Monday, August 27, 2007

The Summer of Death

You know, I have barely cried about this latest death in my family. It's not that I don't care or that I care less. I think I'm just maxed out. I am feeling battle-worn, desensitized. My gorgeous baby niece that I never got to see in person--it still hurts me. Visions of my uncle's violent suicide still replay in my head over and over again, almost every day. Is it that I have so many screwed up thoughts in my head that there simply isn't room for more horror?

I want 2007 to be over already. I want to put this year behind me. I want VanGoghGirl to feel free to pursue her emo-kid aspirations without having to worry about her actually committing suicide. I want to stop making these stupid lists in my head: How many more family members will die this year and who is most likely to be next, What's probably going to be the cause of death for the next person in the family.

The thing is, I'm not crying as I write this. I'm sitting here eating a banana nut muffin and drinking bottled water. There's been no downpour of tears, only a couple of light drizzles. I brought a handkerchief to the funeral and I wound up only using it to dab the perspiration off my face while we stood at the grave site. They took the flower arrangement off of my uncle's casket and made them into little bouquets for the family members to take home with them. As I stood there while my dad got my flower for me, I had the most self-centered thought that has ever passed through my head:

"God, it is so hot! I hope that the next person to go doesn't die until it gets cooler outside."

Before the funeral, my aunt and my dad weren't even sure that I should go. The funeral march (from the building where they had the service to the grave site) was going to be grueling. We're a fairly traditional family so we'd all be in black, which certainly doesn't help one to cool down in 97 degree (Fahrenheit) weather without a single cloud in sight. I went anyway.

It was a HUGE funeral. To give you an idea of how popular he was, consider this: Down here, the young kids get these R.I.P. t-shirts made with the deceased person's picture, birth date, and death date on the front. The lady at the shop that was creating the shirts told my aunt that she had already sold three hundred t-shirts marking my uncle's death.
After the funeral we found out that some people had gone and got t-shirts made at a different shop so the number was actually over 300. The service was held in a funeral hall room that is bigger than most churches I've attended. Even then, the pews were packed and people lined the walls from the front of the platform where the casket was, all the way out to the hallway that led to the main hall.

He had nine kids--two with his first wife and seven with his second. One guy from my uncle's neighborhood got and spoke about how, despite having all those children, my uncle would always take a kid from the neighborhood with them when they went on vacation. One of my uncle's sisters got on the stage and spoke about how people always knew when my uncle had arrived because there would be two SUVs pulling up to the house. Some of his sons read poems that they had written. A pastor got up and led the people in prayer, not just for our family, but also for the family of the man who killed my uncle. They prayed that he never pick up a gun again and that he eventually understands the impact of his actions.

Overall, it was a very nice service. Maybe that's why I'm not crying so much. Or maybe it's all just too sad for me to even begin to cope with.

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