4:42AM Wednesday, February 6th 2002

The Viewing

	-by Jeremy Dinovo

This is a 3 hour paper, about my perspective on death. This paper was written, from my
experience when my father was viewed in a funeral home on Tuesday, February 5th 2002. I just got back from the 'viewing' of my father's body today and it was excellent. I met
all kinds of relatives, got all kinds of hugs, played with the kids and I REALLY
feel that I’ve learned a lot of different things. The hugs were great because
the hugs gave me closure. Most of the time, while I was there, at the
viewing, mutual understanding was often mentioned through memories. I'm handling everything so well though, I haven't felt any real strong tears yet.
I've just been happy how my dad taught me to be. I’ve also been happy how I've
taught 'him' to be. In tears, most of the women at the funeral home always
seemed to say things like, "I'm so sorry about your loss." I always had to reply with
the pep and the zeal my dad had inspired me to have, with a simple "it's okay."
When someone asked me how I was doing, I followed my own advice and said, "I'm
doing great.“ I would say that with a big smile and a cheery attitude. One
thing bout my dad was that he could make up the BEST jokes, in the WORST
situations. He was totally humble and he was honestly, ‘himself‘. With no labels, dad
just had his smile and humor. Dad never wanted anyone to feel bad for him but he and I
agreed..."Tears, don't hold them in, but don't push them out. If they've got to come,
then just be natural." I’ve always given and gotten lots of excellent advice
from him. The strongest reason I wasn't sad, at the viewing, was because me and my dad had a STRONG
mutual understanding relationship with each other. I knew HIS thoughts and
feelings on things and he knew MINE. From that perspective on our thoughts and feelings
on things, I’ve concluded, that it seems like the more you understand, is
the less you cry. Mutual understanding is the most powerful thing in the world.
Mutual understanding is where all of our emotions come from .I've been doing a
lot of thinking and talking today and have been spreading a lot of my dad's
compassionate spirit and humor. Along with how I spread those values in my spirit, many
people, INCLUDING the priest.........all agreed......"wow, your attitude is
amazing.....I really like your outlook." My dad was only 50 and he died during the Super Bowl Sunday of cancer, emphysema, poor
breathing, back trouble, I’ve seen that lots of people that knew him, took
things in many different ways and thought of him in many different ways as well. An uncle
of mine, uncle Bill, had died two years before my father and I had told many
other people what I had heard about how my uncle Bill would always sit around with
dad and wait around the TV for the Super Bowl to come on. So, yeah, that's what's been on my mind lately and the funeral is tomorrow. I believe
that the most painful and strange thing I'll have to do is adjust. The day after is
when I’ll have to find more people to talk to about it, besides my recently deceased
dad. Besides my dad, I haven't understood anyone quite like myself. At the
viewing, everything was just crazy though and very different simply because the
perspective I had at my dad's viewing. What I did though, was, at the 1st viewing,
(2-4pm) I dressed up in some nice clothes. My clothes consisted of a
button-up shirt underneath a nice black and white mesh, wool sweater. I wore that
with some nice gray dress pants. Then, when there was a reception starting at my Aunt's
house (4-6pm), well, I went to make a stop at home because my brother and his
roommate had to make some phone calls. As my brother was on the phone, I found an old
dress-down kind of sweater just laying on my bed. The sweater was blue, it
had “Colorado“ written on it and was WAY more ideal as a leisure, sweatshirt, rather than
a dressy sweater. I decided that I'd put that blue sweatshirt on, instead of the
really nice and neat and dress-up sweater and button-up shirt I'd already had on
through the first viewing, at 4-6pm. I went to my aunt Maria's house in the
blue 'dress-down' sweatshirt, with Colorado written in big letters on it. Usually, my
brother was ALWAYS on me about what I wore. He was especially livid, even about
what I wore, to the first viewing and the funeral. For my brother, a funeral or
anything ritualistic would always have to be dressy and traditional. Before the funeral and even before the first showing at Bennett-Brown Funeral Home, Jim
always said, "Jeremy, you don't need to wear that dress-down stuff. It's
disrespectful. I think dad would've LIKED you to wear something that's more dressy
and appropriate." To be honest, my dad and I laughed at comments like that, because my father and I never
cared much for ‘class‘. We were always about the spirit and it was the thought
of me being there, in general, that counts. Again, instead of me driving my own car, my brother was driving me to the reception, so
that Mom could have me there incase she needed someone to ride home with her or
possibly drive her home. Jim and Dylara convinced me to go with them, because I had a
pretty good idea that Mom might need me to drive her home, in her own car. So, I hopped in the car, with Jim and Dylara. Even AFTER my brother and I saw each other,
while walking by, a few times and even though Jim had seen me and what I was
wearing, the entire time, while he was making phone calls to his friends at the
house, he didn't notice that I had the blue and ‘forbidden’.......’dress-down’
sweater on. Even after he saw me at my Aunt Maria's house, he never noticed or said
anything about me wearing that blue ‘dress-down‘ sweatshirt. NO ONE noticed it. In
spite of everything, after I rode ALL the way BACK to the funeral home, WITH my
brother and his roommate, no one seemed to notice my non-dressy sweatshirt. Five
minutes after we got back inside funeral home, standing next to the coat rack, my
brother took off his coat and I took off mine. What I thought the funny thing was that the whole time, my coat was unbuttoned. With my
coat being unbuttoned, I revealed the ‘forbidden’ ‘dress-down’ sweater. Bro gave
me a hug and about 20 seconds passed by before he FINALLY said, "Hey, what happened
to that nice sweater you were wearing before?" I laughed because I KNEW my dad was laughing. I knew my dad was laughing because of our
mutual bonds of understanding that my dad wasn‘t about ‘class‘ and ‘dressy style‘
and that ironically, I‘d worn something ‘dress-down‘ in front of my brother
and everyone else, without either one of them mentioning it, until after the
