Growing up, I always look back on my childhood as though I was waiting for people to die. That sounds really odd, but until my late twenties, I could truly say that I had been to more funerals than weddings. I was aware from a very young age that death was inevitable and could happen at any time to any of us. I still remember when I first learned this when I was about four years old, and I would cry myself to sleep thinking that one day, I’d lose my parents and Ed. I was absolutely petrified.
When I was four, I just didn’t think that I’d lose Ed as early as I did.
I know some people and some cultures try to be positive. They say that in some cultures, supposedly there is no real word for “grief.” I guess I have been brainwashed because this is the only country where I’ve ever lived, but I have a hard time understanding how you could not cry at the idea of someone you love dying. The idea of going to a funeral and not seeing anyone cry is so odd to me. I’m too American.
I thought about this today as we had dinner at an obscure Japanese restaurant that was situated on Mulberry Street, right in between two funeral homes. It’s so strange to see funeral homes in Manhattan, this teeny tiny island that somehow manages to squeeze over 1.66 million people into it, a place where it’s common to meet people who not only do not own a car, but have never even driven one. Growing up and attending funerals, I’d always see a caravan of cars following a hearse that transported the casket in preparation for burial, cremation, or whatever the last resting place was. But here, when I see “No Parking – Funeral” signs, the small ones in front of funeral homes, I think, Who is going to park there anyway? Who even has a car to park when they attend a funeral here? Then, I think.. when a burial happens, how do people even get there? Do they take the subway? Or nowadays, do they take an Uber or a Lyft? I wonder how often Uber and Lyft drivers get requests to or from a funeral home or cemetery.
Funeral logistics just seem so different here to what I grew up with in San Francisco. I hope I don’t get to have first hand experience of what it’s like here anytime soon.