Gut Rumbles

March 24, 2008

Test yourself

Originally published July 26, 2003

Stay awake for 36 hours and watch your father die. Then, have your mama say, "Handle the arrangements, Rob." Go do it.

Have some used-car salesman at a funeral home try to convince you that you need to bury your father in a casket that costs twice as much as the truck he drove when he was alive. Tell that man to kiss your ass and pick out something just above a pine box. See to the plot and the vault and walk out of there feeling as if YOU died. But get it done.

Then go home and cry like a baby for for an hour. Do that while you are alone. Nobody else needs to see that. Take a short nap. Then go stay with Mom the rest of the day while people from the church drop by to bring food and sympathy.

That evening, put on the suit you were going to get married in and go stand at the funeral home for three hours and shake hands with everybody who comes by to pay their respects to your father. Mom, my brother and I all agreed that the lid would be closed on my dad's coffin. We didn't want to hear anybody say how "good" he looked in there.

He didn't look good the last time I saw him. He looked dead.

Put up with the assholes who ask you why the coffin is closed. Don't punch anybody. Don't cry. Be dignified. Keep your shit in one sock.

I did all of that. I went home after the reception at the funeral home and took off that suit. It's been hanging in a dry-cleaner bag ever since. I got married in a different suit.

I fixed myself a Jim Beam and water and sat on the couch. I listened to some music and felt the most complete exhaustion I have ever known. I still had the graveside service and the planting to look forward to the next day. I wondered how my mom would cope. I wondered how I would cope. I felt a tremendous sense of loss that I was too busy to think about until then.

I finished my drink and went to bed. I slept like... a dead man.

I still dream about my father. I miss him a lot. I believed that I would never experience a worse time in my life than those two terrible days. But I was wrong.

A woman later treated me worse than the Reaper ever did. That one damn near killed me.

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