fact.. But that's not all that made me laugh. There’s more. I know in my heart
that dad got MORE laughs in heaven because about ten minutes went by before the REST
of the family got in there. NO ONE noticed that I'd changed. I even MENTIONED it,
MANY times, with a big smile, like this, "Hey, do you notice anything ‘different' about me?" Then all my cousins were saying, "What? You shaved? You got a hair cut? Lost weight? What
is it?" After about one or two minutes of guessing, my Aunt Berna says, "You
changed your sweater.“ Much, much later, I told that same story to many different people, including another
cousin of mine, who came in. This cousin’s name is Nick and Nick with a laugh
proceeding his reply he said,"Jeremy, I LOVE your attitude. You've got a great
attitude and I know your dad would've really LOVED you coming in, in that sweatshirt." That made me feel really good and reassured. ****************************************** Understanding the Image As the writer of this paper, I just wanted you to understand me and my thoughts and
feelings, when I say, “There is no such thing as death”. Not so long as you don't
believe in it. Dad never believed in goodbyes. The spirit is there and it feels
awesome as you believe it‘s there. I've had a lot on my mind and lately I’ve been
doing MORE than just ‘talking’ about my dad but I’ve also been thinking, breathing,
eating, sleeping, walking, working, remembering him and you name it. It’d
probably have my dad’s name next to it. You'd understand if the same thing happened
to you just now. However, if you have my concepts in your mind, then you wouldn't quite cry, in my
position. Because if you understand your loved and lost ones, then your strength is
in your understanding. Ever hear the phrase 'knowledge is power'? It’s the same principle. Mutual understanding
of the thoughts and feelings of a person or of a people are what will
keep you from crying. Let me explain something to you about tears because I’ve been
thinking about this for a while now. I strongly believe tears are caused
by, ‘misunderstanding’ or not ‘knowing/seeing’ because my dad and I knew each other
very well and I seemed to be handling things very well. We cry because there's no 'known/seen/understood' reason because feelings are unknown. We
cry, when we don't know/see/understand and feelings are something that we don't
know/see/understand. While crying, there is something ‘we don't know'. If WE CAN'T SEE something, or KNOW
something, or UNDERSTAND something, then we cry. We cry because, in our hearts
we'd 'like to understand it' and draw closure. We CAN'T see feelings OR thoughts. Hence, when we can't understand feelings and without
that MUTUAL understanding of another person’s thoughts and feelings, through simply
talking with them, then we CRY, when we lose that person. We cry because we
want ‘closure‘ and ‘clarification‘. To try to FIND that mutual understanding, the
heart is much like a running engine that has been accustomed to running, then stops.
The steam and smoke is there, rising from that engine but the engine does not know
why it's stopped. The steam and smoke rises and those are tears. When the engine or
heart has stopped running, we don't understand why it's stopped running, but the
tears fall. Tears are the steam and smoke, represented through a 'rental car' that
we'd like to call.....our body.....the steam and smoke comes up from the engine, as
exhaust and release....of the sudden stop. Meep, meep. Let's just say, that I've got to use the three spirits that are inside me. Here are the
spirits: the spirit of compassion, laughter, and the spirit of the mind. Many,
many times tonight and within the past three days of my life, those spirits have been
there but it‘s just now, that I think I‘ve recognized them as they are. I've helped
you to understand a bit more, or I‘ve reminded you, then I believe I've helped you by
reminding you from crying in the future. I don’t mean, not 'crying in general' but
I mean, I’ve kept you from just 'some odd tears'. No one knows the future though,
and like I’ve said, if our hearts are so in tuned to wanting to know what our hearts
haven’t known, then we cry. I don’t suggest crying over what hasn’t happened yet, so
all we can do is hope for a good future and a beautiful now. I'm happy that my point
of view is so respected and I hope that only I can be righteous and happy. At the ‘showing’ there were just a lot of crying people that needed to understand a few
of the things that I mentioned. I saw kids that wanted and needed attention. I
believe the children are God‘s way of keeping us growing on, because the kids,
eventually become the parents and we eventually become the children again. I
received and gave lots of hugs though and let me tell you this.....there was lots of
mutual understanding that was growing between people there as well. The mutual
understanding was mentioned through the memories, thoughts and feelings of
perspective of my father’s life, through their eyes. ******************************** Deception of the Image “have you ever had a girlfriend?” Your answer being, “yikes,” is right because, personally, I don't understand why I’m
still single. I suppose I was just blessed and cursed with this introspective and
'un man like' mind of mine. “have you ever wanted a girlfriend?” I‘ll hold back my laughs on that question because I'm both tired of 'crying' about it and
tired of 'laughing' about it. “I could learn a lot about you by looking into your eyes.” I believe you can also be deceived a lot about me. When I blink, or when I sleep or when
I wink. There is something deeper than the eyes. It's the spirit and you can't see the spirit with your eyes. Your TRUE sight is faith in
feelings from the heart. Blinking or not or sleeping or not, you can see the spirit
by feeling it and believing it's there. All of this will happen while believing it
with all your heart. Which is why my dad and I never believed in goodbyes. We never
believed in them because we had that mutual understanding. God, if only men could understand the power of honesty. Personality should always shine
brighter than the image. Why do you ask me to judge you by your image? You know,
people are fooled by image all the time. Besides, has this supposed ’judge’ MET YOU
and has this presumable ‘judge‘ SPOKEN with you or has the judge gotten to KNOW your
personality? Either way, this supposed judge, can’t truly know your personality. No
one can truly know your personality, not even yourself. All we can do is FEEL the
personality and spirit, while having faith in it. PAST the image is the reality.
