When all is said and done ...

The funeral was yesterday, and I just woke up from a very exhausting day. This event was held on such short notice because my mother wished to get it over with as quickly as humanly possible. I guess she thought that if she got through the funeral it would help with her pain.

Even so, a lot of people showed up. Family, friends, the landlady, NYPD officers. I always knew that my father was well-loved, but the huge turnout surprised me. I rode with my mother and my aunt in a limo provided by the funeral home. Officers in dress uniforms flanked the front entrance, and men in uniforms stood gathered in the building among the friends and family. I met many people there whom I haven't seen in years, from distant cousins to family friends I'd grown up with who, sadly, had went their separate ways as they matured into independent adults.

It was, of course, a somber occasion, but the service was also marked by upbeat gospel singing and funny anecdotes shared by Father's loved ones. My niece, Shanti, gave a particularly wonderful speech about the time she'd spent with her grandfather. My brother Jameson read a letter, written by his wife and children, so they could express their feeling despite not being able to attend.

Father was one of the few people who believed in my abilities as a writer from the very beginning. When we first moved into this house, he introduced me to the landlord and landlady as "my son, the writer." He read my work enthusiastically, and at one point even tried to pitch it to a friend who works for the Fox network. For this reason I decided that it was only right that I put those skills to use in honoring his memory. I wrote an elegy, which was printed on the back of the funeral program, and I requested the honor of being the one to deliver his eulogy.

No one I spoke to seemed to know the difference between an elegy, a eulogy, and an obituary. For this reason the funeral director expected me to recite the poem, and instead I gave a speech. I was then called back to the podium to read the elegy as well. Anyone who knows me is aware that crowds and I don't mix. On a good day I have social anxiety and stumble when I am forced to deal with more than one or two people at once. On a bad day I am agoraphobic and don't even want to leave the house. So standing up and delivering a speech was the last thing anyone seriously expected me to do. My mother was afraid that I'd choke on stage, or get cold feet and refuse to deliver the speech.

Neither of those things happened. There is a time and a place for one's personal baggage, and my father's funeral was neither of those things. This was about him, not me. To be perfectly honest, delivering the speech was easy. It didn't matter what the audience thought because I was not talking to them. I was talking to my father, and expressing my feelings to him.

The speech and the poem went over far, far better than I expected. While speaking I got nods and a nostalgic laugh or two, followed by applause. After the services people came up to me and said that they had no idea that I was such a talented writer. Some people asked if I was a poet. I told them that I write fiction and normally don't do poetry, and they said that I should. A relative asked if, many years from now, I would eulogize at his funeral. My writing was the talk of the occasion. I know my father would have been proud.

For the first time in my entire life I was publicly acknowledged as a writer. I think this was my father's final gift to me: the validation I had always sought, even though I myself never fully realized that I was seeking it. I realize now that this isn't some farfetched dream of mine, it is reality. I am a writer, no matter what happens. This has solidified my desire to be the writer my father always knew I am. When my first book is published, it will be dedicated to him.

An NYPD color guard rendered honors and saw my father's casket to the hearse. Police cars escorted the funeral procession; again I rode in the limo with my mother and my aunt. We were each given a rose, with the option of keeping it as a memory or laying them on his grave. I decided to give Father my rose; I do not need an object to remind me of him.

My mother wept as we returned home. My work here is not yet finished. For the past year I had been helping to take care of my dying father, and now I will be there for my mother and help her come to grips with the loss of her husband. At the same time I will continue my work, get my book published, and finally have my dream. This time I am no longer doing this only for myself.

Rest in peace, Dad.

30 comments:

TheUnbeholden said...

"and now I will be there for my mother and help her come to grips with the loss of her husband."

I find it weird the way you make her seem here... Does she need help to come to grips with it? I would say most people wouldn't. You maker her seem so fragile when people are far stronger then that especially someone who has lived as long as her.

If he was bed ridden with a deathly condition like lung cancer I would think that she knew that he was pretty much "gone" already. Unless she was deluding herself into thinking he would get better.

"I guess she thought that if she got through the funeral it would help with her pain."

Its because none of us want to think about all the good times and bad with someone we've lost because we will only feel sad. So its best just to move on. That and funerals can be quite expensive.

Same goes why I hate a lengthy good byes to someone you've been with for a long time like a childhood friend. If you have to leave them for good then just go. No need to reminisce or say anything that's already been said (you still have their number & address).

