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I Really Wish I Could Attend at Least One of My Father’s Funerals in Person

·607 words·3 mins

I’m not sure why I feel so apologetic whenever Mom asks the question I’m getting used to getting from her. “Are the covid cases going down in Dallas yet?”

“No,” I text back. “They’re going up.”

It’s been a long string of record days. Everything’s going in the wrong direction.

A Different Funeral Experience Than Any of Us Had Planned

When Dad passed away in April, they had wanted to have a large public funeral for him. I grew up in rural Maine and come from a very small town. He was a pillar of that little community, someone everyone looked up to.

So the fact that he died during a pandemic, when large funerals were illegal, meant an awful lot of people who wanted to be at his wake and funeral couldn’t be. Instead, the event was live streamed.

I’m the only one of his four kids who lives outside of New England. The only one who would have to fly in. Normally I would do that. But not this time, as doing so would potentially risk exposing everyone I came into contact with to massive airport cooties.

So I had to watch my father’s funeral on a live stream in my living room. I got up early that morning, put on a nice black dress, did my hair. Pretended as though I’d really be there, with the rest of my family.

My brother texted me pictures from the wake of my father lying in the coffin, which I appreciated, even if it seemed strange and even profane. It did help with my closure to see him.

I was able to catch the live stream of the actual funeral, hear the wonderful eulogy the priest gave for my father.

Thank goodness for technology.

My mother says that when they went to inter the body (my sister sent me pictures of that), that dozens of cars surrounded the graveyard, and people yelled out messages of love and support.

They had to keep their distance. But they wanted to let the family know that they cared.

A Larger In-Person Celebration “When Things Are Safer”

When my father died and we had to have the smaller funeral, the plan was always to have a larger in-person celebration of my father’s life, “later,” “when things are safer.”

The timeline my mother always gave was “sometime this summer.” I’m writing this essay on June 30 (and will schedule it to come out later). And as I do, it’s becoming more and more evident that if there is a larger in-person celebration “sometime this summer,” I won’t be able to attend that either.

And I’ll be honest about that: It really hurts.

I think of it every time I hear from people who are upset that they went a little long without a haircut. Or are upset that they have to wait longer to be seated at a sit-down restaurant (which are mysteriously still open for sit-down service here in Texas as I write this, while bars were recently shut down). Or don’t think they should have to wear a mask at Costco.

I find myself wondering if their perspective would be different if they found themselves unable to safely be there for their father’s backup funeral. If they had to be the one to deliver the bad news to their mother, that things are getting worse, not better.

To be quite honest, my hair looks like shit right now, but it doesn’t matter. Hair is hair. It’s such a small thing. What I really wish is that I could attend at least one of my father’s funerals in person.


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