Home > Food for Thought > Have you ever wondered…

Have you ever wondered…

…what it will be like at your funeral? Read on before you judge me.

Its taken me a long time to write this because its caused me to do some serious reflection on my life and life in general. Plus, I wanted to do this post justice and be respectful. Its taken so long because sometimes I cant seem to get my words right. Sure I can come off with a one-liner here and there, but this is something entirely different, this is about the hardest moments endured in a human lifetime, the passing of a loved one.

I have been to many funerals Im sad to say. I lost two cousins in my teens, a great friend in high school, several neighbors, friends of friends, fellow soldiers and most importantly my Pop. My grandfather, the man I always wanted to get to know better. Dry sense of humor always observing the scene but never really interacting. He just seemed to take it all in, absorb the vibe and then out of nowhere, the funniest comment in decades. I joined the military on Sept 11th 2001 and he was there to see me graduate from boot in Nov 2001. That would be the last time I ever saw him. The last time I ever talked to him was on Thanksgiving that year. His funeral, that same December, just days before his birthday, was the hardest thing I had endured up to that point. Just when we finally had that common bond of military service and he had started opening up, all washed away. Love ya Pop.

But his death and funeral got me thinking. Have you ever wondered what it will be like at your funeral? Im not trying to be morbid by any means, its just a question. Will it be a celebration of your life or a sadness in your passing? Will it be filled with people who cared or will it be in a room where no one signs the guest book? Who will vouch for you when you pass? Its a question that I have asked myself several times in the years since his passing. My father doesnt want to be buried and doesnt want to have a funeral. He wants to be cremated and jokes about me taking him on one final flight (he’ll probably still be scared on that flight) to Tucson which he loved. I feel the same way to a point. I would like people to comfort my loved ones and be there for them. I hope they say I was a good man, a good friend, and mean it. That I was a loving husband (someday) and great dad (someday as well). I hope that it is simple and not a burden, then scatter me in my favorite places. These are all the same ideals as my father and later on, I would find out these were very similar to the wishes of Kelly.

I had the opportunity to see a wake and funeral from the outside looking in recently. I didnt know her as well as I would have liked, but she definitely made an impact on my life. We had a couple good talks and I could sometimes get her to crack a smile. Shawna’s mom Kelly, passed away a month ago yesterday and I was there with her family through the entire ordeal. I hate hospitals more than a lot of people because I spent 7 sleepless days in a waiting room while my little brother lay in a coma. I dont go to hospitals if Im hurt (unless I need face stitches), I dont go to visit people, I just dont go. It was a horrible thing to sit there with my own nerves, but then having to watch this family that I have come to love so dearly be torn to pieces by a God forsaken illness was just unbearable. I watched them hang on the doctor’s words and worry as her condition worsened, sob when her vitals changed, and go numb when she finally passed.

Earlier I posed the question, “have you ever wondered what it will be like at your funeral?” Well if you were even a fraction of the person Kelly was during her short life, then consider yourself lucky. It was absolutely beautiful. I wrote the following on my phone as I sat and took in the scene. I meant no disrespect, I hope all of you know this. It was only to capture the emotion of these moments because I am not sure if I have ever felt something so real in my life. Its a little rough around the edges, but its the exact words and feelings I had as I watched this unfold.

“Today I was privy to watching a million memories pass thru a room. Friends from the old blocks, past loves, Harley riders, veterans, cancer survivors, Italian and Irish, friends of daughters, friends of sons. Friends of brothers, moms, aunts and the like. A million, an infinte number of memories passing through this one little room. Tears caught in tissues, the sponges of human sorrow. The biggest hugs and embraces a body could ever handle. Laughter and smiles, excited giggles and awkward silences.

All of this on st pattys day. She was as Irish as they come and her brothers the like. Reddish hair and fair skin. Tons of shamrocks and green about. The spirit of her heritage, which her brother takes with great pride, was evident all around. It was a lot happier than the viewings I have been to. “Viewing” is such a cold word. Wake seems such a more appropriate term.

I hate to see her cry but I love to see her smile (Shawna) in these times. I know she’s going to make it. A million memories in this room and I am outside looking in.”

I have only read that once before putting it in this post, and each time it takes me back to this agonizing time in my life. But when I do think back, I remember how many smiles were shared amongst those tears. I remember the line for her wake being 3 hours long to pay their respects, 3HOURS! I cant sit still for 5 minutes sometimes, but these people thought so highly of Kelly that they would have waited in the rain that long if necessary. She touched so many lives and when it counted, they paid her a final tribute. One of the most touching events I have ever witnessed.

Later, I got to meet more of her family and friends and was so very surprised to hear my name come from someone I had never met. Kelly’s coworker, her name escapes me and I feel horrible for it, calls me by name and thanks me for being there. I graciously give my condolences and then she catches me off guard a second time. She tells me how Kelly talked about me often, thought that I was a stand up person, and loved Shawna and I together. I know I stood there with my mouth wide open, bc I had never thought I would even warrant a passing conversation from Kelly’s mouth. But I did. She gave me a huge hug, thanked me again for being there and two strangers shared a cry. Writing this gets me teary again bc I feel so relieved that the mother of the woman I love, thought so highly of me. Thanks Mrs. Santoro.

Ive been thinking about this for so long, I hope I did it justice, I hope I did her justice. I feel that I did. Rest well Kelly.

  1. April 19, 2010 at 14:53

    So touching, Matt. What a reflective, bare heart post. you are a gifted writer, true blue friend, and extremely loving human being. we who know you are blessed.

  2. Rob Hughes
    June 2, 2010 at 08:49

    I didnt realize you had a webpage.
    Your a class act.Not only did you do my sister justice
    in your writing,you were a pleasure to have close during such a difficult time.I am very thankful for it.I also know how much Kelly liked you and talekd very highly of you to me and my brother Shawn.
    God Bless Bro

    • June 4, 2010 at 00:23

      I really am glad to hear this coming from you. I mulled over those words for so long in the hopes that I would get it right, so thank you for giving it your approval.

  3. Rob Hughes
    June 4, 2010 at 14:14

    You dont need my approval you write from the heart.Never anything wrong with that!!!
    I would have just added in ther what a pain in the ass Shawn is and he sucks at Fooseball..hahahaa

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