It's felt like such a long day. I woke on my friend's couch, got a taxi to my sister's, a lift to the church with them. The second I saw the rest of my family, tears were never far away.
People say you should see a funeral as a celebration of life, but how can you? You can't really celebrate the life of someone who isn't there. It's like going to someone's birthday party only to find the guest of honour isn't actually there - but harder than that. I learned a few things today. The first was that I cannot actually remember the words I'm meant to say in a Catholic mass. I've not been to church for about five years, and apparently the words I used to recite almost unconsciously on a weekly basis, the points where we stand and kneel and sit that I could virtually sleepwalk through . . . I have pretty much no memory of anymore.
The priest spoke about my gran's life, reminding me of things I had known long ago but forgotten over time. Like the fact she worked in an ammunitions factory during the second world war (she must have only been about fourteen when the war began), or as an usherette in a theatre. There was other things I didn't know, like how she had worked in a newsagents and it was when my granda had came in to buy a newspaper that he had met her and fallen in love with her. It's weird the things you don't know about the ones you love, isn't it?
The priest also managed to get my gran's surname wrong while talking about her. That was quite the point of conversation afterwards, believe you me! She attended his parish every single week, and while I'm sure he never called her by both her names, you'd think he would at least have made sure her name was correct when he said her name!
But it was all very emotional. I didn't realise how upset I would get, but my granda was so strong, I felt so in awe of him. I didn't see him cry, although he did look close once or twice, and the swelling round his eyes indicated that he HAD cried, perhaps just not in public. But he was fantastic. My great uncle too, my gran's little brother, put on a brave face. I spoke to him later on . . . he's the only one left of his siblings now, and he told me that with the other loved ones he had lost, seeing them after death had been a struggle. But that when he'd saw my gran's body she had looked fantastic. He said she'd had a slightly quizzical look on her face, weirdly. I felt a little bad because I was crying while he was talking, and then his daughter came up and interrupted to ask me an unrelated question. I don't know whether she thought I needed rescuing or what but I felt awful that I didn't get to finish my conversation with him.
For some reason, me, my sis and my brother ended up sitting at a separate table to everyone else after the service and cremation. We were given cans of juice and later on, the little women serving came around to take drinks orders. "Can I have another soft drink?" I asked. "No, have a proper drink," the woman demanded, much to my brother in law's amusement. I wasn't going to argue - I took a wine. It made me think of Mrs Doyle in Father Ted though, except she was plying me with alcohol rather than cups of tea and cake!
Afterwards me, my brother, mum and dad went back to my granda's flat with him, and it was so sad sitting in the flat knowing she wasn't there and he was on his own. I get the impression it was only maybe fully sinking in for him at this point, and felt awful about leaving him. I could see the picture on the wall of me, my sis and my brother (we decided it was my baby brother who died, not my other brother) with my gran and granda, us tiny kids and them looking absurdly young. It made me sad. As did when I went to the bathroom and saw that there were still two toothbrushes sitting there.
I really hope he is going to be okay. He's being so brave though under the circumstances. I know you have to just get on with things, but I'm not sure I could if I was in his position. I keep forgetting too that my dad has lost his mum here, but he too was so strong. It sounds cheesy but I feel like their strength has inspired ME a little.
Okay, time to get some more alcohol down me now I think. Think tomorrow I'll have to give my liver a break.