The grimy church doors were open. They’d been closed ten minutes before. Now the coffin was back in the hearse and everybody was out on the pavement. The service was over, apart from burial in the hole I’d seen the gravediggers working on yesterday a little outside the village.
Whomever had died wasn’t well known, or appreciated. Barely twenty people stood outside the church, dressed in black suits, black dresses, or a token black neck scarf or tie. No-one seemed to know each other. I stood across the road and watched for a minute or so. I was on my way back from the doctors with enough codeine in my backpack to kill me and you easily. I thought about my own funeral – as people do when they see someone else’s. I tried to count up the people who’d be there. About eight. A couple more if my partner’s friends came to support her. Would it matter? Did it matter to the dead person today? I doubt it. I think most people have a handle on what their tally is in life. Mine is low. I’ve earned it. It doesn’t bother me.
There was nervous shifting weight from foot to foot outside the church. People didn’t know what to talk about but I caught ‘Nice service,’ from someone over the sound of the traffic. Maybe it had been. Most people kept looking at the floor and jingling coins in their pockets, or rearranging purses, touching hair. The hearse drew away up the hill to the graveyard. A car full of five people followed. Faces looking out of the windows. Memories recalled, and a vicious new one being forced upon them. A body in a box. The dour, grim, funerary rites, lies told in church by someone standing there in front with a heavy book. A great, religious, eulogy of faith and bullshit. Not everybody who died was wonderful. Trust me.
My CPN is due this afternoon. She’ll hear all about it. And now, so have you.