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One Dead Reef

Before I offend a bunch of people with this blog—and I will—let me apologize for my macabre sense of humor. I’ve had it since I was a kid, but it was cemented, which is an appropriate word for this piece, by the experience of scattering my ex-father-in-law’s ashes into a marsh in Wellfleet, Mass.

Long story short: It was a breezy day. A gust of wind kicked up as I tossed the ashes, and I was instantly covered with what was left of Abe, my sainted ex-wife’s father. I looked at my ex, she looked at Abe’s girlfriend, and the three of us laughed until—quite literally—we cried.

A press release I received this morning from the Neptune Society trust me when I tell you that if you cover anything marine-related for 15 years you get press releases from the strangest places—reminded me of the day we tossed Abe into the marsh. The organization, which offers cremation and post-cremation (of course) sea-burial services has opened a new office in Miami, but that’s not what got my attention. Here’s what did, straight from the release:

“The new office is the company’s closest location to Neptune Memorial Reef, which is located a few miles off the Miami coast. The man-made underwater reef is a unique option for placement of cremated remains.”

This I had to see, so I went on line to the web site for the reef, which I had guessed would be a spot for dispersing—a better word than dumping—ashes overboard. Turns out I was dead wrong.

The reef, which is located a little more than 3 miles off Key Biscayne, is actually constructed of cremated remains “mixed with non-porous cement, sand and water.” The mixture is then poured into the mold of the customer’s choice, given time to harden and placed by divers “in its final location of the reef structure.” According to web site, the family can participate in the placement if it wants.

I imagine this option is only open to certified divers as the reef, the first phase of which is a “classical re-creation of the Lost City,” is 40 feet below the surface.

I don’t know—there’s just something about having my ashes molded into a piece for a “classical re-creation of the Lost City” that makes me giggle. Why not mold what’s left of me into a smaller version of the entire Lost City and put me into an aquarium full of goldfish for my kids?

But in life and death, as long as you’re not hurting anyone, to each his own, right?

Besides, it’s no less bizarre—and a whole lot less messy—than tossing your ex-father-in-law into a marsh on a breezy day.