When someone dies, everyone who knew them stinks of death.
Being the only kid at a wake is like being the only living person in a morgue: slightly creepy and very uncomfortable. But that’s what happens when your dad dies. At least, it’s what happened after my dad died.
First, the drawn-out stay in the garbage-green hospital “suite”. Gotta love the insurance company’s generosity. The one rickety chair had been shoved into the only space not occupied by beeping machines. Not that dad noticed. His heart attack left him comatose until the end. But I definitely noticed.
I lived in that chair for weeks. I missed Algebra and going to prom just so I could wiggle deeper into the uncomfortable depths of that faux-leather chair and watch as Dad’s skin got paler, his breathing more labored.
So, really, it’s not like I didn’t know it was coming.
But when the vultures descended, that’s when it really hit me.
Family members I’d never met swooped in and cried over him like his pulse had already stopped. Some brought flower arrangements so gloomy they shouldn’t even be allowed in a cemetery. One lady had the nerve to ask me about his will.
And then it happened. I was reading a lame magazine article about how many times LiLo has been in jail, when the beeping that had long-since faded to ambient background noise suddenly roared to life. Then the screen with zigzagging squiggles went nuts.
It was pretty much over by the time the doctor strolled in. He checked the charts, went through the motions of trying to resuscitate, and declared Dad dead at 9:10 pm.
After that, people patted my head like I was some kind of imbecilic dog, and then took over my life. A distant, twice-removed aunt snatched the funeral planning from me and never asked my opinion. Dad was put in a hideous coffin and dropped six-feet-under before I’d even caught my breath.
And, like some kind of child-sacrifice, I was constantly surrounded by people I don’t know, all of whom a cloaked themselves in insincere sorrow and cheap black outfits. The ritual of Dad’s funeral was beyond abhorrent. Men and women keep whispering, “It’ll get better,” right before they stumble their way over to the bar.
But it won’t.
I’d rather be back in that horrible faux-leather chair, Dad dying right in front of me, than standing amidst so many strangers. There’s nothing better about life now.
Dad made me grilled cheese on rainy days. He grounded me when I was stupid and tried to sneak out. He told me stories about Mom, because I was too young to know her when she died.
He loved me.
…and I don’t see how anything could be better than that.