I am invited to a funeral tomorrow.
It’s the funeral of my friend’s mother, a lovely lady whom I met only once, but whilst seriously physically debilitated, kindness, fun and mischief shone out of her eyes, and I liked her hugely and immediately, along with her husband who is an absolute sweetheart.
But one meeting does not constitute a friendship so I was surprised to receive the invitation.
And I was torn.
Torn between the fear of going into a church and sitting through a funeral and torn between wanting to support my friend.
So I told her ‘If you need me there so support you in any capacity, I’m there.’
But she said ‘Sista, I’ll be in my own world tomorrow and surrounded by my family, and we will support each other but my Father wanted to invite you, so you are more than welcome to come.’
Was surprised and touched to hear that, but am guessing he was moved by the message I sent him about his wife now being with God. I hope this is true, and that someone was there to greet her, but if nothing else, I know she is at peace and free of the shackles of her broken down physical form which must have at times felt like a prison.
But I won’t be going.
Because I’m frightened.
Frightened because I do not belong.
Frightened to talk to strangers who may ask who I am and what I do (nothing being the answer to both questions).
Frightened because I don’t like funerals. I have been to too many of my own over the last 50 years.
Frightened because I’m worried I might cry, and if I cry I might never stop.
Because it’s all there, bulging away inside me, tightening my chest, blocking up my throat and causing my head to pound.
A lifetime of tears that I am still unable to shed.
Plus I’m not exactly friends with the Man Upstairs right now and I’m frightened that if I enter those hallowed walls that I’ll start to burn and crisp like Damian from the Omen in a hot deep fat fryer, and my friend and her family can well do without having to scape a soggy, weeping, totally overcome Sista off the floor with a dustpan and brush, or put out my blazing, cursing form with the church fire extinguisher or drive a stake through my heart at the alter.
But clearly I need to cry. I rarely cry. And I think that was why I didn’t get that Sexual Abuse Helpline job all those months ago.
But I absolutely hate it. I’m incapable of shedding tears without feeling like a weak, vulnerable loser.
But maybe I’ll watch The Green Mile or something, and offload in the privacy and comfort of my own home. But what I won’t do is make a complete show of myself and embarrass my friend at the funeral of that lovely lady.
So I tell her that I won’t be attending and immediately feel like a pathetic coward and a bad friend.
And then a light came on in my head.
I can give them the cakes and bakes I made for the market! And when my friend accepts this offer with gratitude I feel that I have at least done something to make their day easier.
This is my second day at home in isolation.
I could, should, go out and do something with the day, which is already half over.
And do what? Spend money I haven’t got? Walk in the freezing cold for the sake of walking? Go to the cinema on my own?
No way. I’ll do something tomorrow. Honest I will, Guv. But today, I’m doing fuck all.
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I loves ya, tomorrow, thank God you’re a day away.