Thursday, April 20, 2006

my own history in this funeral home

Many (many) years ago I had a friend named Mike. It was one of my sicker relationships. Actually it was the sickest one of all, alot of pain, alot of anger, alot of crying, and a heck of a lot of therapy afterwards. Not good most anyway you look at it, well except there had to be good times or it wouldn't have lasted as long as it did, maybe, I don't know. I was only 21 when I met him, very young, very stupid, and very naive. Long story short, he died. Longer story shorter, he shot himself in the head. I didn't go to the funeral. I never went to his gravesite. Two or three days before he died, I'd simply walked away. Well, not so simply as he was pretty mad, but I'd walked away and he didn't know where I was.
So last week, I go back into the prep room to talk to Tom. (Yes, I'm getting more used to it and sometimes I go back there if I know they're not doing anything gross) Well, he was working on a guy (who ended up looking absolutely amazing, believe it or not, what a make-up artist I work with!), but the guy on the next table is who caught my eye. He was really skinny and fairly young, late 30s, maybe early 40s, maybe way younger but lived a hard life. Well, I asked why he was so skinny and Tom said "stupid meth-head shot himself". I'd never heard him say anything negative about the deceased, but that's not what this story's about. I looked closer and saw the hole on the side of the temple, I walked around to the other side and looked at the entrance wound. There were burn marks around it, but both holes had been repaired very well. I thought he would open his eyes, grab my arm, and tell me to stop gawking. I've never thought that about someone in the prep room, someone in a casket, all the time I think they'll open their eyes, cuz they just look asleep. but a "real" dead person has never scared me before. He scared me, sent a chill straight to my toes.
I thought about him for a couple days and Tom's words kept going thru my mind "stupid meth-head", over and over.
Friday afternoon, I did the unthinkable. I looked in the old files for Mike. He was there. He was here. In my funeral home. I had no idea. He lay naked on that cold steel table with only a towel draped over his privates. His chest was probably stitched shut after his autopsy. His wounds stapled closed. The funeral director stood over him "stupid coke-head shot himself", same disgusted tone, same frustration at the wasting of one's own life. His family was here. They made arrangements. They walked through these rooms. They cried and mourned for him. Without me. I stayed away. I didn't even know he was here. May not have taken this job had I known he was here, well, definitely wouldn't have, it's just too weird. For years, I felt him looking over me, touching me in my sleep. I'd wake up and know someone had just moved away from my side. I sat in the chapel for a long time and talked to Mr Smith. He couldn't talk back and luckily no one else was here and Mr Smith's family didn't show back up for viewing. But I talked to him and told him the story. I told him Mike's name, but stopped short of asking him to give Mike a message. Tom thinks that the dead stay around for a few days before they go to whereever they're headed. Maybe after that, there's no sending messages. I dont' know. I'm ready to go home now. I've managed to completely freak myself out and i don't want to be in here any more. Big talker I am about sending a message, but the sounds I hear startle me. Make my heart race. I'm just ready to go home. Leave the building where Mike was.

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