Just a warning. This entry is about going to see my dead father's body.
Crap. I was in the middle of a long entry about St. Catharines but we had a series of brownouts and it was lost before I saved.
To sum it up. St. Catharines. Couldn't get bikes. Visited childhood neighbourhood. Stayed a long time, walked around. Took pictures. Remembered. Walked to see our father's dead body during the magic hour when the sky was golden. Fear. Went inside.
Television and film had put ideas in my head about what the viewing would be like. I expected a quiet space for contemplation. I expected sombre music and chairs set up for sitting and feeling. I expected to be able to go into the room by myself or with my brother only. I expected a slow procession past the coffin at the very least.
Instead it was loud. So loud. So many people. So much visual and auditory noise. I felt assaulted by it. So many prying eyes looking at us. We stood out because we had spent the day walking around and were tanned and sweaty. We were wearing normal clothes. I had on a sunhat and carried a camera. My brother carried my camera bag. When I did look at faces all I saw was a blank sort of pity. For what? We left. We left him, we left them. They've never acknowledged what we went through with that man, their brother, their son, their kin, the man all that repression and self-loathing created. So what do they pity exactly?
The room was filled with people, the lights were bright. It felt like a cocktail meet-n-greet at a conference but instead of a buffet there was a dead body in a coffin. People stood around chatting with our father's dead body on display behind them.
Is this common? From my perspective it was fucked up and very unhealthy. There was no space for emotion and contemplation; mental or physical.
Seeing his body was not what I expected either. It didn't look like him. My brother kept coaching me "Look at his hands. Look at his hands." But I couldn't see him. The man I knew wasn't there in front of me. This was another man. Older and larger. His sickness, the way he abused himself was all over him despite the flowers and the suit. His hands looked so flat. The whole scene was so overwhelming. I felt sick. As I stared at his body trying to see him in there, trying to confront this thing that was not really him I halluncinated that he moved. Everything swirled. It was too much. I'd had enough.
As we left an uncle approached us and started talking. I just wanted to get out of there but had slipped into this passive state where I was coherant of everything happening but couldn't respond in the way I wanted to.
But then the words "It's amazing. At least 200 people showed up. His buddies from work..... something something.... people liked him.... he was well liked...." (I'm paraphrasing of course).
That snapped me. I was back in my body again.
I put up my hand as if to shield my face from his words. "I don't want to hear about what a great guy he was. I don't care. He was the worst to the people he should have treated the best."
After that it was just anger. I was already across the parking lot. People stared blankly. Some were familar, some strangers. I kicked the curb hard (but still careful not to hurt myself). I crossed the street. As I crossed the former Towers/Food City parking lot there was rage. So much rage. But I also felt so clear. I threw rocks. I fell to the first patch of grass and tore at it. I yelled and screamed. It was good.
Then my brother and I started talking calmly again. He made many astute observations. I felt so good. So much joy. I felt detoxified.
We walked the whole way back to our hotel. Far. My ankles killed. I tried taking pictures by holding down the shutter on 'B' but the light was nearly gone. Partway back we came upon a pedestrian tunnel that went underneath the highway. Once we got halfway through we started yelling and screaming at the top of our lungs. That was great. I sat on the curb of an Avondale changing film while my brother was inside stocking up on bottled water. We were so thirsty. Some guy in an SUV yelled "Smile" and held up a digital camera. I wanted to say "Fuck off I just saw my dead father's body." but held my arms over my face and yelled "No" instead. As we approached our hotel we saw that "SUPERSIZE ME" was playing in 15 minutes at the theatre so we went. Strange but kind of fitting.
We did not go to the funeral. There was no point. How could I possibly sit through more stories about what a great guy he was? ...in the pews of the church I left so many years ago.... Eating white bread sandwiches made by the Woman's Auxillary in the downstairs kitchen... Why would I do that to myself? Should I have tried to stand up and make them understand? Should I have said, "He did not love us. He looked through us. We were not people. We were not his children. We were objects. He wanted to control us. He wanted to own us. He tried to destroy us."?
There was no point. They won't understand and I don't care anymore if they do. I feel different and that's the difference. I don't need to seek my justice from them anymore. I am not destroyed. I'm happy. Angry, but happy. And so it goes.