Absent Friends

In Columns, Features, My Life As A Voyeur: Living Vicariously by Cole Wilson

Here’s a riddle. What is something that will happen to everyone, is fought tooth and nail by some, but to many it is a relief? It’s death, the only thing in life that is a certainty. But to those left behind it can be more upsetting than an audit.

My cousin Wendy called recently to tell me she would be in town for the funeral of a friend. Since another friend of mine also had a recent death in her family and I was unable to attend the service, I decided to attend this viewing with my cousin. It seemed a way of trying to pay my respects to both with one service, I guess.

Big mistake. I should never have gone with her. It seemed like the service was populated with either women that couldn’t get enough Kleenex or people that had that carried around that dumb smile you see on the Jehovah Witnesses that come to your door evangelizing.

One woman cornered me, tears glistening in her eyes, and proceeded to tell me that the dearly departed Marie was with God now.

She then asked me what church I attend, and invited me to visit hers.

I told her I don’t attend church. I wanted to tell her that it was too late for me, God had given up on me years ago. Besides, it always seemed to me that churches were occupied either by the blissfully ignorant or the hopelessly hypocritical. I just couldn’t fit in with that environment. Being at a viewing, of course I didn’t tell her those things.

But this woman wouldn’t take no for an answer. She said she’d pray for me, pray that I would change my mind and come to church. She reminded me of a friendly puppy that won’t go away. Luckily, my cousin rescued me, and having paid our respects to Marie, we headed for the door.

Not far away from the funeral home, we found a bar where we could drown our sorrows and toast our absent friends. It seemed though, as I removed my black tie and ordered a second round, that they weren’t that far away.

Later, Wendy asked me what my own plans were, on the event of my death. I told her I didn’t have any. I didn’t even have a will. She said I should, that I should look into a preplanned funeral or something. Something inside of me supposes she’s right, and it’s foolish of me not to have a will. I guess part of me is in denial – but death is just around the corner for all of us.