Funeral of One

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Wrote this like 2 years ago. Enjoy I guess.

An exaggerated smile sits fixedly on one’s plasticine face as clay, molded and set to dry. We approve wholeheartedly and with a certain enthusiasm as the clay hardens and begins to crack upon one’s face, until finally we admit to its degenerate appearance and functionality. One concedes this and one’s aged smile droops into an expressionless row of cracks. Suddenly the clay erodes into dust, we are stricken with a harrowing sense of grief and despair, showing more emotion perhaps than ever before, but inwardly being unable to overwhelm our deep sense of emptiness and hopelessness. For if we couldn’t stop to show a modicum of empathy for the living, then of what use to us is the dead? And whose death should affect us more than our own? It’s every man for himself.

We gather all of those we perceive as family from far and wide, anyone who may pretend to care for one’s death, dress in our darkest fabrics, wear solemn and worn faces and put on a grand ceremonial pretense with shows of gaudy flowers and sparkling ornaments. In our mourning as we listen to a song one supposedly liked, we forget that one enjoyed celebrations, rather than distressing and sickeningly fake displays of grief. Not a smile is shown lest the perpetrator be shunned. Don’t even think about laughing unless it’s in response to a cue in some petty, unimaginative and forgetful story.

As the pastor mumbles the final phrases preceding the ceremonial lowering of the unfashionably expensive coffin into the ground, we can no longer contain our ostensible grief and explode into a choir of sorrow. Our voices are muffled and choked. ‘He was a great man’, we say, when really we hadn’t much of a clue at all. A competition of self-inflicted misery and agony ensues, with the most immediate family members having the greatest claim to victory. The casket is lowered ever so slowly, as if we meant to stay some more. We endure these proceedings with enduring patience.

With shining tears dripping down our faces we make a final show of pain before stubbornly making our way to the wake – the name for the underhanded celebration that proceeds a funeral, using the preceding events as an excuse to indulge as much as we please – in wine, in food and in sharing vain hypocrisies and dull stories of the deceased. We use one’s death as a grand excuse to gossip and bicker some more, to elevate ourselves above others by all possible means – in such a way as to seem inconspicuous but really we underestimate the emotional capacities of one another; such is our despicable and treacherous nature we call normal.

Finally we leave the wake, not without a theatrical flair, an unquenchable shudder, a dragging of our legs. We sneeze into handkerchiefs and with wet sunken eyes we wave our goodbyes, to people we care not much for, whose deaths we will accustom ourselves to in due time, in much the same way, as indifferently as the last. The parade has ended. We climb back into the car, breathe a sigh of relief and make our way to someplace else. We turn on the radio and suddenly our woe is forgotten, the false tears warmly set to our cheeks goes unnoticed. We will mention one’s death less and less frequently, in passing, to live up to our own vague expectations for one’s legacy, which doesn’t amount to much at all. But we pretend it does nonetheless. We carry on until one is completely forgotten.

When we think back on such events we become momentarily morbid and quickly shake the thought from our head lest we embrace our own shameful behaviour and that of those we call family. We gloss over our memories of the man himself, whom the entirety of the event claimed to commemorate. But rather he was a great scapegoat, the event was a farce which we happily obliged; in all our benevolence, it was nothing but a grand commemoration of our own greed, vanity and pettiness.

Submitted: February 24, 2021

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