My First Wake

A close friend whom I consider family really lost her father-in-law the other day. He suffered a stroke just before Christmas and never really recovered. He died in hospice on Wednesday. I found out about it when I was reading the paper this morning at work. His visitation was this evening. I wasn’t too sure that going to the visitation was a good idea. I knew that it would more than likely be an open casket. I didn’t know how I would react to see the body. After all I did know him though not particularly well. But, I felt like I should. I can’t hide behind my widow status…not where friends are concerned. I had to take my daughter. There are few instances when I don’t. Besides, last minute babysitters are harder to find than regular ones. I prepped her as best I could and we set off. The funeral home was in a little town to the east of Des Moines. It is a farming community really with the tallest buildings in town being the grain elevators that make up the only thing that could pass as a skyline. We spotted my friend right away and she admonished me for coming. “After all you’ve been through, you didn’t need to.” In some ways though that is exactly why I needed to. All I have been through has altered me in ways I never would have imagined and in ways I am probably not even aware of yet. I didn’t want one of those ways to wind up being “not being there for friends”. We sought out all of the family. Paid our respects, which turned out to be more difficult for my daughter who is now trying t sort out the idea that there are big and small boxes to be buried in. And then, we left. I didn’t feel like crying and still don’t. I feel uncomfortably disconnected in a way that is too familiar. I am proud of myself for not taking the easy pass. It is not what friends should do. It’s good to have another first behind me for a change.

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