By Kay Lesley Reeves
“There are no pockets in a shroud” is a common saying. “You can’t take it with you when you go.” I’d always believed that to be true, so I was surprised when the black-robed figure of Death handed me a small suitcase.
Death at least seemed to understand what was required of him and was correctly attired in the traditional uniform. His only concession to the age of technology was the replacement of the unwieldy, if impressive, scythe, with a small device that appeared to be a form of Taser.
Having delivered the coup de grace and freed me from my need to fight for breath, I expected him to whisk me off to the hereafter, not wait for me to pack.
Not knowing what the afterlife would consist of made it difficult to select the most appropriate items. Would it be somewhere where I would feel extremely, not to say, uncomfortably, hot? Perhaps tropical gear and sun cream were in order. On the other hand, I might find myself in Valhalla, in which case a good supply of painkillers and several bottles of mineral water would help with the inevitable hangover.
I had heard that certain religions promised a vast supply of virgins. Not being one to take chances, perhaps a large pack of condoms? I began to regret my lack of interest in comparative religions.
I always thought of myself as “Christmas C of E,” in which case I was looking at a rather damp, cloudy environment and would probably need throat lozenges, as I’d never found time to learn the harp.
Pennies, to pay the Ferryman? No sign of a river, so that was probably out.
Eventually, I decided to seek advice.
“What should I pack?” I asked Death, who was beginning to look a little impatient.
“Whatever you cannot bear to leave behind.”
Toothbrush? Deodorant? Clean underwear? None of them seemed to be so vital in the greater scheme of things.
Photographs? No, I would always carry the memories of my beloved family and friends, of the long and happy years of my life, with me, without the need for copies of them as reminders.
Suddenly, the answer was clear.
“Nothing,” I said firmly.
Death smiled to himself as only a skull can smile. He tucked the empty suitcase into his robe and led me gently to the welcoming light.