Ashes to Ashes; Dust to Dust

By Coral Ceiley

Photo caption: Visiting Mom with her dogs and some M & M’s

I have experienced death; it came knock, knock, knocking on my door in 2008, when I was forty-four.  I was walking around my classroom at Fairfax Middle School when I noticed a voicemail from my Father’s roommate – very unusual. I called the number and was informed that my father had passed away in his sleep, and the Burbank Police Department wanted to know where they should take the body.

I said, “Hello, Death, I have never met you before,” and prepared myself for the tasks that were laid out for me down the road. Tasks like informing my family, preparing the final arrangements, and dealing with the estate, which in this case included one hundred fifty dollars and a room filled with porn.

Coral’s mother.

My first introduction to the phenomenon of death was a hard one. My father, who was in his 60’s had died unexpectedly. I lived in Bakersfield; he lived in Burbank; my brother lived in New York. This event started a period of time when I was completely and wholly responsible for taking care of all the arrangements for the people in my family who passed away. The death of my father hit me hard; opening up my eyes to the vastness of a person’s complete life, like when I stumbled upon by dad’s high school yearbooks. Apparently, in the 12th grade, he was most likely to go out andbecome a country-western singer, and I never knew it. Things like that enrich and also harden our souls.

In 2008 my beloved grandmother also died, and even though my mother was present, it was me who carried us through, making sure all the little details were tended to. As I went through all the keepsakes and belongings, my heart broke a little more each day.

In 2010, my favorite uncle died while crossing the highway in front of my house after drinking a pint of vodka. It was tragic; it was horrific; in the morning there was still blood on the street. My mother told me she would never be able to come to my house again or drive on that road. I accepted this, feeling a little bit guilty about being alive.

So Greg, my uncle, who was six foot six and larger than life, had been staying with me after completing an 18-month rehab program in Santa Barbara. I loved him. I had loved him since I was a six year old, and he was my babysitter. But by this time I had learned how to “not feel.” I never felt a thing at the passing of Greg; however, I wrote a song to commemorate him:

   “Go softly unto that good night,

   Go softly don’t put up a fight,

   Don’t be afraid,

   Just take her arms in the dark.

   Just take her arms in the dark.”

By this time I could envision my grandmother and other relatives reaching out to grab him and bring him through the veil of illusion to safety.

I was totally blindsided by my mother’s death in April of this year. She was supposed to live forever. Her grandmother had reached 100, her mother had reached 86, and my mother was only 75 years old. She was five foot ten and was still good looking. She had a mind like a steel trap but was hindered by the pain issues associated with fibromyalgia. I thought for sure she would outlive me.

One day, she had a cough, and I told her it didn’t sound good. She insisted that her fibromyalgia was responsible for all her symptoms. Within a couple of days, she was on a ventilator with full blown pneumonia – poor thing. My step dad and I had to decide to put her into a coma to save her life. She was on a ventilator and never recovered consciousness. She was in ICU for a month.

This time I employed an old friend to help me through the hard times. First of all, there are two strains of marijuana that fit two purposes. The Indicas are for reducing stress, insomnia, and anxiety. The Sativas help with fatigue, depression, and mood disorders. So, I needed to smoke, eat, or otherwise consume both of these strains on any given day.

And trust me, I did! I was alone in a beautiful house (my mom’s) with no transportation or local friends for months. I had started a crop of Gangsta Mix early in the spring and was able to start harvesting it in July, which gave me a source of beautiful, home grown, Indica. Meanwhile, I relied on Green Crack, from the local co-op, which is a Sativa with 15% THC.

The funny thing was that during this time of mourning and funeral planning and stuff, I became closer to my step dad. Can you guess how? Because we both enjoyed smoking weed, and that created a bond where there hadn’t been one before. So thanks to the weed, thanks to the medicine, I still have a family. Marijuana… is there anything you can’t do?


  1. Billie May September 23, 2017
  2. Coral September 23, 2017