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01/19/2003

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Today the whole family went to the funeral for Barry, my sister-in-law's stepfather. It was out in Stroudsburg, PA. I thought the kids would be a pain in the ass for the long drive but they were surprisingly good, both going out there and coming back.

I was kind of at a loss as to how to act at this funeral. This is the first funeral that I've been to since my father's funeral this past April. At every funeral before that day, I always spouted the normal "I'm very sorry for your loss" kind of thing. But since being the recipient of those platitudes when my father died, I realized how really empty and hollow those words sound. I got to look at the whole mourning process from the other side. There are only so many times that you can hear the same thing over and over without going crazy.

So when I waited in line to see Barry's wife Gail and Pam, my sister-in-law, I went to say the normal things and couldn't get them out. I kind of just mumbled stuff. I hope I didn't offend either one of them, but I just said "hi" and hugged them. Luckily I had Annie in my arms and some people can't be sad when there is a baby around. So basically, these two women were able to have a better interaction with an 8 month old rather than me. I really froze. I just couldn't say the traditional, acceptable thing. But I didn't know that until I got right up there to talk to them. It took me by surprise so much that I couldn't really say anything. It was kind of embarrassing for me and worse, I feel I let them down by being less than supportive. Actually, less than coherent. I wish there was more I could have done for them.

There were a number of kids running around the funeral parlor. Kids just don't seem to care about death. Jake made a friend and they were running around pretending to be some cartoon from Cartoon Network. It turns out that this kid was nine which is weird as Jake is six but they both seemed to be on the same level. I don't know if Jake is really mature, this boy was just being kind or if a three year age difference doesn't mean as much as it did when I was a kid. The boy was one of Barry's many grandsons. It was kind of weird how he and Jake were running around playing during the wake part, then he went inside for the service and was crying at times, then after the services he and Jake were playing again.

The whole wake thing is kind of funky to me anyway. All these people are sitting around basically socializing while there is a dead body in a casket in the front of the room. The kids don't care. After awhile the adults aren't really fazed by it either. At the viewing for my father this was especially weird. As my father got older, he had a tendency to doze off at family functions and I joked that his viewing really wasn't any different than any other parties, because everyone else was socializing while he was in the corner with his eyes closed. I'm hilarious. Invite me to your next funeral. I'll blather incoherently to the grieving people closest to the deceased and then make inappropriate jokes in the corner.