6:08 a.m. I am in Minnesota again. Home sweet home. Today I was supposed to restart a case I'd already worked a few weeks back. Unfortunately, a good family friend died unexpectedly and instead I will be going to a funeral.
I have somehow managed to avoid funerals ever since my grandfather passed away when I was 8-years-old. I remember Cuz and I playing outside of the funeral home under the umbrella of a huge pine tree. Cuz was the most adorable little blond cherub that ever there was. And she was the little sister I never had. My partner in crime. (And still is.)
It was shady and hot outside and the ground under the tree was blanketed with needles. We pretended we were forest rangers. We ended up covered in sap, having climbed the sticky branches in our best Sunday dresses. I remember trying in vain to get the bits of bark and dirt off my hands by rubbing them on my dress... in the grass. That didn't help. Now I just added grass to the mix.
When we went inside, Cuz and I stood before grandpa's casket, considering him. He looked like he was sleeping. His hair was combed over on his forehead all neat and silvery. I reached out to touch him and my father barked from across the room, "Polly!" I pulled my hand away and high-tailed it outside again with Cuz not far behind me.
I remember my brother, who was in the Army, flying in for the funeral. He was so handsome in his uniform. I remember my mother with tears in her eyes kissing grandpa's forehead before they closed the casket.
But that was a long time ago and attending the wake last night was definitely a foreign thing to me. Family and friends gathered. Chatting. Crying. The body of the deceased laid out in a far corner where people would occasionally approach, grim-faced. "He looks good." They would say. I don't think so, though I keep my opinion to myself. He looks dead. He looks caked in garish make-up meant to hide his pale, pale skin.
I watch as my neices and nephews run around irreverently. It makes me smile and remember Cuz and I back 20 years ago.
On the way home my parents and I discuss how we want our remains dealt with. Mom and dad are considering cremation. I tell them that's the cleanest, most efficient way to go. We all end up dust in the end, after all. I do not tell them that bone does not ever fully burn and that there is usually quite a bit that needs to be pulverized in a contraption that resembles a grist mill. I do not tell them that fillings, steel plates, screws from surgeries...all have to be sifted through and removed after the initial burn. I do not tell them that the cardboard casket that accompanied the body into the furnace constitutes a fair portion of the cremains.
Still, decomposition is a messy process and I would like to avoid it. I tell my parents I want to be mummified. My mother rolls her eyes.
Later this evening I will write about a mummy that we affectionately called, "Circus Boy" at the MEO.