over the death certificate by the sister (who paid for the whole thing) and the older brother (who thought he should automatically get one of the copies she paid for). Guess sibling rivalries transcend culture.
I'm amazed at the outpouring of love from the Vietnamese community. I can't even count the number of flower sprays without being totally obvious. they are across the front of the chapel and side by side all the way down both outside aisles. It'll take several vans to get them to the gravesite.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Buddist funeral - day 1

Guess I need to take a class in different religions, or at least in the death ritual aspect of the religions. A Vietnamese funeral is here for the next three days, viewing today and tomorrow, service Saturday. It seems to be a huge affair. The relatives carted in ice chests full of soda, bottled water, food, flowers, I don't know what else. I'm hungry and lunch looks like it may be slipping away. It's been such a busy morning, Tom is in with another family making arrangements, so the Vietnamese family keeps asking me things. The daughter wants to change her mother's make-up, Skip dove into the midst to see what they should change. I think he did the make-up himself earlier. He just walked by in his whole blue outfit, gloves and all, headed into the chapel. He said "c'mere and give Papa Smurf a hug". It's weird to see him in the public areas in that outfit. The hair dresser called me this morning to ask what style the woman had, the only picture of her was over here. So this whole thing was crazy to start with, the funeral was going to take place at our other home, but they didn't have the availability the family required, so it all got shipped over here. I just peeked into the chapel. They're moving the casket, hey, stop that. They put it up on the little stage. Tom will grumble about having to get it back down, I wonder how he'll do it by himself, he'll probably have to ask some of the men to help him. Now I hear hammering. I hope they're not putting holes in the wall, what will Tom say, he left me in charge and they're reconstructing the chapel. yikes. I better go check. Well, now that I've looked, what am I supposed to do? They're hanging up huge banners, maybe 5 feet by 8 feet in front of the chapel. They're hammering huge nails into the wall above the podium. Maybe I shouldn't have looked, it was better if I didn't know and then won't have to take responsibility for not stopping them. This place has taken on a circus type atmosphere, children are running around playing. Family members are going from the chapel to a smaller viewing/family room. I should've worn a suit. I didn't realize so many people would be here today so just wore slacks and sweater, I feel sorely under-dressed. And I'm so dang hungry. I suddenly find myself wishing I could speak Vietnamese.
It's later now, some of the younger guys were asking me about working here. Do I ever see or feel spirits. Unfortunately I had to say no, although I think it would be okay if I did. Certainly I'm just as curious as they are about spirits or ghosts or whatever. Only good, kind ones though, do you get to choose? No nasty ones, please.
Someone just came in and asked for duct tape. Tom came into the office just as the young man walked out, and exclamed (much too loudly for my comfort) "What are they doin' in there???" I had to laugh. He checked out the chapel, shaking his head as he returned, "It's not as bad as I thought from all that noise." It is pretty noisy. I like it. It's more life than this building has seen since I got here, it's good. More flowers are coming in. "Norel, can you get us another table?"
It's almost three in the afternoon, I haven't eaten lunch, there's some much insense I can barely breath, and I usually like incense. Blue hazy clouds pouring from the front of the chapel. They've opened the back door of the building, which has Skip chomping at the bit. He wants me to go close it, but he doesn't want to be choked out. He said "Cats love to come in and chew up bodies." I asked how often he'd seen that in his thirty years, he laughingly admitted he really hadn't, but he'd "heard about it happening". Right. He did say he's seen rats chew off faces. Gross. Guess that settles the open or closed casket question. Ha!
A meal is set before the deceased. Rice, boiled eggs, shrimp, fruit, vegetables, incense, and flowers. It's beautiful in an odd sort of way. The daughter put bows on the end of the pews, it sort of resembles a wedding chapel, well except for the casket and the flower sprays, ok the only part that is wedding-y are the bows, they seem a little out of place. In the back is a memory table of sorts. Pictures, folders for the guests, sign in book. I appreciate how much this grandmother was loved and am surprised by the huge turnout.

Funeral home Field trip...what?