I suppose for a great man something like a funeral and eulogy is inevitable. When someone touches many lives & leaves a mark then there's people who will miss him and go over his/her accomplishments.
It can bring closure to try to end mourning or be a time for dancing.
The main problem is Contemporary American culture makes it difficult for funerals to perform their function.
Its also very expensive, casket itself is highway robbery, and all that just to put it into the earth never to be seen again. Funeral directors... they ooze their schmarmy false sympathy while pushing the price as high as they can get it.

I think death while distressing at first, and the pinnacle of human weakness, should be a time to celebrate. People always look for excuses to celebrate...

The Twilight Snarker said...

"I find it weird the way you make her seem here... Does she need help to come to grips with it? I would say most people wouldn't. You maker her seem so fragile when people are far stronger then that especially someone who has lived as long as her."

It is not a matter of personal strength. Even the mightiest of people can fall after the death of a loved one. That she is having trouble with this right now is not a sign of fragility or weakness, it is a sign of her humanity.

Emotions do not follow a logical path. They do not always make sense, nor do they have to, and people react differently to different things.

A quick and short departure may be the ideal way for you, but others would find it cold and heartless. A long goodbye may be ideal for some, but still others would find them mushy and useless. Not everyone will have the same ideas, so it is important not to place value judgements based on one's own biases.

Everyone must make their peace with death in their own way. Some do it quietly, some in ceremony, and some with grief-filled nights. No matter which way one goes about it, though, it is not weakness by any stretch of the imagination.

blessedwithpoppies said...

@Twilight Snarker... first of all, my condolances. I can't imagine what you must be going through but your invisible community of followers is here to wish you well and support you. :-)
Secondly, @TheUnbeholden..., there is no need to pass judgment and be rude during this very difficult time. How about some kindness and sensitivity?

gabbylizzie27 said...

I'm so glad your father's memory was honored with such a nice ceremony, and it's awesome that your father is continuing to inspire you to follow your dreams even now. Best wishes to you and your family.

P.S. Nice classy response to UnBeholden, there. If someone said that about a grieving loved one of mine, I would have been pissed! You're right, everyone grieves in different ways. There is no "weak" way.

Fred Green said...

Unbeholden, you sound like a middle class fifteen-year-old that's never had to deal to something as harrowing as death before, family or otherwise. I'm sure you don't mean to come off as an asshole, but as the Twilight Snarker said, everyone deals with grief in their own special way (although I do agree that funeral expenses in Western culture is much pricier than it needs to be). Please be respectful of that.

@Twilight Snarker: I'm glad you were able to see some silver lining in your plight. I'm sure will someone like you around, your mother will be fine as she comes to terms with her loss. =)

InsomniacWriter said...

Twilight Snarker-I am once again so very sorry for the loss which you have endured. Though it sounds as though you are handling it well, I am sure that inside you are heartbroken. The loss of a parent is a devastating blow. Though I tend to feel very little sympathy for the pain of those I do not personally know, having read your blog for so long I feel as though I now have this faceless friend who is suffering. My heart goes out to you then, nameless writer, and I only wish that I could offer you some comfort.

So know that while I will never know your face, your voice, or the true pain which you now carry, I am with you.




Unbeholden - Shame on you.

Darth Lolita said...

To Unbeholden: Please leave the faux-philosophy at the door. You sound about as deep as a pre-teen at a poetry slam. You're not Socrates, honey. What you said was uncalled for and impolite, and a really bad attempt at social commentary, but the OP and other posters already responded with what needed to be said, so I'll stop right here.

Twilight Snarker - Although I don't know you nor anyone close to you personally, I was deeply saddened when you announced your father's passing. I thought it'd be perfectly understandable and expected if you dealt with your grief while away from such a pesky thing as a blog. However, I am glad that was not the entire case and you came back to at least post this one entry. What you described as your father's final gift to you was incredibly heartwarming. I'm sure it won't have much value for us faceless readers on the internet to attempt to convince you of anything, but just know that I and most here can see your talent as a writer is going to grow and grow and grow, and I know that you will be published and achieve your dream someday. I give my condolences to you and your family, and I hope things get better for you. Stay strong :)

TheUnbeholden said...

"there is no need to pass judgment and be rude during this very difficult time. How about some kindness and sensitivity? "

My intention was never to be rude.
But I can't show kindness to someone I don't know. Strangers.. I would step on a strangers skull and mash their brains for all I care but if I personally know them then that's a different story.

