Today is the end of an era in my life, an end to something I thought was finished. Today is her funeral, my grandmothers, its overcast and way too early, the drive was exhausting. By breakfast the sun is too bright and the birds too loud, my hastily covered black chipped nail polish is a stark contrast and reminder against the quickly applied shade of white, the quick efforts of respectability failing at closer inspection. My hair hangs loosely around my shoulders as I try to make my numerous piercings less noticeable. After the over-religious service we are brought to the burial site, my sister and I don’t approach, choosing to stand yards behind the rest of the party even after being beckoned by the other members of our immediate family.
I will not approach that grave, not in these circumstances; it will be on my own terms when I choose it to happen. Against my father’s wishes he was buried at his mother’s behest at the hometown cemetery in a double deep grave. Today that grave was opened so that my grandmother’s body could be placed with his. The nauseous feeling within starts to well-up, the sick dread that they’ll spend eternity in a shared place. I have never been here before; I doubt I will be here again. Within my grandmothers casket I’ve been told that a porcelain doll has been placed over her chest. My grandmother can now take her treasures and her son with her to whatever destination she has chosen to foresee. I can feel everyone’s eyes on my sister and I as they notice that we stand apart, a deliberate isolation. Some of them not realising that there stands the open grave of a father I never knew, others watching carefully to see our reactions. Everyone here knows that it was his choice to leave this life.
The unreality of the situation feels like a mockery, my sisters and I being duped. It starts to feel as if we’re still too close; this twisted charade of a funeral is only enhanced by the shadows of the trees and the eerie chirping of the birds. Today is grandma’s day, I can feel it somehow, she got everything she wanted from today, and even in death she was the victor. I have to acknowledge that she loved us girls, her son was reflected in our eyes and looks, yet history can’t rewrite itself, this chapter in life can’t be told any other way. The family I never see and knew are all approaching, trying to make the awkwardness dissipate, trying to include us; my mind is yelling that we don’t belong here. I’ve paid my respects to Grandma, talking about my father makes me cringe, people who don’t know me start talking about my father, Grandma’s funeral doesn’t need this added tastelessness.
They couldn’t just let us be, some find comfort from talking about the dead. The dead are dead and they aren’t coming back. The imposter that is respectability lasts the day, the hoax serving to reinforce my mother’s reputation, my mother is a lovely woman, today was about representing her to the best of our abilities. Today we were the ‘perfect’ daughters of a widow; I will not let the sadness and anger about the cards I’ve been dealt to show through the cracks of respectability. The last connection to him is now over, my sisters and I can finally be done.
The irony on his tombstone: “He lived for those he loved”.
I realise that a lot of people won’t agree with what I’ve written here. These were the events of yesterday and part of my history. Sorry that there is so much anger, lack and of compassion and empathy, but we make our beds to the best of our abilities.