tw: funeral, death
All was dark for a time, as he stared at the ceiling. But soon he felt water dripping on to his face. And then a sky opened above and when he moved to sit up, the darkness around him dissolved into a dreary day in October.
Rain was trickling down as the progression moved into the funeral home, all dressed in black. Soft sniffles could be heard, a few whispered voices, but it was otherwise a somber mood all around. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. Chase had always imagined his death would be a celebration, not a parade of sadness marching into a church. There were so many people who showed up, though. People he’d grown up with, his entire family, co-workers, people from town. The place was packed. He hadn’t realized just how many people had cared about him, until of course he realized that they probably were there to catch a glimpse of the kid who killed himself.
From the back of the room, he could see a casket, closed to the world. Relief filled him. He hadn’t wanted to be cremated and an open casket would have left him wanting to vomit. On top of the casket were flowers and his graduation photo. Surrounding the casket were more flowers and then poster boards with collages of photos of him from the time he was little until a few months before her accident. In the background he could hear a piano playing some generic funeral song.
As the people gathered in, they all stopped to hug his mom and dad, give them condolences, let them know if they needed anything they could call. His aunt Margaret held his mother for a long while. Her husband stood beside his father and whispered that he was terribly sorry, that Chase was so young.
Chase watched his mother weep with each hug, his father’s hand holding her steady. He’d always been the stronger one. It was so sad to see them look so…old. When had his mother gotten wrinkles in her forehead? When had his father’s hair turned so gray? A pang of guilt gnawed at his insides and he tried to turn away. But he saw it all. Every tear fall, every sad nod.
And just as he thought her parents wouldn’t show up, they came. Dressed in black. Mrs. Robins looked like a ghost of herself as she shook his parent’s hands. Mr. Robins, who’d always given Chase great advice, had a frown set so deep into his mouth it was like stone. No hugs were given between the two, all too broken for that sort of thing. Each blaming the other for something. He could have screamed at them.
But worst of all, there was no Daisy. Was she still in a coma? Or was she awake and alive, just too broken to attend? He’d never know.
The doors into the church were closed and soon all was quiet as the celebrant began the services with an opening. A poem his mother picked.
Here, freed from pain, secure from misery, lies
A child, the darling of his parents’ eyes:
A gentler lamb n'er sported on the plain,
A fairer flower will never bloom again:
Few were the days allotted to his breath;
Now let him sleep in peace his night of death.
And soon as it was over, he could hear the sounds of people blowing their noses. Then his mother rose, walked slowly to the podium and inhaled a ragged breath. Chase could feel his throat closing as he watched this woman who had raised him try so hard to make it through the speech. “Anyone who knew Chase…knew he was destined for great things. He…he always had a plan, my Chase. I-I’m not sure if this-” she paused to take a breath. “I don’t know if this was part of his- his plan. He wanted to be…something big. He wanted t-to go places in l-life. But a year ago…s-something ch-changed.” Chase could feel hot tears in his eyes as he watched his mother cover her face, trying to compose herself. But he was frozen, no matter what he tried, nothing could make it stop. Finally, his mother went on, “Chase was a good boy, he was my only ch-child. And I love him so much. He will always, always be in my thoughts. And wherever he is n-now, I hope…he is at peace.” And then she was moving back to her chair, sobbing. His father’s arms wrapped around her and Chase wanted so badly to tell them he wasn’t at peace, that he’d never be at peace.
But he was frozen. And then his father was moving, standing before the gathered people. His voice was soft, as it always was. Words he’d practiced before the mirror - as he always did - came pouring out. “When I think about Chase, I think about all the times he tested my patience growing up. I think about the way he used to laugh so easily and make even the worst things into something good. He was so smart, so down-to-earth. He was always the child to question everything and I like to think I taught him that.” He paused to smile sadly at the crowd before going on, hands rested on the podium for strength. “Without Chase in our lives, there will be less laughter around the dinner table at Thanksgiving. But although he is no longer with us, we shouldn’t remain sad. Chase wouldn’t want that of us. He would want to be celebrated. To be remembered in a happy way. He had always been so happy. And to lose him so young, it hurts. But I will never forget all the good times we enjoyed. I will miss him greatly and I will always love him. Thank you all.”
Chase’s face was wet by the end of his father’s speech. Music began to play softly, and soon the air was filled with a man’s voice and a guitar. It was mellow and sad, but better than any other funeral music he’d ever heard.
He wondered what Daisy would have said if she’d attended. Would she tell them all it was all his fault? That he’d hurt her so much? He swallowed hard and watched as people began to get up and his uncles moved to carry his casket out into the pouring rain to be buried.
And as soon as the doors to the funeral home opened, everything went dark and Chase found himself sobbing into his pillow, whispering that he was so sorry.