This place has eaten too many of my friends and family. A behemoth squatting in the centre of the city. A sleeping dragon burning its offerings, spitting out dust and broken relatives.
Drunken gravestones sinking into their rotting hosts, the playground of squirrels and their cache of winter sustenance.
We’re early. Parking was not a priority for the planners of this crematorium. Cars piled up along the winding road, carriages of grief.
“Here lies a loving husband.”
“Our dearest son,”
The dearest companion.”
“Resting where no shadows fall.” That’s macabre. No shadows fall six feet under. A very literal line. May as well say ‘Fertiliser for trees’.
The polite hello to vaguely known relatives. The introductions and small talk and the slow procession into the soulless chapel. The ubiquitous phone ringing during the eulogy that plays an outrageously upbeat tune.
We awkwardly sing to unknown hymns, to a dead God that nobody believes in. The facade of religion provides order to the natural chaos of death. My incredulity at the vicar’s certainty of God’s grace pulls me away from my emotions and stops me from feeling, It provides a protective blanket from the stinging bite of grief.
It’s over and we leave. We file past the vicar for a clammy handshake and heartfelt “Bless you.” I don’t need his blessing but I go along with the charade.
It’s over. A life has ended. We drive along the winding road, past the ancient headstones that watch us leave, knowing that we’ll be back.