There Should Have Come A Cold Funeral

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 13.266% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

There should have been a cold funeral that day.  Umbrellas.  Mourners.  A coffin.
And Rebecca, come back from whatever town she was working in now.  She should have been in her early thirties, having left the confusion of her twenties behind, having finally steered herself into a career that made her happy, the chaos of her early-twenties love life subsided as she found more stable forms of happiness.  (Her love life would have been supremely chaotic; this, I am assured off.)
That funeral should have been an inconvenience for her.  They rarely come at good times.  I imagine her wrangling a day off, maybe asking Mom and Dad for some help with the airline fees, flying home to Cleveland on some red-eye filled with memories and finding people to cover for her.
And I imagine her at my funeral.
I imagine how she would have thought of me.  I don’t think we would have been close, at least not closer than the friends and drinking buddies she would have acquired in college; I’d be that old guy with the weird hats and the terrible puns, a comforting mainstay at Christmas and Thanksgiving and all the other visits back home, not so much a friend as just someone who’d always been in her life.  Whenever we met we’d share a beer and I’d ask her how things were going, and we’d make small talk about how grown she was, and I’d probably make some hideous comment that would embarrass her.
Yet Uncle Ferrett would be dead.
I imagine her at my grave, trying to think of our history together.  It would be sadness, grief, but more than that it would feel like the closing of a chapter to her; here was a man who was there at her home at least twice a month, a fixture of the family, that goofy guy who went out of his way to humiliate her as a teen when she had a sad excess of dignity, and cheered her on harder than anyone else outside her “official” relatives.  And she had moved on from me, feeling a little guilty about that – but she’d gotten entangled in her own life, hadn’t she?  Wasn’t that what you did when you get older?  And Uncle Ferrett seemed to do fine by himself, had always seemed satisfied with whatever attention she’d chosen to give, and now his heart had finally given out.
And she would feel, strangely, more like an adult at my passing.  Someone who had comforted her as a teen would be gone, another peg knocked out from under her; not that she had leaned on me in decades, of course, but somehow she’d always felt like she could, if the emergency came.  And now the world for her was a little less protected, and she would have to stand a little taller, because Uncle Ferrett – that bastion of her childhood – was gone.
I see her saying goodbye – not just to me, but to that chapter of her life.  I see her squaring her shoulders, recognizing that the world will be a little colder from now on.  I see her turning away from me, under the umbrella, someone she loved holding her shoulders, and it fades to black.  As it should.  I’m not there any longer.
That’s how it should have gone.
That’s how it should have gone.
Yet here I am, listening to the “Annie” soundtrack while I work, and suddenly I wonder what Rebecca would have thought of it – this mop-topped girl who looks so much like her singing her heart out, winning the affection of everyone around her.  She would have seen it.
What would she have thought?
It probably wouldn’t have had much of an impact on her.  But it might have.  She might have taken to singing Hard-Knock Life for us.  Or she might have shrugged and said “That’s lame!” and moved on; she always had a way of confounding expectations.
Yet I want to know.
And all I can think of today is the first thing she said after the doctors came in with that final diagnosis, the one where they told her the tumors were back and that she would have to go back to CHOP for chemotherapy, and she turned to me as sunny as anything to ask, “Will Uncle Ferrett be with me?”
She expected that I would always be with her.  She never questioned that I would not be by her side.
And I was.  I was there until the final moments of her life and after, holding her leg and weeping.
But it shouldn’t have been that way.
There should have been a cold funeral where she and I parted ways, and I should have been in that coffin, and some days I don’t understand the way anything works any more.

1 Comment

  1. Gretchen
    Dec 24, 2014

    Few things move me to actual tears.
    This did.
    I don’t have anything more than that.

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