The funeral was held exactly one week after he died. It was private, just family. I’m glad it was done separately from the memorial. Having that casket in the room was too much to handle.
Despite my dislike of open caskets, I wanted a chance to see him for one last time. I think I needed that proof he was gone. With a long hospital stay I got used to coming home alone; all week, despite planning the funeral and phone calls and emails from people, there was a part of me that kept expecting him to show up. It all seemed unreal until I walked into the room and saw him. I actually never made it all the way in; I just saw his head up on the pillow and ran out. It was clear from across the room that this was not he, but a corpse.
I’m not religious or even that spiritual, but there is clearly some spark or element or soul or whatever you want to call it that makes a body into a human being. When he died last week, I knew the exact minute when that happened, and he did not look the same after. The Klingons have it right; it’s just a body after the spirit leaves.
That was the first really hard moment of the funeral. There were others. The funeral lived up to the classic cliché; despite a drought and record heat all summer, it was pouring rain and cold as we went to the cemetery.
The hardest part, for me, was later. Everyone went out to dinner. As we sat at the table, talking, laughing, going back and forth between the 14 people representing his family and mine, I thought about how much he loves these kinds of family events. When we had my parents over to dinner, he’d always refer to it as a “party” and I’d tease him about being an old fart to think dinner with octogenarians was a party. I realized how much he would have enjoyed this large, noisy event and what a great time he would have had working the table, going up and down to talk with everyone. That was the moment when it really, truly hit me that his death was the reason for the party, and that he wouldn’t be there. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.