Monday, February 18, 2008

Crying Fool

I wish there were some way I could practice getting better at dealing with death. I guess the only rehearsal any of us gets is imagining what it will be like to live without a loved one while he or she is still here. But that doesn't work for me.

I thought about this on the way to New Hampshire for the wake of one of my best friend's mother. She called me on Saturday morning to tell me her mom had finally lost to the cancer she'd been battling for more than two years. As her voice cracked on the other end of the phone, I immediately started to sob. I got myself together only to immediately lose it again when I called a mutual friend to pass along the news. I was watching something on TV I wanted my mother to see, and cried again when I told her.

Stupidly, I decided to see There Will Be Blood last night, and was trying to finish the Charles Schulz biography I was reading (spoiler: he dies of cancer), leaving me so emotional that I was that person who cries quietly on the train while other passengers look away. I woke up this morning, hoping I could keep it together in front of my friend and her family at the wake.

I was fine until I started looking at the pictures of my friend's parents on their wedding day. They both looked so cute and so young, and it wasn't that long ago they were married. I got it back together until I waved at my friend, who sadly waved back. A friend handed me a tissue as I got close to the casket and I composed myself enough to hug her family and choke out an "I'm sorry."

"Don't cry," my friend warned as I started to lose it again after I let her out of a hug.

I hate being the emotional basketcase when people die. I wish I could just mist up at the appropriate times and save the sobbing for the privacy of my apartment. I want to be able to hug my friend and be strong for her, but I can't manage to do that. Instead, I'll be hiding in the back of the church tomorrow at the funeral. I know the most important thing is that I show up and show my friend I care. I just wish I could accomplish that without sobbing my way through a box of Kleenex.

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