Dec 03


Tag: JournalKal @ 12:58 pm


Standing at a table in a tailor’s.
I’d held it together until she tucked
A pink shirt into black lapels.
A little embarassed, she touches my arm,
“I’ll give you a minute.”

Ironing little shirts,
Tiny collars, smaller cuffs.
I brief them both, separately.
“Tomorrow, I’ll be your special friend, ok?”
Oblivious of what tomorrow brings,
He barely looks up from his lego.

Older, smarter, cognizant.
“Tomorrow, if you need someone,
you just find me.”
“What if I can’t find you?”
“I’ll be next to you all day.”
“Like a bodyguard?”
“Like a bodyguard.”

Standing in the yard,
The night before,
Cigarettes and frost,
our breath like wraiths above us,
tears and whisky, hot and cleansing,
trading slugs,
waiting for it to stop hurting.

Parade rest at the door,
thankyou for coming,
thankyou for coming,
family and friends downstairs,
facebook and well wishers up, please.

On a side table, the orders of service stacked,
in little obelisks,we pressed them into arriving hands.
I fanned them, choked at the tesselating mosaic of his smile.

They snuck him in while I wasn’t looking.
I was touring the church when a little white coffin
was quietly placed at the front.
He took me by surprise
and I had to turn my prickling,
burning eyes away.

Behind us at the door,
two tall glass cylinders
half lego, half flowers.

Above them a mantle with dinosaurs,
Four stuffed ones we
Bought weeks ago.
Agonising over which to buy,
Dithering between the Triceratops
or the Tyrannosaur.
The Stegosaurus,
Or the Velociraptor.
Fretting that he’d wake and find
we’d bought the wrong one.

Coldly laughable, our greatest fear,
In clueless, innocent days
was the faux pas of causing a boy
A grain of disappoinment.

We dodged the question
And bought them all.

The four of them now meet my eye,
Sentinels at the door with us.
“Thankyou for coming.”

They seem resigned to their new purpose,
And I imagine them nodding at me,
As we all nod at each other.
Knowing there’s nothing to say,
But desperate to say it.

They congregate, friends and family
Familiar friends and new.
Strangers fly in from overseas,
And every few minutes I turn back
And spot more dinosaurs,
Quietly added by passers by,
Until the mantle groans and sobs.

The crowd outside
Is several hundred strong.
Cops patrol the edges,
Of a sea of pink and pirates
Dinosaurs, balloons.

Total strangers weep in the street,
Cameras flash and chatter
As the cars arrive,
And the family step up to the door.

“Thankyou for coming”?
The words taste like wax in my mouth.

I find a seat, in the crowd.
The band starts
(six piece, aunts and uncles,
the love and faith are tangible)
And a morning’s held-back tears
Find a crack in the dam.

They stand,
A half dozen of his
Loved and loving.
Each one holding a sheaf of papers;
Wishes and tributes from
Strangers and friends.

His big cousin reading,
He sits alone,
I slide into the seat next to him
and together we cry and laugh
at other people’s memories.

Summoned to the pulpit,
The eldest stands
And speaks about his little brother.
With a strength of voice
And courage of spirit
That I would dream to have.

An hour in,
The wee one frets
And fusses. He’s hungry.
He’s hot.
He’s bored.
I reach out arms and he skips across
The floor in front of his brother’s coffin.

“Can I have a snack?”
In the middle of a funeral?
When you’re three?
Why not?

I swing open the front door
And we’re dazzled by a crashing
Lightning cacophony of camera flashes.
We duck back behind cover.
And I rage inside – where is the respect?
He’s lost his guide, his playmate
The one who made up the games,
And chose the toys.
I want to howl at the press,
For dignity and discretion.
He’s three.

We step out into the storm,
His face pressed into my shoulder.
We march across the street,
My eyes down, a hand across his back.
When the crowd stops in front of us,
I hear my voice bark a short
“Excuse us.”
Then ice-break through them.

Crisps. Juice.
A magazine with plastic toys.
We sit together while he munches,
and a pastor prays for a soul.

