Somewhere between suburbia and cornfields is Lancaster, Ohio. A town that you may see on a postcard or in the dream of a teenager yearning to leave for the bright lights of L.A. or New York. Then it is the type of place that as I get older dream of myself. Spending quite evenings on the porch watching time and the sunset.
By the crowd that had gathered last night at the funeral home it was clear that Jim had spent most of his time here. Raising 3 sons, building friendships, swapping stories of deer hunts and the “One that got away”. There were folks dressed in their Sunday best, and others whom had just gotten off from work from jobs we wouldn’t want to work in this cold. Digging trenches or working on farm equipment. The very people who are the blunt of jokes from city folk who would call them “Rednecks” or “Hillbilly’s”, they are the folks that live, work, and die in this town.
I’ve been to a lot of funerals both while using and now that I am clean. I have come to understand there is no amount of Spiritual Awareness, no words that I can muster that can take someone else’s pain away. It is simply a matter of being there for someone. It is difficult when someone passes away, it is even harder when it is by choice, by suicide.
When I first had entered the room I paid my respects to Jeff’s mom and brothers. I stood there and cried as I held Jeff. He told me he didn’t know what to say. I told him he didn’t have to say a damn word. I told him I loved him. I told him I was sorry. I told him that his family needed him the most now.
I don’t know what made Jim decide that it wasn’t worth it to see one more sunrise or sunset. I don’t have the answer to the eternal question of why? As I sat in the room I heard the whispers behind of me. The whispers as my friend Jeff, his 2 brothers, and his mother greeted folks in a never-ending line of heartbreak.
The whispers of countless family and friends of words not dare spoken to the family…..
I can’t believe he did this to them.
I didn’t realize he was that depressed.
What are they going to do with the house?
Jeff is taking it the hardest, you know, he was closest to his father.
Then as the older folks would gather I noticed something peculiar. The would look at the casket and then look at the clock.
A woman behind me began to tell a story of one of her grandchildren asking her how old she was. She told the child to which the child replied, “Gee your old granny”. She said, “I’m not that old, I have a lot of years left”. Funny, when sitting in a funeral home it allows me to realize I’m not certain on what time I have left.
Cemetaries are full of people who had not intention of dying, and died with a lot of good intentions.
I didn’t see anyone we had worked with. I didn’t see Jeff’s ex-wife or his 2 daughters. They have become estranged by time and hurt over the years. I saw one mutual friend who I barely knew. So I people watched and sat quietly. I did the right thing. I did what I knew was right.
I’ve written about death on multiple occasions. It always seems to come back to me looking at my mortality. This time it was different. I wasn’t or I am not concerned about my own, but it had me thinking my parents are getting older and someday this will be me. Standing in a line greeting folks whom I know, some I barely will remember, and some whom I’ve never met before and have to deal with the emotions and feelings of it all. I don’t feel ready, but I believe there is no preparation for it. I mean what are we supposed to do, just sit back and watch the clock?
RIP James Null
Feb 10, 2010