When Andre Dubus died, his sons built him a coffin. It was “a simple pine box with a domed lid,” and it took the brothers all night to build it.
One morning on a job, M. got a call from a guy she used to work with, another carpenter. He called to tell her he was dying, that there was cancer everywhere. He told her that coffins cost four grand. He told her that he had a buddy who was going to build him one out of plywood and two-by-fours for two-hundred max.
A retired thoracic surgeon named Jeffrey M. Piehler is dying. With the help of a friend, he built a coffin for himself. “A plain pine box,” he writes in a beautiful piece in this past Sunday’s New York Times. “My own plain pine box,” an “elemental final mix: me and wonderful old wood.”