Death sucks. There is just no way around that. But you know what else sucks? Funerals. And that is something we can do something about.
Funerals are bland and weird out of body experiences where no one knows what to do with their hands. It is a fact that I almost pulled my own fingers off during calling hours last night. I looked down at my hands to find the right one attempting to kill the left one. I was awkward and socially inept. It's true. At one point someone was speaking to me and I stared off like a trauma patient into the wallpaper. You know, the wallpaper that is in every funeral home? It's hypnotizing. Anyway, when I realized I had left the conversation, I felt like an asshole and spent the next few minutes trying to explain that I wasn't myself. And on about twenty seven different occassions I said things that made no sense to people I didn't know. They probably thought I was on drugs. Again, not myself. And, duh. None of us were. Our friend just died. Every one of us was a bit far away.
There is just something totally unnerving about calling hours and funeral homes. And it's beyond the obvious :there are dead people in them: reason. It's stifling and too quiet. I've been to many many funerals and they are all the same. They smell the same. They feel the same. There are the exact same dudes in nice suits quietly showing you how to find the restroom. The same flower arrangements and poster boards with pictures of the dead. It's all so...the same. Quietly the same. Don't get me wrong, I know a lot of people are comforted by knowing the ritual and what to expect. But I'm not. It makes me uncomfortable and twitchy.
Last night started with the ritual of calling hours. We walked in the door to find the guy that greets you in that quiet and calm voice. We round the corner to find the poster boards of pictures, the guest book and video slideshow. Making a turn into the room, we fall into the arms of friends and cry for our friend who is gone. Moving into the viewing room, it occurs to me that even though the ritual is playing itself out, it's ok. And it's ok, because I am standing in front of my dear friend's ashes, forever encased in a giant yellow happy faced Lego case. Brilliant.