Rampant with Memory

Ha, Ha Death kills me!


Maybe you love airbnb. Let’s go ahead and assume you love airbnb. Would you sleep in one of these coffins?

I ask because tonight in Romania one lucky couple will fill each of these crannies. It is October 31st. They will be alive and possibly worn out from all night Halloweening. And they have won an airbnb contest to spend the night at ‘Dracula’s castle’ perched in the clouds above the village of Transylvania.

Death. Is. Funny. But why?

Death frightens, is why. The depth of grief attacks our equilibrium and washes away our rootedness in the normal. We forget how to eat, to sleep, to work or shop; we forget appointments that a day or a week earlier snapped us to attention and carried us into life. All gone.

It scares the hell out of us so we laugh instead and pretend we’ll never arrive to meet Charon, the ferryman to Hades. The old, Greek man has loped off to the pub for a sundowner and won’t return to take his place at the helm; that’s okay with us. We’ll stand with other cold, dead souls on the dock laughing at the foolish man.

We make Death funny by winning a contest and sleeping in coffins. It’s not a brave or foolish gesture–hey, it’s a lark! Our hearts and brains and muscles will limber-up with daybreak. No tears shed for us, oh no, but we’ll gather excellent stories for Christmas party banter.

A woman up the street from my house plastered her front yard with elaborate Halloween decorations weeks before the haunted hour then removed them last night. I asked her why.

“Because they will all be stolen,” she said.

Death is funny and so are bloody, protruding hands rising from dirt clutching at the R.I.P. tombstone shadowing them. Thrilling crap stolen by gravediggers the night before the little costumed children snack their way up the block, their faces smeared with chocolate and caramel; cheeks bulging and parents hurrying them along.

Death comes, they say, as a thief in the night. And silky coffins, they also say, make lovely holiday destinations.



Noreen Shanahan

A creative non-fiction writer, with a special interest in memoirs and obituaries–life stories, local histories, flesh & blood anecdotal details.

1 comment

  1. Each year I am alive, I find the Halloween decorations more and more offensive. Sometimes I want to go up to each door of a house decorated as you describe and scream “you are going to die!”
    But I won’t do that. I’ll hand out candy (dressed as Spidergranny) and delight in my granddaughter and grandson – 2 and 5- as they patrol the neighborhood with their much loved parents.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: