Monday brought with it heat and sun, despite it being November. Inside the funeral home it was simultaneously cold and hot. Family arrived an hour early. The parlor was opened and we were led inside. The body was in a casket at the front, clothed in simple, every day clothes. A thermal John Deere shirt. Jeans. A bandanna around the head. He looked good, and it was the first time I'd seen him since February.
The feeling of nothingness pressed on. I stood at the coffin and stared absently. Throughout the evening, many friends and family members showed up to offer condolences. For once, I was the recipient of awkward conversation and empty words. My life was instantly in dichotomy. One part of me was engaging in normal conversation with familiar people; the other part of me was slightly aggravated/annoyed. Still, I'm thankful for all the people that showed up.
A funeral is rarely pleasant, and this one was about as pleasant as a dentist's trip, just worse. I feel for ministers. Having to stand in front of a grieving family and others and make a eulogy has got to be hard, especially for people who die without knowing the Lord. For I believe with all of my heart that if someone does not have Jesus as their Savior then they are doomed to eternal hell. I have no idea the condition of my dad's heart before he died, nor can I begin to fathom how longsuffering God is. I do know that he was saved at a young age, but he lived a life of drugs and rebellion. What does that mean? I have no idea. The only comfort here is that I know that I am saved through Jesus' sacrifice and that I won't have to spend eternity apart from Him.
A dead body is cold. It's something any lover of fiction knows. I've been to many, many funerals, but never once have I touched a corpse (at least not to my knowledge). I hadn't planned on touching this one, either, and I resisted the urge until the final time I saw him. We all stood around the coffin, people crying and sobbing. My typical stoic demeanor dissolved at some point. Compelled beyond reason, I patted his crossed hands. Bone beneath loose skin. Dead muscle. And cold. Unnatural.
We all exited and waited in our vehicles until the coffin was loaded into the hearse. The cemetery was a few miles away. It was sunny and windy. A few final words were spoken and that was that. People scattered, and a few of us went back to Nana's house to eat and be together. While there, I leafed through a dozen photo albums and pulled out baby/kid pictures of me and Jake. I have seen very few pictures of our childhood, as most of them burned up when our house burned down, so this find was wonderful.
Now it's Thursday. I'm back to work again. It's good to be back to routine, but I'm exhausted. It's been a taxing few days, and I suspect I'll be tired for a few more before I balance out. I've got in a little reading time of late, but nothing substantial. I've also edited a flash fic piece and submitted it to an online 'zine. And I discovered a 4 volume, 8 cd set of great music at the library called the Anthology of American Folk Music, compiled by acclaimed folklorist Harry Smith.
I'm amazed at everyone's support. For the most part, I don't know any of you. Still, it's indescribable how loving and supportive the blogosphere is, and I thank every single one of you for the kind words/thoughts/prayers sent my way. Seriously.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.