I seem to be going to a lot of funerals lately. I am not talking about the tragic deaths - I can't speak about those - I am talking about the deaths of people who have lived a good life and reached a grand old age. I am talking about my dear aunties and uncles and my own lovely father and my friends' parents.
I was at my friend's father's funeral recently. He was 90 and loved and we all had a sweet story to tell about him. I saw how my friend's husband minded her throughout the long, exhausting funeral day. It reminded me of my dad's funeral and how my brother-in-law minded my sister during the funeral and the days after. I recall how she put her head on his shoulder in the funeral home and how he put his arm around her in the church, how he handed her a tissue in the crematorium and brought her dessert in the hotel (one of every variety, just in case) so she wouldn't have to queue. I remembered him stroking her back as we sat in the church.
I thought my mother might be feeling a bit left out so I stroked her back a few times in the church too. I hoped it would have a soothing affect. But she recoiled, visibly irritated, and muttered: 'Would you stop rubbing me, I'm not a dog'. Of course my mother (a fiercely independent, non-tactile person) did not want to be stroked or rubbed. It was me who wanted to feel a touch. It was me who wanted someone to put their arms around me and say everything would be okay.
I remember my ex-husband arriving at the funeral home out of the blue. I was surprised to see him but yet it seemed so right that he was there, with me, on this day. But of course he didn't stay all day. I remember we both went to hug but it was raining heavily outside and his coat was soaking wet so, just before we hugged, he stood back and said he wouldn't ruin my black dress. I didn't care about the dress, I wanted a hug so badly. But I didn't say that. Because you don't say that to your ex-husband in front of your kids and your mother and your sister's family and your dead father. I don't think so anyway.
I spent the day greeting people and thanking people and looking after my mother and my kids and making sure aunties were sitting beside friendly family members or at least none they disliked too much and that everyone had a drink.
And then finally the day was over and I got home and put the kids to bed and I took out the Oscar Wilde book my father had given me as a young adult and I read some poems to myself. And then the tears came.
I remember being scared in that moment that my father's death would trigger the sadness (as I call it) and I wouldn't be able to cope if it got bad. But it didn't. I loved my father. And he loved me. And he was a good age. It wasn't a tragedy. The sadness didn't kick in. I was as up and down and 'sad' then as I had been before, as I have been since.
But I do remember feeling terribly lonely. More than anything else on that night of my father's funeral, I wanted a hug. Or even a back rub! Or a tissue. Or for someone to hand me a cup of tea and a selection of desserts...
Salt Water Mum
A Moodscope member.