I had some awesome eggplant parmesan yesterday; we were out to dinner with my parents. Sadly, it wasn’t just for fun, but because I was accompanying them to a wake for a family friend who passed away on Friday. W was our neighbor for about 3 years; he and his wife and kids lived next door to us when we lived in the city and our families were truly the best of friends. There wasn’t a day that went by that we were not together, my mom and his wife, L being especially close. We both moved to the suburbs in the late eighties and while we were in touch for quite some time, gradually grew apart. Short of Christmas cards, we didn’t hear from each other too much—the last time I saw any of them was at my wedding in 2002—but that didn’t make them less important in my life. W was 55 and had an aneurism and the stress on his body caused a massive heart attack, according to the limited details we got. He left behind his wife and 4 children.
I thought about not going to the wake; with the frequency of our visits, I could probably live my life blissfully unaware that he was gone—it wouldn’t affect me. I decided to go though, along with my parents and middle brother and I am glad that I did. If I were in that situation, I would hope that they would be there to support me.
I find it amazing how differently people deal with death. His wife was back and forth between 2 extremes; first saying in her thick Italian accent “you take it with a grain of salt and move on; what else can you do?” and then sobbing hysterically. The oldest daughter, my childhood playmate, was bubbly, greeting everyone with kisses and smiles, really holding it together. You could almost call her exuberant. The second oldest was more subdued, but acted much the same as her sister. The youngest two did not socialize, but stayed with their group of friends. My mother has a thing about touching the corpse. I have never been to a wake where she hasn’t touched the dead. It’s weird, right? Me, I always behave the same—stare off in to space and try not to think about it. Try not to think about having to bury my own father some day. Engage with the family and offer them my support. The get the hell out of there.
Hub has told me on several occasions not to make a big deal when he dies. He doesn’t see the point in dragging anything out; just get it over with. Most importantly, he wants me to move on with my life. He is adamant about it. Obviously, I don’t want to think about that stuff, but I wonder if I could respect his wishes? To be strong and not grieve?
Seriously, I don’t even want to know.