A few weeks ago, I attended the memorial service of my grandfather. I wasn’t very close to him, I didn’t see him very often, and I didn’t even really think too highly of him. But he died. And I had to accept that.
The first thing we did at the memorial service was sing a song about how great God was, and that’s about the time that I got lost. How are we supposed to sing his praises when a person we supposedly all cared about is no longer with us? People said prayers, sang songs, and read Bible versus, and most of it had absolutely nothing to do with the situation at hand. How is that appropriate? Isn’t that the time when people are supposed to be the angriest at God? Why is no one angry at God?
I looked around in disbelief at these people who would claim to be my family, if asked, any of which I hadn’t seen in at least a year, the majority in over five years. I had to take a second to gather myself. I was standing in a Catholic church watching strangers sing about how great their God is while a picture of my now dead grandfather stared back and watched us do it with the look of utter apathy on his face he wore so well for the twenty years I knew him. No one was crying. No one was even a little mad. Most people weren’t even wearing black. I watched some of the women wipe pathetic excuses for maybe a single tear while the men pathetically attempted to sing without having to use the energy it takes to produce vocal sounds and I just thought over and over to myself that… I really hope things aren’t this pathetic when I die.
And then I was angry. I was angry at their God for them. “You like this, don’t you?” I asked him in my head. You take a life and they sing your praises. Getting away with murder in ways far beyond any metaphorical understanding. And poor Grandpa. Why aren’t we sorrier for him? Why aren’t we even talking about him? God didn’t die; he’s still there, for all they care to know. So why are we talking about him? Why can’t we just take a second, at least at his funeral, to talk about him?
But then my dad got up there, onto the stage or whatever it is, and began to talk about his dad. Thank GOD, I thought - and then I laughed to myself. My dad said a few words, and then began to read something Grandpa had left behind for his family, the family that is too busy singing about How Great Thou Art at his memorial service to remember that he’s dead.
Grandpa basically took that letter as a chance to brag about how awesome his life was, and I was extremely proud of him for doing so. If my family had decided to “honor” my life by being so pathetic and feeble and weak and submissive, they might as well have sent me to hell themselves. I would want, just as my Grandpa wanted, for my family to celebrate my life and what it meant for the people it meant anything to. I wouldn’t want them to worry about what they have to do in order to keep from going to hell, what they have to believe in and how great it is and even whether or not it exists… I would want them to take a moment to remember that I existed. It’s only fair. For the 80 some-odd years my Grandpa put into it, it was only fair for us to remember he lived.
My dad read the list of all the things Grandpa loved about life for a good ten or twenty minutes when he got to a part where Grandpa mentioned how much he loved to sit on his dock on the lake and watch the satellites in the night sky. It hit me like a fucking rock in my chest - sitting on that wooden bench on the edge of that dock, splinters in my bare feet, soda can in hand, dusk. I couldn’t have been more than nine years old. Grandpa came and sat down next to me. I pointed to a light in the sky and said, “I think that’s a satellite.”
He looked up and told me, “I think you’re right.”