It’s interesting to me the different exposures my wife and I have had to funerals. While she’s only ever been to a couple, I feel like my childhood was full of them. I suppose growing up in a small town, and intrinsically caring for neighbors and classmates as a family led me to more funerals than I can begin to remember.
Today we experienced another. A dark sky set a fitting somber mood, and we collected to send off Grandpa Orange Slice. And as I experienced the day, I was reminded of a few things about funerals.
People in rural Iowa respect funeral processions. As we slalomed through the city of Ottumwa and Iowa back roads, people not only yielded but came to a complete stop to pay respect to a man they didn’t know. Put simply, it’s not something you experience in the city.
I can make it to the sixth note of taps without tearing up. The sadness of the day compounds it, but there’s so much historical weight that accompanies the notes that it overpowers me. Every. Single. Time.
Funerals unequivocally force contemplation of mortality and all that accompanies it. And while I’m comfortable with my own eventual demise (having a parent die when you’re young cements this for you in a way I haven’t seen elsewhere), I’m not immune to that psychological law, and thus I think about my own funeral. Rather morbidly I guess, I’ve kept a playlist since high school of songs I want to be played at my own service. That’s probably weird, but like I said, as a kid, trying to pick the perfect song for your dad’s funeral does things to you.
Finally, above all, another unexpected loss serves as the foreboding reminder that death can come quickly. Without regard to plans or final words, it steals from us the breath of life that’s impossible to restore. So for now, and hopefully for some time before my fickle human brain moves on and I need to be reminded again, I’ll be mindful of my interactions and always intend to leave friends and strangers alike with good “bye”s.