People can think what they'll think and you'll do as you do. I don't judge by looks
because it's impossible to tell a personality by just looking at a person‘s features.
I'll be honest with you, absolutely honest, no person can TRULY tell
whether you are something, or if you aren't something because all anyone has seen
with their eyes is just an image. When you look at something, all you see is a
mirage, a 'reflection of light'. To make a judgment on that ‘mirage‘ doesn't make much sense to me. People that judge by
image or have only relied on what their eyes see make me laugh and they make me cry.
That perspective makes me laugh because I get tired of crying that people can’t
really see true beauty with their hearts, through feelings. I wished I could tell you
something different but that's the honest truth. I'm not saying my opinion of your personality through your looks, because, honestly, no
one truly CAN judge by looking at a mirage. The problem and solution is I can't look
past the truth and past my honesty. Sometimes I wished I could though. Another thing about my honesty is I'm not complex. The most honest answers are simple
because they're the honest truth. In no way, is honesty complex. Just being honest
and hopefully I can stay that way. ********************************** Viewing Past the Image Growing up, I was the artist, and my peers were merely spectators and here’s the story
about TRUE vision and blinding image. It all started, my first day of school and I mean my FIRST day of school. I walked into
the kindergarten classroom as the different child. I was, I guess, a bit big,
but not so overweight as I was just shy of meeting people. I then grew up a bit more
through kindergarten through fifth grade and progressed to being seen as the
'fat-boy’. In spite of that, I had a great heart. The heart/personality always shined brighter
than my image. Through out 6th-7th grade, others’ thoughts and opinions of me were as simple as, "Oh MY
GOD, you were talking to- - - Jeremy....Dinovo?? EEEWWWWW!!!!" I was not such a
stylish dresser through the 6th-8th grade years of middle school. I suppose that was
an understatement but I dressed in what I felt comfortable in. I wasn't in the best
shape of my life but yet, I was STILL caring, and loving, ALWAYS working on my art,
drawing and writing. Back then, I’d been working on the art and kindness since I
was 3 years old and the same applies now. THEN, into the 9th grade, after some SEVERE school sports conditioning and due to the
fact of my 'STRONG' work ethics I received from Dad, "work hard, don't worry." I was
the fastest, strongest and DAMN WELL BEST LOOKING freshman there ever was. I have
Sicilian in me, and a heart of gold that ALREADY shines. I have that now and I‘ve had
that in the 9th grade as well. But yet, I was still shy. Those were the 'muscle head' years. Those years are where I
didn't want to get into a relationship because I didn't understand women and was
afraid of them. But yet, I could pick any single girl out that I wanted to pick out
because at age 16, people thought I was 21. I looked damn good. I've even got a
picture of me when I was 16 and at a local pool. I didn’t have much of a gut, but my
back muscles and chest muscle were ‘to die for‘. At the weight of 190, I played
'line man' for the football team. Purposefully, at the local pools I went to, I would take off my shirt VERY slowly, so all
the female life guards (ages 16-20) could stare. Those girls DID stare for a very
long time. Getting attention would always make me feel special and always ‘made me
feel like a Very Important Person‘. It was fun to get the attention---it honestly
was---but I still didn't feel anything out of it.....nor did it make me want to get
into a relationship. So then my dad had to stop driving me to football practice because of his health. I had
to quit football and find myself a job. When I started my job is when I got the
concept for my ‘image test’. I eventually gained weight but I never lost the knowledge of 'GETTING FIT'. At my first
job, I learned how to deal with people and treat women as friends. Part of the reason I was shy was because I didn't view women as befriended people. I saw
woman as, 'possible girlfriend' and I didn't understand the concepts
of, 'different relationships' of love. Those different relationships being: passion,
compassion, and affection. When I started to work, I started to learn the BASE of relationships, by talking to the
women at work, with 'compassion'. I had been gaining weight and looking sluggish
during my 10th grade year by then, not looking good, but still......women liked me
for my 'compassion' and nothing more as I was declared, ‘the friend’......the
cursed ‘friend’. I played the pauper. On purpose, I appeared the 'not so good looking man' because in any
relationship I would ALWAYS want to be........the 'very good friend'. Since the
test began, I've been playing the part of the pauper. I’ve been 'doing my image
tests'......and 'learning about the heart/spirit'. Opposed to just it’s ‘image’. What does this have to do with my dad? My father never believed too strongly in any image, except for his own artwork and
personality. He had the same child-like faith in people that I strived to have. He
wanted to bring out the best in people, through their personalities and never judging
them by their image or for that matter, never judging them by anything else.