This morning a group of high school students came here for a field trip. It's the weirdest thing to me. Of all the places they could go to learn about business, they come here. Of course, they couldn't go into the back room and definitely not the prep room, aka Arts and Crafts Room. I can think of a lot of places to take students and a funeral home would never enter my mind as one of them. One girl, very appropriately, was dressed completely in black. I think it was her normal mode of dressing though as she had on knee high boots. Well, I wear knee-hee black boots, but they're a little different. Hers were chunky, maybe five pounds each. They were similar to biker boots, but had row upon row of big silver buckles. Leather strapped thru the buckles, so it looked like little tags sticking out. Black hair, white white skin, is she even alive?
Tom gave each of them brochures and price lists. They acted interested, except for the impassive faces and stifled yawns. I think they were all very disappointed when the tour didn't go past the public places. It would've been a much better field trip could they have gone back to school and talk about something gross that they'd seen.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


If I get one more phone call from that other office from one more woman who is talking to me like i'm an idiot, I'll scream. Excuse me, I got one day training. One day. We all need to admit that I've probably got some gaps in knowledge. So, it'd be fine if they were even calling to tell me about something i did wrong. But they aren't! they're calling for me to check on files from months ago and then when I give the information they want, they say stupid things like "You do check files before you put them away, right?" I want to shout Of course I do you idiot, but if you were paying closer attention to what you're saying you'll realize that I've been here three weeks and this chart was filed in Jan! Why do I even allow it to get under my skin. Women suck sometimes. They haven't even seen me, we're in completely different funeral homes and they still wanna act all snippy. What's with that anyway. And why do i even care??? Why does it matter to me if they're not nice. Why can't they be nice when they call and say I know this is from before you were here, but if you could look something up I'd appreciate it. It's like they want to find any errors from over here and then pounce on them. I want to remind them that any beef they have was with someone who no longer works here, it isn't with me. They've never even met me, we've only spoken on the phone. I know it's not personal, so why do I let it get to me. I don't know what stress they're under in that office, I've heard it's not fun over there, but they don't have to take it out on me. Jeez....


I'm on a quest to learn about this order, as a client (is that what they're called???) belongs to this and can't be buried till three days after death. I didn't find information about that, but did find a ton of other interesting stuff.
The Rosicrucian Order, AMORC, is known internationally by its traditional and authentic title, the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis. Rosae Crucis from the Latin means "of the Rosy Cross". There is no religious connotation associated with this symbol; the Rosy Cross symbol predates Christianity. The cross symbolically represents the human body and the rose represents the individual's unfolding consciousness.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

ho hum

Well, no one ever told me that this was an exciting business. Guess I didn't realize I'd get so bored in between calls though. I'm going to be recovering some office chairs, but forgot to bring my staple gun this morning. This office is straight out of the 70s and completely depressing. I've moved stuff around a little trying to make it more functional, but it's pretty dang ugly and that will take some time. There's an old storage shed with a cool desk in it, that may actually qualify as antique rather than 70s crapola. Maybe I can refinish it and bring it back in here. I think it'd look way better than this big old thing I have. This is probably an indication of not enough to do, if i've got time to whine about office furniture.
Tom went to pick up someone from a nursing home. Good thing they moved that other lady out of the cooler this morning, now we have room for someone else. I guess there's a large person in-waiting now, which causes some space constraints. What a weird thing to have to think of, where do we put people while waiting for the family to make arrangements. hmm.

Friday, March 17, 2006


A gentleman called from the hospital earlier asking about cremation for a premature baby. I couldn't talk to him, I froze. Tom was across the desk from me, looking concerned. I told the man I'd get a funeral director and hurriedly put him on hold. My grandson was born prematurely at the same hospital two months ago. He was sick for awhile and it was worrisome. I couldn't talk to the man. I don't know if he was the father, but he was crying. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to cry myself. They never called back, so i think the baby is going somewhere else. Tom said "good", he doesn't want the baby to come here either. I know sooner or later I'll see one. and I already know i'll want to hold it. Maybe that's when I'll make the switch from dead body to loved one. How could anyone think of a baby as anything but a loved one? I found myself a little angry when Tom told me of another baby who waited to be cremated for two months, because the dad was in jail and wouldn't sign the authorization and the mom was a flake. He even went to their apartment to make them sign after the dad was released, only to find that they'd been evicted. How could they not have loved the child enough to do the right thing? Or maybe their grief was so great that they couldn't face it? I think they were drug addicts or something, I hope that's their excuse, anyway. It makes me so mad how stupid people are sometimes. There are cremated remains in the back that have been there forever and no family will take them. What is that? I'm really glad the baby didn't come here. Another weekend when I'm a mess and I think Steve will want me to quit.

