Shock: a blanket that protects you from what’s right in front of you that you can’t face.
I woke up early, at 8.am I made a pot of tea, then I put on the bacon. I toasted the bread. 5 people, 10 slices of bread, 1 whole pack of bacon, defrost the other in the microwave. Cook the whole thing; might as well. In for a penny, in for a pound.
We waited for the “limo”, which is what they call the hearse for the living that follows the dead. We got in, shrouded in a nightmare. I said “I wish I’d bought my sick bag”. My sister suggested I change seat. I said “It’s not from the motion”.
The hearse was supposed to stop at a local pub, where the other cars would join the convoy. Why is it going past? Hey, stop! The others need to join.
We drove in semi silence, crying intermittently.
We arrived. The funeral director advised us to stay in the car, as it would be easier to go straight from the car to follow the coffin. I saw my friends hanging around the car park. My uncle commented on my male friend’s luscious locks. My dad offered to carry Mum’s coffin. She was the most independent person I had ever known.
We got out. I avoided eye contact with my friends. We fell in line with the coffin. As we entered the crem, I felt like when you are on a roller coaster, at the zenith, looking down. A great big “Fuck!” escaped from my mouth, blasphemy trying to kill my pain.
Standing at the front, I was rocked in wave after wave of pain. There was my mum, in that wooden box. The vicar spoke beautifully, something about believers getting to live forever. Mum wasn’t big on Christianity but she would have been happy with something so formal. I wished I was religious so that I could believe in paradise and seeing her again.
We stood. People sang. We sat. He spoke. We stood. People sang. We sat. I couldn’t sing because it was taking all my energy to stand at the appropriate times. I followed the words in the order of service instead. I hummed a bit. They said the Lord’s prayer. I looked outside, at the trees, because for me God is in nature. Amen.
The service, beautiful, formal, without a hitch, every second a living torture, ended. We went to the front. I kissed my hand, and touched the side of the coffin. “Goodbye Mum”. It was too much, I left first.
All in a line, thanking the people for coming. Familiar faces, less familiar faces. My friends were at the end. “How are you?” they said. I just cried.