I remember the faces.

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.

DSC_0415See…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. She went onto to tell me about how they were sorting out the Will, apparently, they were using a great law firm similar to Schultz & Kellar. But I digress. 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.

12 thoughts on “I remember the faces.”

  1. The 13th was the 13th anniversary of my first husbands death. Before and after – when I was 28. The faces are the whole point.

  2. As coming only a few weeks from the “After” side on my Father’s death, I will say you summed it up perfectly. It was the people who had no obligation to be there who made an extra effort to come a distance even if just for a few minutes to be with me.
    We are so willing to expose every blasted moments of all intimate aspects of our life to the world, yet we are scared of death. Yes, it is hard to act like an adult, harder than posting a selfie or clicking a thumbs up a social media site, and make the effort to share your presence. Death it is part of the circle of life. Embrace those who need healing and help close the circle.

  3. I totally agree that showing up is what matters. In fact, I think at one of the services I went to last year, I said something like that to my friend, when he thanked me for coming: “It’s what you do. You show up, you say something and feel stupid about it, because there isn’t really a good thing to say, but you’re there.”

    We didn’t have a service for my father, for various reasons, and though I understand why, I wish we could have. I know I would remember the faces, too. Before and after, all right.

  4. Kim. I have long felt bad about not being a better friend after your dad passed. We did attend the service but I should have done more. Done more leading up to and after his death. For that, I will always be sorry. I have come to learn I am not good with the death of parents of friends and family. I tend to back away when I should come forward. Maybe it pulls emotions in me I find hard to face. Regardless, I know I could have done more. During that time, I was also in my first trimester with Molly and I don’t remember ever being that sick. (I ended up with the Swine flu but that is another story. ) My point is, although you may not have heard from me, you were in my thoughts and in my heart and I am so sorry I did not do more.

  5. Elizabeth! You sell yourself so short in my memories 🙂 Your face is one of the many I remember and I remember you chasing Sam around at the church and thinking, “Nope. No way I would have braved that without backup!” You’re a beacon in my memory of someone who didn’t use the excuses I would have used to stay home! (For example, if Donnie had not been home last night to stay with Wes? We would not have gone to the service!) I hope my words allow you to change your memory of that time because I do remember your presence and was so happy you and Sam were there for us!!!!!!!

  6. I remember when my Mom died how important the faces were. I don’t remember anything anyone said but I remember who came and how much it meant to me.
    Yep….its the faces for sure.

  7. Awe! Thanks Kim- I am glad you remember it better. It was such a wonderful ceremony and celebration of his life.

  8. You are so right. I’m glad I showed up for my friends before my Dad died. I didn’t think it mattered, but I had always been taught that funeral/rememberance services are for the LIVING. After my dad passed, I know what that means.

  9. I lost my husband suddenly at 29 yrs old. I was in a pretty much catatonic state however ive never heard it described as good as you did. You remember the faces. Always…

  10. I’m sorry for your loss, Ashley. I have heard people talk about that catatonic state in suddenly losses, before – and I’m weirdly grateful my situation with my Dad was not so sudden. I’m not sure I’m emotionally strong enough to handle that type of loss. I’m glad you had faces of supportive friends/family to be there for you.

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