Claude Charbonneau

Photography and Communications

Category: Society

Dying with style


Why do you blog? I do because I will die and I want to leave legacy of virtual bits and bytes of words, images and thoughts. I plan to live as long as I can but I could be dead in just a few hours or even within minutes. Accidentally, perhaps crossing the street or victim of a crime. My heart could stop. A bomb could explode. Who knows. I don’t but whatever happens, I feel confident it will be all right. I prefer not to know exactly when or how, but I am prepared. I love spontaneity and detest taking engagements too long in advance. Except for my death. That appointment will come. I refuse to schedule it and will push it back and ignore it as long as feasible. But considering that I dispose of an entire life time, I see no valid excuses for dying unprepared, no matter the circumstances or how suddenly or soon it happens. No one should schedule their death, but one should have plans.

Notice how people carefully write wills. They arrange their funerals but avoid spending time thinking exactly how technically they will die. When you ask, they usually evade the question or simply say I want to die fast or without pain. That’s it. Most imagine how they do not want to die, disregarding common sense and a basic rule of life: you must be careful of what you think because it just may happen. And death is not even optional, so one should embrace it openly and positively and early in life.

So I developed a list of acceptable ways and palatable scenarios. I want to die in style and frankly, I want my death to be the best day of my life. I only get one opportunity to do it right and no practice run. So I envisage it with great care and because it could be in an hour or in many decades, I included in my list many adaptable scenarios to suit various changing circumstances. I built a reputation for creativity and for my ability to quickly adapt. I trust that I won’t suddenly change just before dying.

I prefer not to share the technical details and the many scenarios I crafted with those who know and love me. Just with the persons they may involve. I would feel guilty to die surrounded by the people I love. Dying amongst strangers would be best because my passing away is less likely to traumatize a stranger. This is why I share some of my last desires and wishes on line. When I discuss the topic with people who know me they try to dissuade me and use their influence to convince me to opt for a boring exit.

Ideally, I wish to die of a long sort of little death in the company of strangers hired for the circumstance, and on a cruise ship sailing within international warm waters (I hate cold water) infested with sharks. They can simply and discretely dump my body after I die in the water so that the sharks can eat me immediately. Those who know me would simply not be able to throw me off the ship and would actually try to revive me. Well paid strangers will not. Plus they will have an incentive for disposing of my body in the ocean. Money. And I stand the chance that my identity survives for a while. Many would love to acquire a Canadian passport. As I do not care for it after I die, if a stranger who disposes of my body as I want wants to use my passport and ID cards, I see no problems with that. My official identity can continue to live and cross frontiers and borders. I find this actually a cool concept. I would certainly hire someone much younger. That person could pretend to be me after a face-lift and instead of thinking me dead, those who know me would think me lucky to look so young.

I really do not like the notion of anyone manipulating my deceased body. Those who will, as it is likely going to be necessary (unless a killer whale eats me while kayaking, an acceptable but unlikely scenario), I want them to receive appropriate compensation. There are a lot of sick people and who knows what they could do, like taking pictures, or dressing me up with ridiculous clothes and apply lipstick and too much make up. I want an environmentally friendly death and once without life, I insist that my body be recycled as quickly as possible, without additives, with all of its parts and with the clothes I was wearing, if any, at the time of my death and no makeup. Fish start feeding at sunrise. I hate getting up in the morning so early morning is the best time from all perspective. I do not intend to get up the day I die anyhow.

Since I took a personality test and it revealed that I am a catalyst, I am scared of spontaneous combustion. While dying of it resolves the technical issues related to the disposition of my body, I do not want to burn. In the event that I die alone (no one ever witnessed someone dying from spontaneous combustion), to explode would be fine if it is the result of getting hit by a meteorite or a collision with a shooting star. Or I could innovate and simply mysteriously evaporate or liquefy.

If I die inland, an acceptable alternative to dispose of my body would be to transform it into food. I love animals and dogs. To be turned into kibbles would be suitable. Someone suggested bird seeds and I really like that concept because, as it was pointed, I would take an ultimate flight. If I get transformed into bird seeds, I should be fed to the pigeons in downtown Ottawa. After eating and flying me, they can drop me off over the downtown core.

I am flexible and leave it up to my executor to select the easiest method available. As long as I am slowly cooked. I refused to be grilled, burned, cremated, buried, dissected or studied. And I want my body transported directly to the transformation plant in a police car. I do not want a slow procession that clogs traffic. I dream of driving a police car at full speed with the flashers on and all, but as it is not likely to happen, it is prohibited as I am not a police officer, I could get my wish partially fulfilled on my way out of this world. Driven to be transformed in a police car with its lights and sirens on, rolling fast, way to fast for anyone to follow, in case someone tries to stop me. And once transformed into kibbles, I want to be sold on Ebay in small bags branded K-line food. I want to proceeds to go to the humane society.


Naked angels, holy bread scraps and sucre à la creme

Naked angelMy family included many catholic devotees and nuns and priests. One of my aunt, a Franciscan nun, would mind me from time to time and the convent where she lived and where I would go left a profound impression on me. I fondly recall the beautiful high ceilings, the stained glass and the artwork which was everywhere. It really was a fascinating environment. I remember the smell of the incense and also of the food in the kitchen. My aunt was a cook so I would spend time with her in the kitchen. Sometimes she would prepare holy bread. I would get the scrap pieces. Bagful actually, to take back home.  I ate a lot of scraps of holy bread during my childhood.  Before it gets transformed into the flesh of the holy Christ mind you.  It did not at all turn me into a devotee of the church. Quite the contrary.  I really liked the general peaceful atmosphere of the Maison-mère and I recall the kindness of the nuns, the whispered conversations and the overall quietness. And everything shined.  There were no other children around as it was not a school and I would receive a lot of attention during my short stays and I likely appreciated that.   

But some of the paintings and artwork really puzzled me because they included naked angels. That kind of made me feel uncomfortable. The images were very nice and I did not really understand why, but I felt a strange malaise looking at them and there were many and everywhere.  Perhaps because although they were naked, it was impossible to determine the sex of these angels? There were naked angels on the walls and on the ceilings.  There were statues of naked infants of all sizes on the tables, on pedestals in the hallway, in the grand salon.  Everywhere except in the kitchen. 

I find it difficult to conciliate that we find within churches so much artwork that depicts naked bodies of infants and how members of those institutions condemn nudity entirely outside of their walls. Also in practical terms, I wonder how praying immersed and surrounded in images of naked babies and children with wings and without sexes impacts on the subconscious of worshippers. Could it be one of the reasons why so many priests, brothers and nuns abused children? Perhaps it seems totally normal to them after being exposed to what could be perceived as an insidious form of pornography ? I wonder what a psychiatrist or a psycho-analyst would think of that. I know that I started to make too many connections and ask questions difficult to answer at an early age and I maintained a downward path in that regard. And I tend to blame a lot of ills on catholic values.  Maybe I ate too much holy bread.  I really preferred the sucre à la creme my aunt also made.