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Funerals for the Living

September 5th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

It’s been a very full week: rigorous rehearsals, moving from storage and sublet status to inhabiting a new space, trying to keep work flowing for the fall and getting news of a relative’s passing.

“I’ve always thought that funerals are for the living.” my dad says as he drives me to my new apartment with a van full of my attachments.  I am comforted to receive this, and his thoughts on what may inform my decision to abandon a week of critical rehearsals and meetings for the Siddhartha fringe project.

Agreeing with my father I say, “It’s like if I were watching people while I am dead I might think, why have you waited for me to die to visit?  You didn’t make the effort to visit me while I was alive but you’ll drop everything to come look at my dead body, what good is that?”

Still, it feels sad to be missing out on this ritual of saying goodbye to one who was a strong presence throughout my childhood.  It feels sad to me that I won’t be there for my aunt, and cousins and my parents; for whom, the loss is sad but also an opportunity to remember and reconnect with each other.  As adults, we no longer make the effort to gather in the same way when I was a child but I would like that to change.

Weddings and Funerals are the long-standing rituals that bring relatives and strangers together who would otherwise not spend as little as 10 minutes together.  Both weddings and funerals satisfy emotional cravings for communion and in most cases, a pain for the people being celebrated or producing the event.  Families often go into so much debt to put on these rights-of-passage rituals that they wish they were dead or work themselves out of any joy or vitality, such they might as well be dead.  Some people may have no plans to throw a wedding and one can be expected to be uncomfortably quiet at one’s own funeral, so let’s save the trouble and regret and make the effort now to be with each other.  It’s a matter of life and death.

While I will not be attending, I hope that my relatives at Uncle Ely’s funeral will appreciate their togetherness and be inspired to make efforts to create more opportunities to celebrate each other and reunite for any reason in between the weddings and funerals!  I feel my uncle’s presence and see his charming smile.  It’s okay with him.  I will find a way to be okay with it too.

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