Probability suggests that we’ll all see a corpse at least once in our lives before we become one ourselves. Just as death itself, it was an inevitable fate for which I was no exception. My fate came as Rosa Poone, the sister of a family friend who had succumbed to pancreatic cancer on the evening of July 24th, 2018.
I had visited her in the hospital twice before her passing: once, when a ventilator violently jerked her seemingly hollow body back and forth, and again, when her ability utter a few shaky words gave doctors the slightest hope for recovery. I recalled these moments as I stood over her casket on the temperate summer day of her funeral. I suppose it was in the memories of her sufferance in which I found the courage to face my own inevitable fate.
I looked down at her lifeless face, anticipating to be struck by the horrors of mortality, perhaps even driven to the precipice of sickness or insanity. Instead, found myself struck by the unnerving beauty of it. Like a mannequin she lay- rouge on cheeks which could not flush and mascara on eyes which could not see and lipstick on a mouth which could not speak. Her candle wax skin was painted in hues of yellow and orange to replicate the warmish glow of spirit. But there was no spirit inside of her, only embalming fluids trying desperately to combat decay. As they lowered her into a grave deep within in the heart of a forest, I couldn’t help but think about how those fluids in that beautiful corpse would seep into the soil and kill the trees.
Perhaps there was more beauty in the gaunt eyes and hollow cheeks and grey skin of an unembalmed corpse which fertilizes the soil rather than poisoning it, more beauty in decomposition than there was in preservation.
Perhaps there was more beauty in allowing things to unfold in the way that they were meant to.
Liza Sofia is a 19 year old university student in Rochester, New York currently studying French and Economics. Her passion for the literary arts started in early childhood, and by age 17, she finished her first book manuscript. Liza has hopes of becoming a novelist.