I have not cried at all since my Dad died on Monday morning. My eyes watered a little bit that afternoon when I was talking to someone on the phone but that faded as quickly as it took to blink my eyes. I suppose I shouldn't worry about this at all. Everyone grieves in different ways. I am probably in shock. It will take time so sink in. [Insert useless homily about response to death here.]
My father did not want a funeral. And he is not having one. I am not a fan of funerals in the least, having been to three already in my life: one for my father's mother, one for my mother's mother and one for my ex-boyfriend's mother who died when he was only nineteen years old. That had to be the worst of them all. His mother was Catholic and the entire funeral seemed more like a chance for the priest to expound the virtues of his religion and how it would save us all from hellfire and damnation than it was a time to remember and celebrate and memorialize her passing. Months later, when Abe was capable of discussing it, he told me how he had wanted to rush forward and choke the life out of that man as he blathered on and on about his mother's guaranteed entry to heaven and made it clear he knew so little about her. So maybe I should be glad that Dad didn't want a funeral after all. He wasn't particularly religious or spiritual so what would that even look like? Except I'm sure he's not the first non-religious, non-spiritual person to die and yet I bet several of them had some kind of service, some kind of memorial, to note their passing.
My father did not like himself much at all. He was a deeply unhappy, incredibly depressed man who seemed to live his life with the weight of his many demons bearing down on his shoulders. I am confident in thinking that his lack of desire for a funeral was not merely due to his nonexistent religious beliefs. I think my father couldn't imagine making anyone of us go to all that "fuss" over him. Because he won't be missed, right? He did so much to close himself off from life that he never saw how people instantly fell in love with him - from friends to family to lovers. Or, if he did, it was always something he glimpsed for a brief moment before he decided to shut us all out again and hide from the love we had.
A few weeks ago I was in the shower and I started composing potential eulogies for my Dad in my head. At this point I did not know about him not wanting a funeral and I thought it might fall to me to say a few words about him. I wanted to, despite the daunting task of trying to encapsulate someone's life into a few paragraphs. Especially someone with whom I spent much less of my life than I did with the mother and stepfather who raised me. But that doesn't mean I was not more than willing to try and find the words. Maybe my Dad thought he'd be doing me a favor by not asking me to. Maybe he thought he was saving from some sort of hassle or difficulty.
My father is being cremated and he wants his ashes spread in three different places: Florida, where his girlfriend will spread some of them near a jetty he loved to spend time at and was a meditative, peaceful place for him to be; Hawaii, where a friend's daughter will spread them in an area my father loved during a vacation and Kennebunkport, Maine where his parents lived for so many decades and where me, my Aunt, Uncle and other family will spread the remaining ashes at an as-yet-undecided point in time. I am glad we'll get to have this moment and this closure, but it feels like it needs to happen this second. I feel like I have a clutch of hummingbirds living inside my chest where my heart usually is - filling me with nervous shaking and tears that stop short of leaving my eyes. Maybe a funeral or memorial would do nothing to bring them out. Maybe it would. I have no idea.