Pain Colored Goggles

I can’t quite think clearly. And at the same time I don’t like to complain, yet again, about being in pain. So I often just hold it inside, stay silent, wait for it to pass, try to wear a smile.

Sigh, what a liar.

Let’s go back. Yesterday I went to a funeral for my second cousin. Ummm. Let’s just say the circumstances of his death were very suspicious. It appears there was a recipe for Perfect Storm Stew. Alcohol, weed, money, mental illness, a lonely elderly man and a fight of some sort? A mental breakdown? We’ll never know. The cops are “investigating.” But the bottom line is no one cares. He was already brain dead by the time the ambulance brought him to the vet hospital. I just saw him on Thanksgiving. Oddly, he was giving his prized possessions away. He gave me his hat from the Korean War. He wrote letters to my gramma, his aunt and closest friend, with lines like “The end is near.” We will never really know what happened.

My parents drove down so we could attend the funeral. The plots stretched miles wide, with many different entrances and chapels. We got there early so we went to Starbucks to kill time. I didn’t know my parents drank Starbucks. Funny. We got back and sat in the parking lot until 8:55. Remarking “Hmm….who’s that? Who are they?”

My mother insists on taking pictures of everything. So we took a picture outside the chapel then walked towards the door. I knew I had the scowl of hate on my face but I could not seem to remove it. I’m not a good sport about taking pictures at inappropriate times. Good thing I looked at the sign. We were at the wrong funeral. I couldn’t help but be giddy inside. This made the day so much more surreal. We began the mad dash to find the right funeral chapel and made it a couple of minutes late.

The ceremony was nice enough. It was an open casket. He had been dead for 9 days. It’s so fucking creepy how they pump you up with chemicals and put make up on you. He did not look like himself at all. I could not tell if I felt numb because that’s a common feeling about death. Or if I was just feeling he was finally at peace. Seeing his body meant nothing to me. I knew his spirit was flying around somewhere else by now, exploring other lands. My mom took flash pictures in the chapel throughout the entire funeral. Is that even allowed? I flinch every time I hear the camera click.

While the guys carried the casket out, I hear a woman saying “Look, a wolf.” I turn, and look up at the hill where she is pointing. That’s not a fucking wolf, I think. That’s a tree stump. The other women say “Where, where?” And she describes and points to the exact location of the stump. She says “He sees us, so he’s being completely still.” I am laughing inside.

We begin what my mom calls “the carpool” following the white hearse to the grave site. It’s raining a little. Cloudy and foggy. Kind of pretty and eery. There are two soldiers in uniform there to do the folding of the flag ceremony. I am enthralled. I don’t know how these men and women find the courage. The discipline. How do they do it? The young one folds the flag wrong, so has to slowly unfold it, and fold it again. After tucking the flag meticulously into it’s triangle shape, the older soldier nods his head at younger soldier, who slowly goes walking across the graves to a truck….waaaaaaaaay far away. We are told to salute, or place our right hands to our hearts, for the playing of “Taps.”

Ahhh, I think to myself. Here is the beautiful moment. Here’s where I’ll cry. I’ll feel something. Younger soldier is standing so far away we can hardly see him, but he pulls out a white trumpet and plays “Taps.” Right then a plane flies overhead. We can’t hear “Taps.” But my mom is crying anyway. Just when I think I’ll get to hear the end of the song, the plane passes. And a train blows. I am laughing again inside. My mom is sniffling.

The deacon says his final blessing over the casket. And the woman who saw the wolf stands up, goes next to the deacon, cups her hands around her mouth, and screams “LoLoLoLoLolololLoLoolOlOlllLolLoloLo.” Like an ancient battle cry. Birds flee from the trees. It was beautiful in a bizarre kind of way.

Later I hear wolf lady boasting she is in a tribe. I don’t know these people. I don’t think they knew my cousin. They knew his oldest son. But I do know that wasn’t a wolf. But I loved the battle cry. Whatever. I am so used to things like this.

I put a rose on my cousin’s casket, even though I know he wasn’t in there. “Thanks for the hat.” As we walk to our cars, we find out that younger soldier wasn’t playing the trumpet. It was just a recording playing through a speaker placed inside the fake trumpet. This again makes me laugh.

