Crashing Your Funeral

July 21, 2016

Nearly half of the student body was there, people who barely knew him, people who hated him, people he hated. All of them standing around a body that used to be a somebody, pretending that they cared. My chest seemed to squeeze in on itself with the effort of not sobbing. I couldn’t cry. No matter how badly I needed to. I couldn’t wail and sob till my eyes swelled shut and my nose ran and my head pounded with tears. Not now. Not in front of these fake mourners who were all doing the same thing. If I cried now, it would be for them and not for him.
I tilt my head up at the sky, the color of dust. There’s a thin layer of cloud over the stretch of sky above us, like God forgot to wipe all of them away. Clumps of dark almost blue-gray clouds cluster at the edges of the horizon, they promise rain, but they’re too lazy to try to dominate the white washed sky. The sun tries vainly to shine through as if it’s a normal summer day, giving everything a grayish tinge. It makes me feel sick.
A hand brushes up against my arm and I tense up. It’s a girl. I know her from school, I think, but can’t remember her name.
“I’m so sorry,” she says, half whispering. “We all loved him…” And then she just looks at me nodding and giving me that awful pity smile. I try not to glower at her. I don’t need her pity. “I’m so sorry for your loss,” she says. Of course she’s sorry, everyone’s so sorry. I can taste bile in my mouth. Another girl standing at her elbow nods and sends me a sympathetic smile. Her name sleepily drifts to the top of my head. Emma. No… Elizabeth.
“We’re all going to miss him so much.” I stare at them blankly. They hardly knew Aaron. Elizabeth-maybe-Emma had probably spoken to him twice in her life, most likely to copy his science homework.
“Thanks…” I mumble and turn away. I drift to the edge of the funeral. I wish they’d leave. Everything exciting is long over, they’re all just cluttered around his fresh grave, chatting. They’re flocked around it in their respective black attire like crows. A murder of crows. Aaron wasn’t murdered. Not by anyone living.
I turn away from the rest of the funeral party, looking out at the rest of the cemetery. A thick grouping of dark pines stand in the distance, towering over the neat waves of grave markers. It isn’t a happy cemetery. The flowers that are placed on graves are few and far between and the grass is either dying or overgrown. It’s too small of a town and too small of a graveyard for people to care what is looks like anymore.
I kick at an overgrown marker with a shiny black shoe. 1910. Whoever I was standing above hadn’t been alive for over a hundred years. No one was around to remember anything about them anymore. I run my hands through my unkempt hair. The grave markers were pointless. The dead don’t care about their graves. They’re not around to see them. I glance back at the murder of weeping teenagers. The markers are really for the living. Making sure none of us forget that another one of us died, solemn reminders that we won’t last forever.
I take a step away from the funeral, then another. As soon as I turn away from everyone the tears come steadily, like I’ve turned on a tap. I start walking away quickly then burst into a sprint. I need to get away. The tears spill freely down my cheeks now and I don’t stop them.  I have to get as far away as possible. I stumble over uneven ground. A fresh grave. I keep going. Furthur, furthur. My tears blur the scene in front of me and I trip again over a vase of dead flowers, breaking the glass. I fall onto the grass and catch myself with my hands. There’s a sharp pain in my palm.  I pull my hand back quickly, cradling it. A thin line of blood seeps out, I cut myself on the broken vase. I lay down on the dying grass and it pricks at my through my funeral clothes, but I don’t get up. I can’t stop crying. It’s like when you bend your hose in half and then let it go quickly, and it all rushes out and just keeps going. I turn onto my back, looking up at the still gray sky. Six feet above someone else’s used to be somebody.
I let my tears flow till my head pounds but I still don’t feel any better. I run my hands through my hair. I hate this. I hate this. I hate humans. For being fragil. For being weak. For going to a dead boys funeral to soothe guilty consciences. I hate that it was so easy for Aaron to make himself into just a body. I hate that I can cut my hand open just by falling onto broken glass.
      I nearly jump out of my skin. A figure towers above me, silhouetted against the grey attempts of sun. I mumble a greeting, sitting up onto my knees. I squint up at the figure. He sits down on the grass next to me. I look up at the sky again. I wish it would just rain. I wish the weather would either commit to being sunny or rainy, none of this in between stuff.
“How are you doing?”
I don’t say anything. I try not to glare at him.
“Sorry,” he says. “Stupid question. Stupid service, too.” I couldn’t help agreeing with him. The preacher was way too preachy. His whole sermon had this underlying tone of “I know he was your friend, but he is going to go to hell for taking his own life.” Not to mention the mourners. I think of the nameless girl, “We all loved him so much, we’re going to miss him, so sorry, blah, blah, blah…”
I heave a deep sigh, wiping tears from my cheeks, trying to compose myself.
“Honestly… I’m just angry.” I say finally.
He nods solemnly. “You have a right to feel that way.”
