Not Gonna and You Can’t Make Me

I wrote the post below almost two month ago and like I already explained, I tucked it away in that folder marked draft, not yet ready to hit the publish button. Tonight it is okay to hit that button though for some weird reason. Probably because I think I just read the funniest thing ever in print. A good dead husband laugh is apparently what I needed. The web allows us to remind ourselves that no matter what our journey, we are not alone. The web erases the vast seas between us geographically and brings us this gem from Wife After Death (the whole post can be found here.)

“The prospect of interring your spouse is a bit like being asked to sleep with Prince Charles. In a way, it should be a great honour, but you’d give anything not to have to do it.”

Had I had these words on the day of Dave’s funeral I would have evoked them. Now they are a just a great way to start this post… here is what I wrote:

Did I tell you about the time that I decided not to go to my husbands funeral? No – sit a spell it was a pretty spectacular.

Funerals suck. Don’t tell me that this one time you went to a truly great funeral, because you didn’t. Someone died and that is never a good time. Now – you may have gone to a funeral that was pretty good – for a funeral, but it wasn’t a good time. Stop, I know that one celebration of life was beautiful and the doves, and the singing. Oh lord the singing was amazing – and the poems! Never heard more fitting poems, psalms, stories told. I  know it was so nice it was to see great Aunt Ida (and it may have been, as funerals often become impromtu family reunions). You’re going to tell me it was nice day because there was  laughter, there often is, still that doesn’t make it a good time. You forgot to tell me how great George looked – for a dead guy. I got it, for a dead guy he looked freaking great, almost not dead at all.

Funerals are for the living, and that is fine. I understand the need for the grieved to come together to be part of the shared emotion, to have an outlet for their pain, to support the people left behind. That is just not my sort of deal. I hate funerals, not because I am afraid of dying or for me quite possibly worse – crying in public. It is that the few funerals I have gone to are burned into my mind and not what I want to recall first about the person who passed, and yet it almost always is. Rememeber the mantra here is: that Dave is more than the day or way he died. He is more than the funeral too.

Unfortunately for one of my closest friends and her husband – their job was to collect me and deliver me to the funeral; while everyone else on the planet was doing whatever else needed to be done. About 3:00 am I decided – I did not need to go.  I certainly didn’t need to do any more grieving, crying, or screaming. I truly didn’t have the strength to care for anyone else who was grieving, crying, or screaming – appalled? Well it was the truth. Hell is still is the truth. I had printed what I was going to say – give that to another bestie, she could and would do it. Just like that all of the bases covered.

I got up, unlocked the door – no need to have the husband kick it in and went back to bed. I feel the need to be clear here. This was not some crazy crying jag decision. I had been sitting up in bed, pillows propped up, and I ran through the reasons I did – or more importantly didn’t need to be there. I checked off the todo list and knew who would cover what. I made the conscious decision to engage in self care and there wasn’t anything that pointed to going would be good for me. I got up put on my robe, walked to the door unlocked it, and went back to bed.

I couldn’t even tell you when they got there but I was in bed with Sabina (the dog). We were quite content. I have amazing sheets, we were snuggled in for the long haul. I don’t think they were shocked that I was in bed, but probably not ready for the … and I am not going part. So they said we were all going but we didn’t have to leave just then – we probably did but I am guessing they wouldn’t start the party with out me – and they took the only option they had. They climbed in bed with me. We layed there for a very long time. We talked, we cried. We snuggled with the now jealous Sabina, who had to get on top of all of us. Still not convinced I needed to go I reluctantly got up.

There was a quick discussion that a shower was needed. I should say I wasn’t part of that discussion but a shower was done none the less. Have you ever heard the old Bill Cosby record, my dad used to play it all the time, where he talks about kids taking showers and you have to say – get under the water, use soap, put the soap on your body, rinse off blah blah. Well that was pretty much the scene. There was hair to be dryied and styled and make up to be put on. That was a hoot. I totally started cracking up because I couldn’t help but thinking about the scene from the movie My Girl which takes place at a funeral home. Seriously.

If you haven’t seen it – do. It is cute and sad movie. Not to give too much up, but Jamie Lee Curtis is a make-up artist and while teaching a young girl how to use make up she says:

“Now, the first rule in applying eye make-up is you can never wear enough blue eye shadow.”

That line cracked me up then and cracks me up now. I love blue eye shadow and lets just say not everyone shares Ms. Curtis’ opinion. Whatever.

There I was sitting there like this girl friend and I had many times before as younger women –

(including one night where we dressed up like widows for a Halloween party because her husband and Dave were jerks and wouldn’t go with us. Even in hindsight it is still very very funny. Widows. My god I wish there were pictures. Black pantyhose, veils, monopoly money and life insurance peeking out of our old lady black bags; and mascara running down our faces – and for some reason we had British accents. Got nothing on that part.)

– put make up on each other. Well because I pretty much suck at putting make up on, it was usually her putting make-up on me. Still like so many times on this journey I was transported to another time, and it was a sweet respite.

While all that nonsense was going on the husband has busied himself with some house work, got the dog ready to go, and had the task of reading what I planned to say. He was the only other person to read it. He was the only person I trusted to tell me that I had lost my mind. Some how we all got in the car, we made our way to the funeral, we all survived the day. If I had to make the choice again I couldn’t tell you what I would do, even with what I know today. The reason I went in the end was that I knew that this was a one shot only deal. There would be no do overs and I was pretty sure that if there was regret it would be that I didn’t go, not that I went.

So now you know. I wasn’t going to go. Didn’t want to go. Didn’t think I could survive, could manage – but I did. We all did. When I think back on that day, in all honesty, it was pretty much a blur. There are just a few moment that I remember. I don’t remember much about what I did or said when I was standing in front in front of those friends and families. I just hope that when everyone left they said they had a nice time… no a great time.

You know, for a funeral.


One thought on “Not Gonna and You Can’t Make Me

  1. I didn’t want to go to my husband’s funeral either. After caring for him for 7 months while he died of cancer, I’d reached the end of my capacity to endure. I went, but it felt like I was playing a part in the final act of some horror show that had become my life.


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