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A Final Goodbye
5 months ago · · mourning,
“Be strong,” I mutter to myself on repeat. My knuckles are white as I grip the wooden frame with “Together, we make a family” painted on it. I bite my lip and look down to see the man I call Dad smiling up at me, surrounded by four, horribly uncomfortable-looking kids. I stare at my dad’s face, once so youthful and happy, not yet stained with stress and nicotine.
As I look at one of my dad’s proudest moments frozen in time, the pastor’s voice fades in and out as he reminds us to “be there for one another.” To avoid any negative or unpleasant thoughts, I close my eyes and tell myself I’ll get through this. Before long, I’m gliding out of the small, musky hall I was crowded in alongside my two brothers, my sister, my boyfriend, my brother’s girlfriend, my mom, my step dad and my uncle… so many people in such a small space, an exact scenario my father would have hated.
I follow my brother toward a sea of blurry, unfamiliar people. I refuse to look up at them, afraid of seeing their thoughts smeared across their faces.
I’m shaking as I walk, trying my best to contain my sobs. I hear music starting to play but it doesn’t register to me exactly what’s being said until I’m staring down at the shell of my dad, preparing to say goodbye for the very last time and I hear my little sister whisper, “It’s a suicide rap.” My dad’s favorite song is being played acoustically, loud enough to muffle the heavy breathing and sniffles between my three siblings and myself. As the words, “tramps like us, baby we were born to run,” are sung by the man who helped my father during the darkest periods of his life, I place our family picture—the only one we ever took, and was taken ten years ago, when I was 13 and my dad was 43—on my dad’s right arm, opposite the small jar of sand from his favorite beach and a Snickers bar.
I run my fingers through his coarse and peppered hair and think to myself how unrealistic he looked. A man whose tan and smile lines defined his face more than anything else, was now coated in light foundation in such a sloppy manner it was as if a child had done it. Still, I take in the sight as I rap my left arm around my little sister, whose shaking is starting to concern me. On my right, I have my older brother sobbing and leaning on our eldest brother who’s whispering “I love you, Dad” over and over.
With my back to the crowd, part of me worries about letting my sobs out in front of strangers while another part worries about me, “the family rock” breaking, and the final part of me doesn’t care because I no longer have a dad and it’s okay to be sad about that. As I’m wrestling with my thoughts, the funeral director comes over and quietly instructs us how to go about closing our father’s casket. There’s a mix of emotions coursing through my body—a mixture I’m unable to fully comprehend. I have tears blurring my vision, which consequently causes me to make a mistake and look ridiculous.
When I hear that final click that signals the casket is closed forever, that’s when I know things are final. I will never, ever see my dad again. Tears streaming down my face, my sister still gripping onto my arm, I turn around and walk to the front pew so we can officially start the official celebration of my father’s legacy.