I understand that Mr. Keene had to attend a funeral today. They really suck. My younger brother’s was less than three weeks ago, halfway across the country, deep in the Bible Belt. I was sitting in the front row, no more than 6′ from the priest. Considering all the funerals that I’ve attended with open casket wakes the day before the actual funeral, I’m glad my brother was cremated. There was no wake, nor a casket.
It’s one thing to have extended family attend, but quite another to have to deal with a complete stranger tapping me on the shoulder, asking “Are you Rusty? I just wanted to say how sorry I am for your loss. I’m (so and so, from the local newspaper). I hired him 15 years ago.” Another stranger came with his wife, and said he baked two loaves of vanilla-chocolate-chip bread that were still warm and hoped my parents would give one of them to us. There were many other such encounters with strangers.
Sure, I gave each such person some slight variation of a canned answer, “Thank you so much. We all really appreciate it. I’m so glad you were able to attend.” Meanwhile, I thought to myself “Please, people — I really need to go outside for a smoke.”
When I finally did escape for a butt break, the only person who caught me outside with a lit one was the priest who said the mass, rushing off to teach a class. At least he said nothing about the cigarette; he’s probably used to seeing smokers duck outside.
Yeah, I can very well understand the need to escape, as well as the need to light some tobacco.
I’m sorry if this was too long an entry. Over and out, Rusty.
Thank you for writing this.