So tonight I'm relaxing for the first time in a while. It's been cold and rainy all day, so I decided to make a chilly, rainy day feast tonight. I made apricot risotto (dried apricots, nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar, vegetable broth, and seasonings) and sweet and spicy chicken and bell peppers (with hot chilies, apricot preserves, and other thai seasonings). I opened my bottle of Trader Joes Sparkling Pomegranate Juice and enjoyed the feast with "This American Life" in the background.
I could have called friends, because I'm sure they would have liked to partake in my fall feast... but I really just wanted to spend the time alone.
"This American Life" really got to me. The first story was about a woman who lived alone and died alone, and it followed the investigation of a social worker to try to find any living family members. I'm tearing up a little as I write this... The social worker investigated the home of the deceased older woman and couldn't find any sign of companionship besides the two dogs in the backyard (they were supposedly the only things the old lady had). She sifted through mail, documents, and so on, trying to find relatives. She finally found a twenty-year-old Christmas card from someone who had to be a distant family member. The social worker called the sender of the card, but they did not remember the old woman--eventually they came to the conclusion that she was a distant aunt of some sort. The story then jumped to a mass funeral for deceased persons without friends or family. The city cremates the bodies, and if no one collects the ashes for three years, they have a mass burial of all the ashes. Of course, no one but employees attend the funerals, and the remains of thousands of people are all buried at once under a marker for the three-year time period. It's a little eerie and unsettling. The end of the story poses the question: do people live alone by choice, or by circumstance? These lonely people being honored in a mass burial every three years don't have anyone to mourn their deaths... is mourning a privilage left only to those with people left behind to mourn them?
Something to think about.