It was a hot and humid day. I walked inside and sat down in the funeral parlor. People all went to visit the casket and turned away with watery eyes. People came up to me and gave me condolences for my loss.
One by one they filed through and shook my hand. These unfamiliar face who never knew me. Some even show their prejudice towards me openly as they don’t acknowledge me unless I were to shove my hand into their space. For about an hour this goes on and then I sit down in the front row of the parlor, just a few feet from the casket.
My grandfather was dead.
This means that I officially have no grandparents on either side. It only consists of uncles and aunts. That is as high as it goes.
I remember sitting there looking at the closed wooden box. The funeral parlor was packed full of people and I remember thinking, “I hope half this many people come to mine.”
The services went on. People who knew him in life spoke and cried. I paid attention to a lot of it but I couldn’t help but think about the situation period. I wasn’t saddened because I hardly knew him, unfortunately. I think that’s what did sadden me a bit, though. That feeling of a forever lost connection. Maybe we could have been friends. Maybe we could have talked. From what everyone said, he seemed like a great man but his past transgressions haunted my mother and my uncle whom remember those well.
I stared at the grain in the wood and remembered everything about the class I took on death dying and bereavement. I remembered it well. The funeral home and all the services. The business of death.
I also thought about the fact that it has been three deaths in a year and five months. It was just too much for me. Too much to carry. I felt this huge weight on myself that was suffocating. It is hard to describe. That much death kind of feels like an infection in your life. It filters into your happiest moments. You look at the shirt you wore that day or you remember something from that day.
It constantly reminds you of your own mortality. You try to talk to people about it and yet you can’t because it feels like you are bringing them down. You are burdening them with your unburdening.
This situation always reminds me of what I want after death. I remember touching the past two deaths and they were stiff and hard as oak. This makes me vocalize that I want a green burial. A shroud over me and stick me in the earth. Dust to dust kind of stuff. I reiterate this at every funeral. Three of them in a year and a half.
This weight reminds me of a story I heard in that class and it begs the question: what is the soul and what are its limitations?
I don’t like to put my personal beliefs into this blog because I feel like it is a personal thing and this blog is not about my beliefs but it has crept into this post a bit.
I do believe there is a soul or an energy within all of us. Within me. Even Einstein postulated that the body dies before the batteries do, if you will pardon the simplicity in which I used the metaphor.
There was this doctor, I believe this occurred in the late 19th or early 20th century, and this doctor wanted to find out scientifically if there was a soul. So, he took a person who was near death and then weighed him. They checked his vitals and sat near him until the moment of death and weighed him again. What they found was at that moment when the man died his body lost 21 grams of weight. This, he proclaimed, is the evidence that a soul has left the man’s body and that is the weight of the soul within a physical and tangible reality.
The soul had weight to it.
How much can a soul carry? How much can it be burdened with?
Mine has a lot right now but I am a big guy and I think it can take more. I thought that my soul was hardened for a while but after my mother went for surgery just two days after my grandfather was placed in the earth, I cried like a little girl who skinned her knee.
So, who knows how much a soul can bare but it makes me happy that I am not a robot devoid of emotion. That my soul has room on its shoulders to carry more of this burden of emotion that plagues me lately.
It makes me happy that my body and my soul are not broken.