It’s early on a Saturday morning and seven girls are looking in the mirror, writing names backwards on their faces, and checking to make sure their “I Love DS” on their forehead is clear and simple to read. If the girls were five years older, someone might believe they were all victims of leaving their shoes on at a college party. But they are not five years older. They are thirteen and fourteen years old getting ready to go watch their favorite boy band perform for the 20th time in a city they’ve never visited before. They are getting ready to go to what they don’t know is the last concert they’ll all ever attend together. They are getting ready for the funeral on their group’s friendship.
It’s now nine years later, and the seven of them are all in one place, yet again, only this time they aren’t writing names on their faces, and they aren’t getting prepared to spend a day together following a boy band in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. Instead, they are writing their memories on their sleeves and sitting down at a funeral of one of the moms of a girl from the group, one of the people who had helped to bring these seven girls together, one of them being her own daughter.
I like to think that funerals are difficult for a number of reasons. Of course there’s the obvious—we have lost someone who was an important part of our life at least at some point. We are faced with coming up with something to say to the family and friends of the one who has been lost that won’t sound insincere, cliché or terrible. We are introduced with odd moments of awkward silences with people who seem to recognize us and who we seem to recognize but can’t put a name to. And we are faced with ghosts, moments, and friends of our past, people we haven’t seen in years who were at one point, maybe our best friends, who have grown apart from. And of course, faced with sparks of memories—both good and bad.
But we force ourselves through the awkward moments with strangers and through the recollection of memories with the people from our past, and we worry about those who are still connected very deeply to the one person who has left us, and we give our condolences and we sit through a service, shed our tears, and leave the room.
And we sit briefly for a moment, analyzing the moments we had in the viewing room, with the people we faced, the memories we spoke of. And we smile at the thoughts of the one who has passed away, one who always had a smile on her face, a story to tell, and a shoulder to lean on. One who gave us one of the best friends we could have asked for growing up, and one who stood by each of us: One who helped to tie our friendships together, who helped to create and facilitate a group of friends who at one point stood together looking in a mirror, with writing all over their face. A group of friends who may not still be that group, grown apart over time, but who had some good memories along the way. And on a day where so many negatives can fill the void of the space where a friend, or friend’s parent, once filled, it’s better to leave the negativity, even if it’s for just a moment, behind and just take a moment to recognize some of the good times. Even if it’s just for a moment.