One Wedding and Two Funerals or Why I Got Trouble with Emotional Events
This year I got married. Not a big deal, you say yes, tell friends and family, sign a paper, done. When people hear you want to get married all by yourself, only with your husband attending the ceremony of course, things start to be a bit awkward, you can see worried faces, people shifting from one leg to the other, kneading hands, the occasional Is everything ok? question arises.
Only now I start to realize: something indeed is wrong. I am suffering from the “Emotional Celebration Deficiency”, short ECD, and I am not even on pills to get rid of it.
Last week the mother of a dear friend died. I’ve been invited to the funeral. My second funeral in less than three months. As we get older the funeral-frequency does increase indeed. - Having head trouble to get in the right time to the right location for the summer-funeral, I left early this autumn day.
In summer, 30 degrees and a sleepy, peaceful forest cemetery were waiting for me. For me and the man who just died. He’ll aestivate and hibernate now in a wall of urns, looking down at flowers and fruit trees flowering in spring. He meant a lot to me. He was my teacher for all I know about images and light, composition and form, cameras and stocks, data files and folders. He was my mentor for where and what I am now. I arrived late, followed the bereaved at a distance, stood watching from the far, had my own little personal chat with the deceased, cried a bit at first and a lot later and left.
This time, I wanted to do better. Google maps told me “20 minutes to funeral location” - so I left 40 minutes early to get a chance to have a chat with my dear friend, send my condolences to her and her family and do all you do at a funeral, when you usually don’t know what to do exactly, coz it’s not you who lost her parent, husband, child or wife.
I also decided to go by scooter, not by subway, to save some time. Like most European cities Munich has graveyards the size of entire suburbs, easy to find, lovely also in your lunchtime or for a little walk in a coffee-break. The cemetery in question lies in the heart of the city, I passed it many times, I looked it up on the map, and I managed to end up on the highway leading to Berlin rather than at the side of my friends right when the funeral service started. German highways are no fun when you are on a scooter. No speed limit means that Porsches are chasing you to get the 125 ccm obstacle out of the way. Especially when aiming to attend a funeral it would be really lovely to arrive alive, no? I mean: when you’re a guest that is.
Whirling back and forth between exits, I could see the alps briefly. Two rounds on the highway and half a liter of cold sweat later, I turned in to the churchyard.
The sun was flooding in beams through the autumn foliage. Here and there silently a leaf fell. The warm light made the dew steam off the yew-tree hedges. You could see life go on. – I spotted the funeral procession. They had just left the chapel. Many people must have known and loved her. I followed in the far.
The previous day a colleague indeed had checked up on me. Have you really been at your beloved mentors funeral? I did not see you? Lucky I could recall details, the sunglass-speech had impressed him as well, so he let go off me and I could wander on un-haunted. Better remember some details, my right brain told me, just in case. No, Silly, just appreciate this last moment you got with the deceased, answered the left brain. Yes, but aren’t funerals mainly to spend solace to the survivors? right kept on whinging. You met her, she was a great woman, just wait patiently and go and say good-bye! said left. Yes, but don’t you always get lost on the way to funerals coz you actually do not like emotional events at all? You will cry and moan like a cow on fire later at the open grave! - Shut up, Right! left ended the discussion and shifted the attention to the dew, that came creeping through my summer shoes.
Right was right. I did cry like a cow on fire when standing later by myself on the grave. Her image looked so new, young and fresh, in my mind and on the graveside. I’m not really the person profoundly keen to cry a lot. On my very own wedding it was a pain me weeping like a willow tree. I do have trouble addressing emotional events properly. But last not least, it was a wonderful funeral. I cried my eyes out.