February 6, 2017
Part the First
I had been to funerals before, so I knew what to expect. My best friend’s maternal grandmother passed, if I recall correctly, shortly after graduation and I went to the Mass. Funerals were times for others to openly grieve, not Yours Truly, and various experiences proved this truism. I was seated in one of the back pews, as I am not Roman Catholic, and when the choir began the introit, “Rest eternal…”, I began to cry, and could not stop until after “With your saints in eternity”, until after leaving church, until almost reaching the cemetery.
In my early twenties, a former coworker passed while attending his freshman year at Purdue University. He was an aspiring biochemist who died due to a bizarre circumstance resulting in an anaphylactic shock. The visitation was difficult, for I currently worked with his brother. There is no need to recount anything else, as the Gentle Reader can assume my less than stoic behavior.
Once again, a former coworker passed and a certain Apprentice and I went to the visitation. From what I recall, this was his first visitation, not only as an adult, but at anytime. He knew the deceased better than I, and it showed.
A former customer passed [Bea Decker-Auth.], and I went to the visitation. She was in her late nineties, and the intention was a quick arrival: sign the book, offer my condolence, and leave. Her daughter, who I had not previously met, was surprised, or delighted, that a manager took interest in her mother. The daughter introduced me to everyone. By the time I went to the casket, I was once again emotional.
Part the Second
I have two routines for visitations. The short version is signing the book, looking at the names of the senders of the flowers, talking with select people, and, after an appropriate time, leaving. The long version is the same, except I wander, sit, and talk, and repeat as needed, for the entire visitation. I find comfort in routines and as the Capricorn knows what society expects, I dutifully conform.
Capricorns, that steadfast and stoic sign, rarely demonstrate emotion, especially as this behavior may be understood, or misinterpreted, by others as showing weakness. This behavior is completely normal and expected for a nominally land animal with an obvious handicap: a fish tail. While the popular misconception is that Capricorns are cold, distant, and uncaring, we possess none of these traits; however, we do not see the need, or meaning, or purpose, to be emotional.
I now know that I can, but not always, become very distraught at visitations because for one reason; the adventures are over. Regardless of the memorable times, there will be no more; it matters not that their age: twenty or ninety. I realize that this understanding is one sided and self serving. I make no apologies, and others may reason differently, and reach other conclusions, for their feelings at such times as visitations and funerals.
We often hear such phrasing as “words cannot express how I feel at your loss”, and we agree. These words have their origin in an attempt to describe our feelings; the emotion, first, then the words. For the multitude of words in English, and their various shades of meaning and nuances, we simply do not have the words, nor will we ever create them. Truly, words escape us at this difficult time.
Our second conclusion that we can perhaps draw from our experiences is the subtle denial of the religious dogma of the future resurrection. For if we truly believed in a life after this one, our behavior would, assuredly, reflect this. The near universal and consistent behavior of humanity for recorded history acknowledges that there will never be a reunion in the next world. We know, as men, from our existence, that we have never seen a resurrection in nature, that death is the end, the eternal abyss, and to suggest otherwise is to deny reality, to deny our collective and individual experiences.
People, except for few exceptions neither desire the truth regarding death nor do they wish to discuss death. Denial and avoidance are demonstrated by the number of euphemisms both for death itself, and for the decedent. If the Gentle Reader disagrees with my conclusion, then I suggest that at the next visitation, avoid polite euphemisms and instead, refer to the “dead one” and “death”. The reactions will be swift, thereby providing first hand evidence that death is a terrible topic and to be assiduously avoided in political company.
Our second indication that death is a forbidden topic is the presence and not infrequent utilization of humor to deny the serious nature, that is, serious for the living, of death. We suggest that humor is applied in direct proportion to the speaker's belief in another existence. We offer that Yours Truly does not attempt humor in somber settings and situations, for it is not appropriate, as anyone should know.
The only possible consolation we can offer the Gentle Reader is a sliding scale of “fuzzy logic” based on either the decedent's longevity or accomplishments, yet this device is not wholly satisfactory, especially in light of a tragedy.
In conclusion to this part, we suggest euphemisms became more numerous both after the American Civil War and after World War I, due to the great loss of life in a few years.
Part the Third
I recall a conversation as a child wherein I first understood death and how it impacted my life, as my grandfathers had died before I was born. At that time, I also grasped that all the people born before me would be unknown to me, and I would be unknown to people born after me. I now know that only those who made no lasting impression are forgotten. If the Gentle Researcher wonders why I am driven, why I am inclined to situations where I have some influence, why I consider people and my work as equally important, although not simultaneously, then the answer is known.
We typically place little to no value on conventional wisdom, trite expressions, and cliches. However, I suggest that to “Seize the day” and to “Live every day to its fullest” as becoming and appropriate to those individuals who know their time is short, unlike the time wasters, the aimless, who profess otherwise and act accordingly.
We love life, not because we love living, but because we love adventures; adventures in solitude, adventures with another individual, whether a Cancer Gemini or not, and adventures with groups, whether youths or not. Our zeal for adventures disavows the gross misconception of Capricorns, generally, and Yours Truly, specifically.
We seek experiences because our time is finite, for if we believed, truly believed, there was an existence in an afterlife, we would be less driven. We can not know, nor will we speculate, on the reasons most people are unconcerned with this life, yet speak of nothing else but the next life. We can only suggest these are examples of misplaced priorities.
Saint Paul wrote that if the resurrection of the dead were not true, then the proclaimers of this doctrine would be the most miserable of men, as their efforts in the Gospel would be in vain, since others could not have hope in Christ.
The Apostle also wrote that if the resurrection from the dead were untrue, then Christ did not rise, and the these men would be liars.
We agree with the Apostle’s assessments and reasoned conclusions regarding both the resurrection of the dead and the resurrection from the dead.
In conclusion, writing about, or only recalling, our emotional experiences with death, although limited in this life, are a cathartic experience, and impresses upon us the importance of our time, our work and our valued individuals.
As always, the Gentle Researcher will reach his own informed conclusions concerning death, requiems in a vernacular language, visitations, funerals, the immortal soul, irony, the nature of Capricorns, estate planning, reincarnation, the suitability of dating Cancer Geminis, humor, and whether the resurrection of the dead can lead to, or result in, or be independent of, the resurrection from the dead.