Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Life continues

Rodny’s services and funeral were on Saturday afternoon. I wasn’t sure if I should attend. I wanted to attend, but also wanted to be respectful.

I spoke with my boss. She’s American, but has lived in Jeremie for nearly 25 years. She told me to wear formal black and white. (I actually suspected that already as people here wear black and white for a year after the death of a loved one.) However, I couldn’t because I didn’t have any black or white. So she suggested I wear something more formal. I wore my work clothes. She said that I should wear a necktie. That made sense to me and I brought one with me, so that was good. Then she told me to avoid anything red. Well, there went the red necktie. In the end, I dressed the same as I do for work and headed downtown.

The walk there was ok. I maintained my composure.

As I approached, I was asked to pin a black sash across my chest. It had white painted letters on it and I understood that it was intended as a sign of respect. I immediately pinned it to my shirt.

I reached the Methodist Church. It was so sad to see how many people were there… obviously a very popular fellow… and only 33.

I saw some of my coworkers. I nodded, but had no interest in speaking with anyone. For the first fifteen minutes or so, I kept getting glassy-eyed. I managed to push it back though. No one was going to see me cry. I’m not sure why I felt that way. I think it didn’t seem appropriate for me… a near stranger who only knew him for a few months. I thought he was great, but it still seemed inappropriate. So I kept pushing back the tears.

The services started around 3pm. It was interesting. His casket was at the front of the church and I avoided it. I was already feeling terrible. I preferred fond memories with Rodny.

Not only was the church packed, the area in front of the church was too. So as the services began I found my way outside and listened from the porch.

There were several eulogies by family members. There was a brass band near the middle of the services. There were several choirs and our own organization led a song. Surprising to me was how vocal some women were. They were screaming and I understood why. But they also were throwing their bodies around in violent fashion. I’d never seen that before, but was told it’s traditional for women close to the lost loved one.

As 5:30pm was approaching, the services came to a close and people began exiting the church. I was told that this was the beginning of the walk to the cemetery. Pallbearers carry the casket for the mile-long walk there.

During the service I continued welling up, but still beat back the tears. The tough part for me was when I saw his brother, Max, walking down the front stairs with the casket draped in yellow and blue silk flowers. I was standing across the street and had a clear view as they descended.

I started bawling. I still tried to fight back the tears, but I couldn’t. A lady said something to me and grabbed my arm. I tried to ignore her. I was in no mood to talk. And though I couldn’t understood the words she spoke, I knew she was telling me to “let it out.” She rubbed my arm, telling me it’d be ok.

As Rodny’s casket descended further, the tears became falls and my new found friend consoled me. With no tissues around, she started wiping away the tears with her already moist hands. Rodny passed and moved up the street toward his final resting ground. As he moved out of sight, the downpour turned to a drizzle and into something of a dreary fog. She wiped the final tears away and let my arm go.

I could see now. I turned to see her face. I have no recollection if I said “mesi,” but I’m sure I managed as much of a smile as I could and moved toward the walking procession.

As I approached the tail of the line I saw some coworkers. They saw that I was barely composed. I couldn’t hide it, as much as I wanted to. One man looked at me with a smile on his face and outstretched hand saying “vie continuer.”

Tim White

1 comment:

Kevin M. Fry said...

This was beautiful story, Tim. I would have done exactly what you did that day. Thank you for sharing your experience here. Rodny was a good person - gone too soon. We'll all miss him.