My father had faith---TRUE VISION. The same faith that I had shared with him,
all of those years. I shared that faith with him up until his dying day and even
now, I speak to him and God. Dad always had his personality shining PAST his own visible pains and hurts. Dad always
worked his hardest to make people and himself feel better and he helped and inspired
people to see things in a different light. He was an original and a true visionary.
This vision of mine was inspired by him many times and I inspired him many
times with my own vision. We threw our perspectives into a melting pot of ideas and
hope. Whenever we talked, dad and I would always make sense of different things and
have a strong many hopes and faith for those things we couldn’t make sense of.
I’m glad that my dad could teach me those things before he died. All in all, my dad graced me with his perspective and I graced him with mine.


STARTED Wednesday, February 6th 2002 7:08PM FINISHED Thursday, February 7th 2002 2:39PM EDITED Thursday, February 7th 2002 1:35pm-3:33pm Beneath Me -by Jeremy Dinovo “an in-depth biography of my father’s funeral” So, the day has begun and I’ll believe only that it will be smooth. I’ve prayed that he
has mercy upon me. I awaken to see my mother and sister, happy, graceful, untouched,
but heart saddened beneath their souls and beyond their eyes. After I brushed my teeth and everything, I started to chew the ‘Trident’ gum that I’d
found upstairs sitting on the shelf in my dad’s old room that we now call the
‘band room’, where I keep my musical instruments. Mother and my sister are talking behind me as I’m sat down on the couch. We wait for a
moment’s time, sleepy, I am. I wait as well, in inner questioning curiosity. Then we
proceed to the house of men carrying men and the house of men holding onto woman‘s
tears, the funeral home. I’ve no fears, I think, I hope, as I’ve approached
his dead and cold body---his empty casket. Flames burn aside my father‘s
former existence. I stare in significant memory and in fear and acceptance
of sadness and my own vulnerability. I’ve got a carefree smile and I’m in good spirits and with great cheer and pep. The
three spirits have calmed within me, while they were thinking that they would be alright.
Compassion, thought and laughter, my spirits of relief and work, mingled in
well, easing my unknowingly unsteady heart and opening others, as I normally do.
As I walk around the empty room, it’s beating it’s life force inside me with his. It’s
moving inside me, I hope that I cry, but then, I hope I don’t have to. This was the
merciful emotion I was in search for. My hope is. My hope was. Will it be willing to
be? Rushing inside of me. To my eyes, it’s over. To my true vision, the ebb and beat
inside me and to the spirits, my three dear friends, it has just started to
rise. I’ve had the faith and sight that he’s taught me. Hope, it will be......yes,
for me. Ask that I handle what is given to me inside my buffet of sadness and my
deadly caterers, be my kind and gentle, merciful other spirit. We’ve all had our blind eyes opened. So strongly, I had faith, that not even the
strongest of weight could fall down and crush my spirits. He’s known me well and my faith
is believing he’s still there. Conflicts of mind and heart, slightly battle within
me. My heartbeat--- It’s a silent, painful song, that I fear I have yet to hear, in
full chorus. My mind thinks and sees with blind eyes, he’s gone. Poor souls those
blind eyes are--my heart lifts me to never say goodbye, because he‘s never left as he
is accompanying my three spirits. I reflect from him. There’s my family coming
through the door. There they all are. Embracing the audience of this precious and
very dear song, I hug and reassure even the sad, meshed within the cheered bunch of relatives. “He doesn’t have to suffer any more.” On their faces, it was clear that it was running down their cheeks like buffalo running
across a field. Tears of joy or were they sadness? To be honest, of all faith
I’ve been challenged by and of all the lessons I’ve learned, nothing has
prepared me for this moment.........nothing. I could feel that the time bomb inside
me was ticking. “We had so many memories. He was such a good, hard working man.” My feelings waited to pounce on my sorrowful blinded eyes. Soon the faucets will drip
life and reality. My friend is here, he’s known me for quite a while and has helped me through many things.
I don’t need fancy words for my friend. I don’t even need to try to express
him my emotion, because true as he is to Him, as he is true to me and always was, he
has the same silent understanding of faith. He shares this with my father and I.
Our bond.......unbroken by nothing we see, but only built upon, by what we feel. I’ll
walk to him and sit down. That will help me. We sit and talk about the past. My song shrieked intermittently inside me. Some memories
brought back too much. My mind, my thinking spirit has been slammed against
the walls inside me. Thought, has been bruised but can still walk. I’ve no knowledge.