End of my third week

So, last night I'm at a friend's house and as it seems to be happening lately, talk turns to my new job. People are strangely fascinated. Well, one guy tells me that a friend of his just committed suicide. He said the guy had been happily married and was his coworker, great husband, great dad. Then he quit the job to open his own business, which was very successful. Well, at some point he started using drugs, "running with loose women", and life went bad for him quickly. Lost his business, marriage, respect from peers. Several years later he decided to take a dive off a rocky cliff. As my friend talked, I realized it was the foot viewing. I didn't know what to say, but he realized I knew who he was talking about. I didn't handle it very well, as I wasn't as sensitive as I should have been. I asked if it had indeed been determined to be a suicide, as it was unclear earlier in the week if it accidental, suicide, or homicide. He said as far as he knew it was suicide. Perhaps the family found a note, he didn't know. I kind of panicked, because I didn't want him to ask me more than he really wanted to know, so I changed the subject quickly. Later, I felt bad, because he may have needed to talk about it, but I just didn't know what to say. I thought back about how his face clouded up and I knew he wanted to ask more, but I couldn't tell him what I knew. It was weird.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Prank phone calls I wanna make

We have a little card catalog system for Pre-needs (when people come in to set up their arrangements ahead of time). The theory is that you look for a person's card, if one exists you go to the back room and pull their folder. Then we know what kind of service they want. I'm not so much a card catalog kind of gal, so I decided to input the information to Excel. Way quicker to pull up if I'm on the phone and need to quickly whether they have a contract with us. Sounds weird, but often families don't know where the deceased have a contract so they call around to find it, not very efficient or considerate of the dead, if you ask me.
Anyway! I'm putting this information into excel and I'm realizing that many of the cards say for information only. I'm wondering how we know those people haven't already died and their families just took them somewhere else. Soon I'm giggling, which quickly escalates into flat out laughter at the thought of calling the number, asking for the person on the card, and when they come to the phone saying "Just checking" and hanging up. I imagine their faces as they hear a dial tone, look at caller ID, realize it's a funeral home, then the dawning realization that I was checking to see if they still had a pulse. The laughter becomes somewhat uncontrollable as I allow myself to picture this whole scenario. Their faces go from expectation, to bewilderment, to disbelief, to horror. It takes about fifteen seconds for the whole process to run through their minds. I can't stop laughing. I email my husband to share my hysteria, which prompts him to quickly pick up the phone and laughingly tell me not to make any such calls. Even now, re-telling the story, I'm smiling stupidly and again allowing myself to imagine the faces. What great fun!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

daily business

The regulated medical waste guy just came by to pick up our waste products. I'm so glad he went into the prep room and I didn't have to try and lug that big crate out. I didn't even look in there, just barely pushed open the door for him. I told him how I had to go in there last week to get the dirty laundry out, cuz that guy refused to go in the room. He chuckled. There's so much to the business side of this industry. Laundry, medical waste, yuck.

I cleaned out another crazily messy area today in the office. There seems to be crap piled to the ceiling! I found a glue gun and glue sticks, well when I read the packaging of the sticks closely, I found that it was biodegradable and was to use for gluing small heart shaped pressed paper with flowers seeds in them onto memorial folders to hand out to funeral guests. What a weird thing. I think I kind of like it though. Instead of handing out tiny bottles of bubbles at weddings, you can hand out tiny hearts to plant in memory of the deceased. It's a neat idea, but I wonder if any flowers will actually grow.

