It’s not every day in the First World that you wake up knowing for certain that you’re going to see a dead body. And I was thinking about that, last Friday, in the shower. While I got ready for your mother’s funeral.
I know we joked about it, made light of the situation, maybe even more than most would. It’s just that she wasn’t that type of lady, you know? Not the type for us to go into hysterics over, not a warm and compassionate person. And I didn’t know her as much more than just…your mom.
But you loved her. You love her so much, of course you do. And I should have known that. I should have said something better.
Instead I said I was really sorry, and you said “Thank you.” And you said “It’s okay.”
Anyways, I didn’t even get a good look at the body, so busy was I trying to find a place to warm up, but it’s probably for the best. See, I don’t believe in embalming. I prefer my deceased to look, well, dead. Gone, expired. But you don’t know that, because that’s not the type of thing you say to a 26-year-old planning her only parent’s funeral. You just say “Of course I’ll come, of course I’ll play the violin.” And try not to cry when you see the oldest sister’s broken, wet face.
I should have said something, when I got up to play, but instead I made some comment about…wearing heels, was it? Some silly little thing. Then, later, I thought of all the things I could have said. And what I wanted to say was:
“I didn’t know Linda very well, I only knew her as my best friend’s mom, and to tell the truth I was always a little scared of her. I think we all were. But really I was scared of most people’s parents, because they saw me as a bad influence. And I don’t think Linda ever saw me that way. She always welcomed me without much fuss, if I wanted to stay for dinner, or if I wanted to have a sleepover. I never felt out of place in her home. I’m sorry that life was so hard for Linda, especially these last few painful years, and I know that now she’s not in any pain. I dedicate this song to her.”
But I didn’t say that. I just played my violin, and nobody clapped at the end, because I guess that’s how it’s done at a funeral.
And you said so much, and so well. You made everyone laugh, and you made me bawl silently, and you told stories that I never heard, and you gave so much life and depth to your mother with your honest words. It was a side of you I’d never seen before, and all I could think of was how amazing you are, and how strong, and how lucky I am to have you as a friend.
You know, when I came back from Spain, I was plagued with anxiety and regret. I thought I’d made the wrong choice, yet again, and I almost couldn’t live with it. I kept searching for a sign, a reason that would justify my decision, where I could look and point and say “See? There. That’s why I had to come back. It was meant to happen this way.”
But instead I grew, and grew up, and I don’t think like that anymore. I don’t think that things happen for a reason, that they’re meant to be one way or another. I just try to do my best, to accept the decisions I make and deal with the way things are.
So I can’t comfort you the way the others did, can’t tell you that your mother is in heaven, because I don’t believe that. I have no Celestial Kingdom to offer you, no promises, no answers. I do not think that I was meant to come home from Spain so that I could be there for your mother’s funeral.
But for the first time since coming home, I’m glad I did.