The Funeral Was Strange


The funeral was strange.

It wasn’t really a funeral. It was a memorial service. And unlike with a death that you know is coming, that you feel prepared for, and have time to plan for in your head and in your heart, this service felt sudden, and odd, and overwhelming, and very wrong. Like a very bad party. Like a nightmare.

Our house was full of people.

I mean, MY house was full of people.

Work people, old friends, new friends, neighbors, friends of neighbors. People who knew me and people who hardly knew me.

We were the storm, my children and I, the hurricane that everyone was talking about and chasing in their cars. We were the red alert that everyone was getting on their phones on a random Tuesday afternoon in July, as they drove home from work or picked up their children from camp or arrived home from vacation. 

Take cover. Seek shelter. Someone you know just killed themselves and left their three babies without saying goodbye.

I remember trying to pick out a dress. I remember understanding that people were going to be looking at me, so many people were going to be looking at me, and I did not want to look like a hurricane. I didn’t want to look like a woman who had been cheating on her husband. I did not want to look like a young widow. I did not want to look like a mom of three who was suddenly worried about feeding her three babies.

I wore a black dress and heels and a tired, sad face.

It was strange to hear people speak about my husband, who had just been alive, but suddenly was dead.

They spoke about him in one way, in one dimension. They said my husband was the goofy guy who was always cracking jokes, and he was a loving dad.

And I stood there, listening.

They said he was a goofy guy, and loved cracking jokes, and he was a loving dad.

And I stood there wanting to scream.

They said he was a goofy guy, and he loved cracking jokes, and he was a very loving dad.

And I stood there with a hurricane inside me, wanting to say "no no no no no no."

Nobody said "I am here to remember my friend, who spent most evenings in the basement while his wife fed their children and bathed them and got them in their pajamas and got them into bed and read to them and sat with them while they fell asleep."

Nobody said "I am here to remember my friend, who gambled his family's money away, despite needing to pay two daycare payments every month and a mortgage and despite the truck he impulsively bought himself a few months ago with his retirement money."

Nobody said "I am here to remember my friend, who ended every night with several shots of alcohol from bottles he was hiding from his wife, and a sleeping pill chaser, and then would tell his wife he was very very tired, and would then fall asleep while she was still getting the children to bed."

Nobody said "I am here to remember my friend, who I knew had tried to kill himself many times before, but who I kept quiet about, and now I am standing here at his funeral, looking at his widow and his three babies who no longer have a dad."

Comments

  1. Talk about it. That's what you wrote on twitter as your raison d'être for this blog. I'm sorry I wasn't there because I always talk about the elephant in the room, even if it makes everyone, including me, extremely uncomfortable. But who knows, maybe I would have been too busy with my own drama to have noticed your husband's slipping away. It sounds like he descended (literally) over a period of time. I'm sorry. You sound like a great mom. It's a thankless job, parenting (I do a lot of it still, but my kids are teenagers now, so it's different, but there's still dinner, laundry, shopping, cleaning, etc.) but it's also our most important work. Thank you, again, for sharing.

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    1. Thank you so much, Mark. The time you are taking to read and care and comment is incredible, and so appreciated. Our friends are good people, and I think if they were able to see this coming in a true sense, they would have spoken out. But I think sometimes people's desire to hope things get better, or are better, overcomes reality, and overcomes a need to speak truth.
      I love parenting. It is a lot, but my kids are incredible. They buoy me, they delight me, and they keep me so darn busy :).
      Thank you so much again for commenting, and for being incredible.

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