LIFE’S WONDERS PRAISED IN SUGGESTIVE, ODDBALL, AND NONSENSE WAYS
As a counterpoint to my usual cynical antics, I’ve committed myself to a weekly, year-long discussion of my life’s joys. But, never one for the more traditional approaches, I intend to keep things a little off side, a tad outlandish, and always one foot outside of polite company.
Funerals suck. I suppose that kind of goes without saying. Like coffee enemas and back waxing, there’s no getting around the general miserableness that pervades the whole bloody affair.
And, no, it’s not always because someone has died. Sometimes, a person just needs to kick it. Maybe they were suffering, or maybe they were a colossal asshole. Either way, death isn’t always a bad thing. I know.
But, almost without exception, funerals suck. Most of the time, it’s because we refuse to be honest: honest with ourselves and honest about the person who’s died.
When I die I will be dead. I will not have passed away, gone to a better a place, or shimmied with Jesus all the way to heaven.
And if you’re not going to heed my wishes, at least have the courtesy to say those euphemisms in full. I swear to God, if someone says I’ve simply “passed,” I will haunt them for the rest of their life, and then once in the afterlife I will kick them really hard in the shins. Like really hard.
For most people, dying isn’t simple or easy, and it certainly isn’t always quick. Most of us will have to struggle through it. For some of us, it will be the most difficult thing we ever do.
So respect that struggle.
A few years ago I was at a funeral for an older man. Had you been to this funeral, you might have thought the guy was a Godly man of superior Christian virtue. That was the message, anyway. Everyone who stood up to say something just hammered that same message home, again and again.
The truth? This guy was an abusive asshole who probably deserved to die as miserably as he did.
It’s not that I wish everyone had said as much at the funeral. It’s just that telling those lies did nothing but harm the people that man had abused.
Jump a few years ahead, and I was at another funeral, though this time for a young man in his thirties. It was an all-around shitty experience. For one thing, the man had died suddenly and without warning. Worse, he’d been somewhat estranged from his family.
One of the first people to speak began by suggesting that the man who’d died was now dancing with Jesus in Heaven. In other words, “Hooray, things aren’t so terrible. Because Jesus!”
Protestants like to say this kind of silly shit, I’ve found. And it’s kind of the worst.
But then the man’s father stood up, himself a Christian like the last speaker. But instead of heaping more nonsense onto the pile of feel-better proclamations, he spoke candidly and honestly.
“My son recently told me that the Bible was just another book,” he said. “Just another book written by men, and of no real truth.”
Silence from everyone in the church pews.
At the time, I thought it was a real dick thing to say. Since then, my perspective’s changed.
IN THE END
I won’t pretend to know what the father was going through. Devastation? Anger? Disbelief? I can only guess, and I’d rather not.
What I do know is that he wasn’t bullshitting me.
He was being honest.
In a way, he was being more respectful of his son than anyone else there that day. After all, if we are to remember the dead, then let’s remember them truthfully. Anything else is just selfish.
Did you miss last week’s entry on CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY? Catch up here.
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