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A Smile On Your Face, And A Tear Right In Your Eye


On Friday, I said good-bye to my friend, and I wish like hell that I could say it was wonderful and uplifting, but it was neither of those things.

It was unspeakably awful.

Someone (likely her parents) had put together some poster board montages of pictures of Steph in better days and they carefully portrayed someone so full of life, so vivacious that it made it even harder to remember that the person in that open casket all stretched out and weird looking was the same person.

Hearing her five year old son say, “Hey, want to look at my mom? She’s all dead and hard.” and then her two year old say, “No, wanna see MOMMY!” when he was taken away from the coffin made my heart sink and die a little bit right then and there.

Whomever the person that officiated was (it was in a funeral home, so I don’t think it was a pastor or anything) sucked. She made me angry, with her stupid metaphors about Steph’s struggle with alcoholism and mental illness, and above all else, she sucked and Steph would have hated her speech.

She made it sound as though Steph was routinely sitting around in heavy eyeliner listening to The Cure’s Disinegration on repeat carving “Kurt Cobain” in her arm. It couldn’t have been farther from who she was.

She also claimed that all that we’d loved about Steph, her effervescence and wit, her humor and braveness had all been part of her illness. Yeah, fuck and you come to mind as I recall that. Don’t you DARE take away who she really was to any of us. You did not even know her.

(In the words of one of my Metal Heads, “Anytime you evoke Lazarus at a funeral, you’re an idiot.” See, these are Catholic School educated Metal Heads.)

We held our own sort of remembrance afterwards at a bar down the street from the funeral home, and the mood, although seemingly buoyant to bystanders, was downright morbid. We each took turns talking about what we wanted the other to make absolute sure that our funeral would hold (not something one would normally think about and discuss, but then again, none of us expected to be there).

Scott wanted to be stuffed and set up in a chair a la Weekend At Bernie’s, and we assured him that when the firewood inevitably got low, we’d throw him on as kindling.

I explained that under absolutely no circumstances would my casket be open to freak everyone out (no one looks like they did in life, no matter how good the makeup artist is), but since some morbid A-Hole would probably want to see me, I insisted that I be in full KISS makeup.

I mean, if I’m not going to look like myself anyway, I may as well REALLY not look like myself.

I also appointed Kristin as my flower monitor, and as such she would be responsible for insuring that only good flowers make it to my graveside. No filler flowers, absolutely no carnations or daisies and under NO circumstances would lilies (aside from Cala lilies, which I adore) be allowed. Pretty much anything ordered from the Funeral section of a florists selection would be a no go.

And anyone who dared bring either wreaths that said “Beloved Mother” or “Devoted Wife” OR plastic flowers would be sent away at the door. Return to sender.

I also explained that rather than give my children an inheritance, I was going to hire out- of-work actors to weep hysterically at my grave several times a week. For as many years as the money would last.

I wish like anything I’ve ever wished that the funeral had provided closure (what the hell is closure, anyway? Seriously, I don’t get that concept.) or that I can say that I honestly feel better, but it would be a lie. (I’m not sitting around in heavy eyeliner listening to The Cure’s Disinegration on repeat carving “Kurt Cobain” on my arm, either though).

Steph’s death did, however, make damn sure that any other petty annoyances seem even more trivial than they previously had. And I make certain that I count each and every one of my blessings.

And that is a good thing.

posted under You Are SO Boring
29 Comments to

“A Smile On Your Face, And A Tear Right In Your Eye”

  1. On February 17th, 2008 at 4:50 pm ewe_are_here Says:

    Sadly, I think you’ve just summed up why I don’t want a funeral…just scatter my ashes somewhere pretty, please.

    I’m sorry it was so awful; it must have made it even more difficult to say goodbye to your friend.

  2. On February 17th, 2008 at 5:38 pm Tony Says:

    yep..I dont like the concept of the standard funeral. I either want a Viking funeral (everyone on shore dancing and carrying on, while my corpse floats out to see and the boat is set on fire) or, even better, I’d like to be wrapped up in whatever they wrap dead people in and layed in the direct path of a hawaian lava flow – again, everyone should be drinking and carrying on.

  3. On February 17th, 2008 at 5:39 pm TheRamblingHousewife Says:

    Funerals are hideous, aren’t they? There has got to be a better way . . .

    And you hit it right on, about counting our blessings!

    I ALWAYS need reminding! 🙂

  4. On February 17th, 2008 at 5:48 pm Cricket Says:

    Wow, she had two kids. Man.