Not caring for strangers is no big surprise or mystery, its the most common mindset I've come to find.


"middle class fifteen-year-old that's never had to deal to something as harrowing as death before, family or otherwise"

Your off by 5 years. I've had my grand father die, though I never knew him. I have a father that doesn't care about me and the rest of my family is scattered so your right. I have never felt loss due to death of human being.... but I have seen my dog die that I loved and had for over 3 years.

So I'm not completely ignorant. But I hate seeing women portrayed as weak, when they can usually be as strong as men. And please stop with the Ad Hominems guys. If you can't make a argument without one then you really need to re-educate yourself.


"and a really bad attempt at social commentary"

On the contrary, social commentary is a perfect distraction. Which is a good way to deal with sadness or any emotion. To distract oneself... Hell people waste alot of time on distractions that draw us away from developing ourselves spiritually and loose touch with ourselves.


"Although I don't know you nor anyone close to you personally, I was deeply saddened when you announced your father's passing. "

what the.... I understand you getting sad over a day time soap opera but for someone you don't know much about or can't even physically see?

TheUnbeholden said...

"It is not a matter of personal strength. Even the mightiest of people can fall after the death of a loved one. That she is having trouble with this right now is not a sign of fragility or weakness, it is a sign of her humanity.

Emotions do not follow a logical path. They do not always make sense, nor do they have to, and people react differently to different things.

A quick and short departure may be the ideal way for you, but others would find it cold and heartless. A long goodbye may be ideal for some, but still others would find them mushy and useless. Not everyone will have the same ideas, so it is important not to place value judgements based on one's own biases.

Everyone must make their peace with death in their own way. Some do it quietly, some in ceremony, and some with grief-filled nights. No matter which way one goes about it, though, it is not weakness by any stretch of the imagination. "


Thanks for explaining. That does make alot of sense. I have a strong sense of morality so don't judge me wrong.

Weakness is not just 'lack of muscles' weak, or 'lack of willpower' weak, or aging and weak immune system.

But I have always seen 'relying on others' to be weakness... not emotions because emotions help us survive, well as long as they are not to powerful or to unbalanced.

I think I can agree with you now that perhaps your mother isn't fragile or weak. Maybe she never relied on him and was self sufficient? Thanks for your time.

TheUnbeholden said...

Also I think its quite smart of you to see the good side of things.... I'm naturally a happy person so I tend to do that as well and its good critical thinking when it comes down to it. I completely agree that you're writing is superb (even though I haven't read your fictional stories... have you placed them on the internet?)

Darth Lolita said...

Unbeholden, I never said social commentary wasn't a perfect distraction. I just said yours was really corny sounding and not at all that interesting ._.' just something we've all already heard about, probably in pamphlets and from teens taking a philosophy class. Just like everything else you responded with. -feeds troll-

And yes, I was saddened. Because there's this thing, this thing called sympathy that humans have, this magical thing where we remember even strangers are flesh and blood people with feelings and thoughts and ideas and dreams. This thing where bits of emotion left on some little corner of an insignificant internet spot are reminiscent of the ties that bind us and makes us similar. You don't need to be sad, you just need to be respectful. Even if it's just the internet, and even if you can't see or touch or even hear people, there's still a person somewhere responding to your rude comments and terribly cliche rambling about society and our ways. Now you don't need me and other nameless people teaching you about manners, do we? o.o You said you're a good five years past fifteen, so try to act like it. Just try.

Nice closing :D Totally not like you made an argument for no reason to someone who is hurting. I really hope he doesn't see this cluster of comments from you, because it's probably the last thing he needs. So I'll stop arguing now or this is going to turn to something massive :P

Fred Green said...

"Your off by 5 years. I've had my grand father die, though I never knew him. I have a father that doesn't care about me and the rest of my family is scattered so your right. I have never felt loss due to death of human being.... but I have seen my dog die that I loved and had for over 3 years."

Does not change what you should like, sweetheart. I'm not trying to be rude, but your post was extremely out of place here. If this was on an impersonal forum centered around discussing philosophy and what not, then I could take you and your arguments seriously--as I should, in that context. I find you a very intelligent individual, and I enjoy seeing your arguments on elsewhere on this blog.

However.
This is not a place for debate.
Please don't act like we are.

If you don't feel sad for our Twilight Snarker, that's okay--it's who you are. I don't speak for everyone here, but I don't think any of us are trying to change your point of view in life. But please, show some discretion.

blessedwithpoppies said...

