Last Modified Date: April 15, 2009.
A young girl, having overdosed and died, attends her own funeral.
This was a prayer for forgiveness, given at most funerals, but given my circumstances really meant something. I wanted forgiveness. I wanted God and my family to truly believe I didn’t want any of this to happen. Drug dependency took over my life and didn’t give it back. The only way I was myself that day at my funeral, was because I was dead. A parasite cannot survive if its host dies, and that’s just what happened to me.
The mourners received communion and started to exit their pews and follow my casket out of the church. My family trailed behind my casket as the choir began singing something else in Latin. It’s amazing how a song in a dead language that no one understands can bring a whole room to tears.
Though no one knew the words to the song, it was as if each and every person innately understood its moving message; as if the words penetrated their bodies and was translated into their hearts, immersing them completely, forcing the tears to the surface.
The church was located right across the street from a playground. I was buried May 26th and it was hot out that day. Kids, unaware of the tragedy that was playing out just a few feet away, played on the swing set, rising and falling in tune with the church bells.
By the time I was carried through the cemetery to my plot, the sun had been taken hostage by gray clouds, threatening rain at any instant.
With the rain still holding off, the wind picked up, rustling the trees that were in the cemetery, in the near distance wind chimes could be heard playing a pretty song all their own. One by one the mourners said their final goodbye to me and placed the rose they held on top of my casket that hovered above my open grave.
Earth to earth. When the casket closed and I was lowered into the ground, my story ended. There were no re-writes, no starting over from scratch. My story’s ending was as permanent as a deep carving in stone. In life, there are rarely second chances, and I must have been given a hundred “second” chances only to swat them away like I would do to gnats in the summer night.
My family, my friends, the priest, the police, people who I didn’t even know, kept whispering how unfortunate it was that a young life be lost in such a way. It was one of the first things the police told my father and mother, it was the first thing the priest said when he spoke in front of the packed room of the funeral home, it’s the first thing that passerbys mumbled to one another when they realized a dead teenager laid in that funeral home. For something to be considered “unfortunate”, the situation has to be considered disastrous or unlucky.
Ashes to ashes. It’s unfortunate, they were right. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t know better. My drug addiction was blamed on a lot of things, one being my young, impressionable age. Others blamed my drug addiction on my whole generation, saying that everyone my age thought they were immortal and that Death wouldn’t come looking for them even if they put themselves in danger.
Dust to dust. My mother and father will search for signs that I am watching over them, I am sure of it. When my grandmother passed, for the first few months my mother told me that if I was really quiet, I could hear my grandmother’s sewing machine running and that meant we were safe. Even as young as I was then, I knew I wasn’t going to hear a sewing machine. I also knew that I would never tell my grieving mother I didn’t hear a sewing machine either. Every so often I would sit with my mother in her room, sitting Indian style across from one another on her queen sized bed, and listen for the sewing machine, it never came, but my mother swore she heard it.
Though my parents would never hear my footsteps down the hall or hear music blaring through the closed door of my bedroom again, I was there with them, in their hearts and in their memories. They loved me unconditionally, and that was enough for them to see the signs of my presence, even if I really wasn’t there. They saw me in the slow drip in the faucet they heard during the night, the surprise snow storm in the middle of April that wasn’t in the forecast, a flicker in a candle, a shooting star. They felt me in the sudden summer breeze that blew through the house, throwing papers in the air and rattling the blinds, then disappearing from the house like it was nothing but a dream. I was a laugh from a stranger. I was everywhere my parents looked.
But I am gone, and it’s unfortunate.
People do harmful and strange things for one unexplainable reason or another. The question after all of these life choices is always: but why did they choose to do that? Why steal? Why hurt? Why use? Unfortunately there may never be a black and white answer to this question, at least there wasn’t in my lifetime. So these actions remained unexplained, no reason given, just that we are human and nothing more. And that, my friends, is very unfortunate.