The elder,
With deepest love and bare
Of affectation or self consciousness,
Blind to his audience,
Or just uncaring.
Lays his head on the coffin
For the final hymn.
And hugs his brother goodbye.

The congregation dribbles out,
Thankyou for coming.
He and I loiter in the pews,
Shooting passing mourners with fingers
And plastic guns.
Several of them shoot back
Or die for us.
I could hug them.

Two white plumed horses.
A glass carriage.
A real life Captain Jack at the reins.
The crowd applaud as they pull away
The cars behind.
We follow, the traffic stops,
Cops doff their hats and bow their heads,
Strangers on the pavement do the same.
The world salutes a pirate king.

A frozen graveside,
In grey cemetery,
Granite and marble,
And a harsh wind.
A minister stands tall
And shouts his name,
Caden, Riley, Beggan.
Over and over.
Caden, Riley, Beggan.
No trace of a ghost,
As they say.
His words are warmth,
vitality and humour.

Six small pairs of hands
Step up, step forward,
Take the cords and lower their
brother, cousin, friend.
Into the earth.

Balloons fly,
Tears fall.
Petals scatter.

Church hall, long tables.
Tea. Cake. Sausage rolls.
Hugs. Grim smiles. Handshakes.
Nips from a flask.
A father in a pirate hat.
A mother in the arms of friends.

Dinner, we thirty or so,
“Just the hospital crowd”
Drinks, jokes, tears.
The adrenaline burns off,
And leaves us
Empty, tired, numb,
craving sleep.

Some of us sleep.

25 Responses to “Funeral”

  1. Mary Hemsworth says:

    Beautiful simple words that convey such emotion. You made me cry and I thank you for it. xx


  2. Sewmouse says:

    You’re a hero, you know. And a damn good one.


  3. Libby says:

    *hugs* Know that as they have people all over the world who now care and support them as much as they can, so do you.
    Well done Kal. Stay strong, each day at a time.


  4. Ali says:

    Sometimes the world just doesn’t make any sense….


  5. Tom says:

    Mate…. No words… :'(


  6. Liz says:

    Kal, Caden and his family are so lucky to have you as a friend!
    You’ve just made tears roll down my face.


  7. Rach says:

    Oh Kal x
    Nothing more to say.


  8. Adam Collins says:

    Trust you to craft something so moving. I have no words…


  9. Steven Wren says:

    You darling, darling man x


  10. Sharon says:

    So beautifully written Kal


  11. Mrs F with 4 says:

    Heartbreakingly beautiful. Thank you.


  12. Linda says:

    I’m Sorry.


  13. David says:

    I’m sorry for your loss.


  14. EmilyT says:

    Blargh, listening to music as I read this and “Bring Him Home”, from Les Miserables, started playing.


  15. Amber says:

    I had to wait to read this until now… wish I had waited longer. I wish you could bring all things to life with your writing like you just did my memory of that day. Come back to my back door step. Bring the flask.


  16. Sebbie says:

    I hope to god I never need a friend like you and I hope to god that if I do that I have one.


  17. Lin says:

    Oh my word. So heartbreaking, so accurately described, so so so wrong for this to have happened. Love and thoughts with you.


  18. Kit says:

    So heartbreaking. It reduced me to tears, your writing is beautiful. I could picture everything. Keep your chin up and your heart strong x


  19. karen says:

    Im sat on reception. Its lunchtime and people are passing me by. Im dabbing my eyes and blowing my nose.
    Thank you for your beautiful words. I wish I was lucky enough to have you as a friend.


  20. Merys Jones says:

    You made me cry too. Xx


  21. Lady V says:

    No words, just hugs xxx


  22. Piper says:

    Big hugs xxxxx


  23. Mike says:

    No, still can’t say anything that does justice to the pain and the expression of it.


  24. David W says:

    Heartbroken at long distance.


  25. Heather Uphilldowndale says:

    Oh Kal, I’m so sorry. I’ve not been out and about in blog land much of late, we’ve had a few months of timely and untimely deaths. So many tears and such sadness for so many.
    Beautifully written. Heart breaking.


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