Today, I went to a funeral by myself.
With no tissue.
Bad move. Very bad move.
As I write this, I have one of those headaches that are specifically created by crying. My whole head aches, my face aches, my eyebrows ache. And I ache for the pain of the family who lost a dear man. A husband to a woman of 48 years. A loving father to two children. A kind grandfather to four grandsons and a beautiful granddaughter.
I’ve never been to a funeral by myself. As I drove there, I was thinking that I am perhaps now a grown-up, because grown-ups are people who go to funerals by themselves. But I’m also an idiot for going to a funeral without a single tissue.
I didn’t think I’d cry. I barely knew him. In fact, I didn’t know him. I was in the same room with him once, maybe twice. Maybe he smiled at me. Maybe he said hello. Maybe I wish I would have had a conversation with him.
Today, I learned about him. And I mourned the loss of his family. And I felt sad.
I thought about what it would be like to be his wife. His wife of 48 years. The mother of his two children. What it must be like for her to have to sleep in a bed now, for the rest of her life, with no warm familiar body next to hers.
What would that be like to have to live out the rest of your life without the one person you most loved, depended on, spent the most time with, laughed with, experienced the births of your children, your grandchildren… to not have that any longer?
How does one go on?
I thought of the casket, and what it would be like if my own father was inside. How I would feel. Would I want to touch the wood, knock on it, ask, “Daddy, are you okay in there?” How would it be to finally leave that casket at the cemetery, to know it was going deep into the ground, and to have to leave it, leave my father out there. Alone.
I can look out my window and see my friend’s home. I see her children every day. I see her get into her car, take her kids to school, walk their cute puppy. I see when they have visitors, when they take the trash in, when they get the mail. I see her laugh with other neighbors, I see the kindness in her actions. Every day.
I can’t stop thinking about how different her life is going to be now. Now that her daddy is no longer on this earth. And it makes me sad. And I want to make things better for her. And there’s really nothing I can do. What words can help someone who’s lost someone that close to them? What words will make his wife feel less sad, less alone, less angry? That they’ll be together again someday? That earth is just a small blip on the screen of the grand plan? That there’s an explanation to all of this, but we are not yet privileged to know what that plan is?
I guess someday, we will know the meaning of it all. And it will seem so obvious, so wonderfully obvious, we’ll ask, “How could we not have known?”