Let me preface this entry by saying that sometimes I come across harshly. As if I didn't care about the people I talk about. Recently, I told a friend that I was too self involved to really care.. IN retrospect that was venting to someone I think understood me. And understanding me, you would also understand that I probably don't mean it. But the truth is, I don't know what I mean. WHen trying to personally process pain or grief (which this village has been drowned by) I have removed myself from telling anyone who asks what I think about our dreary summer. Our summer of death. What I have ultimately realized is that it doesnt matter at all what I think about all this death. The person asking (usually an outsider) is just waiting to tell me what they think. Some gram of wisdom meant to sooth me. Meant to prop me up. Meant to turn my frown upside down. I am not saying I don't like interaction with the human race. In this case, I am saying... Just shut the fuck up. Just listen. Just watch. Don't replay your own personal tragedy from ten years ago to make mine look less dismal. And don't wrap it up in a fucking pat on the hand and a sympathetic practiced flash in your eye.
Today we had another funeral. It was Russian Orthodox in nature like all the rest. You don't get buried in the cemetery here if you aren't Russian Orthodox. That's right. You get buried outside of the gate. Even if you choked to death. Even if you were one of the 30 graves of unmarked victims from the Flu Epidemic in the 20's. Even if you hadn't even learned to walk yet. Anyways.
I didn't go to the funeral. I did prepare the space today though, like I always do.. alone.. for some reason... I cover all the children's art with cheap white sheets and a stapler. I take down signs that say "no running". I pull out the podium and the skinny white candles. I line up enough chairs for the immediate family, because everyone else has to stand for the service.
The service is done by a priest or lesser who is flown out to the village. He typically wears a long black dress, is unshaven... looks like Nick Nolte and seems giddy when you hand him cash for his efforts... A donation. The same guy has been coming for the past few services.
After some words about life and all that, everyone is invited to kiss the corpse. So, I stay home. Some people go just for that... I truly believe that. Not many... But even three drama queens in an island population of 25 is enough to make you sick. So.. I stayed home and children came to be with me instead of the services. We made three pizzas that I had prepped the dough for the night before, just like Alton Brown.
There is always a feast after the body has been lowered into the ground. You can see the grave from the window as we line up to take food from all the families who prepared it. A 15 foot long countertop usually holds it all. 5 fold out tables, 30 chairs...
I give my hugs. Show my respect. Put spoons in everyone's dish. Make coffee. Make jokes. Make myself up in presentation. Terrified that I will have to say something I couldn't plan and just fuck it up lousy, in the face of someone who lost their mother. Lost their grandmother. Someone I knew too, but not enough to want to invade their goodbye.
I look over during the meal, and see the priest chug a coca cola and the whole prop of religion just fell through the floor and I laughed out loud. It was probably listening to "We Care Alot" as I mopped the floor before the memorial that got me through the day. Now... I am looking for songs I haven't heard to get me through tomorrow.
I think I tried to say initially, that I am not cold even though I present events like a newscaster sometimes. That's my way. If you really did know me, you would read my candid and flip comments as they were truly inspired.
I AM devastated but the recovery is instant when I have to take care of you.