It was a perfect day outside on Friday at my mom’s funeral. It was about 70 degrees out, with a gentle breeze and not a cloud in the sky.
My grandmother had taken me shopping at the mall for a black dress, because the only one I owned was a party dress. We got the first one I tried on. It was simple black lace, shaped like a big T-shirt. I’d put a plain black cardigan over it. I will never wear it again, probably, so I didn’t care that it wasn’t really my style.
When we got to the funeral home, we were ushered into a small “family room.” My grandmother was using my mom’s old cell phone case on her own iPhone, and my dad asked her politely to take it off. He said he didn’t mind her having it, but it was hurting him to see it. She quickly put it away and we were all silent for a long time. In the room were my mother’s parents; her brother, his wife, and their baby; my father; and my brother and sister.
People came in and hugged us or shook our hands in a line. There were probably about 300 people. A bunch were from my school. Some of the kids who came weren’t even my friends, and some were usually just plain snotty to me. A teacher later informed me that they were just there for the drama.
I was smothered by school faculty, distant cousins, family friends, my mom’s college friends whom I had never met, and people I had never even heard of but who knew me. It was just weird. A bunch of people skipped over my little brother in the hug/handshake/”sorry for your loss” line. This made me angry. I let it go, and I think he did too. We were soon all herded into the main room, with long wooden benches that went back for miles and miles. We came in last and sat in the front row.
My dad gave his speech. It was really beautiful and she would have liked it. I know he got a lot of compliments for it, and rightfully so. It was funny, too, which she would have liked even more. He talked about how they had met and what she meant to him. A few people cried. I didn’t because I don’t think I could have if I tried. I just couldn’t cry anymore after doing so much of it for the past week or so.
We moved out of the funeral home after a prayer (just one, because she was agnostic and wasn’t religious) and a few more speeches. Everyone drove to the cemetery. I tapped the casket twice with two fingers, like I always do to the door when I’m getting on a plane. I don’t know why I did. I think it was a goodbye.
It’s a Jewish tradition for everyone to bury the casket in turns, starting with the immediate family, and to put the first shovel of dirt in upside-down because it’s more difficult and demonstrates reluctance. My dad put in one upside-down shovel and two regular ones. I did one of each. Then everyone else came.
It was a beautiful day, but she would have been freezing. She was always cold. ♦