EXISTENCE

Wayne Dale Matthysse

Much of my time these past few months has been sitting on the wall of our crematorium waiting… waiting for the first, the second, often the third, sometimes even the fourth, and a couple of times the fifth COVID victim of the day to arrive. In between, there is the checking of the furnace to make sure the fire is burning evenly. Then the opening of the red hot furnace door for cleaning out before the next body can be put in. Not a pleasant job at all, especially for a nurse whose main objective in life has always been to heal people.

The heavy work is done by others and as long as everything goes right I am of little use, however, there are times when things go wrong and quick action must be taken…

especially when the furnace is still red hot from a previous cremation and the casket breaks out in flames as it is being put in. That’s where my experience with the furnace is needed.

One of the few gratifications of this job is in providing the families space to grieve and hold ceremonials both before the cremation…

And after, when the tray is removed for the collection of the bones. The thing that gives me the most support and comfort during the day, however, is always just a short distance from me. 

And every now and then it catches my attention from the corner of my good eye… and draws me back into the moment, reminding me of how rare and beautiful it is that we exist.  

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