It would be deemed inappropriate to harp on in a eulogy about the sheen of her hair or the deep blue of her eyes, but it is very good to say she had this funny way of saying coffee. If this bittersweet aside is craftily inserted in between heartfelt examples of the level of intimacy and sincerity that had once existed in your relationship and wistful premonitions of “a better place,” at the end, the audience may feel so compelled to leave their seats and clap for you.
The wife sets fire to herself after she gives birth to a still baby. I know what you’re thinking, “conditions aren’t perfect.”
We do not grieve the charred skin or the leathered face or the petit hands that had once fit tender inside her fathers, now curled into burnt fists. Instead, we grieve the voice inside of her head that brought animation to it all. We grieve the consciousness which spent most of its time on trivialities; fragmented sentences, flashes of half formed images, tidbits of conversation she has had, replayed under different circumstances with different results, waves of marginal feeling, etc.
We will not commiserate over her full lips, always more plump than mine, now split inside out and forever tucked away inside a closed wake. Lips that so beautifully and steadfast, sang the A, B, C,’s as a youth. Instead, we grieve an adult mind that when prompted, would lazily recite the A, B, C’s from rusty rote, and not without help from the tongue, silent and autonomous, guiding her speech within the confines of a closed mouth. Audible only to an uninterested audience in her head that is most likely considering other things by the time “J” comes around, to which the rest of her mind says “fuck it, this is pointless” and promptly abandons the task.
We do not grieve lips or eyes or hair.
No, the physical world has no place at a funeral. Maybe, it is in bad taste to spend these last few moments of remembrance over superficialities. Or maybe, it's because these supposed “superficialities” have been so fully compromised, that it would just be too sad and real. She probably would want to be remembered by her physical attributes, she has even told me so, besides anyone who self immolates must have a narcissistic streak, but what she wanted means little now. Because nobody wants to actually ruin the moment. People come to the funeral to cry, not toil with the unknown despair of death and loss of living function.
It's a funeral, you’re supposed to feel sad, not crushed.
So we will only focus on abstractions, because that’s all there really is left to say. Not the way you’re arms felt itchy as she danced around a campfire one night, many years ago, smiling with the wicked resolution of a thousand attention seeking cliff tottering children.
But instead, her supposed unwavering kindness. You’re genuine sentiments cornered by her newly granted prerogative for words of empty reminiscence.
Things that are just far enough beyond our comprehension, that we are not forced to look within. Life can still remain a mystery and our audience can be content feeling lost in a complicated world. That one can, within the safe confines of a cranium, mourn a soul that was taken “far, far, far too young.”
Like a muted martyr, that is how you will deliver a masterpiece at a funeral.