I’ve no speech, at those intermittent times of silence and unknown pain of
memories. I believed so strongly that I would be just fine and my undying spirits
would live on but the bruising of my conscience has foreshadowed an uncomfortable and
very weak presence inside this valorous warrior of the heart. Invincible illusion of faith I‘ve believed for so long, I’ve been weakened, beyond my
very own walls, by the life my father has promised me, by the life that he has given
me. My own memories, serve my conscience in happiness, but beat my heart in a
way that I do not know. Still, I am tearless. My cheer calming. As I sit with my
friend, my family is waiting in front of me, to gather together. From around the corner, I heard the sound of an old pin the was my dad’s that played
music. Brought a smile to my face and reminded me of his brightness and shine......as
it played the Ohio State Buckeyes marching band tune. I’d gotten up to walk by myself and to mingle with the rest of the family. The breeze had
blown lightly, lifting the feather of my heart into the crying wind inside
me......a light breeze. Hope has lost it’s calm inside me, momentarily, grasping my
light heart before it has flown away. I look to say, “How are you?” and only plan
to respond, “I’m doing good,” with my usual cheer and superficial smile, but to
remember, I’ve been bruised inside my spirit of thought and perspective. I must be
the one to fall today. My guilty conscience has voiced through my heart, lifting
the simple feather. My guilt will not best me today. I will cry, but how?
Walking back to my friend and from my family. He is my heart’s pillow and blanket and
I’ve felt the chill of the winds, the light breezes blowing through my heart. My
friend holds to my feathers, keeping me from flying away. I sit. We speak. “I’ve known your father for quite some time now. The hardest time will be when they put
him under the ground, at the graveyard. My dad really wished he could’ve been
able to come down.” His father the previous night, had related to me, in his own
way........as he shared my mutual pain because he had lost his own father at such a
young age. Let us reminisce............ ************** “Let’s sit and pray for you.” “Jeremy, I pray that you can have the strength to guide you, the wisdom and tolerance to
carry on without your father. We have hope, Lord, that you will be a stronger man
and that you will survive and live your dreams and really do well for yourself in
the future. I’m sure your father would be proud of you.” Coming to draw a powerful closure, the lights did not exist and my eyes could see what my
soul had been telling me through my feeling. We hugged, my friend’s father and I, we hugged. “I know exactly what you’re going through.” His tears holding back and mine too but we knew. We knew the same pain. He had turned
into his child again. The vision of a child hugging onto another child........who has
lost his father. Such a powerful emotion, but my thinking spirit had kept me from the
tears I was going to save for my father, on his first and last day. I left the
memory and pain. **************************** We will return to the present and away from colliding, quaking and relative memory. I sit
and talk with my friend. I am speechless, but with simple nods, in between harmless senseless senses of
superficial humor and smile. My compassionate spirit has been thrashed along my arms and
legs and they are weakened and bruised. Alongside my spirit of thinking, my
compassion hobbles on it’s weak and frail legs.....holding onto the humor it brings with
it and stumbling to follow my thoughts. I knew, before I’d arrived at the funeral home. I knew far before I’d even walked into
the place. I knew I would be facing my own mourning as I’ve only seen Him handle
at funerals before. I sat on the couch and thought to myself. More intermittent memories come about me once again but my three spirits can walk.....
since I’ve not cried.....nor have I fallen but I knew and I know, I’ve had
my illusion of invincibility growing inside me. Now that illusion was knocking on
my door, louder and with it’s gifts of mourning. Still, I wondered why I would cry and how. My family, the happy and fluent theme of my life, now walked with lightened hearts this
cold and frigid February morn. No snow on the ground but cloud cover had
reminded me of the cloak of death.......covering the sun. Still sitting on the couch, next to my friend, I could feel His spirit in the room,
covering it, breathing it, touching all walls of mine, exterior and interior. I wondered
if it was only me he was touching, or if the entire room had felt this light
presence. I looked at the light on the wall and a cloud covered the sunlight through a
stain-glassed window in the funeral home as the room got dark. The mysterious moment lasted for
just that--a moment. I focused on the comforting and soothing atmosphere of the
funeral home. I had lost reality for a while. My eyes were still in disbelief. Were
they in need of closure? My heart still spoke with my father‘s spirit, in pure
faith. I stood up and walked over to my father’s empty body to look at it once more.
Then I walked into the middle of the room to talk with my other relatives.
My aunt, his dear older sister, eyes moistened, came to me and asked me how I was doing.
I could feel the judgment of my guilt yelling louder. I knew, know, and knew
that my guilt would overpower me. My guilty voice manifested itself inside her
calm and supportive voice. “Hi, Jeremy. How are you? How are you handling everything? Did you want to say goodbye to
your father? I’ll take you to him. Here, hold my hand.” At that time I didn’t believe in goodbyes, and each time I had held hands with a close
loved one, I would feel that same spirit of my father being ripped away from
them as well. The mutual feelings, unexplained, but there, unknowingly, through faith, were making my
chest pound harder. Of all this time, I’ve kept my ‘cool’. My aunt kept silent and
teary eyed while walking me to my father’s casket, filled with his empty body. I
didn’t want to see her crying, but I didn’t want her to cry alone, yet I still took
deep breaths, to try to hold my weak composure from crying. I felt guilty that I
did that and I felt that guilt pound my chest harder. Standing next to the casket, I’d remembered touching my father’s cold hands, the night
before and not thinking about this body once containing such a smart,
beautiful, inspirational, energetic and loving father of mine. But that night, I just
faithfully thought of it as being just an empty body. That same prior night, at the
viewing, after feeling the cold hands on his empty body, I held my hand over the flames
of the candles beside the casket, with my eyes closed to feel it’s warmth.