    I’m glad you got to let loose a little. Death is definitely good for perspective, too.

  5. On February 17th, 2008 at 7:00 pm kim Says:

    I want one really sappy song played, so they all cry, out loud, like they will never stop.

    I want so many flowers that the people with allergies have to keep stepping outside.

    I want to be able to hear the stories that they all tell.

    I want to die before either of my children, but before my husband, both because I am a coward when you come right down to it, and I don’t think I can bury any of them.

    Then, I want all those who knew me, “really knew me” to head off to the closest bar and get ripped fucking drunk and tell the “real” stories that matter. How I was kind enough to sacrafice myself for another, but cross my kids, and I was mean enough to rip your head off, while still looking like a classy irish/scottish chick.

    NO open casket, for obvious reasons, and scatter my ashes between the beautiful Lake Ontario (that I grew up on), and the lake that I now live on with my husband, kids, and some of the most amazing friends that I have the honor of calling my own.

    I never met her, and I miss her, Becky. Your words would make her proud, of that I am sure.

  6. On February 17th, 2008 at 8:57 pm Painted Maypole Says:

    oh, I’m so sorry for your loss. and sorry the funeral sucked.

    and, although i hope you don’t die anytime soon, but if you do, I’m up for hire for the weeping and wailing bit.

  7. On February 17th, 2008 at 9:55 pm Suz Says:

    Oh. My heart is breaking for the little ones. I’m so sorry for their loss, and your own.

    I like your funeral.

    Mine, I think, would involve the scattering of ashes and lots and lots of D.eath Cab for Cu.tie.

  8. On February 17th, 2008 at 10:29 pm honeywine Says:

    Thanks god the kids are too young to really understand (as much as it kills you to hear them). I always hate those stilted speeches. Why can’t everyone have those wonderful eulogies like in 4 Weddings & a Funeral or Love Actually? I’m glad that the hardest part (hardest part involving other ppl anyhow) is over for you and KC.

  9. On February 17th, 2008 at 10:06 pm Jerseygirl89 Says:

    I’m so sorry about your friend and her horrible funeral. How sad. I refuse to think about my funeral, but I do know I want to be cremated. Then I want my ashes buried so that I can have a headstone.

  10. On February 17th, 2008 at 10:17 pm Heather Says:

    The whole death pyre thing intrigued me, too (I think that’s what happened at the beginning of Beowulf). At any rate, I abhor funerals; and it is only out of respect for those who don’t, that I attend them.

    Continued thoughts coming your way (and I hope you can find many more reasons to smile, Becks).

  11. On February 17th, 2008 at 11:27 pm Heather Says:

    I really love the idea of the KISS makeup. My mother and I discuss exactly this issue quite a bit and your idea is absolutely the best. When my uncle committed suicide, it was always his wish to not be stared at in death, but you would not believe the a-holes that just insisted on wanting to see him. You just really don’t know how your idea appeals to me and I hope you are all right with me stealing it.
    When my uncle died he left two small children, a daughter of 2, and son 6 months. Sadly they don’t remember their father. He is the giant shadow standing behind the step-father who raised them. Always there but never able to grasp. Please do everything you can to keep her memory alive for the kids.
    I have been to so many funerals like the one you describe where the speaker knows nothing about the deceased. I always want to stand up and scream! It makes me so angry and I get NO peace from it-I don’t know how anyone does.
    God Bless.

  12. On February 18th, 2008 at 6:10 am Carlynn Says:

    I love the idea of out-of-work actors weeping hysterically at my graveside, thank you, am adding it to my … (what would you call it?) death plan. My husband is just going to love this one, “Oh honey, we talk far too much about fertility treatments, let’s move on and talk about my funeral.”

    The picture of your friend lying there in an open casket was so permanent. I’m so sorry she is not here and so sorry you were at her funeral. I’m glad you went to a bar afterwards with friends, however morbid it was.

    And thank you for your comment, as always you make me laugh. And death does put things in perspective, as your loss of your friend shows me every time I come here. I am still here and eager to talk about yaks, definitely counts for a lot.

  13. On February 18th, 2008 at 6:23 am Karen Says:

    I am sorry the actual funeral was so difficult. When my mom died (which is all I have to compare it too) I did get closure out of the process. It was like once the services were over I could finally breath again.

    And having anyone who doesn’t know the deceased doing any sort of speech is terrible, but it seems as if this person was particularly stupid.

    LOL. I don’t want anyone coming to my grave. I know my spirit won’t be hanging out there. Who the heck wants to hang out in a cememtary?

