My family of three, and only three now, not four, walked out of the double doors leading to the awaiting cars. Shiny black Cadillacs, the leader without a back roof in order to hold large wreaths and sprays of carnations, chrysanthemums, and occasional roses entwined with wire and forced into unnatural and hard shapes. Forms standardized to provide a showy display, then stack neatly like reclining soldiers into this half-car.
The pale blue coffin, a misty silvery blue was swallowed up silently and seamlessly into velvety darkness. This Cadillac compensated for the lack of back of the flower car. The plush upholstered walls and ceiling, the tightly pleated curtains on the windows, the metal signage in the window showing off to the world, that this business has a job today.
A somber, elegant man in livery gear, and white gloves, opens the double doors to the third car. The limousine. It was designed to hold many more people than us. It was cavernous and comfortable. Another black abyss, cradling me in its darkness, while houses, businesses, and streets scrolled on the other side of the window.
A sharp, tilted turn and we entered into the gardens of perpetual stones and sorrow. No large headstones and crypts in this section. Rows of uniform hard edged pillows of granite, laid in rows, but softened, as the direction followed the curve of the small hill.
The apparatus hovered over the rectangular hole draped on the sides to make it look less like the ground, less like a pit. People said things. People cried. People fluttered white cloths and tissues around their faces. The silvery blue coffin, light and ethereal against ￼the somber row of black dressed people encircling the pit.
Silence, then the sound of the pulley grinding away as it’s cargo slowly descends into the void. They say we have to throw dirt on it. My father does as decorum dictates. My mother does because the act is fused with drama, her forte. I don’t want to, I detest this. I want to sweep the dirt away and let the blue shine through again. It’s a slap in the face, a dirty slap in the face and Its sickening. I would rather people jump in and throw their bodies on the casket screaming in grief, than throwing dirt on the dead. Now the sorrow in the pit of my stomach has a lovely, bitter, ugly coating of anger.
The tall swarthy Irish looking driver gets behind the wheel of the hearse. The annoying kid in his black coat and silly black hat, gets into the flower car to wait.
The elegant man drives us to the next stop in this ritual. The hearse returns to the garage, it’s glorious procession over, the flower car packs up and disposes of the flowers no longer allowed to remain at the gravesite, probably due to some lazy maintenance people who got sick of wrestling with wires and rotting flowers.
I would drive in a kind of daze after the funeral. One day I was driving past the cemetery and this song came on the radio, It took me unawares and I broke down. I had to pull off the road. It was my grieving/crying song. Whenever the pain got to be too much in my chest, I’d play this, and the tears came and I could catch my breath again.