@Unbeholden I just read everything you have posted on this page and I didn't think this was possible but it's true... Satan has finally come among us. It literally scares me that there are unfeeling people like you walking around in society who cannot tell when it is not socially appropriate to make offensive comments.

TheUnbeholden said...

"-feeds troll- "

I'm not a troll, I'm just speaking my mind. -_-
This is first time I've been called a troll...
whoopee.
Its the other people here that used Ad Hominems at me.

"You don't need to be sad, you just need to be respectful."

Like I said, I wasn't trying to be disrespectful or rude (it would be easy to tell if I am because there would be some sort of insult/sarcastic remark somewhere)... what am I suppose to do? Console him? I would never be so sentimental because I wouldn't treat someone as if they are emotionally about to explode. I never need any of that when I'm sad.
People lose their sadness in time, not because someone says "it'll be ok".

And plus I don't know of any philosophy forums, and I don't need to specially go to one to speak my mind. I just speak my mind what ever part of the internet I'm in.

Becky said...

Okay, guys. I think this argument has just about reached its limit.
To me, it seems as though the first two posts were enough to settle everything. Seriously, read them. Unbeholden said their piece, then Twilight Snarker came back with a dignified response.. the end. There is absolutely no need for the rest of the comments. So let's just leave this post be, and wait in anticipation for the next one to come along. Kay? :)

gravitty said...

So sorry for your loss, best wishes to you and your family in this tough time.
Thank you for writing to us anonymous strangers on the internet. You write beautifully and I'm so glad your father encouraged your dreams. I was teary eyed about half way through this post, I can only imagine how moving your speech and poem were. :)

angelgem43 said...

I am so sorry for your loss,and I know your dad is proud of you. You and your family are in my thoughts.

TheUnbeholden said...

finish this off already...

Unknown said...

So, is the blog dead? It's been half a year now...

Daniel said...

Too soon, bro... too soon.

sam "ocelot" donovan said...

Poor wording on that guy's part, for sure, but he does raise a good question. Is this thing done? Should I take it off my favourites bar and stop checking three or four times a week? I know you really do have a lot on your plate right now, but this is a question that needs answering. I really enjoyed each one of your posts, and always looked forward to the next one. If there isn't going to be any more, it would be nice to know. Aside from that though, I hope you are doing well, and that everything is going great (I am really bad at wording sympathy, but I've been in a near identical situation, I can relate to a similar pain).

HMSaph said...

This is nothing short of tragic. May your good father R.I.P. Looking forward to the next chapter.

Serguéi Mijáilovich said...

@Twilight Snarker: Disculpe que le escriba en castellano. Leo algo en inglés pero no se tanto como para expresarme. Le envío mis condolencias también y mis mejores deseos para Ud. y para su madre. Aprovecho para agradecerle los textos publicados en este blog, me han sido sumamente interesantes. Le deseo éxito en su carrera como escritor. Y bien, si decide seguir con este proyecto en particular no tenga dudas que sus seguidores estaremos agradecidos.

wordsofaras said...

Hi. I came across this page about a week ago. Late in the game, I suppose. I'm sorry for your loss, sir. I hope you are well.

I'm not passionate about Twilight one way or another, but you're funny. I hope you return. Review some other books, perhaps.

I'll check back every now and then.

Steffstar said...

Dear Twilight Snarker:

I came across your page while looking up some information on Twilight, and this was the first post that popped up. I don't know you, but I am very sorry to hear about your loss. I got very teary-eyed reading your account of your father's funeral. It was beautifully written. I sincerely hope you and your family are doing better.

I lost my mom in October of 2010. I understand how hard it is for family members in the aftermath. I also understand that this was the last post made. This is something I fully understand, as I'm a writer as well, and lost my will to write anything for two years. I do hope that someday you are able to return, and I wish you the best of luck with your other writings as well.

Take care.

Deborah Hall said...

In terms of grief -- strange beast that it is -- two years can seem like a moment and an eternity. At least, they can in my experience. I come back to this blog from time to time. At first it was both to see if you were posting again and to check on how you might be doing. Now, though, it's almost completely to check on how you might be doing. I hope you're out there somewhere, healing and helping your family heal. I empathize and sympathize with your loss, and I hope you're okay.

Unknown said...

I really hope you continue this blog. I enjoyed reading it. Hope all is well.

Unknown said...

I really hope you continue this blog. I enjoyed reading it. Hope all is well.

Unknown said...

Blog dead

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