  14. On February 18th, 2008 at 7:26 am Emily Says:

    Her boys. Her poor boys.

    I lay cuddling in bed with Zach yesterday and thought to myself that my mother had not known me when I was anywhere near this verbal and cognitive level. And when I think of Steph’s boys, struggling through their lives with those thoughts, I just want to spare them.

    My thoughts are with you, your friends, and mostly those boys.

  15. On February 18th, 2008 at 9:18 am kbreints Says:

    People never look like themselves in the casket because they are not there. They are gone. I too– would not want and open casket- however it is not for me that the funeral is being held, so I would defer to my family and friends. Whatever they wanted.

    Damn the person who spoke about her. It should always be a friend or family. Someone that knew her– Or nothing at all. I mean– filler is better than wrong information.

  16. On February 18th, 2008 at 9:36 am Doc Says:

    Cremate me please….

  17. On February 18th, 2008 at 10:53 am Pauline Says:

    Funerals are awful. Agreed. I’m glad you made it through.

  18. On February 18th, 2008 at 10:56 am ame s. Says:

    I didn’t realize her boys were so young. That is harsh. God bless their little hearts.
    I totally agree with no open caskets. I lost my husband in 03, when our daughters were 3 and 5. I didn’t take them to the funeral. I didn’t even want to be there. I may as well not have been, because my husband’s step-mother managed to make the funeral all about her. Granted, hubby’s dad died 2 days before hubby did, but, jeez “Nana”.
    The funeral director felt it necessary to explain to me he wasn’t able to get hubby’s hair “quite right” because further brushing would make it fall out. Hubby was just glad to have hair again after chemo stopped, I doubt he cared.
    After watching him die slowly for 2 years, I think I was able to find some sense of closure at the funeral.
    The pain will fade for you, but I know how you feel right now.

  19. On February 18th, 2008 at 10:03 am Amy Says:

    I’m so sorry that the funeral sucked. I hate when people who don’t know the person give the speech at the service because they have no clue who the person really was and it just seems wrong coming from a random person. I personally want to be cremated, but if my family chooses to have some sort of memorial service I would hope that they themselves would get up and speak about me rather than hiring some person who doesn’t know shit to talk about me. I am so very sorry for your loss. My heart breaks for you and for her little boys.

  20. On February 18th, 2008 at 12:11 pm Kristin Says:

    What about dandelions? Scott seemed hell bent on covering you with them.

  21. On February 18th, 2008 at 1:19 pm Andria Says:

    The part about the kids really upset me. That is so sad.

    My college roommate died of breast cancer in 99. She didn’t even tell any of us she had it. Her mom called me two weeks after her death because that was the way she wanted it. I missed her funeral that way. I still have no idea why she would do that, but absolutely no closure, it’s still like she’s here in other town and I sulk when she doesn’t email in a timely manner. Very. Odd.

    I am sorry about your friend. It sucks.

  22. On February 18th, 2008 at 2:27 pm Calliope Says:

    oh man. I am just now catching up with you. I read the last few days in one sitting and just, fuck. What a week you have had.
    You have to wonder if a service like that was done more for the family than in tribute to the woman.
    I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. I hope she is at one truly awesome stones show right now.

  23. On February 18th, 2008 at 3:28 pm SaraS-P Says:

    At least Steph didn’t have to listen to how badly the officiant botched her funeral! Funerals are lame. I bet the bar gathering was much more satisfying.

  24. On February 18th, 2008 at 5:51 pm Kristine Says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, and I whole heartedly agreed with not making people look at dead people at a funeral, and if they do? They should totally get the shock of seeing them in full KISS make-up.

  25. On February 18th, 2008 at 5:27 pm Denise Says:

    Holy shit, you’ve had one long week or so. I haven’t been online much and checked in with you here. I’m sorry for the loss of your friend.

  26. On February 18th, 2008 at 5:40 pm Denise Says:

    Check this out:

    Hope it brings a slight smile to your face.

  27. On February 18th, 2008 at 8:30 pm LAS Says:

    I’m sorry it was so terrible. I didn’t know she had children, I feel so sad for them – for all of you. Let me know if I can do anything to help you.

  28. On February 18th, 2008 at 9:06 pm magpie Says:

    You’ve written so beautifully about her. Thank you.

  29. On February 19th, 2008 at 1:51 pm Kristen Says:

    Just want you to know that I have been thinking of you and your immense loss. I think you have done a lovely job of remembering your friend here.

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