You expect the crying, crying is totally de rigeur. You even expect some laughing - there's a 'celebration of life' element in there, right? Maybe you don't expect the laughing to be occasionally so immoderate, but dammit, he was a funny man. You can see the twinkle, can't you?
Then there's the awkwardness of "oh, it's been so long, it's wonderful to see you - uh, aside from the whole Grandpa-dying thing". Ack, this is worse than trying to put makeup on after a sun-lazy week on a tropical beach and then a low-grooming period of January hibernation. I kept burning myself on the straightening iron. I got mascara in my eyebrow. I fail at being a girl AND proper funeral conversation.
The slide show. Geez, his hair was crazy when he still had it. That man could really wear a hat.
As we were walking down the hill to the funeral home parking lot (me, Matt, his cousin and his brother), my brother-in-law said "Was this supposed to make me feel better? Because I feel worse." Closure is great, but when you didn't see someone every day anyway, the fact that people keep banging on about him being dead does really bring the cold fact home with unpleasant clarity.
We stood tightly packed together, huddling for warmth, in minus thirty degree weather, for the little box of ashes to be put into the little compartment ("bus locker", my husband called it - we are a people who use twisted humour to confront strong emotion). We were surrounded by white, black and gray, and I thought the whole thing had a kind of stark, fitting beauty, but I appeared to be the only one. When we got back in the van, Matt's brother said "Let us pray....for five more goddamned degrees!"
I've only been at Catholic funerals, which are very different from...whatever this was. There was a Reverend Something, but there was a lot of "we don't know exactly what happens when we pass from this earth..." and "Now we only deal with Robert on a spiritual plane", and stuff about how we choose to approach these matters, and a couple of times I felt a bizarre urge to shout "HERESY!", but over all it was quite lovely.
Nana was spectacular. Sixty-seven years they were together - we were talking about having a party for their forty-fifth anniversary "because you never know..." We should have known.
Five children. Ten grandchildren. Nine great grandchildren. It really felt like he was leaving in his wake this big, crazy, mostly-happy family, which is not the worst thing, if you have to die (I'm not a huge fan of the concept, on the whole).
It's all just bewildering. Unknowable. Ordinary. Weird.