On the ride back from work yesterday we drove by a funeral home that had a line of people so long that it wrapped around the block. (Later on Weeks found out it was the wake for this girl.) I've talked before about things I love, but this brings me to one of the things I hate.
I have a really hard time dealing with them. The most vivid of the funerals was my grandparents on my dad's side. They both died in a car accident when I was a sophomore in college, and even though my other grandparents had died when I was younger, this one hit me a lot harder. Maybe because I was closer with my Dad's parents, or maybe because I was older and had a better grasp of life and death. I remember getting the phone call from my mom while I was in class. It went to voicemail, and I checked it on the walk back to the dorms. She said I needed to call her right away, but something was off about her voice. I called her up, trying to sound cheerful, but all the while my mind was racing about what it could be. She broke the news to me, and I just stopped in the sidewalk. Before the tears could start rolling I made my way to a nearby park. There I sat by myself while she explained what had happened, when the wake would be, when the funeral would be. After I got back to the dorms I packed up some clothes and headed home.
As a boy, you like to think of your father as an infallible character, someone who is above normal emotion. But when I saw my dad crying at the wake you start to realize that he's just a son who's hurting, and there's nothing wrong with that. And my uncle Gary (who I had hardly seen smile much less cry in all my life) was in the same state. My dad's whole family, 7 brothers and sisters, countless cousins, all together talking and crying and consoling. It's kind of sad that we only get together anymore for weddings and funerals.
Even when I'm not very close with someone a funeral can still rock me to the bone. Seeing other people sad and in pain has a profound effect on me, that's for sure. A few years back the father of a guy I went to high school with had a heart attack and died while deer hunting. He was 52. I came home a day early for Thanksgiving break to come to the funeral, and I made sure to bring plenty of tissues with me, but that wasn't enough. I was a wreck by the end, hearing the eulogy of an associate of John put me over the edge.
So the question I ask myself is "why?" Why do I get so torn up at funerals? Probably the same reason I get teary-eyed while watching emotional performances in movies and TV shows: I'm an empathetic kind of person, and the emotions of those around me really effect my state of being. When other people are happy, I'm on top of the world. When other people are sad, I feel it right along side them. I guess it's better than keeping it all bottled up inside, though.
About the only good thing I can think of that comes out of funerals is just seeing how many people the life of one person could effect. Every funeral I've attended has been packed with people wishing to pay their last respects, and to celebrate the life of the recently departed. It's just that sometimes the sad emotions get in the way.