I had walked in the pouring rain. I was alone. It was a Saturday and I wasn't sure if I would go, but it just felt like something I had to do. I entered the hall, soaking wet, signed the guestbook and found a seat at the end of one of the tables. There were people there who I'd gone to school with, but, for the most part, didn't talk to anyone, and no one approached for conversation, which I was fine with. After all it had been over thirty years. The family had left a lot of time for mingling before the memorial aspect began. I didn't know who his parents were, but I knew immediately his nephews by their faces and posture. It was uncanny. An older gentleman sat down next to me and his wife across the table. Listening quietly to bits and pieces of conversations, trying to figure out who was who, I said to the older fellow, that I should know who he was, but that I couldn't place his name. He told me, and who his daughter was and that she had gone to school with the younger brother of the deceased. I said that yes, I knew the name, but that I had gone to school with the older boy (the deceased). Anyway, he was a nice fellow, this older gentleman, with a beaming personality, offering to get his wife and a friend a coffee, and even asking me at some point as well. The "celebration of life" began, with one of the brothers speaking, breaking down (I... me... was tempted to go up there and give him a hug... thinking to myself... why isn't anyone going up there to offer support?), followed by the mc, an old friend of his, all these years. I was impressed by how retrospectively comprehensive he was in his speech, and how held together he was. When he finished and the lights were dimmed, there were chuckles and sniffling in the dark as the images of life played on the screen. Afterwards, my shirt sleeve wet from wiping my eyes, I went to take a look at the in memoriam table of this boy I remembered from so long ago. I went to say hello to a familiar face or two, got a hug and had a couple chats before heading home.
I was reading the newspaper the other day and found out the details of a local fellow who had died in a vehicle crash a few days before Christmas. It was the older gentleman who had sat down beside me at that celebration of life.