As I embark on a new year with Little Miss Funeral, I can’t help but think of my (very quick) college days. To be a funeral director in New York State, the only degree that is required is a two-year Associates in Funeral Services. I was very happy. I wasn’t a fan of school. My mentality was get school over with and start my life. Or what I thought my life should be.
There are not many schools in New York that offer a degree in Funeral Services. So one day while I was using my best friend, Google, I happened to come across The New England Institute at Mount Ida College. It looked cool, was close to Boston and I mean, I could get away from good old Buffalo for a tad. N.E.I made going to school seem like it could be fun.
I am going to be straightforward when I admit that I didn’t go to school to make friends. As I said before I wanted to get in and out. But somewhere along the way I did make friends. When you go to school for something as strange as funerals, you tend to stick with your own people. We referred to us as the ‘funeral kids’. It was a lesson early on in the game that by traveling down this ‘death’ road we’re joining a very elite club. The funeral kids always hung around together. Not because we were weird and wore dark clothes and smelled like formaldehyde (some did, yes) but because we all got it. We all wanted to do something that was bigger than us. Something we couldn’t even maybe grasp at the time.
If someone grabbed me by the shoulders and transported me here today to introduce me to what my life would be like, I don’t think I would believe them. Heck, I have days in work now where I feel as if I’m somewhere else looking down. Because little Lauren honestly can’t be doing what she’s doing. I remember once I was dressing an individual who happened to be an organ and tissue donor. I just took a step back and laughed. I laughed at the irony of my life. I can’t watch scary movies because I get nightmares. I can’t give blood because I pass out. I can’t possibly be doing what I’m doing. But for whatever reason I felt at a young age that I wanted to work with dead people. I mean, who does that?
I’m thankful for the path that brought me to where I am today. Although I don’t always like what I’m doing I have to say that I love what I do. I get tired of my hours, annoyed at doctors (other funeral directors will get this), easily agitated after a 70 hour work week, but in the end I know I’ll be able to look back at this career choice and know in my heart that I did good.
Just like I can look back at my college days and be grateful. Grateful for the friends I made, grateful for our ‘funeral’ talks. Grateful that I had other people who enjoyed watching the Japanese funeral film “Departures” as much as I did! I’m just grateful that I received the opportunity to be around other kids my age, who had it in their heads that they also wanted to do the most bizarre job out there.
So, am I where I thought I would be at this point in my life? Definitely not. I don’t think you ever really know what you’ve gotten yourself into until your hands are in other people’s orifices. Yet, here I am. Doing the best I can. So I guess in the end I can’t really expect much else. I just have to keep on going.