I held my hand over that fire with my eyes closed, the previous night, to imagine Dad
shaking my hand again because I must’ve honestly not been able to deal with the
truth of his smiles being gone. So in disbelief, which I thought was faith, I’d
wished for that flame to be my father’s spirit shaking my hand again. The flames burned next to his body, in candles, once again, but this time, warmer. I
looked at my aunt for a mere split second because I knew before, that what she was
going to say to me was going to shake my heart and shatter my resilience. It hurt
to see her cry because she, like all of the rest of my family, was so strong.
What she was going to say would make me broken, make me whole and make me not
appear the humble man with three strong spirits I wished I was. But what she was going to say was going to make me the man at the feet and at the mercy
of the great. I would be crying in bitter tears to make a pool of relief as the
powerful winds of feeling would make the feathers of my heart and spirits fly
away, with no one to catch them. I would be grieving. I was afraid everyone else would
see me, but I wasn’t afraid to cry, because my dad always said, “It’s okay to cry.” For that split second that I’d looked away from my aunt, I closed my eyes before she’d
said her words. I’d envisioned the feeling of his spirit hugging me, next to
the warmth of the fire of the candle, like I had wished so much for the previous
night. The feeling of that split second was wonderful. A great happiness as
I imagined my dad‘s warmth through the thought of the warmth of those candles
again. The spirits had braced themselves. I took my deep breath and held onto the words
that my aunt was going to say, as I looked at my father‘s empty and cold body,
I started to remember my childhood with that same strong man holding me up and
teaching me to grow......but that same body, just lay there, lifeless and it
started to really rumble my heart that I don‘t have his body to help me anymore or his
smiles or anything else to comfort me. I couldn’t hold it in any more. I couldn’t be the consoling hand anymore. I couldn’t help
others like I could before because I soon found that I was the one that needed
the help. I was broken open and my tears started to run, as everyone else’s
did. I didn’t know what to do, except for stand there and cry and listen to my
aunt talk about the same powerful memories that I was thinking about. It hurt, oh
God it was painful and still is, when the loss of such a great person is mutual. I
was finally crying and the cheery boy at the funeral home who had held up so
strongly, now needed his family like never before. “Your father loved you very much. He only wants you kids to live your dreams. He’s in a
better place now. He only wanted the best for you, Jeremy. You know that. He’d be
happy that you’ve said goodbye to him.” I’d finally realized that I was in disbelief of my dad not being there the entire time,
where I thought I was just handling everything so well. Now I accepted the
truth. That man, is no longer here to enjoy memories with and each painful one, I’ve got
to hold dear to. My mind tried to think, but it’s as if the flames inside the candles were making me think
of the warmth of hugging my dad but I knew that he was finally gone and I could
make no more memories with him. The thoughts were hitting me harder as she
talked about more of his memory. I didn’t want my thoughts to over come this sentimental
and heartfelt conversation. My guilty conscience let her speak, as I was
silent, looking her in the eyes and looking at his empty body, as his cold dead
body held onto old memories. A rosary, hanging over his sky-blue casket, that he’d always held onto, in the nursing
home before he’d died, reminded me of his strong faith and love for everyone.
That one rosary reminded me of his compassionate prayer for other people.
I wished my father could pray for me now. “God he was my strength and my hope. What am I going to do now? I don‘t know!” The flames grew warmer in my mind and I knew that my father’s spirit was there and I knew
he wanted to hug me and hold me up, at that very moment but he couldn’t and my
aunt had to hold me up where my father only wished he could. A necklace of Buckeyes, right below the rosary, in his hands, once so full of
life....and art. Now to my blind eyes, it was just a material thing, held by an empty
body. I felt robbed but the painful reminder came to me, that we were merely graced to
live in these bodies, for only a short time, before we left the bodies. Life and
death are painful entrances and exits, but I learned that day that your tears
will make them worthwhile. As I cried with full uncontrollable feeling, the necklace of Buckeyes gave me many
memories flushing my mind, of him cheering for his team, the Ohio State Buckeyes. So many
times he’d asked me to sit with him and watch football and cheer his team on. So
many things that I could’ve regretted not doing while he was still alive like
nothing happened but it was the same advice he’d given me, that was calming me at that
very moment. “Don’t worry, my spirit will always be with you even when I die.“ I couldn’t keep up with all of the memories and my mind started not to work and
understand. Feelings started to hit me and I couldn’t keep from holding back any longer.
My aunt kept speaking, as the voice of my guilty conscience, to encourage
that I weep. I was being broken apart, as she mended the tears out of me with her hand on
my back. This feeling is something that is more powerful than just reading or
writing it, but feeling it, numbed my soul and I wanted to fall to my knees and never
leave. Speaking to me softly with great pain but great relief in her eyes, she said, “He worked very hard for you. Now he’s gone. You can always remember him.” I finally spoke. I spoke the same words my dad said to me when he was alive, “His spirit
is inside my heart.” I wanted to hide and I had my back facing everyone else, as I faced his casket to hide my
tears. Everyone was up front waiting to take my father‘s body to the church for
the service. My aunt and I were standing silent, over my dad, as I finally found
my reason to cry. There were so many memories there, that I could hardly keep track
of them. I didn’t know what else to do. I cried in strong appreciation of my father
and his memory that he‘d blessed me with. I was a flag being thrown back and forth in the wind inside my heart. We walked, my aunt
and I, hand in hand, tears dripping from my eyes. Slowly walking to the front
room where everyone else was waiting for us, I was no longer afraid to show my
friends and family that I would cry for my dad. I believe it was a heart hitting moment, for everybody, when they all finally saw me cry
because before, I had always been the boy with so much cheer. To everyone, I
seemed to be handling things so well but at that moment when my friend saw my tears,
I cried more that he had to see me that way, because I felt guilty that he had to see
me, finally, sorrowful. It felt great, to have my brother ask me if everything was okay and to ask me whether I
was okay driving or not. My brother is strong and he was strong for everyone there.
