FUNERALS AND OTHER REMINDERS THAT I AM NOT IN CHARGE

By Lisa Huddleston

Yesterday we all attended the burial and memorial service for my husband’s sweet Uncle George.  The day began with bitter cold and snow (!) in March no less.  Sunday is Easter for goodness sake.  Snow is unacceptable, and I was not happy.  Not about George’s being dead and selfishly reminding me that everyone else is also dying.  Not about being stung by the biting wind and ice.  Not about having to put my tender soul through so much emotion.  But funerals wait for no man—unless you are family and are coming in from a long distance—so there I was (we were).  Bitter but present.

Thank God for my husband.  He is the glue in my life—in my crazy head that fractures over the least thing.  Gorilla glue!  And thank God for my precious daughter and her husband.  And for my life-long family/friend Sandra who always makes me laugh.  And for our parents who are still alive and the aunts and the uncles and the millions (no kidding) of cousins and their babies.  So much life at that graveside and at the rowdy lunch for the family that preceded the service.

But I am a true pessimist.  I always do my best to look for the dark side.  Why waste a great cloud by loading it down with a silver lining?  Gray days are fabulous just as they are.  So I tried to be appropriately gloomy and dark.  I wore a black dress, black tights, black shoes (funky, zippered booties with excruciating heels to make me suffer) and a very long, very sober black overcoat.  Appropriately appalled.  Very funereal.

But that stinking silver lining was just too bright.  Ah, what a wonderful family celebration.  George and his already heaven-dwelling wife, Joyce, just did everything too right not to celebrate!  Their four sons and two sons-in-law led the memorial with perfect originality—proving what great parents they had had.  Parents who loved them into being uniquely who God had knit them to be.  Whew!  Not a dry eye in the room.  It really should have been attended by everyone—family, friends and strangers alike.

I sat listening with silver-lined tears staining my face and my natural pessimism staining my heart.  Did they know how lucky they were?  Very few have families like theirs.  And I know I’m not living nearly as well as they did.  And, oh my gosh, what will my kids say about me?  And what will my sisters and I do or say at our father’s memorial?  And why don’t I invest in peoples’ lives more like George and Joyce did?  And why can’t I even be a little more understanding about the disabilities my own parents and in-laws are facing as they age?  Instead I am royally pissed off at the system around here.  Why do people have to fall apart so disgracefully?  It is shameful to do such rotten things to such strong people.  And how soon will my children be just as angry over my failings?  (Are they already?)  And, God, do you really mean for it to be so stinking awful?

Forget this mess.  I am out of this.  Nope.  Not going to play the game if I can’t even understand the rules.  I like word games.  Not thoughtless games of chance.  Just cremate me and throw me to the wind.  And not in the vegetable garden as my daughter used to fear—no mother-flavored asparagus (I promise).  Some place wild and free, please.  Hang hippie wind art from the trees.  Let the tossing and blowing remind you of my always restless soul and the brevity of breath.  Whew!  I’m a mess when I can’t be in control–which is basically all the time.

Thank God for my husband!  Thank God for God, too.  Whew! And again I say it—whew!

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