‘Right where it belongs’
image © 2005 Aline Giordano
text © 2013 Aline Giordano
When I die I want to be burned. I want my ashes scattered in the sea off Korea, where I was born. I remember the trail of thoughts behind this decision very clearly. I thought: I was born in South Korea; abandoned when I was a few days old; taken to an orphanage in Seoul; adopted and flown to France when I was 11 months; brought up in France until I was 23, at which point I decided to go to England. So I’ll have one third of my ashes scattered in Korea, one third in France and one third in England. Logical, isn’t it? Then I thought. Am I a dog? It feels like I’m territory pissing! I laughed at myself, something I find difficult to do usually. The ridiculousness of the situation got the better of my usually knotted stomach. Yet, I went along with the story. I imagined myself doing three little parcels of ashes. One parcel would be scattered in the Channel, in Ouistreham, where my brother drowned. The second, I’d ask my friend to empty in Portsmouth, and the third, my mother would take to Korea. It all fitted in my mind. I must have been at the deepest of my depression when I devised this plan.
I drew a list of the songs I wanted played at my funeral for inclusion in my will. My solicitor refused to put it in. It had to be separate. He might as well have stabbed me in the chest. And he carried on deepening the wound. He explained the main differences in inheritance laws between the UK and France. He mentioned the Napoleonic Code and made a point of saying that under Napoleon, illegitimate children had no rights of inheritance. This is when I had a vision of leaping onto his desk to shut his mouth. He not only reminded me what I didn’t need to be reminded of; he also just simply exasperated me with the legal erudition he felt compelled to impose on me.
It was such an important list. I didn’t want any member of my family to choose what they thought would be best for me when I’m dead; like he did to my brother. He kept on saying, ‘this is what he would have liked’; and so he chose the music; he chose the priest; he chose the liturgy; he chose the cemetery; he chose the restaurant where we had our meal after the funeral; he chose the gravestone. And so, he chose to ignore us. He denied us the right to say goodbye in our own way.
‘see the safety of the life you have built everything where it belongs feel the hollowness inside of your heart and it’s all right where it belongs’ (Reznor, 2005)
Reznor, T. (2005), Right where it belongs, With_teeth: Interscope records.