I guess most people schedule the funeral and burial to take place on the same day, one after the other. I like that; I wish we had done that. It's too exhausting of a process to expand beyond one day. Have mercy on the survivors.
For some reason, my family ended up performing the burial on Friday, which was a quick service followed by an informal reception; and then on Saturday was a lengthy funeral service at my parents' church, with another reception in the church's basement, and yet another final informal reception after that. So many after-parties, soirées, fêtes, levees, bashes...
I'll try to remember as much as I can of the nightmare, but I'm sure I'll forget the best parts.
The military burial service was brief. It was solemn and perfectly suited to my dad's predilection. Old soldiers played "Taps" and shot three shots and saluted. That's it. Thereafter we had fifteen minutes to say or do whatever we mourners wanted. A chaplain from the veterans home where my dad spent his last years emerged from the shadows and offered a few pleasant words. Later I found out that he had telephoned my mother to ask what things he should include in his speech. At one point he mentioned how much my dad loved his motor-coach. That was my favorite moment, because... Actually, no, I don't want to explain why. (It's 'cause he voiced the brand name "Jaguar.")
The first reception was difficult because I could not stop thinking that we're not yet even halfway through with this gloomdoggle. I really did love talking to all the relatives and family and friends who showed up. Without fail, I took interest in every single person. But there was a significant part of my soul that just wanted to crawl into a cave and embrace a dying goat and expire in tandem. …More than one of the attendees at my dad's burial reception were outspoken right-wing conservative Republican-News-ONLY zealots who spoke to me as though I were obviously part of their cult as well: For who would not be?—Only jobless grease-balls who suck off the government udder. (Sorry but that's a direct quote.) As opposed to respectable bankers who suck off the government udder much more assiduously. (The "Troubled Asset Relief Program" bailouts addressed the subprime mortgage crisis, for The Free Market is holy and can do no wrong.)
(Salvation will trickle down to you eventually: even in the afterlife, according to X's unverified amanuenses.)
Then came the dreaded church service. Being a devil, I hate church and am allergic to pastors. Moreover, hymns sound awful to me: they sound like the moaning of groggy spoilsports. Quoth Milton's "Lycidas":
. . . Their lean and flashy songs
Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw.
So I hated the funeral service, because of the obligatory sermon and the two god-damned hymns they forced us to sing (I did not sing: I muttered cursewords); may those two hymns be damned to hell by god. …Don't shoot the piano player tho: I salute that dude: he's my cousin C.S.: give him his propers, his respect, the credit he is due – i.e. "C.S. gets props for the great work he did on the music." And I liked what my aunt and sister had to say. Both of them stood up and gave short speeches about my dad. They both liked my dad. My aunt's speech was a string of memories, most of them humorous – it was touching to hear; I'd bet my dad loved it. (My dad's body was cremated and buried at the time, but maybe he found a way to listen even though his ears were burnt up.) And my sister delivered a perfect speech about how my dad's disease (he'd been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's) afforded her all sorts of life lessons, character and strength. Her spin almost made me hope that I myself will soon succumb to some form of dementia, so as to bring success to upcoming acupuncturists.
See how I'm turning everything into a joke? That shows that I'm uncomfortable with the subject matter. Cheap humor is like armor against true feelings. So what am I afraid of? Death? No, I am deathless. My dad? No, he is dead.
I guess I'm afraid of not appearing invulnerable. But the truth is that I AM vulnerable. So why try to mask it?—Isn't that the whole point of diving from out of the realm of eternity down into this ocean of spacetime: to experience vulnerability?
But it's also a defining trait of Nature to seclude her finest aspects. Cover your comely parts.
I must eat lunch now. I'll write more about this later. I knew I'd lack both minutes and mental presence to tackle the blank sufficiently on the first try: my aim is to gather a bunch of impressions here and eventually put them into a blender and add some fermented fruit and hemoglobin. For vampires are said to live longer, healthier lives.