I found some information packets for families when they're making pre-arrangements for their own funerals. I think I'll send one to my parents. I know they've made some of their own arrangements, but it would sure be a nice thing to do for your loved ones, so they don't have to figure out all the stuff they'll need at a hard time in their own lives. I don't know how my parents will like getting it in the mail though. I'll add a little note, "not that I'm trying to rush you, but just thought you might like to get things in order". ha. I am seeing that there are things i really want to take care of so my husband and children don't have to.

Monday, March 13, 2006

foot viewing

A first for one of our new funeral directors...Yesterday he had his first foot viewing by a family. The brother fell from a local mountain side and he was pretty much a mess. He had no ID except for a library card. The ME took fingerprints and results should be back today. It's unknown whether he fell accidentally or jumped or was pushed over the edge, and it's very unlikely the truth will ever be discovered. The sisters still wanted to see him, so they viewed his foot as it was the most presentable part. Also the director gave him a headcovering and a little ninja style mask, as he was viewable from eyebrows to nose. That small area, along with the foot, was enough for the sisters to know positively it was their brother. I don't know that I'd recognize one of my sisters' feet, my husband's yes, but a grown sibling whose feet I haven't seen in years? kinda creepy.

hi ho, hi ho, to the retort we go

Ok, that's not a nice title, but it really makes me laugh. I don't even know if i'm spelling it right. It's the thing people get cremated in, apparently it's not called an oven. The guy who does cremations was here this morning. Tom was out, so Curt showed me how to sign someone out to him. He asked first if I'd be okay with learning what to do, I said sure. Ha! Well, he gets the guy out of the cooler (maybe it has a more technical name, but I don't know what that is). I waited till the body was on the guerney before going into the room. He yanks him up onto the pillow, why does his head need a pillow? I'm thinking he doesn't care if it's soft or not, he's been in a dang refrigerator for a week, what good's a pillow gonna do him. I'm not trying to be disrespectful, I just didn't understand and didn't think to ask. Feet are strapped in, not individually but a strap over both of them. Curt pulls back the plastic and the smell hits me. Absolute disgust and revulsion overpower me. I immediately hold my hand up to my nose, Curt studies my face to make sure I'm okay. He's very gentle when he tells me that I'll get used to the odor, and he understands it's shocking at first. He shows me how to check the neck to see if a pacemaker exists, none this time. Then he checks the hands for jewelry, which would need to be removed. Then he reads the toe tag to be sure we have the right body, we double check it against the cremation authorization. It's correct. I've seen tags on feet in the prep room. I haven't looked close enough to know if they're really on a person's toe or if it's just around the ankle or something. I'm so relieved when Curt pulls the plastic back up and around and the smell dissipates fairly quickly.
Ya know what I can't get used to? It's making me a little crazy. I get two or three hang ups in a day, sometimes the person is staying on the line but not talking when I answer the phone. I asked Tom if this happens all the time, he says it never happens to him. It's starting to bug me, it just happened again. If they don't wanna talk to a funeral home, then maybe they shouldn't dial one up!
Ok, back to the sign out. I'm even more relieved when Curt zips up the bag. He knows that I'm weirded out and a little queasy and he tells me, again very gently, that soon I'll be able to quit thinking of them as dead bodies. He says something will change and I won't be grossed out or horrified and I'll simply start realizing that this is somebody's loved one. He said when I can think of them as a loved one, rather than as a dead person, it'll be a lot easier for me. I wanted to ask how long that's gonna take, as right now it seems like the cross-over in thinking is much too far away. I was surprised at how tender he was, both with me and with the body. In the office he jokes and laughs, but in the back room he really was dealing with somebody's loved one, and he was so respectful. It's good for me to see. Reminded me of last week when Tom rolled a casket into the chapel before the funeral. He very lovingly combed the gentleman's hair down with his hand, so that he was completely ready for his family. At the time, it touched me how gentle he was. I told him that the man looked great and Tom was so pleased that I thought so. He said he'd remembered how he'd looked a few weeks ago at the wife's funeral and he wanted to be sure he looked good now. They make a bunch of jokes, but in the end, there is such a desire to send people off in a loving and honorable manner, it's pretty humbling to me.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Service prep

Spent the morning going thru CDs, re-arranging, sorting, finding lost ones. Trying to learn the sound system here. Just in time for a nephew to get here to practice his song for today's funeral. He sounds very good. But I may get tired of the song soon. He's belting it out like he's on American Idol. The flower guy came, and he put everything in the wrong place, so now Tom's rearranging it, a little disgustedly.

