Prompt Day #251: Dramatize your own funeral (and/or wake) from the viewpoint of the person in attendance most likely to be bored by it all.
There may be some who read this and recognize the man I used as a model for the point of view character. This exercise was difficult. Think about it for yourself; who would come to your funeral but with little interest? Who do you know like that? There was one person I could imagine in this situation although I doubt in reality, he would go out of his way to attend my funeral. If he did though…this is what I think would be going through his mind.
The Death of Self
Entering the funeral home, he sighs. It can be so exhausting constantly putting on a show of professionalism; so many expectations for behavior. He looks to the constellation of floral arrangements surrounding a slightly imperfect ceramic vessel glazed in blues and greens. No coffin, no body to view, nothing to hold his interest through the next hour. What happened to the idea of closure he wonders and then realizes that he truly doesn’t care, he just wanted to satisfy his morbid curiosity.
He knew her when she was training. She wasn’t anything extraordinary but he’d found her interesting. They worked together for some time later on and there were days he really liked her, enjoyed her humor, and laughed along with her jokes. But in the end, she was no different than anyone else. She had her own darkness just like he did but when she exited his daily cast of extras, he’d forgotten about her. Now she is dead, too young and unexpected, and those deaths bring in the crowds just like winning the lottery.
He sees many familiar faces, and wonders if this were his own funeral would these same people show up? Would they feel about him the way he feels now? Bored, frustrated at the lack of something to stare at while some stranger eulogizes her. The last time he’d seen her, she’d lost so much weight there were rumors she was sick, but there were rumors she’d had bariatric surgery too so when, eventually the weight loss stopped, he concluded the latter. Now, they say she was sick–cancer and when she died, she was no more than skin and bones. He tries to imagine her that way but cannot and it makes him feel as if he’s been cheated. He’d been fooled into coming here; an unspoken offer to view the savages of mortality and instead is offered thick air filled with cloying perfume and a handmade vessel filled with ash.
He walks around, weaving in and out of small groups smiling hellos when necessary. He is eavesdropping inadvertently at first but now more purposefully. All her secrets spilling out in some effort of comfort to the living. As if those things she kept to herself were the very sins that brought about her death, as if exposing her weaknesses and judging her would protect them from the same fate. He chooses not to speak and instead slowly weaves his way towards her husband and children to pay his respects as is expected in this sort of thing.
Her children appear as distraught as he expected. She spoke of them often and with such love and pride. He would like to avoid their tears; he isn’t good with that. He is mostly interested in her husband anyways. He stands with a hand on his daughter’s back and the other on his son’s shoulder. The proper body language of the strong widower. But it is the stoicism in his eyes that is most interesting. He shakes the man’s hand and offers the customary condolences. In her husband’s countenance, he sees a reflection of himself; their emotional distance used both offensively and defensively as a survival mechanism. Before taking his seat he touches the cool ceramic urn that he now knows her daughter constructed for her. He says nothing to her spirit and thinks nothing of her absence; each movement carefully scripted to appear as if he, too is one of the living.
He sits and as the funeral begins he does consider her one last time. She is the lucky one; she no longer has to pretend.