I didn’t get to say goodbye to Tim Hodgson before he left Ypsilanti – but at least I can read about it.
Originally posted on tim hodgson's blog:
Funerals are for the living. The man lying in the coffin about to be lowered into the ground, the woman reduced to ashes in an urn about to be sealed in a crematorium, the sailor dragged to the bottom of the ocean by the weight of a stone—they don’t care. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust in the literal sense. Bodies reduced to base organic compounds, returned to the earth from whence they came. But these bodies, these masses of chemistry and biology, were people. People who loved, who hated, who laughed and cried and got hurt and healed and lived and died. Funerals are for the friends and enemies and family and strangers to throw the dirt on the closed lid, shut the stone on the vault, salute the departed to twenty-one guns. Funerals are for closure. Funerals are final, absolute, forcing the visceral knowledge on the loved ones that the deceased really isn’t coming back. I just never thought I’d have to throw one for myself.
I sat at the table at Corner Brewery for probably the last time, thinking I should feel sadder than I did. Only five days later I would find myself sitting in a new apartment in Chicago and few possessions, stressed and tired and exhausted and deliriously happy despite the fractured wrist. What was left to say? I didn’t even want the thing. My friends asked, in that passive-aggressive, non-confrontational way, if I would be having any kind of going-away party. I didn’t want one. I just wanted to quietly say my goodbyes, two or three people at a time, and leave town without so much as a scrap of ticker tape tossed in my name. But they guilted me into it, and even though I knew once I left that would be it. If they couldn’t find the time or the inclination to visit me when I lived in Michigan, the chance of any trip out to see me in another city, state, and time zone, even if it was only four and a half hours down I-94, would be so close to zero as to be absolute. So I sat propped up at the table like a goddamn corpse, watching the same old bullshit play out in front of me, letting beer and alcohol take the place of formaldehyde.
If there was any time of year to have a funeral, fall might be the prettiest. Spring offers maybe the greatest chance for rain, and blessed are the dead who the rain falls on, and all that. The full bloom of summer clashes with the somberness and soberness of the requisite proceeding. Winter is just too damn cold, though there’s something to be said for saying goodbye to a loved one against a landscape that’s awfully close to black and white. At the table, while my friends riffed and laughed and bullshitted, I thought about the seasons. The stark difference between summer and autumn, much greater than spring gently giving way to summer or fall sliding gracefully and predictably into winter. Dramatic changes in the landscape, the sky, the people. Lush green to fiery red and yellow and orange and earthy brown. Cloudless July and sullen October. Summer dresses and t-shirts to sweaters and scarves.