Profundity is found in the most unexpected places. Susan and I just finished Season 4 of the BBC’s Sherlock. The series was an absolute exhilarating, exhausting triumph in casting from stars to crowds, writing, directing, cinematography, settings and sets. Steven Moffat’s writing was . . . I’m nonplussed trying to describe it. WOW. But in the third episode in the last season, The Lying Detective, Sherlock made a statement to a young woman who told him his blog had saved her life.
“Taking your own life. Interesting expression. Taking it from who? [“whom”] Once it’s over, it’s not you who’ll miss it. Your own death is something that happens to everybody else. Your life is not your own. Keep your hands off it.”
Wow. Which led to another discussion with my wife and best friend about the concept of someone “dictating” what s/he wants to happen after s/he dies. Burial or cremation? Funeral or memorial? Officiant? Participants? Invitees? Music? By whom? Scripture?
From personal family experience, the deceased’s desires can cause not only financial and logistics problems, but conflict and emotional issues as well.
Re-read what Moffat shared through Holmes. “Once it’s over, it’s not you who’ll miss (your life). Your own death is something that happens to everybody else. Your life is not your own. Keep your hands off it.”
Susan knows I prefer to be cremated, but will have no control or awareness of whether my body is returned to ash. That’s entirely her decision.
Which leads me to my primary life mantra, discovered when reading about Dag Hammarskjold in Weekly Reader in the fifth grade. He was the second UN Secretary General and died in a plane crash in Africa that was probably caused by another aircraft of unknown origin.
The story shared a quotation handwritten by his grandmother on a piece of paper found in his family Bible among the wreckage.
“Live your life such that — in your final hour when all others are weeping — you alone are without a tear to shed.“
My death is something which will happen to everybody else. The period after isn’t something I’m responsible for.
But I am responsible for my life, hands on, while I’m living it. Holmes would agree.