If you know me, you know that I believe You’ve Got Mail to be a cinematic masterpiece. I’m pretty sure Alec would rather sit through an Ishtar marathon – but I love it. There is a scene where Kathleen is sitting in Fox Books schooling the awkward sales guy about the “shoe books“. I was reminded of the scene when I was sitting alone on a Walmart bench trying on shoe after shoe, wondering why no one has written Funeral Shoes? There’s all kinds of self-help books to help you get through loss emotionally, ways to help you learn to cope with loss, but I’ve never come across a book that walks you through the practical steps of what happens to your life after unexpected loss. Kids need to be fed and cuddled. Groceries still need to be bought. Bills need to be paid. Life for others still carries on, and in grief we still have to meet those obligations.
I abandoned my quest for shoes and moved on to clothes. Sweet, sweet Lord. I went to several stores and ended up at Walmart. That’s what happens when you’re forced by life’s obligations to wait until the night before to find something to wear – then again, it’s not like there was a lot of lead time to get ready. I ended up in a change room in tears because I was wearing what I can only call a mumu. Black & white & wrong all over. I don’t usually cry over clothes, but fuck, it was an Anthony Worhol zebra filled nightmare – and pretty much all they had that was close to appropriate. Why not wear something that’s in my closet? Well, let’s just say that the clothes I own that would be appropriate were purchased 2 babies ago. Things have happened to my body which were not anticipated. It was in that changeroom that I decided I just had to embrace my gunt and buy a pair black pants slacks. Funeral Pants. Size fucking 14. Ouch. I also bought the gunt-sucker-in granny ginch that my mom used to wear. The kind that if you had a stick you could fancy a tampon sling shot in a couple of seconds. It also has the ability to shove out the fat that it cannot contain out of the top and bottom – kinda like like a reverse sausage. I bought it in black – that makes it sexy, right?
For other important events in life, there’s warning. You have months to plan for a wedding, baby celebrations, anniversary parties. The hardest is funerals – and you’re on a time crunch. I was overwhelmed just finding something to wear – I don’t know how the people who did the actual planning got through.
As you know, Alec recently lost his dear friend Bruce, who truly was a kindred spirit to Alec for more than a decade. I was not prepared for how the loss of Bruce would impact me. Even today, I find myself thinking that somehow there was a horrific mistake and any time now the phone will ring and Bruce will say “Dude, you’ll never guess what happened!”. But yesterday afternoon was Bruce’s wake, memorial service, celebration of life.
So many people came that they were lined up out in the hallway listening to the service. Somehow all of us being there, together, agreeing to this terrible thing has made it real. I tried to be strong for Alec. Huge fail on that one. I cried before we sat down to the time we got back in the car. I was embarrassed because I don’t have soap opera tears. I’m blotchy and puffy, snotty & totally forgot to bring my sunglasses. Then I realized I was most certainly not alone. My 3 kleenexes were stretched beyond what they were created to absorb.
Yesterday marked the end of the planning after loss part. So much work and effort went into the service. It was beautiful, heart wrenching & tasteful. Alec was involved in some of the planning & helped where ever he could, he got a new suit. His first real suit. Bruce would get a kick out of the fact that Alec bought his first suit to bid him goodbye. It is a great suit.
I intend to burn my Funeral Pants. Never again will I be caught in a change room without options for a loved one’s service because of the size of my ass. I am the only one who knew or cared about my pants, considering the gravity of the day, it’s completely insignificant. It was a wake up call to me that I need to begin exercising some self control and find myself again. I didn’t expect that lesson out of all of this.
So onward we all march, trying to figure out what the new normal is going to feel like…