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by Lori Lipsky

We pull into the cemetery pretending we won’t need it any time soon, but fearing we will. From the backseat my sister, who is also my best friend, asks my husband what color headstone he likes best. It’s her way of trying to find out what color I like best since the doctors have warned me I may be in the market for one sooner than I’d hoped.

I point out two black ones and mention how ugly they are. It’s my way of making sure the headstone will not be black. I say I think any other color will be fine, but I don’t care for the salmon ones either, so I say, “Salmon has never been a very good color on me.” I look around for the shade of pink stone I’m hoping for, but I don’t see one in this small cemetery.

My husband says he thinks they’re all fine. That’s his way of saying it’s my choice. I know he’d be fine with cremation because it’s easier, but I won’t have it. I’ve learned he believes strongly in honoring deathbed wishes, so I’m confident I’ll get my way.

The prettiest one I’ve ever seen is Aunt Patsy and Uncle Jack’s pink stone they bought twenty years ago. I admired it when we were in their cemetery for another burial. Their stone is in place ready to go when they are, but apparently they aren’t. They’re thirty years ahead of me but if the doctors get their way, I’ll need mine first.

I think how unfair it is that death does not strike in chronological order. There’s no dignified way of expressing the thought, though, so I wonder aloud if Jack and Patsy would loan me theirs for a time. It’s a beauty.

Lori Lipsky is a writer and music teacher from Waunakee, Wisconsin. Her poetry and stories have appeared in a variety of publications. You can find her at http://www.lorilipsky.com or on Twitter @LoriSLipsky.