On Friday, I said good-bye to my friend, and I wish like hell that I could say it was wonderful and uplifting, but it was neither of those things.
It was unspeakably awful.
Someone (likely her parents) had put together some poster board montages of pictures of Steph in better days and they carefully portrayed someone so full of life, so vivacious that it made it even harder to remember that the person in that open casket all stretched out and weird looking was the same person.
Hearing her five year old son say, “Hey, want to look at my mom? She’s all dead and hard.” and then her two year old say, “No, wanna see MOMMY!” when he was taken away from the coffin made my heart sink and die a little bit right then and there.
Whomever the person that officiated was (it was in a funeral home, so I don’t think it was a pastor or anything) sucked. She made me angry, with her stupid metaphors about Steph’s struggle with alcoholism and mental illness, and above all else, she sucked and Steph would have hated her speech.
She made it sound as though Steph was routinely sitting around in heavy eyeliner listening to The Cure’s Disinegration on repeat carving “Kurt Cobain” in her arm. It couldn’t have been farther from who she was.
She also claimed that all that we’d loved about Steph, her effervescence and wit, her humor and braveness had all been part of her illness. Yeah, fuck and you come to mind as I recall that. Don’t you DARE take away who she really was to any of us. You did not even know her.
(In the words of one of my Metal Heads, “Anytime you evoke Lazarus at a funeral, you’re an idiot.” See, these are Catholic School educated Metal Heads.)
We held our own sort of remembrance afterwards at a bar down the street from the funeral home, and the mood, although seemingly buoyant to bystanders, was downright morbid. We each took turns talking about what we wanted the other to make absolute sure that our funeral would hold (not something one would normally think about and discuss, but then again, none of us expected to be there).
Scott wanted to be stuffed and set up in a chair a la Weekend At Bernie’s, and we assured him that when the firewood inevitably got low, we’d throw him on as kindling.
I explained that under absolutely no circumstances would my casket be open to freak everyone out (no one looks like they did in life, no matter how good the makeup artist is), but since some morbid A-Hole would probably want to see me, I insisted that I be in full KISS makeup.
I mean, if I’m not going to look like myself anyway, I may as well REALLY not look like myself.
I also appointed Kristin as my flower monitor, and as such she would be responsible for insuring that only good flowers make it to my graveside. No filler flowers, absolutely no carnations or daisies and under NO circumstances would lilies (aside from Cala lilies, which I adore) be allowed. Pretty much anything ordered from the Funeral section of a florists selection would be a no go.
And anyone who dared bring either wreaths that said “Beloved Mother” or “Devoted Wife” OR plastic flowers would be sent away at the door. Return to sender.
I also explained that rather than give my children an inheritance, I was going to hire out- of-work actors to weep hysterically at my grave several times a week. For as many years as the money would last.
I wish like anything I’ve ever wished that the funeral had provided closure (what the hell is closure, anyway? Seriously, I don’t get that concept.) or that I can say that I honestly feel better, but it would be a lie. (I’m not sitting around in heavy eyeliner listening to The Cure’s Disinegration on repeat carving “Kurt Cobain” on my arm, either though).
Steph’s death did, however, make damn sure that any other petty annoyances seem even more trivial than they previously had. And I make certain that I count each and every one of my blessings.
And that is a good thing.