Kotaku Flowers and Burned Bones

To: Crecente From: Bashcraft RE: Crap

Wanted to thank you and the other Kotaku staffers for sending a bouquet* all the way to Japan. Working in virtual Kotaku Tower means that our daily environment is probably different from most people's office experience. I was touched that things like tangible sentiment transcend an invisible work place. Thank you and the other writers for reaching out. We really appreciate it. (And of course! This being Japan, the flower company screwed up the spelling. Doh!)The funeral service was Friday. Under Japanese law, bodies must be cremated. Certainly, there are religious and cultural reasons as well. Before the funeral, I had a vague idea of how things would go down. The Buddhist priest from the wake would return, bang on the drum and chant. And then we'd take the body to be cremated. The end. Or so I thought. After the chanting ended, a trio of men in dark suits entered and began to cut all the flowers adorning the alter. These mounds of flowers were then put on silver trays. We were invited up to the alter.

Flowers were given to us. Fistfuls of them, still wet with moisture. We placed these in the wooden coffin with Mrs. Bashcraft's grandmother. One of the three men holding a tray told us to cover the body completely with flowers. It all happened pretty fast, and all I remember was everyone crying and then being asked to help push the coffin on a trolley to a hearse. The coffin was heavy and smelled sweet.

The crematorium was all light brown marble. The incinerators were in a long hall with light blubs that illuminated when in use. Someone, perhaps an uncle said, "This is the last time you'll see her in this form." There were only a few of us at the service as Mrs. Bashcraft's grandmother asked that only close family be invited. We all huddled around and watched as the wooden coffin was hoisted up and placed on a metal slab. A button was pressed, and the door to the incinerator was opened. The coffin was slid into place, and we were asked to come back in two hours.

We did.

The incinerator was opened, and the remains of her grandmother covered the metal slab: White bones. A young, clean-shaven man in white shirt shirt and wearing gloves told us to take a pair of chopsticks from a nearby table. There were two sets of chopsticks. One had a black dot on the top. The other had a white dot. We were asked to take one of each. The young, clean-shaven man then went through and explained what we were looking at. "This is her hip, her fingers. These are her legs. This is her knee cap."

He then asked if he could start breaking up her bones. No one objected. There was an urn, and we were supposed to fill it with her bones. We picked up those bones one-by-one and put them in that white urn with the utensil we use everyday to bring food to our mouths and keep ourselves alive. No one cried, and I felt a tremendous sense of closure — even as that clean-shaven man cracked through skull.

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*Flowers. DSCF9415.JPG


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