A funeral from the dead person’s viewpoint
The music starts to play, wild and chaotic, some Red Hot Chili Peppers for kicks, just as my life has been. I am featured on the front of the pamphlet that everyone is holding. There are a few smiles and some tears. This was to be a grand affair, everyone expected that. It was to be a huge party, as were most days in my college career. I was the master of the good times, and they all knew it. As far as I imagine, people were expecting this to be as big a rave as any I held court over. That was my plan, at least I wanted people to come far and wide, all different shapes and sizes, to celebrate with me.
You see, in college I was rather the life of the party. Everyone came to my dorm for a good time. I got many frat boys laid with the woman of their dreams, or at least that’s what they were led to believe… by me. I gave them hopes and dreams, and at the same time I tied them back to reality with the little enhancers I offered. In that day and age, people young and old were using drugs recreationally, and so it was less a taboo than it is now. They were all just seeking that eternal, life beyond the stars feeling that came from taking the right drug, or right combo therein. People thought of drugs as one of the only ways to connect with themselves, and everyone was searching for the deeper meaning that came from getting the experience of a lifetime. Even I was looking for this connection, lauded by my peers as the ultimate high. When I gave other people the concoctions that led them to this state of epiphany it led me to feel as though I had gained something from their experience too.
It was always to my mother’s chagrin. From these parties I held in college, to the way I ran my personal life, nothing was good enough for her. In fact at this rave or whatever she was standing there scowling like someone just smashed her pet bug. All throughout my youth, I grew up with a woman breathing down my neck. I was always expected to “do better than my father” who as far as I knew was a drug addict, guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I’d never met the man, but just as well. In this crowd of people, I couldn’t have pointed him out. My mother was always over my shoulder as a child. She was very expectant that I would, even at that young age, have learned from my father’s life and would seek to not be like him. Thing is though, kids generally emulate that which adults abhor in another person.
In the party life I was the wonder kid. I was the sought after dinner guest, though my friends rarely held dinner parties. I loved my “reign” in college, and I didn’t do half badly in my classes. I graduated with a 2.9 and everyone was surprised. The way that I studied and partied led everyone to believe that I would flunk out. Instead I excelled. I gave both lives, both sides of me, an equal chance of success.
In my college career, I entertained many women, which wasn’t necessarily my biggest selling point. It did however, leave me feeling powerful and as on top of things as anyone. For someone with a high GPA, who was mostly acing my tests and getting high marks on the extra work handed out in class, I was attractive to the under class women who were struggling a bit more. So I would help the females with the work, and they would repay me in any kind of way they saw fit. Mostly they were one night stands, but a few came back for second and third tutoring go-rounds. Those became more “serious” relationships. Mostly they were underclass women who felt like they could use to garner my respect or something of that sort by coming back to me and calling me the most respectable tutor ever.
But getting back to my party where I was reigning. They were talking about me, reminiscing of the good times. I feel sick when I realize my mom is standing right there, absorbing their words with a grim smile on her face. As though perhaps she actually believed the stories they were telling, which were all dulled down, per the occasion. Part of me shouted “no” and the other part wanted nothing more than to have my mother absorb the words my clients and friends were saying about me. I wished to have her realize that I was more complex than she ever gave me credit for, I was more than a simple son. I led a tangled life with all my extracurriculars and my work life.
In my work life, I was constantly under pressure from outside sources. Often getting home at night didn’t bode a restful occasion, but rather a fight with the demons I held inside. I had to fight these demons secretly, for if anyone found out I struggled the way I did, they would certainly discredit my products. This was not something I wanted to endure, either in my professional or my personal life. Given that the alternative was just to remain silent about my “head issues” I was happy to play my part. There were so many different venues to which all required a different side of me. I became someone for everyone. I was a chameleon, who could change my skin based on who I was around and what situation I was in.
