I'm Back! or... still I'll rise

Dina Stander

Still, I'll rise...

... those words sound in my head in the precise enunciation and dulcet tone of the poet Maya Angelou. They are at once a balm to my soul and a command to my will.

They are the words that lifted me on my own two legs after months of post-surgical bedrest. They are the words that slowly brought critical thinking skills back into focus after surgeries assaulting my central nervous system. They are the words on the tip of my heart's tongue as I sit now to write.

And still I'll rise…

Just about a year ago, as I was in the midst of launching Last Dance Shrouds, I was stopped in my tracks by the progressive spine disorder I have coexisted with since childhood. Now and then, vertebral bone growth compressing my spinal cord needs to be surgically corrected to make room for my nerves to function. This condition affects: my ability to walk; use my arms for work; lifting, carrying, or moving objects heavier than five pounds; movement of my head and neck (it is hard to look up at the sky); and my overall energy level day to day. When I need surgery every facet of my life is impacted for a year or more. Please join me in giving thanks that the arms and legs are still working well enough, that the family survived my incapacity, and especially that the brain-juice has started flowing again.

The other day I read about a group of women in Wisconsin who make burial clothes for deceased children from re-purposed wedding gowns. I thought, “shroud sisters!” And I knew without any doubt that it is time to pull my shroud company off the shelf.

The photo I have paired with this post is of a painting by an unknown artist which I saw at the Brimfield antiques fair earlier this week. It is a huge fair, with many fields, many hundreds of vendors, and visitors (buying and selling) from all over the world. There is a friendly guy who brings a trailer full of electric scooters so that people like me whose legs are not so reliable can still have a good time mucking about amidst the stalls and tents. I was tooling along and this painting of a marvelous woman and her fabulous tiara stopped me in my tracks. I wanted her to live forever. I wanted me to be alive forever. I wanted to be here to do my work, which is to make burying our loved ones less scary and mechanized, and more hands-on and affectionate.

I'll be working on a business plan, pulling together funding, and hopefully we can visit soon at a Home Funeral conference, Death Fair, or even a neighborhood funeral home near you! Please feel free to be in touch through the contact form on the website, or via the Last Dance Shrouds facebook page, and if your idea is timely or your need is urgent you can phone me at (413) 237-1300. And until we meet, keep your lamp steady and bright. I'll keep mine shining too.


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