One’s Own Grave

Today, I designed my own gravestone.

I probably won’t need it for a while, but since being rushed to the hospital I’ve been thinking about how fragile our bodies are and how easily they can give out on us with very little warning.

The design I came up with is a bit unconventional for this day and age.  I went with a coffin-shaped slab like the ones I saw marking medieval burials in many English churchyards.  Where the long-stemmed cross would be, I placed an Ankh-like cross based loosely on one found on a Cathar coin from medieval Languedoc.  Along the edge is an inscription in blackletter characters that reads, in the best Latin I could muster:

“(my name), uxor (my fiance’s name), Flos Auctorem, rerum gestarum, custodes fidem gnostici, obiit anno (year). In vita priore erat comitas sarisburensis. Nosce te ipsum.”

“(My name), wife of (my fiance’s name), Flower of Authors, Scholar of History, Keeper of the Gnostic Faith, died in the year (year in Roman numerals).  In a prior life she was the Earl of Salisbury.  Know Thyself.”

The self-given title “Flos Auctorem” is both a reference to my name and to Count William’s epitaph which calls him “Flos Comitum.”

To me, it’s the perfect mix of demi-histrionic boasting worthy of someone with one foot still in the 13th century, a clear statement that I believe in my own spiritual immortality, and a certain grim finality that says “She’s dead.  Deal with it.”

I have a strong disdain for the twee sentimentality of today’s funeral markers.  I guess that’s fine for some people but I really don’t want my family erecting something with crying angels and sappy pseudo-religious poetry, or QR codes that no one will be able to read in 100 years, or a picture of my classic Citroen as if that was all I had to remember me by.  I just want something outlandish in its extreme anachronism, enduring in its design, and dignified in its execution.

Hopefully I won’t need it just yet.  Yes, I’ve contemplated suicide but never seriously enough to try it, and the idea of dying of a heart condition now, at the age of 31, scares me shitless because I’m simply not ready for that.  I already know what happens when you die when you’re not ready and it’s extremely unpleasant.  I don’t want to go through that again.

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