Tamara Rackerby

Sept. 25, 2015

Eng. 101 – Drewes

Draft 3, Paper 1

Probably the greatest and most intriguing mystery of life is death. The topic of death is one that not many people enjoy talking about or thinking about, but I like to think of myself as an exception to that statement. There are so many fascinating aspects of this morbid subject, including but not limited to embalming, cremation, casketing, and burial. Individuals all over the world have mixed feelings about death; for some, it is a terrifying concept that they cannot even bear to think about. But for others, such as myself, it is a beautiful and awe-inspiring process that I just cannot learn enough about. Many emotional experiences throughout my life have made me come to realize my deep-rooted fascination with death, which has, therefore, led me to pursue a career in the mortuary science field.

Although my interest in the topic of death has always been an innate part of me, I didn’t really begin to come to the actualization that my life’s work should be dedicated to death until I was in ninth grade. One cold, rainy December day, a fist fight broke out on the football field at my high school between two Korean exchange students – my friend Jinsu and another boy named Ju. Punches were thrown, and, before we knew it, Jinsu was lying there passed out in the grass, not breathing and slowly slipping away from us as I watched helplessly with my friends through the window of a nearby classroom that we had been ushered into. Jinsu was put on life support at a hospital that afternoon, but he later passed away from blunt force trauma to the head. The thought that something so awful could and did happen to my friend changed my life forever. I began doing serious research on manners of death and the funerary procedures of other cultures. I became enthralled with the idea of caring for the dead, and I started thinking that a career doing just that might be the best one for me. Losing my friend when I was only fourteen years old made me do a lot of growing up in a very short amount of time, and from the experience I learned that no one knows when they will be called back “home,” so each and every day should be enjoyed and lived to the very fullest.

A little over a year later, on February 10, 2012, I went to bed just like I did every other night of my life. But that night, I had a very vivid and enchanting dream about a boy who I didn’t know by name but who seemed so familiar and special to me that it was as if I had known him all my life. When I woke up, I brushed the dream off as a random concoction of my own psyche, but then, a few days later, I heard about Drew – a fifteen-year-old boy from another high school near mine who had jumped off the roof of the school and killed himself on February 10, 2012. As soon as I saw his photograph, I knew it was him – the boy from my dream. I had never met him in person when he was alive (although we had many mutual friends), but somehow, I knew him after his death, and from then on, strange things began happening to me pertaining to Drew.

The more I learned about him, the more I realized how much we had in common and the more strongly I felt that it was no coincidence that I had had that dream about him on the day he died. I began frequently running into his family members out in public, and they would talk to me or approach me like they already knew me. I became best friends with a couple of his best friends when I transferred to a different high school in eleventh grade. I started seeing physical signs that proved my theory that his spirit was around me sometimes. I began feeling more and more the urge to study mortuary scienceand take care of the people like Drew who don’t get to live life anymore. It was a beautiful feeling. This experience taught me that the dead, although they cannot physically feel anymore, need to be cared for just like everyone else, and it became the deciding factor in my decision to become a mortician.

Only a few months after Drew’s death, my beloved grandmother passed away suddenly from severe health complications. No one was expecting her to die because every time she ended up in the hospital, she would bounce back at the last second and surprise us all. But this time, her body just gave out, and I had to say goodbye without physically being there to say goodbye. It was a very painful experience, but I didn’t let it negatively influence my career choice because I thought about her and how I would want her body to be treated in the funeral home. I realized with my grandmother’s passing that being a mortician is not just about making sure the dead are treated with the utmost respect; it’s also about bringing peace to a grieving family in what just might be the hardest few days of their lives. My grandmother’s death strengthened my connection with the dead, and, in the end, a flood of peace overwhelmed me and I knew that she was at rest. I would like to help others find that flood of peace when they are mourning.

Some people are put on this earth to make movies and be stars, some are here to nurse the sick and injured, and some are here to make delicious food and run restaurants. I am here to care for the dead and bring comfort to the living. After my grandmother’s death, I started making serious plans to go to college to study mortuary science and earn my degree and embalming license, and I am currently on the road to doing just that. In fact, I am moving to Anaheim with my fiancé in a few months to go to Cypress College so I can get my degree and actually start working in funeral homes. It is so exciting to know that soon, my dream will become a reality. And although my career choice is a solemn one, at least I can always keep my sense of humor intact by saying that people will be just dying to give me business.