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Friday, May 01, 2015

I Hate Funerals

I was 14 when I attended my first funeral and it was devastating.  I sat in the front pew of the massive church with my little brother, as I recall.  It was the memorial service for my mother.  It was absolutely horrifying and I can't even begin to describe how frightened and lost I felt.  My brother to this day can only shake his head and wonder what in the hell happened.  It kind of shaped who we are today and neither of us are particularly proud of where we've ended up.  We own it, it's our fault and I assure you that I know without a doubt what the price of my sins has been and will continue to be.

I don't like funerals, never have and never will because of that.

A dear friend of mine posted a photograph on my profile yesterday of a poster inviting people to attend the funeral of a homeless veteran.  He had no family, no friends, but he was a United States Navy Veteran, so he had that brotherhood.  I fought every fiber in my being that didn't want to attend.  But, my sense of duty finally won out.

When I arrived at the funeral this morning, I was stunned at how many people were there.  Active duty military, retired military, civilians, and even police officers were  in attendance.  The Patriot Riders Motorcycle Club was there as well.  Looking out at the number of people in attendance, I was forced to obscure my face from the crowd because I didn't want anyone to see tears welling up in my eyes.

As I made the drive back home, I was just numb.  I hate to be reminded of my own mortality, yet this funeral was something more than just a reminder.  It was a revelatory event that underscored the fact
we're all just a few steps from homelessness.  It doesn't take much to completely devastate an individual and when it happens, there's not a lot of options left.  Putting the barrel of a gun in the mouth is one very final option.  Living out whatever days are left in a homeless shelter is another option, or one can load a few of his/her personal items and hit the road.

It was selfish on my part, but I found myself wondering who would be at my funeral.  I have family, some very wonderful friends, and a hope that they would be there to comfort my family in the event of my sudden departure.  It was a solemn and very quite ride back home.

We don't know the story of this homeless veteran, and we may never know.  What we do know, however, is that even though he was homeless, even though he had no family, people showed up to wish him "fair winds and following seas."

No one should ever die alone.