Plans for an Unconventional Funeral

My funeral shall not be held at any particular place, or at any particular time. My funeral shall include all those who choose to participate, but none who are required to participate. My funeral may never happen, or it may extend for years.

Sometime after I die, each participant in my funeral shall choose a pebble. Not a rock or a boulder, nor a grain of sand or a speck of dust, but a pebble. In no way are these pebbles meant to signify myself, but anyone who chooses one is to carry their chosen pebble in their pocket, purse, or elsewhere on their person, for as long as desired.

Funeral participants may store their pebbles on a bedside table or in a convenient drawer while sleeping. They may take a break from carrying the pebbles for days, weeks, months, even years. The pebbles may be kept in a potted plant or an outdoor garden, a basement freezer or a display of family photographs.

Occasionally, after a break, those so inclined may take up their pebble once again, take it with them to work or the movies or lunch. While at lunch, the more adventurous may place their pebble opposite themselves on the table, and talk to it as desired, or silently meditate upon the scene if they're self-conscious. And if anyone stops to ask what the pebble signifies, it should be pointed out that, "This pebble does not signify anything. In particular, it does not represent Cary Utterberg. True, the pebble does not freely share its feelings, it does not go to the doctor, and it never wipes out the microwave or cleans the toilet, but in no way does this pebble represent Cary Utterberg."

Some pebbles may be used in games like Aggravation, Bingo, or Monopoly. Some may be taken on trips to Europe, Australia, or Cleveland. Pebbles may see the World Series, visit the Louvre, or go to that place where you can stand in four states at once. And some pebbles may pass the years contentedly in the midst of a family, unnoticed but by no means discontented.

As the years pass by, pebbles will be misplaced, or wives may throw out pebbles while doing laundry. In case of such accidents, a new pebble may be chosen, since in no way did the original pebble represent myself. But as more and more years pass by, participants in my funeral will die themselves, or the significance of the pebbles will be forgotten. True, pebbles may be inherited ("That was dad's lucky pebble," or, "Mom said that pebble was stupid."), but by and by even these pebbles (like all pebbles) are bound to return to nature.

The more ambitious, who prefer a sense of finality, may choose to return their pebbles to the wild themselves, while they're still meaningful. Pebbles may be dropped on a wilderness trail, or randomly thrown into the woods. Pebbles may be quietly buried in a garden or left at the zoo. Or you may drive out to a clear stream, isolated from the sounds of traffic, where only the movements of the water and the leaves may be heard, and carefully place your pebble in a few inches of water so wildlife and years may at last wash away the memory of my days.

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