This has been a very difficult post to write.
I've started numerous times...
didn't like it...
So, I'm trying again.
This time I'm attempting to set my mind and fingers free and just see what comes out.
I've never liked them.
But who does, right?
I haven't been to many.
In fact I have only been to five in my 43 years.
And one memorial service.
Growing up in a farming community, my parents were always attending funerals,
or so it seemed to my childhood self.
We never went.
We always stayed with Nan,
or were at school.
I didn't even go to my Great Grandfather's funeral.
We called him Pampa and he died when I was around 11 I think,
I'm not even sure.
We were given the option to go, my brother and sister and I,
but I didn't want to.
Funerals in a farming community are part of life.
There are always deaths.
Just as there are always births.
And my parents must have attended a hundred funerals.
We were always sheltered.
I've never been good with death,
During high school a few friends or aquaintances were killed.
I sobbed myself silly every time.
Whether they were close friends, or not.
And then my very close high school friend died.
Her name was Sheryl.
She was so lovely.
She lived with her English family in Australia for some years and moved quite a lot.
I didn't know her long.
And then her parents decided to move back to England.
We wrote letters.
I still remember her letter saying how much she loved David Bowie's new song, 'Red Shoes'.
It was called 'Let's Dance' here.
Then one afternoon I got a phone call from a 'tough' girl at school to say she had died.
I thought she was kidding.
I was often picked on at school.
But surely this was too horrid to be a joke.
I ran to the dairy (where Mum was milking the cows)
and sobbing told her about the phone call.
She came home with me and called someone (I can't remember who)
and discovered it was true.
Sheryl had been grounded by her parents.
She decided to knot sheets together, just as you see in movies,
and climb from her second storey bedroom window.
I cried for days.
The church in town had a memorial service for her because of course we couldn't attend her funeral...
And that was my first funeral that wasn't a funeral but was close enough.
I sobbed...and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.
It was embarrassing really, but I couldn't stop.
That was almost 30 years ago, but nothing has changed.
The next funeral I went to was the lovely mother of a dear college friend.
She died way too young of cancer.
She left three beautiful daughters and an adoring husband.
My friend named her first born after her.
And she is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.
She died after my friend's engagement, but before her wedding.
I went to her funeral with our group of college friends.
And I sobbed...and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.
I couldn't stop.
That was almost 20 years ago, but nothing has changed.
More recently I lost all of my three remaining grandparents
and my dear uncle who we grew up next door to on the farm.
All within five years.
Two of those funerals were a week apart.
I'm not good with funerals.
To the point where people start to stare.
And I'm not one to draw attention to myself.
So why all this talk of funerals?
One day this week I awoke to the news that someone I worked with had passed away overnight.
He had cancer, he was very unwell, we knew it was coming.
But it doesn't stop the shock when you actually hear the news.
I had quite a bit to do with his family many years ago.
I was not at all close since I resigned from my teaching job eight years ago.
But that doesn't stop the shock when you hear the news.
I cried, as I do every time I hear of someone dying.
Close or not.
And then I thought,
"I should probably go to the funeral."
But...I'm not good with funerals.
I read the email from the school principal.
She said that many teachers would be attending the funeral and relief teachers would be called in.
I was expecting the call.
I was hoping for the call.
I got the call.
"Yes, I could work on Monday."
I can't go to the funeral, I'm working.
I'm working so that others who worked with him more recently can attend.
I'm not good with funerals.