I almost laugh, “No I don’t. It isn’t fair of me.” We’re quiet for a moment. “I keep thinking it must be some kind of sick joke.” I almost whisper. “Every morning I wake up and for a few moments everythings fine, and then it just… Hits me. And I remember it isn’t.” I look over at him. He’s studying his hands. I do glare at him then; why won’t he look at me? “There’s a whole lot of die for in this world, but there’s more to live for.” I say bitterly.
He nods absentmindedly. “Like cookie dough ice cream.”
“Yeah, there's ice cream,” I say. “Or perfect summer nights or good books or being inside during crazy thunderstorms or traveling and friends and family...” I curl my knees up to my chest. “There’s so much to be happy for,” I say. “There was me, and Adam, and...” The tears sting at me again.
“Sometimes, the sad just outweighs the happy.”
My face is wet. “Why are you here?”
He shrugs again. “I just feel like you need to know… It wasn’t your fault. None of it… It was…” His voice breaks off. I glance up at him, and his eyes are puffy like he’s been crying almost as much as I have. “You’re right though, there is so much to live for. It just gets tiring after a while… living… Life without meaning… There are… tunnels. And sometimes, the tunnels, they seem too long, too dark and… it’s hard... Too hard for some," He continues.
I swallow. “It's harder now. Now I'm all alone." I feel bitter again. Bitter that I was left all alone by someone I had trusted. Bitter he hadn't thought it wasn’t worth it to hang on. I look at him, and he looks about ready to burst into tears.
"Life’s rough," he says. "That’s the way it is. It’s up and downs and sometimes it seems like you’ll never be able to get back up… Nothing is the way it should be. Nobody’s lives are they way they should be. Sometimes the wrong is just... Overwhelming."
I shake my head.
"Life is… crooked," he says. "But it’s precious. Nothing is completely good or right, but there are little things that are. I know that now." Too late. I look down at my hands covered in blood and tears. Screw this. Screw him. It's too late. The bitterness bites in my gut.
"Too late,” I whisper.
I just shake my head.
"No, hey. Look at me. It's important you know this. I know things are going to be hard now but--"
"Hard?" I cut him off. "Hard is a pop quiz in math. Hard is climbing a mountain in ninety degree weather. This… this is hell!" My voice was rising. “How am I supposed to live now? Just carry on like normal?" I shake my head. "I can't do it."
He looks panicked at my outburst. "Don't say that! You'll be fine!  It'll get better… "
"It can't. I am always going to have to live with this, can’t you see that? This isn’t something I'll be able to just turn off one day! You were not some special case in the universe, everyone’s life sucks, okay? We’re all fighting our own battles. But we don’t give up on them!” I’m shaking and sobbing now, but my voice rings out to the dead, clear and strong. “We don’t ever give up! We keep fighting, we push ourselves and allow ourselves to dream, but we don’t give up! I can’t believe you gave up on me you selfish bastard!” My voice breaks, my words mixing with a sob. He looks like I’d struck him, and I’m glad. I’d wanted to hurt him.
He takes a step toward me. “I’m sorry,” he almost whispers. He actually is crying now. “I’m so sorry--”
“Sorry doesn’t fix this!” I explode back at him. “Sorry doesn’t fix anything!” I break down completely, the fire burned out of me. “I could have saved you.” I whisper. He shakes his head. “No! Listen to me!” I’m still yelling, but I don’t care. I feel like if I yell this loud enough, maybe something will change. “I could have saved you. I wanted to save you!”
“Some of us just can't be saved. Some of us just aren't worth it.”
I grit my teeth. “No. Not you. You would’ve been so worth it. You would have been worth saving.”
“Well it doesn’t matter now does it?” He’s angry at me now. I can hear it in his voice, and it shocks me. “I know, you tried and I’m sorry that you couldn’t help me but look, it wasn’t about you okay? You-- you were the only reason I’d get out of bed in the morning! Some mornings… But that I just couldn’t handle any of this anymore alright? So don’t blame yourself. I’m not coming back.”
He sighs. I look at him, really look at him. I drink him in. His messy hair and crooked nose. The face that I never thought I’d ever seen again. Aaron. My Aaron. Back from the dead and all I can do is yell at him.
“I’m sorry,” I say. Because I’m having a conversation with my dead best friend and it seems like the thing to say. “I just… I don’t know how to do any of this without you,” I whisper.  “I’m breaking,” I cover my face with my hands, the tap turned on again. I’m so sick of crying. I’m surprised I still have liquid inside me to cry out.
“I didn’t mean…” I hear him take a step toward me, hear the dry grass crinkle under his foot, but I don’t look up. “Hey… You’re alright. You’re the strong one, remember?” He’s quiet for a moment. “I--” his voice brakes. “I can’t touch you,” he says quietly, and I can hear his tears.
I shake my head, “It’s alright.”
“I have to leave again soon.”
I wrap my arms around myself, but I don’t look up at him again. My tears are dripping down now onto my black clothes, and I just let them flow.
“Don’t forget about all that stuff you said,” he says. “About why life is worth it. You… Hold on to that. You’ll be alright.”
“Okay,” I say.
“Okay.” Silence. I wipe my nose on my sleeve.
“It’s alright, Aaron. Just go.”
And when I look up he’s gone.
It starts to rain.

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