Messages about/to Peter Troxell

March 20, 2004

Peter's Gone

When a person dies, the body left behind begins to decompose. The first stage is rigor mortis, a stiffening of the body that lasts for about 24 hours. When the rigor subsides and the body becomes pliable again decomposition begins in earnest. After another 48 hours or so the body begins to pose a serious health hazard, (not to mention its assault on our senses and sensibilities).

Peter Troxell died Wednesday morning. The fact that death is inevitable for all of us doesn't make it any easier to deal with. The fact that Peter had a lot of friends and admirers in addition to a large extended family didn't make it any easier. Easy or otherwise, when death occurs certain things must be done.

What do you do with the remains? Peter's gone. We have our memories of him, and we feel the emptiness in the places of our lives where he used to be. Peter's gone. We're glad he's no longer bound to a diseased body, and we wish he could still be here with us. Peter's gone.

He fought the cancer. He knew he was losing, we all knew. He spent the last weeks of his life on a rented bed in his living room, slowly losing the ability to care for himself, finally losing even the ability to speak.

So, there was time to prepare for his death. Lyle built a simple pine casket, all of wood, no metal, not even nails.

On Wednesday night Diana and Lyle dressed Peter's body and placed it in the casket. On Thursday, friends and family came by to offer condolences. They placed flowers, pictures, tokens, symbols of love and remembrance, (all combustible), in the casket with the body.

On Thursday evening, Diana, Adriana, Lyle, and Marina closed the casket. They each hammered the wooden pegs that had been made, through the holes that had been drilled, sealing the lid to the casket that held what remained of their father, her husband.

Peter wouldn't have liked being sealed in a box like that, and no one would have willingly done it to him.

This wasn't Peter that was being put away, lovingly dressed and decorated. This was less than the shell of the man. This waxy, discolored thing resembled Peter in many ways, but it would never be mistaken for him. It was just his corpse.

On Friday morning Diana, Adriana, Lyle, and Marina took Peter's body to the crematorium. It was Lyle who pushed the button that started the fire that reduced what was left of Peter's body to ashes.

Friends and family gathered to talk about Peter and about how his life had affected theirs.

Peter's gone.

Friday was Lyle's birthday.

Joe Hudgins