Thursday, December 29, 2011

Murphy's Funeral Home

Jalfred's mother, sister, and I ran a few errands to pick up some things for the memorial/funeral in Arlington and then requested to visit Jalfred the day before the actual viewing and funeral. We wanted a chance to be with him before everyone else came. I'll never forget it.

As we pulled into the parking lot of Murphy's Funeral Home, my heart pounded. I was excited. I thought maybe I would feel some relief being near Jalfred, maybe he would just look like he was sleeping. I just was excited to be close to him. That's what we always wanted, to be close to one another. We were so tired of deployment and distance. However, I had no idea what to expect when I walked through those doors.

During my second semester in college I took an elective class called "Issues with Grieving and Loss." One of the requirements of the course was to take a "field trip" to a funeral home. I remember going and seeing the inside of the home, I remember pews and dim lighting, and I remember them speaking in low, soft tones to the students, explaining what goes on during a memorial. I never took that class seriously, in fact I laughed about some of the unusual things we learned about with Jalfred. I always told him that class wasn't important to me. I just didn't understand loss back then. Murphy's Funeral Home reminded me of the one we toured way back when.I wish I had paid more attention.

We walked through the doors and were greeted by several people. I'm assuming they were the funeral home directors and there was some soldiers too. I wasn't paying any attention to them, I just wanted to hurry up and see my bear. I had no idea how difficult it actually would be to see him again...dead, again. We walked through the doors and I saw his coffin across the room. The top half was open and all I could see from afar was his face. NO. NO. NO. The unimaginable, horrid sinking feeling was back, and it was really bad at that moment.

 As I approached his coffin, I saw more and more of his face. NO. He looked completely dead. I thought he might look like he did when he was napping when he was alive, or something, but not like this. The nurse in Germany told us that he wouldn't look like how he did in the hospital because when a person dies, they lose water weight, so he wouldn't be puffy like he was then...and he didn't look like he did in Germany, but he didn't look like he did in life either. He looked fake. He looked dead. He looked gone. He looked...

I remember all of us breaking down completely. I had to step away from the casket and sit down, or else I would fall. I was so shaken. I just remember sobbing so hard. I remember watching Jalfred's mom sobbing, and his sister. It was yet another one of the most painful moments in my entire existence. I couldn't bare to see him like that. It couldn't be real, this couldn't be reality. I had to have been dreaming. NO, I kept thinking, this is not happening.

I walked back up to his casket again, once I gained control of myself. I touched him. He was so stiff, so cold. I hated it. It was disturbing to me. My once warm, soft-skinned, handsome baby was now laying cold, hard, and gone in a casket. I held his hands. He had on his formal-wear gloves to go along with his dress blues. I stared at my precious baby's face. Stroking his cheek so softly, afraid to break him. As I sobbed over him, I swear I kept seeing him breathing. My mind was tricking me. But I really did see him breathing, his chest moving, but I know it was all in my head. My mind was trying to deny this. I could not handle losing my best friend.

It felt like we stayed at the funeral home for hours with Jalfred. Who knows how long we actually were there. It's a funny thing how time can fly yet stand so very still. This is all from my own point of view, the way I saw and interpreted everything from my own eyes, my experience with losing the love of my life. My experience was traumatic. It was and always will be the most difficult and painful thing I will ever experience in my life.

 It was time to go back to our hotel, time to get rest for the long, emotional, upcoming day. I kissed my sweetheart goodbye on the forehead and lips, and reminded him that I promised I would love him forever, and we left. I didn't want to leave him. I kept hoping I would wake up from this nightmare.

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