Saturday, January 9, 2021

10 Years Ago....

I entered the funeral home, and the director greeted me as if he knew I didn’t belong there. His graying hand shook my energetic one, and our eyes met. Two more opposite people had never stood so close before. He motioned—at the speed of molasses—silently denoting the morbid conveyor belt of people who waited to see the corpse of my highschool friend. 

His young bride cried so loud that people in other states heard her. And who could blame her; he was a great guy...really. In fact, we hadn’t talked since junior year. I was his wingwoman as we dragged Main in a souped-up Mustang. Years...yet here a stood, behind this army of people, wanting to say goodbye in case his spirit haunted the room.

After infinity, it was finally my turn, and I childishly peeked into the casket. There he rested at 27. He’d never smoked, but lung cancer didn’t care. I whispered, “You were one of the good ones.”
His wife looked at me oddly. 

“High school friend,” I said. “I was like one of the dudes.” And I realized she wasn’t a person who said ‘dudes’ or spoke to people who did. “Well...sorry for your loss.”

I didn’t belong there and I knew it. So I walked back to the door. I wondered what brought everyone else to see his body: love, respect, curiosity, a chance to face their own mortality?

A man stopped me on the way out. “Makes you appreciate every moment.”

“Sure does,” I said. And I wondered if he knew my friend or if he was one of those funeral crashers who goes just to keep his gratitude in check.


Anyway, today (over ten years later) I remembered all of this, but as I got to the casket, instead of my friend, I saw MYSELF there—all plastic and stiff-faced, stuck in that stuffy box, hands crossed oddly, face painted with bright makeup I’d never really wear....

I tried to shake myself from these thoughts, but they were overpowering—so terrifying I could hardly breathe. It was a real panic attack, that’s for sure. Mike held me when he saw that I’d started crying. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”

His touch is so magical that I swear he could tame a wild animal—that’s why I married him. Anyway, my heart FINALLY slowed back down. And he read a couple chapters of a book to me—a book about gratitude.

I know I need to be positive, but today was hard. There’s a tumor in my hip and it appears to be growing. The doc said the treatments still need more time to shrink things. (I’ve had a handful of radiation treatments as well as immunotherapy two times. It’s just a waiting game...

So, I need to get my mind off of things—and do something nice for someone else. I might go play my violin at a nursing home tomorrow. I’ll have to sit—and I won’t be able to play long, but at least I’ll get to do something that always heals my mind no matter how scared I get. 

I don’t want to dwell on the past, or worry about the future, when I should be appreciating every second I have. 

My poor friend.... I still wonder what he thinks of Heaven.

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