Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Wake

. . . The wake is today from 3pm to 9pm. Okay, well I guess I could go. I want to run some errands, but I guess I could do that later, but I would really like to. . . whatever. Ok so I can be home from school around 3ish, take Buffy for a quick walk, be out at the wake around 4, spend 1/2 an hour there and be home by 5:30ish to give Buffy dinner and salvage some resemblance of an evening. . .

As much as we hate to admit it to ourselves, Tolstoy in his book The Death Of Ivan Ilyich was right. When death occurs our minds often travel to how these events inconvenience our own lives.

So after a stressful day at work I got home. I took Buffy for a quick walk, changed and the headed out. Then I entered the beautiful world of Chicago traffic. The 1/2 hour travel time on quickly passed as I sat in traffic.

I needed to go south on I-94, and then go west on I-90 and for those of you who do not know the Chicago freeway system, there is a point when these two freeways almost touch. However, these freeways do not connect, so you have to exit and take local roads which results in the most indirect path between these two interstates. It is one of the ridiculous flaws in civic design ever and I’m notusing superlatives to be humorous, I dead serious.

During the resulting hour and fifteen minutes it took to get to the wake I went through a variety of emotions. Frustration that this was taking so long to get there, anger at Chicago’s bass awkward freeway systems and sadness. My friend’s dad had died and in these situations you can’t help but think about your own parents mortality. I almost started to cry when “Easy Silence” came on thinking of losing people in my life that I love.

As much as I’m ashamed to admit it, I considered turning around and going home and then I remembered when my mom’s father died. There were only two grandchildren who didn’t make the trek to Taiwan for the funeral and one of them was me. At the time, the idea of taking a last minute flight to Taiwan and spending more time in the air than on the ground seemed illogical and not worth it. Thinking back, spending a whole day on a plane would have been a small price to pay for the opportunity to say goodbye to my grandfather.

So I stuck with it and got to the funeral home. I was tired, stressed, and wondering if this whole trip was going to be worth it. As I walked into the room, I saw my friend with a couple mutual friends and as I walked up the began making jokes about how I “clean up well.” Then I saw my friend, smiling with her usual glow and gave her a hug.

We walked around the room, she introduced me to some of her family and we saw her father laid respectfully in an open casket. We talked about work, what we had been up to but mostly we just made jokes and laughed a little. I had nothing profound to say to her but it felt good being able make her a laugh a little and I guess sometimes that’s what it means to be there for someone and show support.

I left the funeral home at about the time I planned to be home (5:30 pm). The drive back had traffic that was just as bad the way there but it didn’t seem quite as annoying. Instead of listening to sad music and feeling like crying I rocked out to Faith by George Michael.

When I got home, Buffy came up and greeted me and when I picked her up and held her in my arms, I couldn’t help but smile. You never know what each day will bring to you, but what I do know is that nothing bad ever comes out of being there for a friend and no matter what the cost, it’s always worth it.

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