It started with my step-daughter telling me, “Ohh, there’s a hot man” as I walk into the kitchen. This response is directly related to the fact that I’m wearing a white button down shirt with a black tie and black dress pants. She has never seen me wear a tie.
The reason for the outfit is a funeral I’m attending. It is a family thing. I didn’t know the deceased and had never met him. It makes no difference. The extended family comes together and becomes the singular unit needed for support. I understand this clearly. I just don’t like funerals.
The family meets in the pews. The church is a stereotypical small-town Catholic church. Giant cross. Stained-glass windows. The Passion on the walls. “I used to be Catholic…” I think to myself. The Mass is long with plenty of songs and plenty of sitting, standing and kneeling. I remember the rote responses and when the bells should ring. I know when the Priest will sing, “The Mystery of Faith.” Four years as an altar boy and this is all I can show for it.
Faith is an important factor in many of the lives of my extended family. I’m glad they have their faith, their religion, their grasp at understanding the unknown. I don’t have any of it and what little religion I may have had at one time has flittered into the wind lost forever. I don’t have faith. I don’t have any comfort in an “afterlife” that makes death less final than what I truly understand it to be.
I’m not envious. I’m also not jealous of their strong beliefs. If religion gives comfort, then let that comfort wrap them like a warm blanket. My comfort is my loved ones. Family means more to me than any kind of spirtual connection and I happily participate in the extended family coming together knowing my presence and the rest of the family’s presence is longed for and appreciated. The rest is just pageantry.
I get back to work, still in my shirt and tie. I get a couple of comments about looking “dapper” and questioning looks at my dress. I smile and explain with one word, “funeral.” Everyone’s demenor changes. They regret the jest or the inquiry. They look for “I’m sorry” and “my condolences” and some find the words and say them. I hate funerals.
I wish my loved ones to celebrate my life. Play my favorite music. Watch my favorite movies. Drink my favorite drinks. I want friends and family to give speeches telling everyone what I meant to them. Who wants a dour and depressing day? Ice cream and Porterhouses for everyone.