Andre’s grandmother just died. We hadn’t spoken in months, but when I heard the news, I really felt like I should maybe reach out, try to offer my condolences. I didn’t want to call him up, because we always have this tendency to play phone tag and then get in fights. None of that’s really important. Not now. I figured, OK, I’ll just go to the wake. I’ll just show up and be there for him.
So I get there and there are tons of people. I’m worried that Andre’s not going to see me. And I’m not wasting a whole night at a funeral home for some lady that I’ve never even met before if Andre’s not going to know that I’m there, that I’m there for him. So I tried to grab his attention while I was on line to view the casket. I was like, “Hey! Andre! Hey!” and he looked over and kind of lifted his head in recognition, and so I thought that he saw me, that he was acknowledging my presence, but right after I stepped out of the line to go over and say hi, some lady walked right up and they shared this long, slow hug. It must have been one of his aunts or something. Was he looking at me? I thought so. Unless he was playing games with me. But I’d let this one slide, this was his night. Whatever makes him feel better, whatever lets him cope.
So then I tried to get back in line, but some other lady started giving me a hard time. “Listen lady,” I was getting really kind of annoyed here, “This isn’t the line for a roller coaster. I was waiting right here, and I thought Andre was calling me over.” And she didn’t even respond, she just looked at me all offended, like I’m the one causing the scene. So I just kept going, “Relax, all right? There’s going to be plenty of time to kneel down in front of that box.”
Still, no response. So I looked to the person behind her, clearly eavesdropping on the whole interaction, and I just kept staring at him, shaking my head in disapproval, like, can you believe this lady? But after I made eye contact with him all of the sudden he looked away, like now he wanted nothing to do with any of this. So I said to him, “What, so now you’re not interested? Don’t tell me you weren’t paying attention.”
And then that guy and the lady behind me, they kind of looked at each other, like it’s me, like I was the problem here. So I looked at both of them and said, “Fine, here you go. Please. I insist. Happy?” and I walked out of line and went to the back. No way would I have been able to stand there without getting into it. And this wasn’t about me, it wasn’t about the line. It was about Andre. It was about his dead grandma.
Still, when I got to the back of the line, I couldn’t stop thinking about those two people, were they whispering to each other? Come on, all I did was get out of the line for a second. What is this a bakery? No, not a bakery. Bakeries give you those numbers. That probably wouldn’t work out too well at a wake.
The lady in front of me at the back of the line was sobbing, really heavy sobbing. At one point she looked to me, like she wanted to maybe start a conversation, like maybe she wanted to put her head on my shoulder. But I wasn’t really feeling it, so I took out my cell phone to kill some time.
Finally, I was at the box. I knelt down. How long do I have to kneel down here for? What am I supposed to be doing? I counted to thirty and then got up. I said hi to Andre’s mom. And then Andre.
“Sorry for your loss.”
“What were praying about?”
“Right now? Just then?”
“Yeah, what did you pray for?”
“Uh, you know, I just prayed that she’s in heaven, that …”
“Of course she’s in heaven. She doesn’t need you to pray for that.”
“Right, right. I just mean that, I hope that she’s happy in heaven.”
“Of course she’s happy. She’s with my grandfather. What’s wrong with you? By the way, real classy of you, getting in a fight with my aunt, using your cell phone at a funeral home.”
So he was calling out to me before, trying to get me out of the line. Wasn’t he?
“Listen Andre, I’m trying to be the bigger person here. Is this some sort of a coping mechanism? Because if that’s the reason, fine, I’ll get past it.”
“It’s not a coping mechanism. You should be a little more respectful.”
“Respectful? Since when can’t you use a cell phone at a funeral home? It was on silent. I wasn’t talking. Look, you’re aunt’s using hers right now.”
“She’s in mourning! She’s allowed to!”
“Well I’m in mourning too. Why do you think I’m here in the first place?”
“You’re not in mourning. You’re just an asshole.”
And so I got really pissed off, and I made a move, like I was going to push him, but I stopped myself, I remembered where we were, I saw his mom standing right next to him. Still, it must have been convincing enough, because he jumped back a little and bumped into some flowers and they all fell over. And I looked around and everybody’s just looking at each other, looking down at the floor, trying not to be a part of any of this all the while shaking their heads in disapproval.