The funeral of my friend was not as tough as I had expected. I didn’t break down sobbing, or need to be alone in order to recompose myself (though I think reconstruct would be a better word). Even the wake afterwards went well and my initial dread of the premise didn’t seem to come to fruition. What worried me about the room was that is was a two levelled conservatory built on the side of the hotel.
I like conservatories normally, particularly when they have underfloor heating like this one, but the large expanses of glass for walls and ceilings means that sound can be harsh and echo so that the overall effect of a group of people all talking (particularly in two languages) can result in a sensory overload for me. Perhaps the number of people was a benefit and dissipated the sounds too or perhaps I chose a good seat, but an overload didn’t happen. I did deliberately keep to the edge of the room and rather than queuing for food, waited to everybody had served themselves.
I found myself actually enjoying the wake. I liked seeing my kids chatting with friends, meeting their friends and seeing the twenty year olds looking after my friend’s two children. I liked seeing people coming up to my wife and chatting to her about the eulogy particularly the French speakers who still felt it important enough to say something in spite of the language barriers. I liked meeting people who had seen a different view of my friend, hearing about their shared history before finding other things which interested us both. I liked seeing the husband’s brothers and families looking out for him and their French cousins by marriage. I thought there would be a language divide to start with but when I looked careful there seemed to be plenty of integration going on, and I was disappointed that my own French was not conversationally competent.
We left the wake after a few hugs with the family. I drove the car to the Corn Exchange where myself and my daughter got out to go to the Edinburgh Art Fair whilst my wife drove my son to a Swedish furniture shop to buy a bed and a couple of cinnamon buns. Whilst I do love looking at art, the Art Fair takes some effort to go to. It can be crowded and noisy, there are thousands of bits of art to look at so it takes time, but mainly trying to decide why I like a piece and whether it would fit in a work or home is rather exhausting. Colour palettes seem to be as important as composition to me, for instance I find landscapes in dark greys and yellows really eye catching. I didn’t like the trend for glossy finished brightly multi-coloured pictures, it seemed too much to me, kitsch even, though maybe that is another kind of sensory overload. I really don’t see why the female form is so much more prevalent than the male, there still seems to be too much sexism in art; I guess it is all to do with what sells.
The plan was for my daughter and I to survey the fair and choose pictures we liked, so that my wife could then look at the filtered selection to see if she appreciate any of them. Unfortunately, going furniture shopping on Saturday afternoon seemed to take longer than anticipated and so by the time she return there wasn’t a long enough period to do the art justice. Instead we headed back to my son’s flat and on the way, telephoned to see if he wanted to go out for food. We did go out to a mostly empty looking, though nearly fully booked Indian restaurant. I was glad it hadn’t filled up yet, I don’t think my brain could have coped with the noise levels this large open planned restaurant would have later on. It was a lovely way to end our time together, my kids are such good company.
I drove back home whilst my daughter caught her train and my son had to decide whether to put his bed together. As I sat in the seat I am in now, the sofa near the bay window, I realised I was feeling nothing but tiredness. I wanted to write something about the funeral but I couldn’t find a way to start. I was emotionally closed down, nothing sparked in me. I thought about playing online with my pals but I didn’t feel like being sociable any more today. I put the TV on and watched some old episodes of Star Trek; more than I thought I would. When I eventually went to bed, my mind didn’t want to think of anything but neither did it want to sleep.
I did sleep eventually thankfully. The next morning I worked out a way of writing about the funeral and wrote “The Single Rose” post and planned to do other creative things around the experience. It wasn’t until after I wrote my post that I was able to connect with my sadness again. I went into the kitchen and made my porridge. When I sat down at the table to eat my breakfast, there was an order of service on the table with a picture of my friend on the front. I cried; I had reconnected.