I went to my brother in law Erik's funeral the other day. It was fucked up.
As I stood at the grave, surrounded by folks I didn't know, I caught sight of Oskar, my nephew.
My dad died when I was 21 and it was pretty heavy. I can't imagine it happening at eight.
About ten minutes into the service, which was filled with shit poetry and good will, Oskar piss bolted. My sister Margaret tried to chase him, to calm him, but she was as fucked up as him. I touched Margaret on the arm, indicated she should head back to the congregation, and i followed Oskar. He ran to the car, kinda crying, kinda not knowing what to say. I open the car up, got in with him, and sat quietly for a bit.
"It kinda sucks huh?" I asked.
Oskar nodded, wiped the tears from his face, then asked me how far back I thought the ipad calander went.
I guessed 1996.
I made him stop at 1647. ("Let's make a dentist appointment!")
So I sat there with my nephew, as songs and anecdotes wafted over from the grave site, and I wondered what the fuck to do. This was his dad they were putting in the ground. Would he regret not being there when he was older, opting instead to play fifa on his ipad while his way too young uncle freaked the fuck out?
In the end i coaxed him out, and he watched from a distance as people let some balloons go. Oskar held the fuck onto his though.
Once the ceremony was over, I wandered over to my dad's grave (same place! so convenient!) to check it out for the first time. It was pretty weird. We'd only just got off our asses as a family to get a proper headstone put in. We kinda figured Dad wouldn't care, and besides, i kinda like the piece of rotting wood they had used to write Kent, Bill on with charcoal. Mum had brought some rad plants she was gonna put in the ground. She got to digging, and I made some bad jokes about the mulch being good in this area. As Mum was digging away, and I was offering encouragement, while my younger sister hit me, these friends of my older sister Margaret, obviously here for Erik, came over too. They placed a small stone at the foot of the headstone. I looked confused, and they explained it was a Jewish custom. I thanked them, saying that Dad would be stoked.
"We weren't sure if it was appropriate in this..." she trailed off.
"Godless part of the cemetery?" I responded (it was totally still roughly segregated according to religion).
I assured her it was fine, and that it didn't bother us at all, while Mum blathered on about the heathen section having the most tree cover anyway. They kinda backed away slowly. I'm not sure if we confirmed all their suspicions about atheists. But, as I looked around at the scenario, as I made jokes and Antonia chuckled, while Mum blustered away, I was pretty stoked that we could deal with such a fucked up situation so lightly. There were no religious circumstances to be adhered too, nothing that was inappropriate to to. Just a bunch of people dealing with someone you used to have dinner with being in the ground. As far as the situation went, we went ok I think.
Meanwhile Oskar piped up.
"Grandpa was born during the war!"
"How could you possibly know that?" I asked.
"Cos it's on his headstone...."
Then he turned around and went to hold Margaret's hand.
I left feeling pretty bizarre, but strangely happy.
Erik died so suddenly, and so horribly, I can't really come to grips with it right now. I keep refering to him as my brother in law but, really, he was just my mate. He showed me how to rock climb, how to play the guitar with minimal to no skill and, some years ago, made me face up to the fact that dad was gonna die, and that i needed to help everyone else out.
So that little clearing in Forrest, surrounded my mtb trails, now holds two of my family members, in as many years. As far as cemeteries go, it's not a bad place to be.
As we got back into the car, kinda quiet, while my sister hummed that really catchy song about calling me maybe, Mum outta the blue goes, her voice shaking a bit:
"Right, we're not coming back here for funerals for a long time. No one is allowed to die for a while yet."
We kinda laughed, but I tell ya what, I stopped skitching that tram the other day way before I had to let go.
Here's to Erik.