It's later now, the family is here, service has begun. Daughter was fashionably late. chaplain asked (politely) if she'd gotten stuck in traffic. She replied that she'd gotten lost in her own traffic. Hmm.

the Chaplain is telling jokes, they aren't getting many laughs. I'm chuckling almost hysterically in the office. It's that childish giggle that I can barely suppress. He's telling stories about the deceased to amuse the crowd. Hopefully others are at least smiling and the chaplain isn't feeling like he's left out in the cold. Now he's telling how the husband met his deceased wife, it's weird to hear the stories, knowing that she died three weeks ago and many of these same people came to her funeral here.

He was in the military, so he got the military honors. Flag ceremony and 21 gun salute. then another gentleman played Taps. It was haunting, I was surprised how quickly I teared up. Then I realized so did Tom and so did several of the guys giving the salute. It's just an awesome thing they do for their fellow military men.

On my drive home I saw a bunch of cars parked at a house, I thought to myself how odd it would be if it was the family. I couldn't believe when I saw the daughter milling around outside with a bunch of old guys. They were smoking and having Miller Lites, well I couldn't read the labels, but I'd overheard them earlier saying that's what they were gonna have. Talk about odd, I wondered if I should wave as I drove by.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

my first service

The service is scheduled for 12:30, but folks began arriving at 11:30. Older Russian man, died after being hit by a car while riding his bike. Wife, daughter, grandson came in to make the arrangements. Wife and daughter came in this morning to make the payment. All cash, that seemed a little odd to me. They got here early for the service so they can go outside and smoke or walk around or check out the snow. Half an inch on the ground when I woke up this morning. No tears, but the wife was weary when she came in earlier. It’s very interesting to me, the dynamics at play. I feel like a fish in a fishbowl, they’re looking at me through the window, I’m looking at them. Many older people now. Music playing in the background. Flowers arriving and they’re leaving the door open. It’s cold. The ladies smile at me. They are waiting for one other woman and then they all go into the chapel together. Grandsons hold open the door. Hey, it’s cold, close that door. I wonder how many people will fill the chapel. The snow is coming down harder than ever now. The boy still holds open the door. He’s maybe fourteen or fifteen. He smiles nervously as people walk up. I wonder what’s going through his head today. Tom’s in the other office on the phone. I’m sure I just heard him say he’s just screwing around here waiting for a service to start. He’s much too used to this. I, on the other hand, want to stand in the door of the chapel. I want to see the ceremony. Is it weird of me? Am I a little sick? The violinist just asked me for a cd player, a small one to play in the room adjoining the chapel. Maybe he can’t really play the violin and doesn’t want anyone to know. Can you lip sinc a violin? The grandson comes back out of the chapel and wanders around. Tom waits at the door and watches the snow.

It's later now and the service is over. It was quite nice, even if I couldn't understand it. I did look in the door, several times. It didn't feel like I was being invasive, i wasn't trying to be. Just curious about the differences in culture more than anything. Wondering how others mourn their dead. wondering if at some point I'll be like Nate and David from Six Feet Under, making judgment calls about who's going to be a coffin jumper. Whoops, guess i'm not supposed to say coffin, too dracula-ish. Casket, say it with me, casket. Lunchtime. that's what i'm most interested in now! Hey, I'm excited to eat, does that mean I'm getting more used to it here? It's thursday of my second week and I want to eat lunch.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

