I attended the funeral last night for Mr. K. I was so sad to be attending a funeral for a man that was like my second father to me when I was a kid. As I drove into the church parking lot, I got misty-eyed and considered making a u-turn (I know I wouldn’t, but the thought was still there). I figured I would see a lot of people there I knew, partly because I was like their adopted child when I was young. I was BF with their daughter D., and we were like to peas in a pod.
I am very emotional when it comes to wakes/funerals. I hate them and they scare me because it’s a little taste of reality I don’t want to see…. death on display.
Little did I know I would be propelled into an alternate reality that resembled high school, just everyone was older.
I was nervous walking into the lobby, and shocked that there were HUNDREDS of people already in line for Mr. K and his family.
As I opened the door, there stood my high school German teacher, Mrs. S. She smiled at me and it took a moment for her to “recognize my smile” as she said. She rattled off abut 5 names of people I knew (who I attended middle/high school with). She made a comment which is always so true… “funerals always remind you of all the people you touched in life”
I stopped at a video that was playing, with so many family pictures revolving around. The crazy thing was I remembered many of those pictures… the one that was on the wall in their family room, the one on the steps leading upstairs. And several photos where I was in attendance as a girl. All kinds of memories flooded back to me in an instant.
As I stood in line, I saw people I have not seen in years. Old friends, parents of old friends, teachers, family. It was like watching an old movie, except all the people were older.
When I got up to the coffin and the immediate family, I saw D.’s older brothers and they talked about how when they took out the old pictures to choose for the video and the collage for the service, I was in so many of them.
We talked about good times and memories, and it struck me how much I was a big part of their family back then. Trips to the beach house in Ocean City, NJ with the K’s…. church with the K’s…. church Youth Group with D. and D. … family parties….. birthday parties….
The years passed, and although I saw them all from time to time, it was never like it was back then. When I saw D. I gave her the biggest hug I could muster. The last time I saw her was at my Grandmother’s funeral 3 years ago. We made a promise (which I hope we will keep) to keep in touch, and not let another funeral be the next time we see each other.
Mrs. K, was, as usual, the strongest. She had planned for this day the moment Mr. K was given the diagnosis. I cried when we talked, and I apologized for the absence of my parents who were away on a business trip. I felt horrible for hearing of Mr. K’s death and my Dad’s good diagnosis on the same day. I felt guilty that the same cancer took Mr. K from her, but left my Dad. She put her hand on my shoulder and said everything happens for a reason, and how happy she was for my Dad. Her faith unwavering, just as always.
As I left, I greeted another high school friend on the way out. We talked and laughed, and I thought how odd to be so glad I attended the wake.
So it seems that the circle of life continues, and I am grateful to be reminded that death sometimes unexpectedly brings life along for the ride.