WHAT I REMEMBER ABOUT MICHELLE'S FUNERAL

I promise I'll be done with sad listing soon.
  1. Five years ago today was Michelle's funeral.
  2. I was afraid to go by myself because I was really upset (obviously)
    So I met up with a friend, Bryce.
  3. There were all these people there who we'd gone to high school with, and I just remember thinking that they didn't really care about her.
    Keep in mind that I was not at my best. In hindsight, I realize they just wanted to pay their respects, and it shouldn't matter how much they cared about her.
  4. The calling hours and funeral were both the same evening.
    The calling hours were first, and I remember Bryce couldn't even go through the line and left me to do it alone. I should have just gone by myself to be honest. I remember being angry about this, but again, I was a mess. I was angry about everything when I wasn't being unbearably sad because anger is easier to feel than grief. In hindsight, I understand why it was hard for him.
  5. When I got to Michelle's parents, I didn't know what to say.
    I didn't really know them that well actually; I didn't know Michelle's family much at all apart from her step-brother, who was also in our grade. I had written a letter for them, but I couldn't bring myself to give it to them. I just kept thinking, "This letter isn't going to bring them any solace. It might make this harder even." So I didn't give it to them.
  6. I was alone when I got to her casket, and I can't really describe how it felt to see her there.
    Anyone who's lost a friend or loved one knows. I felt a bit detached.
  7. I didn't want to feel detached.
    So I grabbed her arm gently and just stood there with her. I don't normally do that - at funerals, I never touch the body. But this wasn't a body, it was my friend, and this was the last time I was going to see her. So I stood there with her and savored this last fleeting moment of connection. I didn't speak, I didn't do anything; it was like no one else was there, which was appropriate because I felt alone in my grief.
  8. While I was in line, I kept seeing one of Michelle's brothers (whom I had never met) standing at the other end of her casket.
    You encountered him after her, and for everyone, he just shook their hands. But when I got there, something happened. I'm not sure if he saw me with her and knew that she was more important to me than she had been to a lot of our classmates or if he could just sense that I felt as broken as he was, but he hugged me. We didn't say anything, he just grabbed me and pulled me into a hug, and we stood there like that.
  9. It seems like such an trivial thing, but I think about it a lot.
    I think about the last time I touched her and how her brother, without a word, could feel my devastating pain, enough so that he hugged me even though he hadn't hugged anyone else. It brings me comfort for some reason, and I'm grateful for it.
  10. I was going to stay for the funeral.
    Bryce left, so I sat alone in the back. Then my friends Lauren and Haley showed up, and they were planning to stay as well, so they sat with me.
  11. One of Michelle's good friends, Jake, came in then with his mom.
    Michelle had lived with them for awhile, so they were close. We knew Jake too because we were all in the same graduating class, and he told us to come sit up front with him and his mom.
  12. We weren't in the front row, but we were close.
    The funeral was...difficult, to say the least. I tried really hard not to cry too much because I felt like I didn't have the right to be overly sad. I have a lot of guilt - which I won't get into - so I felt like I deserved to be so sad, but that because I deserved it, I didn't have a right to show it.
  13. The brother, sister-in-law, and daughter of the guy who killed Michelle were there.
    They loved Michelle and hate the man who killed her despite their relation (they no longer associate with him). It was awkward because when they asked if anyone wanted to share memories of Michelle, they all did, and then they apologized for what their brother/father did. It was very strange and sad and not like anything I had ever experienced at a funeral.
  14. So five years later, today is still difficult for me.
    But I hold onto that moment with her brother and that moment I said goodbye to her. For whatever reason, it helps me. I think it's because it showed me that I wasn't alone in my grief (even though I really knew that even then, I just didn't FEEL it until her brother hugged me). As for saying goodbye, that last touch lingers, and for some reason that helps too.
  15. That's all I have to hold onto really because there's no grave to visit.
    Michelle was cremated, and her parents didn't even scatter her ashes anywhere. That's was difficult for me for a long time, but now I've come to accept it.
  16. Since she's died, I've gotten two tattoos for her on my right wrist.
    When I look at them, I think of her, and that brings me comfort too.
  17. I did eventually get the letter to her parents.
    We've never talked about it, and I've talked to them since. But that's okay, they know how I felt about her.