Saturday, December 18, 2010

SnappleApple450 Week 30: The Funeral

SnappleApple 450

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SnappleApple 450's Choice: Both

The Funeral

My dad always loved the San Francisco Bay. We’d come down to the rocks and just sit here, watching the cars pass on the big bridge. We’d pick a car and make up a story for each driver. We were too far to see the cars specifically, but we had played this game since I was a little girl.

“I think I see a minivan. Where is she going?” He’d ask.

“Hmm…I think she’s going to a soccer game for her son and she’s going to be on the stands cheering for him as he scores a goal. And she’s going to be so proud of him when they win and she’ll take him out for pizza.”

“Pizza!” He’d tickled me, making me laugh. “How about we go out for pizza too?”

Even into my teenage years while I was being a difficult child to my parents. He and I would pull out our truce of father and daughter and just enjoy our moment together. Who knew our time together was numbered?

“Kayla?” I heard my brother yell from the car.

I didn’t move, just staring at the waves on the water. I heard the crunch of his shoes as he attempted to walk down to me.

“What are you doing out here? The funeral is in an hour....” Max faded out as a lump in his throat rose.

I curled my legs up to my chest. “You know, we’d always come out here. Every Sunday like clockwork.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“I’m going to miss him, Max,” I whispered.

“We all are…. Mom’s taking it really hard.”

I scoffed bitterly. “It really sucks that it takes a death to bring us all together again.” I jumped off the rock, heading back to the car.

“You know that’s not true, Kay.” He followed me.

I turned around angrily. “It’s not? She could have come home for the holidays, the weekends, whatever take a week off from work! But she didn’t, okay? I get it, you’re in the army and I really hate it, so much,” I wiped my eyes, brimming with tears. “But she doesn’t have an excuse.” I took off running, past the car.

“Kayla wait!” He yelled, but I only pushed my legs faster.

I was in flip flops—and I cursed myself for it—but I was a good runner. I kicked the shoes off and ran faster, running home. Cars were parked all on the road and in the driveway, it was dead silent even though people were everywhere.

“That’s his daughter,” I heard one person whisper.

I tucked my blonde hair behind my ears and didn’t make any eye contact, going straight inside.

“Do they have any sliced ham?” I heard one man whisper to another.

Good to know people could eat while my dad was dead; and what a way to go, too. I felt I was to blame for his death. Not completely, but partially. I should have forced him to go to the hospital when he started getting weird symptoms, but he convinced me he was fine. How stupid I was to believe him. He had a brain tumor and it got so large… It was too late for the doctors to do anything and it happened so fast. Everything was a blur to me.

“Darling!” I heard my mom’s voice from the top of the stairs.

I walked right past her and my brother, going straight to my room to get dressed. She followed me.
“Sweetie, you have to talk to me sometime.”

I opened my door and glared at her. “I don’t have anything to say to you. So, if you don’t mind, I’m a little busy.” I shut the door again and went to my dresser.

“Kayla…baby please. I’m just as upset as you are. If I had known…I would have come back…but my job - as a journalist I have to travel. You used to understand that.” She talked through the door, not caring that everyone downstairs was probably listening. Everyone loved a good drama, good gossip to tell tomorrow.

I picked up the picture of me and my dad, arms slung around each other with a bat in my hand and a glove on his. I was 13 when this picture was taken, still wearing pigtails and a smile. Now I was 18 and leaving the house. I refused to stay in the house that held so many painful memories for me. I loved my dad with all my heart, but everything I needed was in my heart. I didn’t realize he had a will until his lawyer told me. He had given me the house and other possessions, dividing other stuff with Max and my mom. I didn’t want any of the stuff.

Almost in a daze, I got dressed; wearing a black dress and my converse, pinning my hair into a bun. My dad and I loved converse. Even when we’d go to fancy places to eat, he’d be wearing a suit and I a dress, with black converse on our feet.

A car was waiting for us outside to take us to the graveyard. That word never meant more than a place where ghosts lived. Now it was a dark, painful place to think about. My dad would soon be buried in the ground of the graveyard. A lump formed in my throat, but I kept it down, keeping my face blank.

My mother and Max were in the car, waiting for me. Quietly, I got in and buckled up as the car pulled away. Nobody said a word to me, nobody spoke period. The cemetery was quiet and peaceful. I walked alone up to my dad’s coffin, closed. I refused to have my last image of my happy-go-lucky father...pale and cold.

A tear slipped from my eye as Hallelujah began to play. My dad and I would cry with this song every
time we’d hear it play. Like on Shrek - when the song came on, we’d both try to deny the lump in our throats and end up laughing instead. I couldn’t pull myself to laugh anymore.

The pastor started to speak and I tuned him out. I didn’t want to hear it. We never went to church anyway so I couldn’t understand why he was here. Everything was backwards. My dad wasn’t a sad person, he was strong and happy. Always ready to go on an adventure, like camping on a Monday just because he didn’t want to go to work. The way this man spoke, he made it sound my dad’s life was one to mourn, not celebrate.

Finally it came time to say our last goodbye’s to him. I took a rose and set it on his coffin as it went into the ground. I couldn’t stop myself and tears started to hit his coffin. I leaned over and just broke down crying. First time I’d cried and it all came out. I couldn’t stop myself. People walked around me, dropping roses on his coffin and leaving. Max wrapped his arms around me and I wiped my eyes, standing up and walking over to my mom.

“I’m sor—“ she pulled me into a hug and soothed me.

“Baby, it’s okay, I miss him too. I’m so sorry I wasn’t here for you before.”

I just cried in her arms as the people walked away to their cars. Hallelujah continued to play, and I continued to cry until no more tears came out.

“Come on, Kayla. Let’s go home,” Max whispered, trying to hide the tears in his eyes. He was supposed to be strong, he was a soldier, but the tears came without his permission.

I nodded, walking back to the grave. “I’ll miss you dad, but you’ll forever be with me. No matter what happens, you’ll always be with me.”

I looked up to the sky as the sun came out of the clouds and shined down on us. I smiled slightly, knowing my dad would always be my shining sun.