The night I ate Susan's mom began like any other night. I had just gotten off work but was on my way to my night gig at the time. I swung by her house to chat, change clothes and hang for an hour or so before I headed out to make my ever increasing Southern California rent. It was a pretty routine situation and I had periodically followed this same pattern for as long as I had held down two jobs.
We were sitting in her living room, watching TV or something, I can't really remember, but I made a comment about a beautiful little cobalt blue glass figurine sitting on her side table. It was somewhat opaque and had beautiful silver detailing all around it. She said "thanks, that's my mom." I knew that her mother had passed away when she was younger, but I had never really thought about whether she was cremated or buried and it certainly had not dawned on me that she might be sitting there next to me in that unassuming blue vase.
At that time, I had always been a little freaked out by death. I had never been close to anyone that died and I just got the hee-bee-jee-beez thinking about it. I had a roommate in college that was a medical student and she used to pull little icky pranks on me just to watch me squirm. Because I had this morbid paranoia, I started asking Susan all kinds of questions, about having the ashes in her house, had she seen them up close, were they heavy, did she feel the presence of her mother from them?
She started telling me all about it and before I knew it, we were in her kitchen with the blue container pointed at the light, with Susan pointing out the finer aspects of cremated human remains. "See, it's not like ashes from say a cigarette or a fire, it's more like little pieces of fragmented bone. If you shake it like this in the light, you can see the little particles." We stood there for a while, bantering back and forth about the fragments and laughing the irony of shaking her mom around like that.
At one point, she asked if I wanted to hold it. "Um, no." "C'mon, you hold it, you can get a better view". "Um, noooo". "Come on Stace, you can't really see it from over there." Finally the curiosity killed the cat (so to speak). Out of respect for the dead and empathy for my friend, who had just handed over the ashes of her dead mother to me, I took it very carefully from her and as respectfully as I could, I tilted the vase at the kitchen light and that's when it happened.
I never got the chance to see what cremated human remains look like through an opaque jar, because at the very moment that I jutted it forward, the lid popped off and Susan's mom spilled out of the beautiful cobalt figurine into my eyes, my nose, my mouth and down the front of my shirt.
Ok, so if you have never had the cremated ashes of the deceased in your facial orifices, let me just say that there is an instant, horrific and dire need to get it off as fast as possible. However, when the child of the deceased is standing in front of you there are certain tactful issues that must be considered. The tears will take care of the eyes, but you can't just rip off your clothes, run over to the sink and begin spitting and blowing your nose out while screaming your head off. The dead body in your nose and mouth is, after all, a loved one of the person standing there with you.
So I just stood there, frozen, horror stricken and not knowing what to do. My mouth agape, tongue jutted out, tears streaming down my face as I mumbled without closing my mouth from the fear that I would swallow, "Whaaa doo I dooo?" The two of us stood there staring at each other for what seemed like an eternity, she not knowing what to do and me, silently panicking. Time just stood still until finally Susan broke out into hysterical laughter and began wiping the gritty remains into my perfectly clean evening work shirt. Chanting "Love the mama, love the mama."
Needless to say, I called in sick to work that night. She cleaned me up and graciously let me spit what was left of her mother into the sink and blow the chunks of what was probably her collar bone out of my nose. As the water washed the particles of her mom into the pipes of an apartment complex in Hillcrest, we had the world's funniest second funeral. We were like two children flushing their first pet goldfish down the toilet. "Bye bye mama".
Later, after the laughter had faded, we sat there silently; She with the image of the grey ashes of her beloved mother all over my face and tongue and me with the eerie prediction of many nightmares to follow. And as the uncomfortable silence grew thick, she looked at me dead serious and said "You know Stace, for as long we are friends, I get to do whatever I want to you. I can kick your dog; sleep with your husband, it doesn't really matter, because… you ate my mom."