Ode to the Professional Mourner
Some are fair weather friends, who are there when you’re buying the beer. There to watch the game on your new plasma, but always “busy” when you’re moving that big piece of furniture or “stuck in traffic” when you need someone to pick you up from work when you happen to lock the keys in your car.
Fair weather friends, take notice of the Professional Mourner. Oh, Sultan of the Sulk. Helper of the Hurting, you’re there when the sky turns grey. You’re the wiping horse of the long day. You may not be around to celebrate a birthday or a wedding, but you’re the first one in line at a viewing, even beating the immediate family to the funeral home door. You’re the first one to shed a tear and the last one to leave the post-funeral luncheon.
You own stock in the Vatican’s Mass cards, and used all your vacation days to attend weekday funerals. The new BMW that the florist drives is single-handedly financed by the funeral flowers you purchase on a weekly basis. You may not even know the name of the deceased whose funeral you are attending, but you’re on a first name basis with all the morticians in the area. You collect memorial cards and prayer cards like they’re money and habitually ask the funeral director if that third story apartment in the funeral home is up for rent.
You, my friend, out dress the funeral directors with your gold cuff-links and silk color coordinated tie and handkerchief combo. Your greatest pleasure is when someone mistakes you for an undertaker. Sometimes, you don’t correct them. You just let them assume that you ARE an undertaker. You’ve attended more funerals than many funeral directors, so why not?
You own the shirt, “Free hugs” and are brave enough to wear it to Wal-Mart. Your tactile nature makes you a boarder-line molester in normal life, but a real life hero at a funeral, hugging everyone you see with a smile and an empathetic “I know”. The viewing line stops when you reach the family as you give each member in the receiving line a full measure of the comfort platitudes you memorized from grief.com.
Some buy one newspaper for the comic strips, but you buy at least three a day for the obituaries. You cut them out and laminate them, filing them like your tax records, and mailing the extras to your mother in Michigan. If there were a doctorate degree in obituaries you would have graduated summa cum laude. Master of the mourning. Comrade of comfort. You would rather be a pall bearer than get a promotion. Pal of the pall. Chum of the casket. You are the professional mourner. A true gloomy weather friend.