Went to a funeral last night for the first time in 10 years. Last one was my dad's in 2002.
A girl named Hannah that had been working with us at Barnes & Noble (usually I don't say the name of where I work, but since most every other bookstore is gone I might as well, right?) for the last few months died in a car wreck last Friday.
She was riding in the car with her boyrfriend late that night and they turned around at a really bad spot in the road (car accidents happen at this particular intersection all the time) and the passenger side where she was located got plowed by another car. Her boyfriend lived and she died at the hospital she was taken to.
Extremely sad. The girl was only 21 years old.
Last Saturday, Chuck and I and a bunch of B&Ners went to a concert out in Atlantic Beach (I mentioned it a couple of posts ago).
While Chuckles and I were driving, there was a lull in conversation. I was silently looking out the window at the darkness, watching the beach houses go by. For no particular reason, I started wondering what would happen if one of us at B&N died. What if I died, actually.
Would the company send flowers? Would they close the store for the day? Would my co-workers show up for my funeral?
Yeah. Exactly. Why the fuck would I be thinking this? We were driving up to see a fun concert and hang out with friends. I guess it's just one of those uncontrollable things that brains do when they're bored.
Anyway, we get up to Atlantic Beach, and Chuckles and I stop to get a couple of subs to eat before the show.
I had to pee, and while I was in the bathroom my phone went off with a text alert in my bag hanging on the back of the stall door. The venue for the concert was in the same parking lot as the sub place, so I thought maybe one of my friends saw us drive in and wondered where the hell we were.
It was a text saying Hannah had been in a car accident the night before and had died.
Talk about a punch in the fucking gut.
I came out of the bathroom in total shock. I had just been thinking about the death thing on the way up there, and then I get this text?
Yeah, I know. Coincedence. Synchronicity. Or maybe I just felt something. I don't know. It all gets chalked up to 'freaky'.
I'm not going to pretend Hannah and I were best buds or anything. She hadn't worked at B&N for very long. If it had been one of the people I'd known there since the beginning, you'd be scraping me off the floor with a spatula right now. I'd be completely non-functional.
But Hannah was a sweet and lovely girl, and only 21...there one minute, and gone the next.
Do you know how relieved I am that I was nice to her the last time I saw her?
Last Wednesday (the night before my vacation started) she was my person for customer service and I was the manager for the evening.
Hannah had been having a very bad day and was not herself. Normally the girl was like sunshine personified...like a happy puppy (and I'm not saying this just because she's dead, she really was one of the most positive people I've ever met) but she was just so sad that night.
She asked me around 7:30 if I wouldn't mind her going home. Since it was pin-drop quiet (I normally would use the term 'dead', but in this case that's inappropriate) in the store that evening, I said sure and that I hoped she had a better night. And she died the day after that.
I'm so glad I didn't make her feel bad about asking me to leave or anything like that. Not that I'm a fucking doucheface all the time or anything, but at work sometimes we can all get under each other's skin and say things to each other that we don't mean when we irritate each other. I'm glad this wasn't one of those times, because I would've felt like an asshole forever.
B&N is my family. We all love each other like family. We get on each other's nerves like family. We fight with each other like family. We spend more time with each other than we do with our 'real' families.
Last night, pretty much everyone that didn't have to work (the store did indeed stay open through the funeral...I think maybe if she had worked there longer, there may have been other arrangements made) went to the service. B&Ners took up two whole rows of seating. I was proud of us.
There was an amazing amount of people there to pay their respects. We stood in line for about 30-40 minutes to file past the open casket to the seating area.
Poor Hannah did not look like herself. I know it's a cliché thing that people say when viewing a dead body, but she just didn't. The effects from the accident were very apparent.
I didn't think it would affect me that badly to see her. My heart started beating really fast. My knees and hands started getting all shaky and I started tearing up. She was just so fucking young.
And they were playing what I assume were some of her favourite songs while we were waiting for the rest of the people to file in. The girl loved classic rock, and apparently she had a huge vinyl record collection. We remarked to each other that a few of us would have to alter our iPod playlists. I can never listen to 'Break On Through' by The Doors or The Beatles' 'Yellow Submarine' again without thinking of Hannah lying there in that casket.
It's amazing how much you learn about a person at their funeral. Oh, I know it's all the good things about a person and never the bad, but that's ok. I think all of us deserve a time to have wonderful things said about us, that everyone can hear.
I don't think any of us at work knew just how talented she was. She loved music and art. They had quite a few pieces of it on display. She was very mischievous and fun-loving and what Southern people like to call 'wide open'.
Even though I wasn't close with her, I lost it twice. The first time was when they played 'Come Sail Away' by Styx in between eulogies. Jesus, I don't know why that one got me, but it did.
And the second time was while they were describing what kind of person she was. Independent, different, spirited, living life to the fullest, was always trying to make people happy...I felt like I could be sitting at my fucking funeral. That's what I imagine people might say about me. That took away the rest of my mascara...
We all had to hug it out in the parking lot afterwards.
I came home with no makeup and a headache. There's nothing like facing down your own mortality to give you a good one.
The day before the funeral, I also got a text saying that a good co-worker friend's sister had died on the way to the doctor that morning. Two death texts in one week. Jesus. I'm afraid to open my phone now.
Some good news though. The dude that was in the band that we went to see? Bennie? He became a father that very same day.
Two lives end and another one begins.
Yes, by all means, cue up 'The Circle of Life'...
I'm going to really need a new damn dress though. I wore the same dress to two weddings and a funeral in the past 6 months.
Two more weddings, and I'd have a Hugh Grant movie.
Anyway, I just had to get that all out. Writing really clears my head.
I know I'm not normally this serious, and I don't like bringing my readers down. But y'all are also my friends, so I figure you wouldn't mind a non-happy, nearly pictureless post once in awhile.