My favorite color is plaid.

I don’t like funerals.  But I imagine that is true for most folks.  Even the most lovely of funerals – the ones that can successfully focus your attention on a celebration of life  – still carry the underlying reality of  the loss of a loved one.  Losing folks we love hurts – plain and simple.  So, even the best funerals are like a bitter pill served in a delicious bite of cake – it makes swallowing the pill a bit easier, but you are still taking the damn pill.

Yesterday I went to my friend Janna’s funeral service in Bismarck. When they opened up the service for folks to share remembrances of Janna I wasn’t going to say anything.  I know that my ability to keep myself composed at funerals is limited.  I am afflicted, particularly at funerals, with a condition I call “sympathetic crying”.  I tend to mirror the emotions of the family when I see or talk to them and it matters not the extent to which I know the family or even the deceased.  It can be decidedly awkward, particularly when I am at a funeral to support someone else who knew the person who passed.  There really is no logical way to explain my reaction to their grief.

So I avoid funerals when I can, but in some instances I cannot.  There are some that I go to out of love and respect and others that I go to out of obligation – but when I go, I try to keep my emotions in check.  I do this by, as much as possible, trying to avoid a sympathetic crying jag.

Which is why I wasn’t going to say anything when the time came in the service to share remembrances of Janna.  I really hoped I would just sit there and say nothing while others said things I was thinking, but they didn’t say what I was thinking.  I knew the second I resigned myself to getting up and sharing my memories of Janna that I was treading into perilous waters.  I had to go to the front of the church near Janna’s casket to speak.  From where I stood I could see Janna’s husband, and my friend, Don.  In the moment when I took the microphone and looked at Don I realized that I was sure to fall apart right there if I did not purposefully look away.  Sympathetic crying is bad, but at the front of the church with a microphone in hand it is really bad.

I got through my thoughts without a breakdown – thank goodness.  That made me happy because I knew I owed my girl Janna at least that.  I use my voice for so many things that are so much less important than that moment was at Janna’s funeral – the moment when I had an opportunity to honor her and the gifts she gave to me.  I wasn’t eloquent or profound – I was just me without apology, just like Janna was all the days I knew her.

On the front of the memorial handout under a photo of Janna it said, “My favorite color is plaid.”  That was a classic Janna line.  It is amazing how much you can understand about Janna’s personality from that statement – she was unconventional, mischievous, joyful, and unafraid to write her own script.  When I saw the plaid line on the handout I cried a bit.  Not sympathetic tears for others, but tears of my own in recognition of the friend that I had lost.

Day one thousand one hundred and ninety-seven of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

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About Ms. C

I teach at NDSU...but I remain a student of life with all the enthusiasm that entails. My favorite saying is, "Sometimes you have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down." In the new forty that is what I am doing...building my wings.
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2 Responses to My favorite color is plaid.

  1. B-dubya says:

    Your tributes to Janna have given delightful pieces of her (mosaic and plaid) to your blog readers–and I, for one, thank you for that. What a treasure.

  2. Chuck says:

    I’m sorry for your loss.

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