Ernest Hemingway:

As Ernest Hemingway once said...
'All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.'

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

thoughts on funerals

On my way to Target for supplies during lunch, I passed a funeral procession on 170. Extremely depressing. I've been to enough funerals to have a good memory of what it's like to be in the procession. Going to funerals, for me, just seemed like another ugly part of life until I had to attend one where the death was completely and totally unexpected. It's one thing when an elderly person goes, but quite another when it's a young person. I guess the cause really doesn't matter when it's unexpected.

I've had two young friends die (non-relatives). One was killed by a drunk driver, but I was living in Texas at the time, and couldn't afford to fly home for the funeral - we were living on the gov't dole (good ol' AmeriCorps). The other, as many of you know, took her own life. It was a pretty awful funeral. I cried A LOT (I'm a crier anyway, but this was excessive). It's hard not to, imagining how her family must have felt.

The worst part though was finding out. My best friend Hammertime (the three of us were roommates in college) called me the night afterwards, saying she had gotten a message from Steph's brother on her cell asking her to call him about Steph. She's not exactly friends with the brother, so she knew something was up. She called me first to find out if I knew anything. The minute the words came out of her mouth about the phone call I knew she had killed herself. I waited while she called the brother, hoping for the best, but knowing in my heart what had happened. She called, and told me the news, and the first words out of my mouth were 'I knew it.' Probably not the best reaction, but I've never been too good with emotions. I hadn't talked to her in probably two years, yet I still knew it. I'm sure it probably has more to do with who she was as a person more than any sort of psychic ability. Still pretty creepy.

I have a tendency to internalize my feelings a lot, so the news really didn't hit me until the next day, driving home from work. I mean I had cried a little, but not much. It was more of a shock than anything. My sister Moo called to say she was sorry about the news, and I lost it. It was at the intersection of Oakland and Hampton - I remember it perfectly. So strange. Then, of course, the funeral drove it home, and the waterworks opened up. It's so odd how, though we hadn't talked for two years, it affected me so much. We were friends throughout high school, then best friends in college - all four years. I knew her so well. When friends saw us alone on campus, they always asked where the other two were. We were inseparable. Now every time I reminisce about college with Hammertime (we really had some good times, the three of us) there will be that shadow over everything. I won't be able to truly laugh and appreciate the good times knowing Steph isn't here anymore. More than anything though, it's the guilt that haunts me. The 'if onlys'.

Listening to Pale Divine over the weekend brought back all sorts of Steph memories, as she was the one who introduced me to them. With a 5 1/2 hour drive, there was plenty of time to think about her, which I do a lot of anyway. All I can say is that I hope none of my faithful readers ever has to attend the funeral of a friend who has taken her own life.

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