As we drove home, all I could think about was the pain I was in. So selfish. And the look of his made up dead face. So lucky. Gone now. An end to much pain in this world. I have to fight this, I’m thinking. Don’t give up. Your day will come and I want you to say you did the very best you could. Lived your fullest life. Healed and helped others to heal themselves. But I can’t think of anything except how much I want to die if this is all there is. I’m afraid. That I’ll need more spinal surgeries. That I’ll never be able to work again. I wonder who would show up at my funeral. I hope they dance. I hope they wear glitter. I hope they have words to say…like “She changed my life.” That is all I ever wanted. I suppose if I have to wince through it, just knowing I’ll have my day in the grass, the long eternal dirt nap, means I can’t stop fighting now. I have to press on like a soldier. Do what soldiers do. Keep fighting. So I don the goggles of many colors. Colored by shades of pain. Acceptance. It just is. Nothing to do about it…but hang on for the ride.


The Cockroach

Copyright Β© 2012 Kissing The Cockroach All Rights Reserved.

~ by kissingthecockroach on March 17, 2012.

10 Responses to “Pain Colored Goggles”

  1. What an honest and eloquently written post. Amazing how there can be so much beauty in the pain.

    Take it from someone who knows a lot about the kind of pain you speak of, someone who has been to hell and back–there is so much to live for, more than you could ever hope for. All you have to do is hang on. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you! I get bogged down by it at times, and it consumes my thoughts. But I just keep reminding myself there are good days and bad days, it will pass. My therapist always remarks about how “in touch with my body” I am. And I confessed to her, that is a new trait. Since the bus accident! I guess the pain is like learning a new language. It is forced present moment awareness. I lived in the numb zone for sooooo many years…there was something strangely beautiful that was born in the process. My body and mind spoke and now I am listening.

      • “I guess the pain is like learning a new language” – Couldn’t have said it better myself. I spent a lot of years in a numb zone too. Funny how you don’t realize it until you’re suddenly forced out of it and into a place where the emotions (both good and bad) and pain are overwhelming. I think the most important thing is to be mindful and to keep yourself present, and to keep reminding yourself, as you said, that it will pass. Life does not ever stand still, and nothing lasts forever. Everything that you have to endure will only make you stronger. It sounds like you have made a great leap, from someone who was once hopelessly out of touch, to someone who has acquired great wisdom and perception through adversity. And I think what I love most, is that you have the courage to share your thoughts and your story with others. Because you never know who needs to hear it. πŸ™‚

  2. Such a beautiful piece… You didn’t feel only at one particular time in this process- it is obvious that your feelings were present since you started painting the bird. Don’t laugh- your cousin was likely the wolf in spirit form- observing his funeral. You mention a tribe? Native Americans are notorious for shape shifting. I really think you need to buy Animals Speak by Ted Andrews. The animal totem of wolf is powerful with the keynotes of guardianship, ritual, loyalty, and spirit. In his book, Andrews says “sometimes wolves show up as a totem to remind us not to waste, as much as to remind us to keep our spirits alive.” It would be cool to check your mom’s photos for after images and/or what I like to call spiritual residue! Thanks for sharing that experience…

  3. ((hugs)) I heart you and your honesty. You brave soldier you!

  4. Wonderfully written. My ex would be pissed to hear of the speaker in the trumpet… must have been why the soldier walked so far away, usually they stay close. I have no clue how those soldiers do it. My ex once said to me that when his father dies and they do the military service, the man who hands him the flag better have a tear in his eye… LOL. That’s military blood for ya.
    My heart goes out to you my friend, I cannot imagine the pain you endure daily. Life is so unpredictable, any one of us can have a moment where things drastically change.
    I sure hope your cousin is off experiencing different lands and that galaxy… πŸ™‚

    • I was really close and I don’t think he had a tear in his eye. BUT the sincere and unwavering look on his face as he spoke to his oldest son and handed him the flag was just out of this world!

  5. God, heart-breaking, breath-taking: those are only a couple of words to describe this piece of narrative. It hits you like a wall, and makes you want to love at the same time.

    Every single day you live is another day you live to support and inspire. Just you being you, writing and living your life, it’s more than enough to move mountains.

    Thank you for sharing this incredible piece.

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