Journal Entry: 25-14

Someone died. An innocent. Someone whose time had come.

I mingle among the family and friends. He had a lot of both. Most wear their sorrow on their sleeve, but a few go a different way. He lived a good life and they try to remember the good times.

No one sees me. It would raise too many questions. Cause too much commotion.  I’m not here for that. This isn’t about me. It never is.

I’m not sure why I came. Funerals aren’t my thing. But this one I felt I needed to attend. More than just felt, impelled really. It wanted to come. Morbid spirit.

The room is crowded, but most ignore the reason they are here. Alone at the front of the room, the deceased lies quietly, hands holding a rosary. A small chuckle escapes. It’s a somber day, but the beads must have been someone’s idea of joke. He was an atheist.

Most of the family gathers around the widow. No one mentions who’s missing. To lose someone after fifty-nine years is hard. Talking about the son who disappeared, but isn’t dead, is harder.

Still confused, I make my way to pay my respects. He died in his sleep of natural causes. There’s nothing to avenge. So why do I feel him?

“Hello, Dad.” It’s been twenty-five years since I’ve said that. Twenty-five years since I’ve seen him. Unlike me, his appearance changed, but not the man. The opposite of me.

He might recognize me, but he wouldn’t know me. When I left, I wasn’t the son he raised. Now? I’m not even that person anymore.

I shouldn’t feel his soul. Only those killed by the guilty call out to me. He’s not calling for vengeance. I don’t like what I don’t understand.

A small part of me wonders if I should apologize for leaving, but I quickly dismiss the thought. I’m not sorry. Seeing me now would only have been–be-worse. I’m not Will anymore. What good would have come of watching me change into what I am today?

The guests huddle in the back. A few at a time they break away and come to the front. Before they go pay their respects to my father, they stop and say something meant to comfort my family.

My family. Do I even have a right to call them that anymore? Even if I didn’t mean to be cruel when I abandoned them, the result is the same.  I don’t have to read my mother’s thoughts to know how my vanishing affected her. Family doesn’t do that to each other.

When I think about going, It lets me know I should stay. I don’t fight it. Finding an out of the way place, I make sure no one sees me and I watch. I won’t do this forever, but for now I’ll do what It wants.

Soon it’s time. My brother Tom walks to the front. His grief is clear as he struggles for words. I notice it, but I’m not part of that.

I watch my mother. She’s held up so well, but the walls are cracking. Until now it might not have been real, but now? She has to say goodbye. I prefer detached.

Her tears break the resolve of those around her. Margret, my sister, Abbey, Tom’s wife, even Aunt Irene, who didn’t cry when her own father died, start to cry.  Somewhere deep inside I remember grandpa’s funeral, but it’s just an image. Just like now.

Tom has told everyone to come pay their last respects and asks people to sign the guest book on the way out. Maybe that is what It wants. I’ll get in line when the crowd has thinned out. My mother is watching the line, looking for something, someone. Her son, Will.

That’s unfortunate. Will is gone. There is only Gar.  And she wouldn’t want Gar at her husband’s wake.

She watches until the end, but when the last person walks away, the disappointment I expected never appears. My brother scans the room with a scowl, and then takes her hand. He knows what she was looking for. If he knew what his brother had become, he’d be glad I don’t show myself.

For an instant I consider walking up and standing beside them. Sentimental is a foolish emotional state. People pay their last respects for themselves, not the dead.

My mother lingers, telling my brother and sister to go on. For a while she stares at the peaceful look on her husband’s face. He was a good man, good husband and father. They captured his whole life in that expression.

Finally she nods then slowly turns toward where I’m standing. There’s no doubt she’s staring at me. I can feel something from my father’s soul. A sigh? No, it feels like a smile.

My mother smiles and nods once. The soul is gone and It relaxes.

It takes me a while to process what happened. I’ve no experience to compare this to. There was no vengeance to be had, no guilty to punish. And yet.

The sound of the casket closing brings me from my thoughts. The room is empty and the staff is preparing to move the casket to the hearse. One of them is by the book. I tell him to go check on something.

Holding the pen, I wonder why I want to do this. The need to stay is gone. Whatever reason It had for bringing me here is over, so why sign the book?

An emotion slips through my walls. I expect sorrow, but instead I feel regret. He was a good man who didn’t deserve to die without knowing why I left. For all they did for me, I owed it to him, to my parents, to let them know it wasn’t their fault.

Somehow she knew I’d come. Maybe this would be enough to tell her.

Someone died. A loved one. Someone who deserved better. The guilty must live with what they’d done.