Maybe the fact that I became a social chameleon lent itself to my diagnosis. I was told I was bipolar with psychopathic tendencies. This is what I blamed my drug use and selling in college on. I have heard many competing theories. About how people who suffered from this were unable to form connections naturally. How this disorder ruled the life of the sufferer. So I made it my mission to not suffer from the affliction but rather to enjoy every minute of it. Given the choice between appearing paranoid in front of my colleagues and telling them what was going on, I chose the paranoid person because it seemed easier. People tried to interact with me less which led to my working in perfect bliss and solitude. My diagnosis never came up in social circles with everyone just assuming that I acted this way with people all the time.
Being manic in the midst of a large crowd of people led to me feeling powerful and on top of things. It tore up my relationship with my mother. She had already kind of damned herself to play this role. We had grown apart once I hit high school and the rift just widened as time went on. As powerful as I felt during my mania, the lows were some of the lowest emotions one could feel. The overwhelming depression that led me to contemplate suicide on more than one occasion, imagining myself rolling a cigarette and lacing it with cyanide. I chose cyanide because of it’s remarkably fast rate of absorption in the body. I had studied it’s toxicity in college for fun and had found it would be my choice OD drug.
The party is coming to order now, the music, 3 Doors Down: Kryptonite is playing as a quiet lull in the interim of people walking around talking to each other. Someone stands up with an interesting story, relates how all the research I did in college was to the glory of research. Everyone laughs as more people file in. They all take a seat as someone gets up front and tells another story. Then my mom gets up. All eyes immediately lock on hers. Swollen and red, her eyes are still the brilliant blue that used to sweep me away when she would sing me lullabies as a child. With tears bright in her eyes my mother relates how incredibly proud I had made her and my father, wherever he may be. That’s almost exactly how she said it.
That makes me think, Waiting was never a strong suit of mine. I always wanted things and wanted them pretty instantaneously. I knew that patience brought forth the sweetest pearls and all that but man was my reward to be awesome for the right here and now of my passionate pursuits.
I never told anyone about the disease eating away at my flesh. The cancer that had invaded my organs and flooded my brain with brilliant illusions and delusions. The things I saw, no one should have to endure. The things I started to believe, like how no one would ever love me, are things no one should have to experience. I went from being some hot shot on campus to literally fighting for my life.
As the service is nearing the end, I see that it’s my time to shine when no one is expecting it. This was what I was here for, right? I was here to give my own eulogy. This is what my mom, the pastor, and I had agreed on. Notice my use of the Oxford comma there, go ahead. It takes a real man, dead or alive, to use the Oxford comma properly. But I’m sorry, I’ll close my tangent. Back to the important things, like the concluding parts of the function. The party had been enjoyed by everyone in attendance. Everyone there had related stories of me, some good, others embarrassing. My mom laughed a few times and kept glancing over toward one man in the crowd with sad eyes. You know those eyes moms get when they realize that an event they were having a good time at is coming to a close. She and I had talked about this grand finale, this epic conclusion to my party. We wanted it to be as real life as anything I had ever done. We sought to let everyone feel how we had felt these past months. We longed-for people to experience the raw emotions as we had felt them. All these nights spent awake, yearning to learn of details that may have prolonged my time here on earth.
Introduce the father, stands up across the hall. Glances at my mom, tears in his eyes. Admits to never knowing him. Admits to spending hours and days imagining a typical father son relationship.
As I gaze across the hall, I see a man who remotely looks like me. This man has deep set eyes and a pointed chin. His eyes are slightly almond shaped. I can almost smell the whiskey on his breath. His nose is soft and rounded. His hair is black and gray, though not quite salt and pepper. This man was broad shouldered, as though the passing person might tell all the weight he had borne over the years. His eyes were soft, yet hard in a “respect me or else” kind of way. His posture demanded recognition, even in places that he’d wish to be passed over. When he spoke you could hear how difficult the years have been on him. His throat seemed scarred by use of cigarettes and chewing tobacco.