Man, I haven't posted since the 9th. I know that's not a long time at all for the prodigal poster here, but it's still a few days that doesn't feel like a few days. It feels like just yesterday, and what have I been doing? A whole lotta nuthin'! Well, I think I'm having a nervous breakdown, and don't you just love the vagueness of that. "Nervous Breakdown." What is that? And I'm certain I'm going through menopause early because of that hysterectomy... but I digress.
Well.... There was the funeral. How was it? It was a funeral and it sucked. There was a dead man who did NOT look like my father lying in a casket and I tried to walk up to him alone, but I punked out, stopped, and wouldn't look. My sisters and brothers had gone before me. I am totally NOT brave at funerals. They looked and they took their seats, and I tried to get Carlean or Gina's attention so one of them would go with me and I didn't have to look alone. They didn't understand. They thought I was wildly gesturing for them to come sit with me in a row toward the back. I gesture again for one of them to come to me. They think I want them to sit with me. They gesture for me to sit in the with them in the front. I wonder if I have to put on white face and do a pantomime for one--just one--of my four, count 'em, four sisters to come and look at a dead person they've already seen and finally I stage whisper come and see him with me. They can't hear me. I say it again. Finally I march over to Carlean and say in less than kind tones, "Come and see him with me so I don't have to go up there alone!" Dang! And this is the person who promised she'd act a fool at my funeral, crying, "Why didn't you take me, God," and trying to crawl into my casket. I promised her the same, by the way. We believe it's just nice to have at least one person who completely loses it at your funeral.
My poor daddy. It was beginning to look like nobody was going to lose it at his funeral. You know how sometimes at old people's funerals not many people cry? Well, I know when Brennan Manning dies a lot of people, me included, will probably cry, but some old people just don't have a lot of people left to weep profusely for them. Yes, we cried, my brother's and sisters. My mother sat on the other side of the church, on the side with the people who are NOT family. She was also mad that they gave her HIS last name in the obituatary. Nevermind all those childen she bore him. She and he (now divorced I need not even say) weren't related darn it!
Now, mind you, prior to the funeral I was feeling more than a little salty with my people. I was in Ann Arbor grieving all by my lonesome. Again, separated from my family, all huddled in Detroit. Together. Odd how your assigned role in life plays out in your family of origin, again and again. I was the lost child again. Hated it. I was hurt and wouldn't let anyone know I was hurt. It was then that I wrote the private eulogy below, and decided to share it here only.
I guess God decided to pull a fast one. My friend Gina ended up taking me to my father's funeral. I didn't even ask my family to pick me up. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to depend on them and I'd miss his funeral. And I was angry, but mostly sad. I'd gotten in Gina's van. Gotten the kids settled and Ken was locking the house and printing the MapQuest directions to the funeral home, when at the last minute, I ran into the house to print out the eulogy I swore a solemn oath I'd never share with the people who didn't so much as ask me if I wanted a freakin' line in his obituary to say goodbye. Yeah. I was angry. But mostly sad. I printed out the Eulogy, but still didn't tell a soul in my family about it.
When the funeral began nobody said anything to me about sharing. The obits were all made. Nobody needed my input. I was invisible anyway. The lost child. While there was a picture of me--good and pregnant with Kamau, from 13 years ago, there was no blurb. But I would have liked one. Sure. I try to act like these things don't matter, but they do. So I sat there feeling sad, and listening to the obiturary being read.
Finally my family turns to me. They want me to read one of my poems. Can I settle something right here? I'm not a poet. I'm a writer who on RARE occassions will write a poem, and many of those are bad. I NEVER! EVER! Memorize them. My memory is mostly shot for things I really NEED to remember. Nor do I keep a big ol' notebook full of 'em handy for all occasions.
There. It felt good to get that out.
So, I take my eulogy out. And its a bold eulogy. And I begin to read out the pain and the loss and the love I had for my daddy. And my voice cracked at times. And my brothers and sisters laughed and cried with me, because it was their story too. And it was the story of a few others in attendance. And maybe the story of a few readers here, too. I get back to my seat and my own daughter, Abeje is crying, too. "Good job, mom," she says. Abby isn't one to pass out praise or tears, so that I touched her touches me the most. I know God moved in that place.
So, God didn't let me be forgotten, or be the lost child or left behind. He was faithful. And there were more tears shed during those words than at any other time during the funeral, including when they closed my father's casket, which surprised me, because that was the moment that absolutely broke my heart. Makes me cry through my tears as I type this.
Lord, have mercy.
Goodbyes are hard aren't they? When they closed that casket on that strange shell that I didn't recognized as James Hawthorne, I knew that was it for this life. And if I live another year, or another forty, I wouldn't hear that voice I know so well again. And even now, in these days that followed, I've thought curled up in my bed. "He's really gone." And when I want to pick up the phone and call him for the rest of my life on this earth and say, "Hey, daddy. Guess what!?" I'm going to have to restrain myself. He's just not here anymore.
One thing I love about being Ortodox is the way we respond to each other. When my church family found out about my father, emails poured in with their kind, very Orthodox greetings. My favorites. Memory Eternal. Our loved ones will be remembered always. And my favorite of all, used all year 'round, but especially after Easter, "Christ is risen! And that very risen Christ, makes possible a mass family reunion that will give all my beloved's who came to know Him--and He made that remarkably possible, didn't He?--He'll give them all back to me.
But I'm still here. Me and my blues. Me and my night sweats. Me and no daddy. Lord, be kind to us who remain with our aches and our pains. Help us, Jesus. Help us who have not risen. Who have not even died, but are dying, a little bit more every day.