I was glad he and everyone else was there for me, as I felt the spot light
shine on my weak, frail and sorrowful face. I walked out the door with my mother, to the car. ********************************* In the car, mother drove because I wasn’t physically able to. Mom was handling things
very well. We waited for everyone to get in their cars and Mom and I waited for the
pallbearers to come load dad’s body up onto the Hurst. Everything was done with heavy
grief but the men were strong and I admired my brother’s strength and my friend’s
compassion for being pallbearers and loading up that Hurst and being strong as they
were. I truly admired that. In hand gestures, I speak to my cousin Ray, through my mom’s car window, signaling for
him to turn his lights on, in his car because it was a dark kind of day that day and
everyone else had their lights on. I talked to Mom and broke the ice a bit. Making
lighthearted jokes to try to heal my sorrow. The procession started. We drove down Sandusky Street, all the way to William Street to
get to Saint Mary’s Catholic church. Slowly driving through town, there were a few
times where cars had jumped in front of the funeral procession and Mother and I had
commented on how rude they were but we also forgave them for not understanding.
Finally we’d gotten to the church and drove up slowly behind it as I shut my mom’s
car off. The Hurst parked. The pallbearers got out of the car and went to get Dad’s casket and put
it on a cart, to wheel it into the church. The moment reminded me of when my dad
was still alive and he was crying that HIS dad had passed away. I remember Dad had his blue handkerchief in his hand with his face buried in it. While he
was blowing his nose and sobbing, he asked God why his father had to die, just
like I have had to do at that very moment, at my own father’s funeral. That was in 1994 and now I understand what my dad was going through and felt his same
loss. I had so many people coming up to me, to see if everything was okay. Everyone came up to
me more often then before because I didn’t cry up until now. I seemed strong for
so long and it was heart hitting to see me finally cry. I changed my peppy
response from, “how are you?” and “I’m doing great.” to “how are you?” and “I’m doing as
good as I can do,” because I’d finally learned that I was as vulnerable as
everyone else, to the overpowering heartfelt tears. I walked behind, following the pallbearers down the sidewalk in between the Catholic
school and the church and up the short flight of stairs to the doors of the church.
We stopped right inside the church. I looked at the hanging lights that I remembered
from a long time ago, when I was just a child, all of the childhood
feelings and smells. I started to think about mom’s feelings about things. A long time ago, I remembered looking at a wedding album of my mother and my father, when
they were first married at this same church, Saint Mary’s. The pictures had them
so happy, standing in front of the same doors that we had been standing in just
then. Kind of made me wonder how Mom was taking everything and I looked at her
again with a kind of look from a distance, to see if everything was okay and she
gave me a slight nod showing that she was alright. I remember giving the same exact nods, but once someone came up and held my hand or
patted me on the back for a really long time, then I really started to cry. So I was
thinking that maybe Mom was just giving me the same nods. I didn’t worry too much
about it. I just wanted her to be able to pay her respects. We walked into the church and started to proceed slowly to the doors that entered the
mass. We stopped again and my family laid this ceremonial sheet over my dad’s sky-blue
casket. I couldn’t see who was in the mass yet because we were still far in the
back, behind the priests and altar servers. I was sure at that point that a lot
of my friends had come. I was still letting tears come out and still chewing
the ‘Trident’ gum that I had from earlier. After we put the cloth over my dad’s casket, we started to walk up as the music from the
beautiful organs started to play. Just walking up and looking around inside that
church while smelling the familiar smells of candles and holy water, brought back so
many memories. The memories made things hurt a lot because there were so many of them
to think about. So many memories that they all came into my heart....that I had
to ‘feel’ the memories and those feelings made me cry. We started to walk down the isle, while the priest and the altar servers walked in front
of us with the pallbearers, including my friend, my brother, my two uncles on
my mom‘s side, my cousins Steve and Ray. That experience brought back many old
feelings and the smells reminded me of times when Dad would take me to church on
Sunday mornings, but this time, I had no one to tell me to sit still and behave. At
that point, I really felt like I’d grown up. Walking further down the isle, I saw my boss, Lucy, with my neighbor (her daughter),
Becky, right beside her. They have never seen me cry. I don’t believe many people have
and that’s why it was so different for me. We were seated and the service began, as I
sat down at the same time Dylara sat down. Everyone else was standing.
