honoring my friend in the only way i know how
We’re all standing there in awkward groups, not really sure what to talk about, not really sure if we should be talking at all. We don’t really know the protocol for this sort of things; the girls in black dresses and the boys in their suits. The boys really do look like boys, not the men they claim to be. They look like children playing in their parents clothes. That’s what we all look like. We’re playing grownup and struggling to deal with our own grownup burden. Our collective burden. Our collective grief.
I’m standing there in the dress I bought the day before just for this occasion. I’ll never wear it again. I won’t wear the dress or the uncomfortable new shoes ever again. The cheap synthetic fabric of the dress clings to me in the miserable humidity of a spring day in Alabama. I don’t care though. I feel like I should be uncomfortable anyways.
Then we’re all sitting in the church. The Protestants are awkwardly fidgeting with every song and kneel, unsure of what to do. I act as a guide, an agnostic with six years of Catholic school drilling. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Ahead of me is a massive, skeletal Jesus, light shining through the panes of his body. He’s pale, holy, glowing, and surrounded by vibrant colors that seem out of place during such a situation. You see him? He’s holding out his hands towards us, showing us his pierced hands. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. He’s telling us he’s saved us; he’s showing us what he gave. Too bad I don’t believe in him. But now’s not the time or the place to be thinking about that. (I wouldn’t want my savior to look like that.) Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners. Sniffles resound around the church. I’m crying and embarrassed. I should have brought a tissue but I didn’t so my nose is running. But that’s not why I’m embarrassed. His family is in the rows ahead of me. Now and at the hour of our death. They play Pachelbel’s Canon because he used to play it. I’m sure he could have played it better than the organist. Amen.
His casket is right there; he is right there. A white sheet, a crucifix, a rosary, a bible. Millennia ago they would have been a coin in his mouth. But we’re not superstitious. Incense swung left, right, left, right, engulfing the sanctuary. There’s no smell more comforting than incense. My brother’s in the front row. He’s a pallbearer. He’s too young for this. We’re all too young for this. We shouldn’t lose one of our own for decades. A freak accident. Fuck the randomness of the universe. But we don’t say that. We bow our heads and pray. That’s the only thing we can do.
Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. The skeletal Jesus smiles benevolently down on us. Show a little remorse, why don’t you? His hollow cheeks and bony arms. Perhaps that is accurate. Three days in a tomb might do that to you. They kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. What is your will, exactly? Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. The world is a cruel and random place. In my mind at that moment that very nature is beyond all forgiveness. Tears are streaming. His sister is talking about him. We all know what she’s saying is true. It hits us harder than anything. Captures his essence. And lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil. You see his hands? His nail pierced hands? They say he’s in a better place; that all believers are. I can only hope that’s true. Have faith in the faith of others but nothing more than that. But I believe that he deserves one hell of an afterlife. I only wish he could have waited for it just a little longer.We all needed him more than he could have even understood. You weren't a loner.
They’re carrying out the casket. Happy afterlife, Martin. You deserve the best.
RIP Martin Farrell