I will never forget the day of your funeral. Standing in my walk in, staring at my clothes, trying to figure out what to wear. Was this really happening? I hated that I was getting ready to go to your funeral. I had cried a lot in the days leading up to this one but I wept, right there in my walk-in. I was 30, you were 34, this wasn’t supposed to happen. I shouldn’t have needed a “Luke’s funeral outfit”. I was never supposed to be getting ready for your funeral. I hated everything in my closet.
You were sick, the prognosis wasn’t great, I was terrified you would die but you wouldn’t, except you did. Never did I allow myself to truly believe you’d slip away. Even if I had, nothing would have prepared me for the feelings I felt when I knew you were gone. The process of getting ready for your funeral was odd. I hated everything about it. This process of death had never occurred to me. I was mad, more than mad. Mostly, I was just heartbroken. Nothing was good enough or appropriate.
I was still in disbelief that you were really gone. What was done, was done. We did all we would ever do, we’d said everything we would ever get to say, and I could only think of the words that would never be said or heard. You were gone, it was done and there was nothing I could do about it. Six years of being the Ross to my Rachael, and there was no goodbye, you were just gone. You weren’t coming back and no one would get to say anything about anything. Where we were, was where we would stay forever. Final.
I still have a hard time with the reality of death. People go away and they don’t come back. You don’t realize how much that sucks until that person is yours. It sucks!
I somehow managed to pull myself together enough to look “funeral ready” and I drove myself to the funeral home. I was nervous and tearful the whole way, again just in disbelief that I was actually doing this. As I pulled in I thought I saw your truck, I followed it to the back of the funeral home only to realize it wasn’t yours. I was so sad, disappointed, like I thought I might find you if I found your truck. I remember thinking how badly I just wanted to see it, to touch the handle of your door.
I walked back around to the front of the funeral home and I was surprised to see how full the room already was. I met up with my parents and then yours…we were able to visit briefly but then I took my seat. I sat in a pew alone, up front, with just my parents by my side. I was a wreck and everyone gave me the look, I hated the look even though I knew these people just felt sorry for me. I couldn’t shake the “we’re not supposed to be here feeling”.
The slide show was still streaming when we took our seats, every image of you, every image of us, felt like a knife to my chest. I felt physical pain and breathing was a challenge. I remember sitting closely to my mom, a lap full of damp tissues that I nervously tore with my hands to keep myself from going crazy. My crying wasn’t always silent, at times I couldn’t catch my breath and I remember my Mom holding me so close, reminding me to breath. She held me so tight, almost as if she was trying to keep upright. This was all really happening. You were gone and this was your funeral.
I couldn’t help but to stare at your casket, wanting desperately to see you one last time, to talk to you even though you wouldn’t hear me or be able to respond. You were really in there and I hated it but I was glad it was closed, that’s what you would have wanted.
Tomorrow marks two years of a Luke-less world, I hate to call it an anniversary, to me that implies something to celebrate but nonetheless, I have to acknowledge the day. Two years ago, on Feb. 28th, you died and that date will always be significant.
You slipped away. Your name became a past tense and that was that. Your cancer was aggressive and everywhere. I know when you slipped away, so did your pain. That might be my only comfort. I still wonder why, why so many things played out the way they did but none of my thoughts bring you back or help me understand. I will never understand. I really did go to your funeral. It seems like a dream, a nightmare, but I was wide awake.