To my right, my sister was sitting next to Mom and to my left, my brother’s roommate,
Dylara, was sitting on the opposite side of me. She helped so much, when it came to
letting tears out. She would hold onto my arm to help me feel better. It just seems
that when someone holds onto you in a crisis, that you cry more, but those
tears are good, because those tears are there to let that person know you care and
those tears let others know that you have the same strong appreciation. Dylara, everyone in that church and even people outside of that church, in the community,
definitely showed that they cared and that meant a lot to me. My sister
and my mom were handling things very well because each time I looked over at my mom
and my sister, they weren’t crying, but they were looking to see that I was doing
okay. I did feel somewhat guilty that I couldn’t be the strong hand and supportive person that
I usually am, but I also understood that I had to be weak and crying appreciatively,
for my father. While the priest was giving speeches and giving readings and eulogies about my dad, I was
agreeing with every last word. My brother did a eulogy and so did my cousin,
Mary, from my mom’s side. I believe they were very strong about things and it really made me look at them in a
whole new respect, because it takes a lot of courage to do a thing like giving a
speech at a funeral, especially for someone so deserving as I believe my father was
and is. Overall, I’m glad that people really did get to know my father and that’s what brought
tears to my eyes the most. Even though my dad was very disabled physically,
it was a comforting thought that he inspired so many people and it was comforting
that people understood him that well. That comfortable understanding made me share
their grievance. Their mutual understanding had brought us closer. When in the mass, later into the mass, when the organ player and the chorus in the back
ground played their music, up at the tops of the church, where things seemed to
have gotten darker. My heart felt something strong, like there was a very large
spirit that had just been veiled over the church. It felt like Dad’s spirit
really had risen. That feeling made me drip more tears because it was a feeling of moving on and growth.
I felt there were so many things that I learned about growing that day.
The service in the mass seemed like it was the hardest part. We had proceeded out of
the building slowly back down the isle, following the casket and the pallbearers.
On the way out of there, I was able to wave to a few people that were
able to come, including another friend of my Miles and I waved bye to Lucy and Becky,
my boss and her daughter, again. We were then on our way out the church doors again. Walking back down the sidewalk, to
the cars. Everyone asked me how I was doing again and I really did feel a whole
lot better that I had cried for my father. I believe I really did grow at that
point, when I learned to cry for someone and when I learned my reason to cry. It felt
like a very powerful lesson. It seemed we were in the same position that we had
started at, when we had first gotten to the church, except instead of taking my
father’s casket out, we were just loading it up again onto the Hurst. I had taken
a lot of time to get into Mom’s car because I was giving and getting hugs and
pats and half back rubs on the back from everyone. Mom told me, “Hurry up and get
in the car, Jeremy. Remember, we‘re riding up front, right behind the Hurst and
you might hold up traffic.” I’d asked Mom why she wasn’t crying as much as I was and she said, “Tina and I have been
talking about it.“ I was happy that my sister and mother could talk with each
other about those kinds of things. My sister seemed to be handling things rather well. When everything was loaded up and all was said and done, we went driving slowly to the
Saint Mary’s Catholic cemetery for the burial. A few cars jumped out in front of
the Hurst out of disrespect, but I can forgive them. Not all people understand how to
respect a funeral and I can’t blame them for what they don’t understand. We finally
got to the cemetery and we all parked our cars. I could really feel the good
feeling of closure coming from the general area, even though I was still leaking
tears here and there. We’d all gotten out of our cars, I’d thanked all the pallbearers, including my friend,
Brandon. I hugged and thanked everyone and anyone that I could find. The pallbearers had taken the casket and carried it all the way inside and underneath the
tent of my father’s grave and my heart was almost at ease, but I still had a few
feelings still tugging at it. I wanted to help someone else cry. I didn’t see my
brother crying all day long. I understood he had to stay strong for the eulogy and
the reading but I didn’t see him cry much or cry often. I was trying to pat my
brother’s back to help him get his tears out, like so many people did for me.
The heartfelt feelings were so powerful to feel and now, I was very thankful, in my
heart, that those who helped me to cry, helped me to cry. It made me appreciate
and remember my dad more. The two priests, one of which was related to us
(his name was Tony), said some passages out of the bible and said all of the right
words and all of the very true words. I was very mutually happy to hear those
honest words, because my dad was a very honest and humble man, with the heart
of a child, just like the priests were saying. I really looked up to the way my
dad was and how people talked about him at his funeral. He would be happy with
everyone with how everyone handled everything. Mom, my brother, my sister and I were asked to anoint Dad’s casket with some water.
After all was said and done, I had taken some flowers from off of the casket to save and
cherish for the longest time. The three spirits within me, had fallen. Proving me as weak and fragile as the next
person that I’ve helped. Compassion, thought and laughter had failed me and tears had
ran down my cheek as I was the person who in fact needed the compassion. I was
showing my sorrowful appreciation. We drove off to the reception at my aunt Maria’s house. My friend, Brandon, followed me
there as I was driving my mother there. I suppose that the real healing experience
was when I started to talk to a lot of my childhood adult friends of my dad and just
remembering things with them. Another great healing thing was when I started to play with the kids. Kids are the light
of the world. They will open our eyes when we can’t see and kids will bless our
hearts when we’re in sorrow. I felt very good when I could really have a bond with
the kids and they could look up to me. It made me feel special to be looked up at by
a small shining face. I hoped back in that time that I could be a hero more and
more. I hoped that I could help get things in order for my mother, at the home and
make order for the rest of my family, in the years to come. I’d finally drawn closure for my dad. Through my tears of appreciation, I’d learned to
grow, like my father and I knew that one day I had to. That day, at my father’s funeral, there was a birth through his death. I had attained a
new responsibility and hope. I finally had to grow, to be the man that my father had
raised me to be.