In seventh grade, I was in a girls ensemble. We performed at school functions, pep rallies and recitals. Once, we sang at a funeral. A boy a grade younger than me had committed suicide. We sang “Seasons of Love” at the service. That was the first funeral I attended.
In October of 2009, Mike passed away. I didn’t know Mike very well. He was the coworker of my ex-boyfriend. Before my ex-boyfriend became an ex, we had all taken a trip together white water rafting, playing cards and the Wii. A weekend seems like nothing when friendships are built upon years, but it was enough for me to know him and feel the loss of his departure. I really liked Mike; we all did. It was only a weekend but he was hard to not love.
I was living in SD at the time. I drove up to LA for the funeral and spent the night at a friend’s. I remember driving through the vast open fields of the cemetery and thinking to myself that it was a lovely and peaceful place. The service consisted mostly of eulogies given by Mike’s close friends. I was grateful for their stories; I learned more about Mike. Everything I heard confirmed what I already knew: he was hard to not love.
Andy and I knew each other from high school. We were in the same social circle and he lived less than five minutes away from me. He was the best gift giver, we all knew that to be true. He was probably the most considerate person I know, ever so kind and patient. If I could just give him one more hug and see him smile again…
I flew down to SD for the funeral. I sat in the back and felt strangely removed throughout the entire service. I listened to each eulogy critically, annoyed at the length of the pastor’s sermon and surprised by the choice in songs. It was almost like sitting in lecture. It all felt so impersonal, until the pallbearers were called upon to lift the casket. I sat in the back of the church, completely unaware of the existence of the casket until that moment. Upon seeing the pallbearers walk to the casket, I began to whisper “oh my god” again and again, vaguely aware that my voice was louder than it needed to be. It hit me then. Seeing the casket made everything real. It had a definitive finality to it. This was it. I would never see Andy again. I lost it then. My whole body shaking with each sob.
No pastors at my funeral please, though it would be nice to have someone speak about my spiritual side, I think David would be the man for this job. I would like to be cremated and have my ashes scattered at a place I love. I would like my loved ones to not see my dead body, because after I take that last breath, that hollow body is no longer me, just an empty shell.
Andy was not there inside the casket. After he took his last breath, that body is nothing more than skin and bones. He lives in our hearts.