Kate Braestrup, author of Here If You Need Me, and I were at Bangor Theological Seminary at the same time. That isn't to imply that we were friends or that we even knew each other. Yet, because of her particular story, I probably knew more about her than she knew about me. Her husband, Drew, was a Maine State Trooper who was killed in a tragic accident. He was the one who wanted to go to seminary. She went instead.
In her book Kate writes about the loss of her husband and our modern culture's view of death. In carrying out Drew's wishes she wanted to be as close to the process as possible, which goes against everything our society tells us about death. She writes:
Modern culture does not encourage us, let alone require us, to take care of the bodies of our dead, any more than we are required to take care of our loved ones as they give birth or suffer or die. Instead, we are offered the expensive illusion that through a mortician's skills the bodies of those we love will remain. There will be roses in their cheeks, chemicals in their systems, and thickly padded coffins to preserve those beloved limbs from the saprophytes that would otherwise claim them. Your loved one will never be dirt, they say.
Kate knew that Drew would want to be dirt... would want the stuff of his earthly existence to go back to the earth. I thoroughly enjoyed this courageous book by my classmate. Drew's calling became her calling and she is in the midst of very important work as chaplain to game wardens in Maine. I also thank her for pointing out what I see as the absurdity of our society's views on death. More on this later....