I have been starting out a lot of paragraphs and blogs with ,”when someone dies” and this paragraph, in this blog, will be no different. Sorry folks but my dad is dead and this is how I deal with it. You definitely don’t have to read it, there are countless other nameless bloggers like me out there waiting for your ready mind, So…..
…When someone dies, Everything is changed and I do mean EVERYTHING. For starters, there’s the shock of it. You lose it. In my case I bellowed. I am not sure I knew what a bellow sounded like until I heard it resonate from my own mouth. I had no idea my mouth could make noises like that. I am sure my downstairs neighbor thought I was having a nervous breakdown but hey that’s death. Try it. See what you do. We went to my folks home as soon as we could. I remember pulling around the corner from their house and my husband saying, “Maggie, do you need to take a moment? Your Dad’s body will be there still, are you prepared for that?” My dad’s body…. Every time I go visit my mom now, there’s not a moment when I am coming around that bend that I don’t think of that night and that specific moment. Seeing Dad, there, it was a last chance to tell his physical body how much we loved him. What made dad who he was had left that night , Clearly, this was just a shell, the proof of our decomposing bodies beginning to be evident on his.
Now, this is where my family’s strange comes out. My dad spoke often about things he would like at his funeral and this changed from one year to the next, but he said he wanted a clown nose to wear at his funeral so people would laugh. Just before he died, he decided he would like to be cremated. He died so suddenly that we didn’t have a chance to ask, “But dad, what about the clown nose?” As if that was the most important thing ever. And of course it was, because it was one of the only things we KNEW dad wanted. So at the visitation, which was just us kids and mom, we brought Dad a clown nose and we put it on him. Then, we left the room ( I’m pretty sure my mom second guessed this part).
I can only imagine what the folks at the funeral home must have thought. I can hear them discussing it, “Say Tom, maybe he was a clown?” Then Tom in an angry voice, “No, they had no respect for the dead, this poor old man, ungrateful asses! ” I often wonder what happened to the nose, did they cremate him with it on or did it get thrown away? Or perhaps saved in some sort of box labeled “things left behind”, a sort of memory box for the undertakers to pull out on slow days and talk and laugh about. Who knows.
After the visitation, everything greets you like a bright summer sun on the morning of your worst hangover. In fact, you do feel hung-over, come to think of it. Your grief has now made you physically ill. On top of this you must contend with the people who love you and say the most beautiful things, so beautiful, in fact, that it pisses you off. But people want to help even if it’s a seemingly helpless situation and even if it’s something as simple as saying ‘I’m here”. Even though I’m going through my own grief, others around me are trying to figure out how to help that and just as I feel helpless , so do they in their desire to help.
And so present becomes past when someone dies. It’s like it was put on hyper-speed, and Grammar just said “Screw you!” Suddenly you find yourself using words like ‘was’ in place of ‘is’. Your verbs get all jangled up, and if that’s not bad enough you are constantly having to stop yourself mid sentence to correct your grammar, “I’m sorry, I mean my dad liked chocolate pie.” It becomes awkward a moment and you think, do I tell them he’s dead? Or would that be weird? Shit it’s already weird, it can’t get weirder, right? So, you blurt out, “He’s dead now.”
Aaaaand you were wrong, it just got a little bit weirder.