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Death: Last Act for Daddy

Updated on October 11, 2011

I had been raised in a family where death was as much a part of life as marriage, or the birth of a child. In fact, sometimes it seemed that death played a bigger role in our lives than any other major event. It was never easy to deal with and even as a child I knew the impact it had on families. Now it was my turn.

Walking up the street toward the funeral home, as I had done many times before, it seemed different this time. The stone and brick buildings that offered the final abode for our dead seemed as if it had a dark cloud around it, and I was expected to pass through it to get to him. How could he be in there? My footsteps were more robotic than human as they moved me closer and closer to the door. From within the dark shroud I could see a light. "Almost there," I remember thinking to myself.

When I stepped inside the first room, people were already waiting. There were faces my sub-conscious knew, but my conscious mind was so numb it refused to address them. There were names; they had to have names, but I couldn’t remember any. I didn't want to talk to them; they weren't why I was here. My hand gently caressed the proffered hands, along with an occasional hug, as I noticed many who looked at me with tears in their eyes. It was a necessary action, I had been taught this, and he, as a Minister, had done the same for others who had passed on.

The heavy scent of flowers wafted around me with the occasional mingling of perfume or cologne. I couldn't tell you the brands, just that it smelled good or not. He had always smelled good and I longed to breathe in his scent again. There was something calming about it, secure and familiar.

With as much courtesy and graciousness as I could muster, I pressed on. It’s what he would have expected; there was no excuse for ill-behavior, especially at a time like this. Deeper into the building until I saw it, the softly trimmed, golden champagne colored coffin that waited amongst a huge array of flowers. Suddenly the room unfolded and a path was cleared for me as I slowly stepped up to the final cradle and looked down at the face of the man I called Father. My small, warm hand slipped out to lay atop his folded ones, cold and almost waxy. I felt the need to straighten the rose boutonniere that had been pinned to his lapel, as it was one of the last acts of service I would ever be able to offer him. I blinked back the tears that were threatening. All the years of my life rushed between us at that moment, and I knew things would never be the same.


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