I sit here at my computer with full-blown nausea, shaking like I used to do when I had perimenopause. I don’t have that anymore, and I never have nausea. But when I opened my The Tennessean Williamson A.M. email news and saw the headlines that Rep. Sheila Butt is asking for legislation that requires dental amalgams to be removed before cremation, both sickness and irateness hit my fan at once.
Quote: “Up until now, opponents of a proposed crematorium at Spring Hill Memorial Park and Funeral Home have expressed concern about toxic mercury emissions affecting nearby neighborhoods.
But after learning that state Rep. Sheila Butt has agreed to ask for legislation that would require dental amalgams — which can contain the mercury compounds — be removed before a body is cremated, some are still skeptical.
‘It doesn’t change anything right now and it doesn’t mean that it will get approved, either,’ said Lori Fisk-Connor, a nearby resident who showed up Monday for a Planning Commission vote on the matter. ‘I don’t think it’s just a matter of what’s in the fillings. There are other things in people’s bodies that’s going to be released in the air and into the water supply.’ ”
Dear child, honey, Lori, I can tell, you haven’t been there. You put this in the paper, so it’s a public record, and I’m going to respond: It’s not only cremation — it’s death. Do you know what happens when someone dies? And if you can keep us all from dying, please oh please, do! Death is ugly. “Things in people’s bodies get released in the air and into the water supply.”
Do you know when someone dies, the body automatically releases feces, urine, and blood? If you don’t believe it, ask my son, who was keeping vigil with my father, his grandfather, during the hours before his death. The body was going through ketosis and then released feces that filled the bed. The odor was so intense that my son was not able to stay in the room … or the house … or the town, for that matter. And the elimination was ultimately flushed, and sheets were washed — all went into the water supply.
And I think of my mother in her dying days. She was on morphine. It was the weekend and hospice gave us I don’t know how many bottles of it. When she died in her own bedroom, my sister and I called the hospice nurse and the funeral home, which sent a deputy coroner. The two of them stood over my mother’s kitchen sink and poured bottle after bottle of morphine down the drain. Where in the hell do you think that went? Uh huh, the water supply.
My husband bled before he died. At home, at the doctor’s office, at the hospital. That blood didn’t just disappear. Clothes, blankets, towels, all were washed. Yes, water supply. (And he was cremated. What, of him, got into the air and blew about? I’d like to know.)
What you’ve got to do, Spring Hill neighborhood and Spring Hill legislators, is oppose death. You’ve got to keep us all from releasing stuff into the air and into the water supply. Draw up a bill. Good luck.
And legislators, please throw this bill out if and when it hits your desk. No tampering with dead bodies and removing fillings — stealing gold or throwing away mercury. My God. What a narrow little world we live in.
Either way, you should write about it! I just got the word from Creative Nonfiction about an upcoming issue and a call for submissions. So here’s something for all you writers of true stories and true crime! (Copied from creativenonfiction.org)
CONTEST: TRUE CRIME
postmark deadline: September 30, 2011
For an upcoming issue, Creative Nonfiction is seeking new essays about true crimes—detailed reports of premeditation, follow-through and aftermath, whether gleaned from police blotters or the news, passed down as small-town legend or family lore, or committed in cold blood.
We want true stories of petty theft, identity theft, embezzlement or first-degree murder; of jaywalking, selling (or maybe buying) weed or assault; of crimes and punishments and unsolved mysteries. Think “The Devil in the White City” (Larson), “In Cold Blood” (Capote) and “Iphigenia in Forest Hills” (Malcolm); or “Half a Life” (Strauss), “Lucky” (Sebold) and “The Night of the Gun” (Carr). If it’s against the law and someone—maybe even you!—did it anyway, we want to know all about it.
We’re looking for well-written prose, rich with detail and a distinctive voice. Essays can be serious, humorous or somewhere in between. Creative Nonfiction editors will award $1000 for Best Essay.
Guidelines: Essays must be unpublished, 4,000 words maximum, postmarked by September 30, 2011, and clearly marked “True Crime” on both the essay and the outside of the envelope. There is a $20 reading fee (or send a reading fee of $25 to include a 4-issue CNF subscription–U.S. submitters only); multiple entries are welcome ($20/essay) as are entries from outside the U.S. (though due to shipping costs, the subscription deal is not valid). Please send manuscript, accompanied by a cover letter with complete contact information including the title of the essay, word count, SASE and payment to:
Attn: True Crime
5501 Walnut Street, Suite 202
Pittsburgh, PA 15232