The pressure is unbelievable. Every single step toward the pulpit is a mass movement of the earth, my body fixed in space, allowing the crust to pass beneath me. My palms are always sweaty, my palms are sweating now. I feel tears deep in my head. Not tears of grief or joy, those that form in your eyes like droplets, pooling and falling at will. Tears you can discourage, tears you can blink away. In a much different way, tears of loss, of true emptiness, push from your heart through your skull like vomit, in uncontrollable waves of visceral rejection. There’s a misleading sensation of control when you experience the absence of love, as though, indeed, like vomit, you could not have less command over these tears. Whenever the young or the atheists or the ridiculous arbitrators of philosophy question the link between body and soul, I remember those tears. Your soul can only harbor so much sadness before your body tries to lend a hand, to spew that God-damned awful loss out through your face onto the pews and the altar and that brand new blue carpet. Churches always have that carpet where you can’t tell if it’s dirty or if it’s clean. I guess it’s something to ponder when you can’t consider anything else. But I’ve arrived.
I was with him my first time on the river, and of course, it was his first time as well. Each of us wore waders our father had bought on the internet the Christmas beforehand. You won’t believe what that feels like until you get in the river with a pair of waders on. Like scuba diving or drinking coffee on an empty stomach, there is a feeling of unnatural separation from your body. You feel the certain coolness of the water and the pressure of the river. The pressure is unbelievable. Even the smallest creek can knock you down with a depth not higher than your knee. We linked arms in the water for that reason, and because dad told us to. Being linked was not new.
I am wet. There is no doubt about it. The thin synthetic material is making the backs of my knees sweat while the vacuum from submerging makes it cling to me. To this day when I wade a stream I am certain my waders are leaking because of that feeling. The waders are, of course, leaking, but that’s not where the feeling comes from.
I would watch him on the water. His confidence…
“I’d like to thank you all for coming here today, for coming to at once mourn and celebrate.” That’s how I started. With the most unabashedly ludicrous cliche I could dream up. It was not unusual, it still is not unusual for me to fulfill the stable, knowing, boring aspects of our life. “He consistently amazed me with his steady instability and loving recklessness.” Don’t make the mistake that all old people make… he never lacked control, he just had courage. Real courage.