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Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Rosary and the Viewing

Sunday was the viewing and the Rosary for Dad. After going to Mass near the funeral home, I arranged to sing with the choir for Dad's Requiem Mass, and then Mom and I headed over to the funeral home, followed by Elizabeth, James, and their kids.

We got there shortly after 1:30PM. I walked up to the doors and entered the building. Straight ahead was the room where Dad was. I walked in, hoping to not see anyone. I didn't. My eyes quickly scanned the room from the back to the front. At the front was the open casket. I had to quickly turn away. I couldn't start crying at the back of the room -- I'd never be able to make it up to the front.

Set up in the back, which is where my eyes fell, was a picture of Dad with his grandkids: AJ, Anya, and Hannah. He was smiling and holding Hannah. She couldn't have been more than two months old. In fact, I think that she was even less than one month old.

I looked down at the ground, and proceeded to walk up to the front of the room, between the rows of pews. About half-way up the aisle, I looked up at the casket, and there was Dad's body. I knelt on the kneeler at the front of the room, and I stayed there. At first, I didn't get much of an urge to cry, but the tears came in their time. I didn't really care. I felt AJ and Anya come stand next to me, I felt different hands touch my shoulders, and I heard crying around me. I don't really remember who was where, except that Elizabeth stood next to me for a minute or two, and began crying, and had to leave.

All at once, I didn't care that my family was around me. I didn't care that my sister and my mother were sitting in the first pew crying. I didn't care that AJ and Anya were crying. I didn't care that anyone else in the world needed anything. I only had one thought: I wasn't there for Dad when he died. His only son was over 1300 miles away at a party when he died. And it was at that moment that the tears really began to come.

I just let the tears come. I didn't cry audibly, just visibly.

I don't know how long I stayed there. Perhaps it was about 20 minutes. My eyes were frozen on the face of my Father who I would never see alive again until (hopefully) we are reunited in heaven. I looked up. Directly behind the casket was a large crucifix. I looked there for a couple minutes, and the tears ceased. I looked down again at my father, and I finally said a prayer.

I stood up, and went to the opposite side of the church. I wanted to be alone. I wished that everyone else would just get up and go to lunch like they had been talking about doing before we got there. I wasn't hungry in the least, so I would just stay there until the Rosary.

As I sat there for perhaps an hour, perhaps longer, I alternated between crying and not. Jane, my older sister, put her hand on my shoulder for a minute as she walked up to the casket, where she spent a couple moments. She asked me if I wanted to go get something to eat -- I said that I wasn't hungry. My Aunt Mary Jane came up behind me, hugged me and told me that she loved me. I was too choked up to respond in kind with anything more than a croak.

Elizabeth and James stayed behind as well, while everyone else went to lunch. When they came back, I was still sitting there. I finally got up and started to look at the picture arrangements. After looking at all of them, I felt like I couldn't cry anymore -- not because I felt like I was running on empty, but because I felt like it is something that Dad would not want me to do. I am his son, and I shouldn't be crying like this. My family needs me, and I am not there for them, just like I wasn't there for Dad. With this in mind, I went and sat down with my family, and hugs and consolation went around.

Jane, Soma, Mr. N. and I sang some very simple songs and hymns rather quietly up at the front of the room. We asked Elizabeth to join us, but she wasn't feeling up to it. Shortly after we finished up, visitors came to the funeral home. I walked up to the front and was talking to one of them about some of the pictures. I was feeling a lot better, especially after talking about Dad's life to some of the visitors.

When my Uncle Nelson came from his hotel to the funeral home, he took it very hard. I walked outside with him, followed by Jane and Gilbert. We talked outside as other visitors came through. When Father Dennis S. showed up, I didn't recognize him. The last time I remember seeing him, I was twelve, I think. I knew who he was based on reactions, but I don't know if either one of us would have been able to pick out the other in a crowd.

Father led the Rosary, which started almost right on time. After that, there were a couple moments of silence, and then people began filing out. I went outside with the crowd to thank them for coming. I missed some people, but I did manage to see a lot of faces that I hadn't seen in years.

After everyone left and it was just the family, we came back into the room where Dad was. Jane, Elizabeth, and I said our final goodbyes to Dad, and each of us put a rose into his casket. We then closed his casket, and left.

Mom and I drove back over to the church, where I practiced with the schola for the Mass the next day. After the practice was finished in about an hour, Mom and I headed back, making a quick detour at Sonic. I love Sonic. I wish we had them up here...

But then again, if wishes were horses...
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