Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Musings from a funeral

I'll be fine.

I'm going to show respect for an old family friend, but I have no real emotional ties. She and my mother were good friends once; her son and my brother best friends at school. But time painlessly pulls people apart, and nostalgia is not the same as heartbreak.

I feel an imposter, that I lack the proper credentials to present myself as a mourner. I recognise almost no-one. I am awkward. I am wearing red shoes, and I feel inappropriate, trashy. My cleavage surges brazenly from my dress.

The cortege starts to make its way to the chapel. The slow pace annoys me. Surely we can be respectful without dawdling.

Chipper Funeral Directors so poorly named. Sombre Funeral Directors much more suitable.

God, the song playing in the chapel sounds like chirpy elevator music.

I'm going to hell, surely. Why can't I just think solemn thoughts?

And we're down to business.

The first speaker - is MC the right term at a funeral? - a family friend, gives a speech in memory of Denise. It is heartfelt, but he is not a great public speaker, he stumbles reading his lines often. I wish I didn't notice these things, but I've worked giving tours and presentations, I can't help it.

The son comes up to give his mother's eulogy. He is devastated. My cool distance begins to crumble. I sniffle. It is almost a relief to have human reactions.

The daughter's strength is amazing. Her happy memories make people smile and laugh. Among her recollections is that her mum always had a pair of red shoes. My shoes just became a tribute, and I'm glad.

Denise's husband speaks. He remembers his love of 37 years. He only crumbles at the end.
I realise that while I have no real grief for the deceased, the pain of others is heartbreaking. I want to cling to my mother and order her to never die.

My brother's face is sad and drawn. My big, cynical brother is deeply moved.

A slideshow of photos is shown, You Are So Beautiful plays.

We are invited to place a sprig of rosemary on the coffin, for remembrance. The song playing now is twee and irritating, it repeats as the mourners come forward. I resolve to plan my funeral music in advance.

And afterwards, I think that if you're not sure how to live your life, try to consider what people might say about you at your funeral. Make meaningful connections, be passionate about what you do. Love, and be loved. Be remembered.

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