Nikki and I have talked a lot about death recently. It’s been a weird stretch in my life where I’ve had several people close to me lose parents. So many that, when Nikki and I went to a service, she actually thought we were there for a different friend, at first.
But it was she and I attending that service that prompted one of the most important conversations, I believe, that we could have about death. And basically the point? “Be there.”
We had a weird schedule that night and she and I had to be somewhere together after the service. While Donnie didn’t mind bringing her to me, he really didn’t want to do that. So, she willingly volunteered to go with me, even though she’s 9 and death is scary.
So we talked a lot about these type of services and what purpose they serve.
See…before my Dad died…(That’s kinda how you permanently categorize your life after you lost a loved one, Before and After. Because so much changes in you, it’s always an important distinction to make.) I basically decided to go to a service based on how many people might be there. If I thought there would be a lot of people? Then I wouldn’t bother because there would be plenty of hugs to go around. I also skipped services if it was even remotely inconvenient because – let’s be honest – no one likes events surrounding someone’s death.
And then my Dad died. And things look so different now.
I’m an awkward person, socially speaking. Put me in a calm and casual gathering with people I know and trust and I’m still going to say something asinine and awkward. So, you can imagine I’m just a fountain of gauche if I’m in an uncomfortable situation surrounded by people I don’t know. So, talking to people about the loss of a loved one? Oh, man. Let’s just say that, on the list of memoir titles that are always running through my head? One of them is: “Why you shouldn’t talk about menstruating at a funeral.”
Been there. Done that.
But, as I told Nikki, I don’t remember many of the specific words people said to me at my Dad’s service. But – oh man – do I remember the faces. I didn’t matter what they said (although I probably would remember someone discussing their period) it just mattered that they came. Before Dad died? I didn’t have a lot of friends, and I didn’t live in the town he died. Yet…so many people from my childhood came and each and every one of their faces meant the world to me. Did it matter if they had the perfect words to share about grief and sympathy? Not at all. And if they gave them? I don’t remember. I just remember the warmth of my heart when I saw them there. And now…I want to always try to be one of the faces there for my friends and family.
It’s the faces that matter. They matter so much more than the words.
I have another service to attend today and Nikki actually asked if I could check her out of school to come too. It doesn’t really work out, time wise, but that meant a lot to me. She’s not the type that just loves missing school, so I’d like to think that she understood the talk and she just wanted to be one of the faces there in support.
If you’re ever uncomfortable or not sure what to say, just remember…it’s the faces that matter. Be one of the faces. The words will come, and they might be awkward, but the person will remember your face above all of that.
And also, remember, as long as you’re not talking about how bad your menstruation issues are? You’re doing better than I am.