Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The long road...

I am still struggling with this. I want to be able to say that it's gotten a bit easier, but I can't. My aunt (or technically, my second cousin) passed away last week and the funeral was on Sunday.

I was a ball of anxiety, jumping the whole drive there every time someone's breaks went on. A bundle of nerves.

At the interment, La Hija (who came along) was talking with her Nuh-Nuh about what was happening and I heard my mom say, "She is in heaven now, with your daddy," and it took all my strength not to lose it.

The things that struck me most, at least the detached and objective part of me that takes over when it's too much for me to handle, is how drastically different funerals are in El Salvador. Beyond the two day, pre-burial, almost shiva-like, in-home viewing and visiting period, the funerals there are just so much more... real. There is no attempt at hiding or prettying up the grave-site. No tarp over the dirt, no trying to hide the hole, no fancy contraption to lower the casket. There was a hole, a mound of dirt, some slabs of cement, some rope, and four men. I watched as they lowered his casket into the ground, praying no one would let the rope slip. Mi Compadre was watching them like a hawk, making sure everything was done properly. The last thing I saw was them lay the cement slabs down on top of the casket. Then, a family friend (very close to a Tio to me) and one of Mi Amor's closest friends (who sang "Wish You Were Here" at the grave site per my request... talk about a meltdown for me--it was one of our favorite songs during the time we spent apart) took me aside and told me I should leave because I needed to let it go and there was nothing else to see.

It was all so raw, but in some ways I think it was better. We pretty up death to make it less scary for us, but I'm not scared of dying, death, or the afterlife. My problem is missing people once they're gone.

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