All I wanted when he died was to scream. My family restrained me, taking me by the arms near the shoulders, and either slamming me to the wall of the trauma room or forcing my nose into the stink, as if I were responsible, with an elbow between my shoulderblades and a fistful of my hair. Or they stroked my shoulders and cooed their little sounds of peace until my blood unboiled. I remember all three. This was not the time, nor was it the place, for hysterics. Men die. The doctors and those dressed so as to be taken for doctors impose a frank decorum. In the natural course of things, each life is a playing out of a length of twine. Some snap early, some fray. Yours plays out still. His was the length it was meant to be, because it was the length it was. You will restrain yourself, or submit to restraint, or be placed in restraints as a matter of course. Neither is the funeral home the place, nor is it the time, for ranting or collapse. Friends have gathered to pay their respects. They require and they shall have the somber music. Your little outburst, if you have it here, will play badly. Escort yourself instead to the powder room tucked between the rooms stuffed with other people’s corpses, coughing your protests and blowing your nose in your hand. Your eulogy will be for the most part grave and respectful, a little reckless, perhaps, a little soggy, it may poke some fun at the departed, it may catch you off guard and worry the mourners. Here, though, my grief and loss are studied and admired. I am a mild case here. Here I scream all the time. Here all I do is scream.

Copyright ©1999-2006 David Hodges

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