There may be no tougher job than saying a few words at the funeral of a friend. On Thursday we stopped by the funeral home for the 'viewing'. Susan had wanted a closed coffin, so people came, said goodbye and then milled about chatting and sharing memories of Sue. After a brief hush of mourning there were little outbursts of laughter here and there as people remembered Susan and told stories of her life. Every one of us who knew how Susan viewed the work ethic, knew that she would be annoyed that we there on a work day.
I struggled and struggled to find a way to encapsulate a life into a few words. Especially a big life with big accomplishments, a life the had impact, had importance and made a difference. By the time I went to bed the night before I hadn't finished writing what I would say. At about 2 I woke up with an idea, I got up and wrote it down. For better or worse, it would have to do.
Knowing, just knowing, that the world isn't designed with the slightest thought of disability. We arrived at the funeral home early. I told them that I suspected that all the lecturns would be made for those standing, not for those sitting. They said that they, in fact, didn't have something that could be used by a wheelchair user. I told them that I expected that they expected that the only people who were on four wheels at the front would be lying down. They blanched at my joke (inasmuch as those pale people who work in funeral homes can blanch, these folks all looked liked they'd been the main snack at a vampire convention, but I digress).
We adapt the environment to make speaking possible and I park, to get ready for the funeral. I saw several people and the hardest thing for me, the very hardest, was knowing that I couldn't call Susan to gossip about the people at her funeral. Sometimes after a meeting we'd get on the phone and gossip away, laughing for long stretches. I wanted so much to ask her 'Did you see the face on that one?' ... 'She's obviously here for the lunch afterward!' ... 'My good heaven who's he with now?' While Susan was a wonderful professional, with ethics a mile long, she did love a chinwag.
All evening I flashed on something I'd like to talk to her about. Something where I'd just have to pick up the phone.
But there is a hole in my life.
A Susan sized hole.
And I'm glad of it. Joe and I drove home chatting about Susan and her kids, about the funeral and the people there. We were both exhausted. Saying Goodbye, the Big Goodbye, is very very difficult.
Oh, well, I'm sure of this ... 'Heaven's ramped ...' So I'll see her again.