Emma and my dad are in bed. Ordinarily, a Shaughnessy family funeral would last for several days of semi-drunken celebration and commiseration but my mam's death was different. My grandmother died of a brain haemorrhage, my grandfather died due to breathing problems, my uncle collapsed and smacked his head off a table. All were old and died normal, if untimely, deaths. My mam's death was different. Too different. No one wants to be in the same house where it happened. I don't blame them.
It was a mid-day funeral. It was fairly well-attended, so I was able to hide in the crowd at the back, the people who wanted to see my mother off but didn't think their relationship warrented a seat in the pews. The fact that I hadn't shaved in some time up until a couple of hours ago meant I was even less recognisable.
The coffin came in with a red pall draped across it. The pallbearers were a well-oiled machine; we've had too many funerals in the past few years. First, my cousins Derek and Jesse, then my dad and my cousin Jake, then my uncles Dean and Andrew. The whole congregation rose like a flock of walls as they moved down the central aisle. As the six of them became lost from my sight, it was if the coffin was floating towards the altar. Floating on a sea of corpses.
They played a hymn of some description as it floated down. I've always hated hymns, even before I became an atheist. They just all sound exactly the same to me. Give me Christian prog metal any day, but hymns? Hymns are shit.
The whole thing was very Irish Catholicism and...I don't know. I wondered if this is what my mother would have wanted, towards the end. Did she still believe? Did she have the faith I'd lost long ago? Did she even care? Or was it that, as Slender Man encroached ever more on her life, the only thing she wanted, needed, was release? These were the thoughts that filled my head like flies.
Right until the people dropped, like a collective "Curtain up!" as the show began and revealed the headline act.
Oh god, he must have felt like such a smug bastard. He knew I was there, he looked straight at me and I swear to fuck, he may not have grinned with his mouth, but he was fucking laughing with his eyes. Just the pun would have been enough for him, but...fuck, that sick bastard, that absolute cunt.
He stood up and (what else?) delivered her eulogy. It wasn't for the mourners though and it sure as hell wasn't for my mother. It was all for me. He went on about safeguarding our mental health and making sure to always remember to distinguish reality from fiction because the Bible condemned living in fantasy worlds. So basically, as well as taunting me, he implied that my mother was a sinner who deserved to go to hell because Slender Man gave her delusions. I left in disgust. I couldn't bear to hear any more.
I lounged around the graveyard for a while before I heard the procession coming out of the church to take her to her final resting place. I went off to one side to watch the burial without drawing attention to myself. I don't want anyone to know I've come back. I don't intend on staying long. It's better for everyone involved if Em and Dad are the only ones who know.
They lowered her into the grave to the tune of "Into My Arms" by Nick Cave. My dad is an atheist and he sung it to my mother on their first date. Apparently she laughed her head off and then gave my dad a kiss. My parents loved each other. They really did. They loved each other in such a comfortable, natural way and that has always been the ideal that I've wanted to achieve one day and that's the relationship I want with Ava. It doesn't have to be ostentatiously romantic or dazzling and glamorous, all I need, all I'll ever need is a mutual love that is comfortable and natural and right now that seems as far away from reality as I was away from my mother's grave as they put her in the ground.
I lurked off to one side until everyone was gone and then stepped out to see my mother's grave.
In Loving Memory Of
Catherine Marie Jacqueline Shaughnessy
Who Died 7th April 2011
Aged 40 Years
"Missed more than words can say"
I felt him there while I stared at her grave. He could have taken me there. I wanted him to. I could see him out of the corner of my eye and I kept thinking to myself; "Come on, you bastard, take me now. Hit me. Hit me like a fucking train." Maybe that's why he didn't. Maybe he knew it would hurt me more to live with myself.
I walked around Cahir for a few hours before Emma called me to ask where I was. I came back here and...we didn't talk. None of us wanted to. We just wanted to be together again and to savour it for as long as we could. Which, unfortunately, won't be long enough.
I'm so tired of running. I'm so tired of being away from home. I just want to stay here forever right now. I just want to stay with my family. I'm so tired of all this. I'm so fucking tired that I'm going to bed right now and I'm going to enjoy this one night of sleep in my own bed before everything goes to shit again.