The funeral was today...

I've lived to tell about it, and hope this is the last 'downer' post I will ever have to share here but I think it belongs here. I'm sharing the story while it's still fresh in my mind because after this I'd like to do what I can to get it off my mind for a while. It's been a very long overwhelming week and I'm thankful for it to be over.

The morning as I suspected was stressful and took forever. By the time I left for the funeral I'd had several anxiety attacks. The weather here was like a spring day - bitter cold wind but beautiful and sunny. I arrived at the funeral a few minutes late (actually it apparently started a few minutes early) and all the family had already been seated and my cousin Steve was speaking so I stood off to the side for the duration of the service. I didn't know it was going to be an open casket, I"m glad I suppose I didn't know that but I also wasn't prepared for it and it was difficult to have him there laying in that casket not breathing - not smiling - unable to hear anything. After Steve's touching tribute a succession of family members and friends got up and spoke briefly.

I've been terrified for days as to how well I'd handle all of this with my depression / anxiety issues etc and I was handling things well I thought until Billy got up to speak. Billy is Bill's oldest son and he and I have been extremely close for the past 20+ years... he got up to speak and he couldn't speak... his pain was too much for me and I went to pieces then and doubted I'd be able to handle the rest of this funeral emotionally. But after Billy spoke (or rather didn't speak ... he couldn't speak but that spoke volumes) after he left the podium a preacher got up and began a long speech. During his speech I had time to calm down which was good I guess, it was pretty unbearable at that point.

After his speech my cousin Paul got up and started to play a movie, a series of snapshots that chronicled Bill's life. My son was seated on the other side of the church and when they showed a picture of Bill holding my son as a baby my son started to cry... this of course was too much for me I couldn't hug him or comfort him or visa versa. I wanted to leave the church then but I didn't. The snapshots continued on until his very last few days, my Uncle Bill looked in his last days like a Holocaust survivor and with each shot they showed of his touching last visit with someone more people in the church began to cry. It was then that I started to feel like I was going to explode - anyone who's had anxiety attacks can relate to this moment. This was beautiful and touching though for everyone to get to see their last moments with him. The last moment of the film was Stevie's daughter hugging him and written on the screen was Sweet Dreams Grampa, I love you - her last words to him. A few moments of 'silence' - or moments of everyone crying... Then they started a procession to walk by his casket, this was hard for me because I was already to close where I stood - perhaps 30 feet away. I didn't really know what to do but in the end I went out of the church - I couldn't handle how I was feeling as it was I didn't need it to get worse, I said my goodbyes to him when he was alive, I couldn't handle saying goodbye to a lifeless body.

After the service we went to the gravesite where he had Full Military Honors which was touching, things got really tough again as members of the family each grabbed a handful of dirt to place as they lowered the casket. There was a really tough point when the men who had done the military salute went back to their van and were laughing, I really wished they were not doing that at a time like this. I felt bad for them because I don't think they realized that they could be heard, or at least I hope they didn't know that. I imagine their comrade who noticed it and looked back at them will tell them, and I feel bad about how that might make them feel.

As they lowered the casket many cried, but for me I just noted what an incredibly beautiful spot someone could be buried. He has alot of family that will be visiting his grave often, and his grave overlooks on one side a beautiful park across the river, something you'd see in postcards. On another side his grave overlooks the mountains that are white peeked all year round. I can't imagine a more peaceful setting for someone to sit and talk to him or think of their memories of him. For some reason thinking about this brought me some calm and peace inside. Now when I think about him, I'll be able to think about him having one of the nicest 'resting' places anyone could have.

William Hoover Alsept, Sr.
April 25, 1935 - February 12, 2003
Rest in Peace