Ah, the story of my life. Well, I guess it hasn’t been exactly four weddings, only two; and, that I know of, I don’t have my funeral coming up; but it is my funeral that I want to talk about today so this title is close enough!
I read once that all one does during their lifetime is collect people to attend their funeral. That is some pressure! Recently I attended a funeral of a very close and dear friend of our family and yes, I did find myself sitting there during the service thinking of how loved she was by so many people and how many wonderful things that everyone had to say about her. And I am sure that I wasn’t the only person in those pews thinking about how it was going to be at our own funerals. One can’t help it. Being around death causes all of us to think of our own mortality. Now do I think that when my time comes I will have all of the tears and laughter that sweet and sassy Elaine had? Nope, not by a long shot. But is that what I really want?
I have always told my husband that I don’t want a visitation and funeral in the normal way. That is just not me. And secretly over the last few years I have been recording small snippets of video that I would love to be spliced together and played for everyone at my service. But in reality, would all of the people that I have addressed in those videos even attend? Probably not, and that is a shame. I have a lot to say to some people.
And here lies the issue with me and funerals; people do not attend funerals for the deceased, they attend for themselves. And I get it. Sitting there at Sweet Elaine’s funeral, I thought about all of the times I had with her. The laughter and joy that she brought to me and how included and loved that she made me feel even when she didn’t have a good reason to. I didn’t sit there and marvel at her employment record, or shake my head in wonder at how she had served on this or that committee at her church; it was all about me. What had she done for me while she was on this earth.
And yes, I know that visitations and funerals are also about showing the left-behind loved ones how much you support and grieve with them over their loss but there also always seem to be an element of cattiness at funerals as well. What is she doing here? How can he show his face here? It almost seems just another way that we humans take something that we should hold as sacred and bring it down to the lowest level of entertainment there is. In fact, I am quite surprised that there hasn’t been a reality television show just surrounding the ridiculousness that surrounds the drama of funerals.
Funny story, during my wonder years when I was about 8 or 9 years old and it was summer time and we had all of us half and step kids under one roof; my step dick’s mother passed away. Now to give a quick recap of the situation going into the funeral, my step dick and biological mother had gotten together WHILE Tom was still married with 3 kids. Magically they thought this little fact would be forgotten or forgiven because well, it’s a funeral, things are forgiven when someone dies. So here we pull up to the house to partake in the after party food and lo-and-behold things aren’t as forgiven as assumed. Well, a fight soon broke out. And I mean a literal fight. Suddenly, all of us kids, and really not one of us seven kids were over the age of 12, were shooed out the door and told to get back into the car. Oh, and this car, it was a yellow VW bug. I shit you not. So here we all are, seven of us crammed into the back seat of this suitcase of a car. Whispering and whimpering because we could hear the commotion all the way out on the street. There was screaming and the sound of breaking glass. And cussing, man was there cussing! All of a sudden here comes Tom, step dick himself, rushing out the door with my mother and all I can remember from there was the spaghetti on top of his head hanging down over his face. I lost it. I am losing it now just typing this. I couldn’t stop laughing. My older step and half sisters were crying; my younger step brother was sniffling and sucking his thumb and me? I was giggling so bad I think I peed myself a little. What makes me laugh so hard now is that all I can think of is how dramatic an exit my step dad thought he was achieving by us peeling and puttering out of there in our VW bug with all of us kids smashed against the back windows. As clear as a bell right now, I remember thinking that I wanted to go to a funeral every week AND twice on Saturdays.
And again, not one person in that house so many years ago was really thinking about the deceased. It was only about themselves.
So if you are reading this and your are part of my family or friends, hell even co-workers; remember that when I do pass, you don’t have to attend my funeral or wait in line to shake the hands of my sons and husband and tell them how wonderful I was. They know how great I am. Just think of me for a minute or two and how we shared space on this earth. Whether you smile because you remember how much of an idiot I was or you shake your head in disgust because of how much of an idiot I was; either way, you remembered me. And that’s enough.