Today, a lot of people said their last goodbye to a friend. For many of us, it was a "my first funeral" kind of a day (I've been to one before, but it wasn't someone I knew closely, and I was too young to go to my dad's funeral). It looked like some surreal school reunion where the theme was black tie. Seeing a bunch of guys I grew up with, having been used to seeing them in school uniform made me feel like we were only playing dress-up and that the friend we were seeing off was going to pop round the corner at any minute and tell us we were dickheads for believing his silly joke.
The atmosphere was not how I expected it to be. People were pleased to see each other. It's not often that most of my school year gather in one place. There was a lot of joking and catching up as we waited for the ceremony to start, just like how it is on the annual boxing night festivities most of the school attend every year when they've come home for Christmas visits. The only difference here was the sudden jarrings in conversation as everyone remembered where we were and why we were there.
You can always of course rely on one clown to break some tension, for which I was hugely grateful. Today's clown had us howling with laughter as he
1. Walked in on and sat five minutes into the wrong funeral, only realising he'd made a mistake when the person leading the ceremony informed the room that they were there to remember Ethel.
2. Got drunk later in the evening and stumbled from group to group asking inappropriate but hilarious questions like some pesky drunken uncle.
The ceremony was perfect. The twin of the departed lead the speeches, which was pretty fucking brave. I hiccoughed and sniffled throughout the whole thing out of angst for him, the untimely loss of one of our number, and the fact that I knew that if I were in his shoes - if one of my sisters were in a coffin, I simply could not cope. Screw being brave and respectful. I would go to pieces. I can't even entertain the idea for a second.
We entered the crematorium to The Lord of the Rings theme, and left to Monty Python's Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. The stories told during the service were about the our friend's misadventures, the harmless trouble he would always get into, and the fact that the majority of us - if we were to put a bet on it, would never have put our money on him doing something so mundane and unspectacular as slipping away as he dreamt. The quirky exit tune summed him up brilliantly.
The rest of the afternoon was spent in a pub that he used to work and drink in. It was lovely seeing so many familiar faces and hearing about how their lives after school are flourishing. People are climbing the career ladder, hooking up and sprouting children left right and centre. It made me happy to learn that the people I know and love are all getting along just fine in grown-up land. Seeing everyone together in one place, brought together by one person alone made me feel lucky to be part of such a web of caring, fun people. It was a shitty thing that brought us there, but it was also reassuring that no matter how far apart we've all drifted that we are all still connected.
I promise my next post'll be a silly one. I just needed to get today out of my system.
Here's a song for you to enjoy. I loved it before, but now it holds even more meaning for me:
Monty Python - Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life