My bath’s running so I thought I’d fill a bit of time and type a little. It’s to clear my head really. Tomorrow I have a funeral to go to, as it’s a family funeral I don’t want to write too many details as it’s all rather sensitive and raw at the moment for my in-laws and my husband’s side of the family in particular.
I’ve only ever been to a handful of funerals. When my Uncle died I went along, I think I was about 25 at the time. The next one was my friend’s funeral, he was the same age as me at the time, approximately 35. When I was at college I went to my friend’s funeral, he was 21 I think. All of these deaths were premature really, they died before their time and there was a lot of bitterness at the unfairness of it all. I know I go on about karma and hippy rubbish like that occasionally, but it really doesn’t apply all the time does it. Some people just deserve more time, and to see it stolen from them is heartbreaking. Life is inherently unfair, but I guess nobody promised us that it would be anything else.
At my friend’s funeral I remember sitting there listening to some random vicar struggling to come up with something vaguely uplifting and reassuring about heaven, when all I could think about was that he was only 35 and had died horribly and unnecessarily from cancer (a doctor had failed to diagnose a malignant tumour for months). I’ll admit I burnt with a quiet rage at the universe.
The thing I remember most about that funeral was that as the vicar stumbled through his words, and clumsily made references to a person he’d obviously not known – in my mind’s eye I saw Dave (I’m not putting his real name on here) sat at the side of the steps on the altar, watching everything going on. I imagined him heckling the vicar and generally being his usual cocky self – not in an unfriendly way, he just used to take the piss out of everything. It’s just everything was so sombre, so serious, so tragic, so utterly terrible – and yet Dave never considered his fate like that. Right up to the end, even though he gradually slipped into such an awful state, he always refused to plan his funeral because he said he was not going to die. He was a determined so and so right up to the very end. That was why the funeral was so thrown together I was told, Dave just had not accepted that he was going to leave the party early.
The song played at the funeral for Dave was chosen by one of his best friends and it caught the spirit of the man perfectly. I can’t listen to ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy!’ by Bob Marley without remembering him now. He really would have said just that, and although he had a short life, it was a very happy one until the cancer caught up with him – and even then he was surrounded by a loving family and friends who thought the world of him and vice versa.
It’s hard to say where I’m going with this because I’m really writing for therapeutic reasons. I’m going to make a clumsy allegory now, but bear with me. I once read that we’re all like books, all people ever see are the covers and how we present ourselves to the world. The only people who know the contents are those that have read the pages and truly know the person inside and out. It’s just a shame that the allegory works perfectly, in that in that every book has a beginning, an end and a final page. For those of us that have known these people, and know the plot twists and turns and dramas that make up someone’s life, it is absolutely heartbreaking to see the story end and to watch the book close.
You could even say that every gravestone is a closed book, so much leads up to that final page and that solid, silent piece of stone bearing the words R.I.P. I guess all I’m saying is that if you’re reading this, you’re still writing your own story; and that we owe it to ourselves and to those that have gone before and will come after us – to make it worth reading.