At 4:40 am Susan lost her husband and her children lost their father.
The girls all stayed in the room with him for a long while crying, talking and even laughing because Susan's little sister can't not be funny.
Susan didn't touch her husband, and once she left the room she didn't return while he was in there.
That was that.
Brian the Funeral Director arrived and met with Susan in the communal kitchen. He had her sign some paperwork, then made an appointment for her to come to the funeral home at 10am.
The girls gathered up their belongings, said goodbye to the staff and left.
It was a cold, rainy morning as Susan drove home to tell her son that his father was gone.
She stripped her bed bare, set aside her quilt for the dry cleaner and threw out the sheets so there was no possibility of preserving his dead skin cells in some morbid memorial. She went through her refrigerator and got rid of everything she had been using to make his smoothies as well as all the leftover food that people had sent to feed the family. More food was coming already and she needed the space. Susan spent time talking with her parents until it was time to leave.
The second of the husband's daughters and Susan's little sister met her at the funeral home. Susan and this particular funeral home have a long history, her friend who talks to dead people used to work there, and Susan has a video of them from 25 years ago goofing around in each room.
Brian the Funeral Director and Brian the other Funeral Director met with Susan & her entourage. Yes, two Brians. They were easy to talk to and the little group discussed things other than Susan's dead husband. When it came time to move to the casket room Susan got a little claustrophobic, but she re-focused and kept going.
Susan didn't like any of the caskets, she thought them too shiny and very ornate. She was getting panicky at the thought of spending five thousand dollars on something she hated. A wave of relief settled over her when she saw the Meridian model. She took notice of every detail; the deep cherry color, non shiny satin finish, the simple profile. It looked to her like a piece of furniture. It would be worthy to hold her husband.
Back upstairs, there were a few more particulars to be hammered out, such as the flowers and if Susan wanted any religious personnel to speak. The Brians made the process easy for Susan to get through without crying very much.
Susan had to choose something to sit atop the closed casket. Two large binders filled with floral arrangements were brought to the table & she was disheartened to find an abundance of roses and other flowers which were absolutely not what she wanted. She did see a big five hundred dollar shamrock made of green carnations that made her laugh, so she chose that one with a banner of AWESOME DAD.
When Susan's entourage asked about something with winter greenery for the casket, Brian #1 suggested that they could go to the florist and create an arrangement they liked.
That's what they would do then.
As for having a religiously affiliated speaker, even though Susan's husband was a former altar boy Susan did not want anyone who didn't know him speaking at his service. It was suggested that a podium could be set up for those who wanted to share a story.
That's exactly what Susan wanted. There would be an open microphone.
The remembrance cards were next. The girls chose a lighthouse photo and a sunset photo. Susan didn't want any prayers, even the Irish ones, she wanted each card to have a selection of things the husband commonly said, such as 'Analyze, Adapt, Overcome' and 'Obama is a Communist'.
Lastly, Susan's husband was a fan of the expeditious disposition, so Susan arranged for him to be cremated. She chose a biodegradable container as his temporary repository, and by biodegradable she means cardboard. At a date and location to be determined later, Susan will surround herself with those who loved him and cast her wonderful husband to the wind.
Ten thousand dollars later, Susan and her funereal entourage thanked the Brians and left for the florist.
The day had gotten colder and rainy-er. The florist expressed his condolences and set to work gathering sprigs and cuttings based on the girls' stipulation that it be wintery, but not Christmasy. Susan didn't choose anything herself, she mostly said yes or no to everyone's floral suggestions and when they were done the florist handed them each a white rose. Susan didn't want hers so she gave it to her daughter when she got home.
Later that evening Susan had a full house with her little sister, both grown daughters, a set of twins and their father. The girls were all putting together collages of pictures for the wake, the father of the twins was creating a playlist of the husband's favorite music and Susan occupied herself by cleaning out the husband's dresser drawers in the room that was now soley hers.
Any time she went in to the dining room and saw the photos she started to cry, so she kept her distance.
That night she slept in the living room on the couch. Her daughter stayed with her and slept on the opposite couch.