So, Darling Ones,
Back in like 2016 or so, my dad made it very clear that when he died he did not want a service of any kind. As his health grew increasingly dire over the past two or so years, he frequently reiterated this desire.
When he died in September we honored his wishes and did nothing.
As an angry hermit who is not a fan of hugging people and hates funerals* I thought this would be right up my alley.
It was not. When people say, “funerals are for the living,” I get that now.
This weekend was my Uncle Danny’s “Celebration of Life.” That’s what they call non-religious based gatherings at funeral homes.
It sucked. I knew it was gonna suck, but it sucked doubly because not only did we get to mourn Danny, we got to mourn my dad too.
That’s the problem with “no services” deaths. You have to go through that initial grieving process every time you see someone. And since this was the first time I saw many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins since my dad died, we had to go through it.
Every time someone hugged me and offered condolences on my dad and my uncle, they’d ask me how I was doing.
“Awful,” I said each time. “I’m awful.” Then we would both chuckle kind of uncomfortably.
I didn’t have it in me to be all, “I’m okay” or “I’m doing as well as can be expected.”
Despite that, there really is something to be said for communal mourning.
I had a surprisingly long chat with my Aunt Janis’ niece. Janis was married to my Uncle Danny for most of my life and died abruptly in 2019. The niece and I were talking about our aunt in common and at one point she stopped, sighed, and said with a watery smile, “She was magic, wasn’t she?”
She really was.
Maybe we re-mourn everyone we’ve ever lost at every funeral we attend.
Anyway, even though I knew on a visceral level what my cousin Billy was going through, the words, “how’re you doing?” still flew out of my mouth when he sat down for a bit to hide from all the well-wishers. We grimaced in unison.
“I don’t know why I said that,” I told him. “I didn’t want to say it. I know how you’re doing.”
“I’m great,” he said. “Five stars! Best day ever!”
Sarcasm runs in our family as does taste in urns. In a weird coincidence Billy bought the same urn for Danny that we got for my dad. They’re matchers in death.
At one point during the day I sang the first few lines of “Hotel California” a capella, much to the amazement of my sister and cousins.
“I’m actually kind of impressed,” Billy said.
“I’m super impressed,” Sister #4 said.
Even at the bleakest moments I’ll still sing a song. Poorly. But still. . .
Darling Ones, Danny’s funeral wiped me out — physically, emotionally, mentally. I’ve spent most of the past two days trying to recover from an emotional hangover.
Today’s impending election is not helping my fragile state.
I told myself that after Danny’s funeral things would go back to normal, but grief does not listen. It’s rude that way.
Being a giant bummer is in and of itself a giant bummer. I hate it.
Five stars, no notes,
*Nobody loves funerals, I get that. But, my very first memory is of looking down at my cousin Colleen in her casket. I was three. She died at seventeen from bone cancer. Bleh.