Monday, July 24, 2006


My list of things that I absolutely hate is short. It contains just two items: (a) Goodbyes and (b) funerals. Perhaps that is why I've spent the last 13 years of my life avoiding saying goodbye to loved ones, and finding excuses for not attending funerals.

One of my earliest memories is of my grandfather's funeral. I remember being confused at seeing my Daddy cry. Then my Mama walked me up to the casket and told me to kiss my "Gran-Gran". I told her no.....the cold waxy figure in the coffin wasn't the man I knew and loved. So I didn't kiss him-- and for years that haunted me.

Just a few days after my 11th birthday, my parents called me into the living room to tell me that my cousin Becky had been in a car accident. My parents attempted to highlight the extent of her injuries, without scaring me. They both tried to keep me upbeat, saying that she would get better. But even at my young age, I knew the likelihood of surviving a brain injury was slim. Even so, when I learned of her death...I laughed - I thought it was a joke. At her visitation, I became so distraught, that Mama almost didn't let me attend her funeral. However, Daddy convinced her that I needed the closure. I went.....I said my goodbyes.....and vowed that I would never do it again. The image of her lying in the casket still haunts me......these days it is one of the few images of her I can call up in my mind.

For the last 13 years, I kept that vow I made....I've avoided the funerals of Aunts, Uncles, and close friends. That's not to say I didn't grieve - I did- but alone, in private, in a way I felt comfortable doing. However, when I learned of my friend Jeffrey's death, I thought "Maybe now, I need to break that vow".

So this morning, I woke up, showered, dressed, filled my car with gas, and drove to my hometown. I got as far as the city limits before I turned the car around. My fear, my grief became too much, so I ran away once again. I came back home, crawled into bed, and cried myself to sleep. Jeffrey was a large than life persona.....I can't bear the thought of seeing him as anything less. And the funeral would have robbed me of that....

And so I avoided his funeral, his family, his friends......and grieved alone for the life that was lost to soon.