Driving to Winn-Dixie this afternoon, I got agitated when the cars in front of me stopped, at a green light. When I saw why, I casually said, “Oh, it’s a fucking funeral procession.” Then I felt guilty. Someday there’d be a funeral procession for me, and someone in a car might say the same thing. And this actually amused me, in a dark way. When you come close to death often, as I do (because of my hypertension), you learn to laugh at death.
I had a friend in my church youth group, named Eric. Eric’s father died, and he asked that the other guys in the youth group serve as pallbearers, although we’d never known his father (Eric was new to our church). I had a longtime acquaintance named David, and he and I were among the pallbearers.
As we all sat in the pew together during the funeral (David next to me), I looked at the closed coffin, and suddenly started laughing hysterically! Fortunately, I was able to literally hold my laugh inside, with my hand, and pass the occasional noise off as coughing. I had just seen “National Lampoon’s Vacation” two nights before (I highly recommend it, if you’ve never seen it–it’s hilarious). Those of you who have seen it may recall a scene in which the Griswalds find a dead aunt. She is alone, and they have no room in their car for her–so they bag her up, and tie her (sitting upright) to the top of the car! And you see that dead aunt in the pouring rain, as the Griswalds continue driving to Wally World!
If I had known Eric’s father…but I didn’t, so just seeing that coffin reminded me of this scene! Eventually I was able to stop my muffled laughter–but not for long. After the service, when we pallbearers got up, David stopped, and I bumped smack into him! Then the laughter returned, and I had to do my damnedest to hold it back again! Even on the way to the gravesite, as we crossed a small, wooden bridge, I lost hold of my handle at one point, and the coffin almost fell into the little stream below!
Looking back, however, I can’t help but wonder if Eric’s father would have laughed at me!