First viewing

She looks much better in her cute black suit! Silver haired grandma, petite, well-dressed in life. The first time i saw her was on day 3. She was the one with her head still on. She bothered me for as many hours as the autosopy repair, maybe more. The image of her on the table in the back room. "hey, does the new girl do hair?" Such simple words. Such terror in my head. I still don't know why I looked in that room. Anyway, they dressed her up and showed her to her family in the way that i'm used to seeing the dead. Black suit, white piping along the edging. Her glasses were broken when they brought them in, so I got out a little screwdriver and replaced the screw. It seemed like the least I could do to make up to her the thoughts that ran thru my head about how shruken she was. So I fixed them and was pleased to see how nice they looked on her. Her daughter brought the earrings she always wore with that suit and a watch whose band was so tiny a ten year old would stretch it out. I'll call her Melba, it's not even close to her real name, but I have to call her something. Melba looked much plumper in her picture. It was probably ten years old though. Her right hand had to stay under some of the casket lining, the tissue was too fragile, and apparently it ripped or tore or something more horrid to imagine. I just know her hand was inside a white cloth bag, not really a mitten, more of a jewelry bag. Her watch was at the top, clasping it shut. Then the whole hand was under a bit of lining.
Her family came early in the day, there was crying, laughing, hushed voices, a small great-grandson cooing, lots of aunts and uncles ooo-ing and awe-ing over the baby, anything to give their grief a momentary respite. I'm glad to see how much they loved her. I'm glad to hear their pleasure over how nice she looks now. Even if I'm not the one who did her hair, it still looks good.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

eating lunch - week one

whoever thought eating lunch could be so dang difficult.
Day 1: leftover pasta. Ate about three bites and all i could taste was old dead flesh. Threw it away. Later in the day my head ached from hunger. Felt nauseated and light headed. Was that the hunger or the surroundings?
Day 2: Leftover rice, beef, mushroom casserole kind of thing (I never claimed to be a cook). Couldn't get to the microwave cuz a casket (empty?) was in the way. Waited till an intern was here and he showed me how to move it. Apparently I needed to throw my weight into it and the thing would move. Also had to move a guerney (definitely empty) out of the way, so then I heard about the importance of hand washing after touching a guerney. Disease, disgust, basic all around filth. Ten minutes of intense scrubbing after he left (how could he have known the issues I already have with germs, yikes). Well, my food was hot when the microwave first pinged, now it's barely lukewarm and I had to move the casket back in front of it after I finished so there'd be room to walk. Three, maybe four bites. Old dead GERM-Y flesh. uuggghh!
Day 3: see the post for Day 3. It pretty much says it all.
Hunger is apparently part of this job. Guess it's good I could stand to lose a few pounds.

Friday, March 03, 2006

day 3 - not for the faint of heart, I was upset.

I just wanted to heat some dang chicken nuggets. I went back there to the microwave, avoided looking at the gurney, just looked straight ahead. Heated my food just fine. I'm holding a small bag of chicken nuggets and heard Skip and Tom chatting about the lady in prep. Skip asked if the new girl does hair. Tom said he doesn't know, so he walked out and asked. I laughed and said I could maybe do it. I'm thinking of a dressed woman already in a casket and i'd just give her a few curls. That's how she looked in my mind, beautiful and a little plump. I walked to the door, what possessed me to do that. I don't know if my face registered the shock. I didn't pass out. I didn't get sick. I didn't cry hysterically. But I'm not eating chicken nuggets either. Why did I look. The lady was okay, no not okay. sunken. very white. paper skin. old age and death. maybe she was whitish blue. hair straight back, no kind of style. so sunken. see through. But the man on Skip's table. Dear God, he had no head. well part of one. part of it was on the table. I tried to look away. I stared. I'm feeling very light headed and unsteady. Partly due to hunger. Now I know why the gentleman yesterday had those staples around his skull. Oh God, why do they take the heads off.

i guess it was a woman. Tom said she was an autosopy repair. I asked him if that meant the man I saw yesterday with staples around his head was one too. he said probably. I don't know how i could've been able to tell that was a woman. No face. No hair. No brain inside a partial skull. that's what i saw anyway. that's what's tattooed on my brain. The top of the skull was cut off and it looked empty inside. I couldn't look away but my staring probably only lasted twenty seconds and it wasn't really staring as my eyes were darting around furiously. A covering was over her privates, but I still know she had brown pubic hair. That's what I keep seeing. Brown pubic hair, a very large body, a small red stump at the top.