Today was so... I don't think epic is the right word. Today was just so much. So many things are happening, for the good, for the most part. But mostly today was about going to a Funeral. We work -- worked -- with this guy, a 'real go-getter' as the old folks may have called him. He ran a furniture business and was just... large. Not his person, but his personality, I mean. A raging, holding his liquor well, big-hearted, generous, boisterous, owning the room kind of guy. From what I could gather. All kinds of Irish-Catholic everything, with the typical caveats -- second wife, a pass on things here and there -- not that the state of convenience that most Catholics typically adhere to / follow was / is this guy's fault, mind you. I'm just saying. Typical stuff.
Anyhow -- so the guy, the furniture guy, the one I have this one clip of in my head, walking past my desk to see my boss once, and no one else was there so it was either before or after the day had started or ended, and I can't remember which -- I keep seeing it over and over, how he nodded and said hello -- he killed himself. Like, wrote letters and mailed them to his wife, picked a picture-perfect spot in a park, bit down on a barrel (after it had all been planned out for who knows how long) and pulled the trigger kind of killed himself. A jogger found him on a bench last Thursday morning. And a weight fell around it. And so a few of us from work went to The Funeral today, because there wasn't a wake, and because we wanted to, and because I'm kind of married to going to them. Funerals, I mean. And it was ritualistic and awful and amazing, and some of it felt kind of cultish, and a bunch of it was the "Ave Maria" singing / pangs of pain for the wife and kids / perspective-enducing regular funeralistic stuff.
I don't like funerals, per se. I don't actively want people to die so I can go to more of them, and if I picked, they wouldn't be on the top of my list of things to do on a Wednesday morning. But there's just... there's something about them. I can't put it much better than Thomas Lynch did in The Undertaking, where he talked about how there was something about death and funerals that only the true romantics, the inkstains-on-your-hands kinds of poets could appreciate. The hugeness of them that transcends the obvious (and even the not-so-obvious), the very weight of those pangs, the imagery that gets burned into us, the moments we fold into our fabric that we carry on with us forever after that, bright at first and faded later. A little more than most, not that it makes it better or worse of us for being so. It's just different.
There's photos I took with my eyes that I could never print or recreate, and will probably forget most of, but for right now I just came seem to shake them -- like Becky writing on the handout about yesterdays just as I pulled out my notebook to write about the lovers and the romantics and the poets and the size of the room just then, and the green ink of her pen. And the young girl who brought the holy water up to the pastor so he could wash his hands, and how long her hair was, and how pretty she was, and how I figured she'd fall in love someday; the sound of the bagpipes, the sound of the choir, and how there were so little of both making a sound that was so much bigger than I ever could have imagined. And the font on the walls. And how there wasn't a coffin. And how we couldn't see much. And how the dead guy's father-in-law made everyone laugh, and how no one in the room could forgive him (the dead guy, I mean) which we gathered by listening to all of them talking about ways they were trying to forgive him, and the pull of how much they all desperately wanted to forgive him. And how the priest even talked about statistics about suicide and mental disorders, and how I sat in almost the back row the entire time wondering if I was going to spontaneously combust and all, being freshly out with all my gay in the back of a hardcore church. And how we didn't take communion because it would have felt like a sham somehow, and how we broke off chocolate pieces and took it all in together, from that view, from the back corner of the room. All ink and imaginary photographs, all metal folding chairs that were added as an afterthought, all chocolate and salt.
So it's not that blogging about it serves some higher purpose or anything, it's just that I don't want to forget any of it I guess. And woven into all those snapshots and all those words strung together are the moments written and spoken about through the microphone, twelve hours ago now -- about the man who thought his failing business would be a disgrace to the family he'd loved and cared for all these years, and how he thought they'd be better off without him and that perceived disgrace, and how big things get when we don't tell anyone and don't sleep and start bouncing off the walls, and how I wondered what the boys would do in their relationships as they grew up, and if the broken pieces would help or hinder them, and if the little one-year-old girl would be a writer someday. And here I sit, dog-tired from an amazing life, at 11:19 pm on the first Wednesday night in June, grateful for the pain I've endured that yields me the perspective I've got a hold on these days. Grateful for the tiny victories and the going homes and the moments when I grabbed someone by the sleeve to say the thing out loud that was eating me alive, and all the times I've jumped with no net, and all the convictions I've been able to slowly, eventually stand behind -- and all the women that came before me that propped me up while I was learning to stand. I'm even grateful for all the arrows I took through the heart that have served to strengthen me, as the scars have toughened and healed and smoothed over. The broken hearts. The other funerals. The thousands upon thousands of moments that have shot through me just so, and made me feel like I was being burned alive for that instant, and the respective aftermath of each. All the good and all the bad, and even all the indifferent.
We have such good lives. We are so right-sized. And of late I'm done defending my ways and means, because it's all alright by me. And even if it's not alright by anyone else it's really not important, at all. And I can finally say that and really, really mean it. Because by many standards I am so busted and so behind, when the reality is that I've never felt more whole in my life, funeral notwithstanding, epic weekend notwithstanding. All thirty-four in a daylight basement apartment with forty bucks in the bank and a smile on my face the size of Texas. Right up to the last four days and how these beautiful people in my life are all suddenly saying such true, soul-bearing stuff -- like, out of the very woodwork we're walking on -- and how I'm convinced more than ever that we're all in the same boat, and how I practically swoon at how good I've got it, nearly every day. My world is right-sized, right now, safe from that awful magnifying glass that burns the light into the back of my mind and tells me I'm doing it wrong. The same magnifying glass that the dead guy couldn't get out from underneath. The one you guys helped me break, and continue to keep me out from underneath. For today, at least.
Rest beckons. There's so much more to do tomorrow. All the amazing and all the remembering and all the new and all the yesterdays that I don't own anymore and all the stuff that I can't even get my arms around yet. Which sounds so ridiculously trite and cliche, as I sit here looking back at all the words strung together, that sentence, and all the ones before it. But I'll leave it, square corners and all. Because it's the truth.