You never really know what to expect when going into a funeral, in the case of your grandfather, you really never know. Your speech is fully prepared, he requested his only grandson to give one. You step out of your car, pull your suit jacket over your shoulders, and reach in the inside pocket to make sure that the speech is still there.
A quick pat down of your body and a large breath of air are your final preparations before you head in the direction of the funeral home. Less time passes between each click of your shoe against the pavement, your blood seems to thicken and the tense muscles in your neck make it hard to swallow. By the time you reach the building you feel like a trapped soul in a dead man’s body, all of your strength is mustered to open the heavy oak door. Just inside, the door man welcomes you, but you’re unable to put forth a response.
Beyond the man, you see both your father and grandmother, who simultaneously hug you. The warmth of the exchange combats the ice in your veins, again you take a deep breath. “Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.” is on loop in your head, and you do everything in your power until a tear quickly glides down your face, you taste its saltiness before you even knew it had escaped.
Another breath and through the open doorway you go, the somber mood, accented by the mellow music that plays in the room, rips any bit of happiness from your heart. People gather around the large photo board and collection of flowers near his casket, which remains mostly absent of traffic with the exception of an occasional passerby. You also notice the podium, eloquently placed in front of the casket, with a small black microphone excreting from the wood, you choose to ignore it.
Finally you decide to see the man whose influence had much to do with the man you are today, and start moving slowly down the aisle. A framed wedding picture sits to the left of his casket, a picture of him in his Marine blues to the right. As you near, you notice his grey, fibrous beard that takes the place of his neck. He dons a sharp, black suit, befitting since your grandfather was a man of such class. Two weathered hands appear from the sleeves of his suit, locked loosely together. You must take a second glance to notice the blue ribbon intertwined between his fingers, at the end of the ribbon a gold, five-pointed star is found, the medal reads “VALOR”. A Medal of Honor.
“You son of a bitch,” you mutter under your breath with a brimming smile.
Jacob Handy is an English student at Michigan State University. He was raised in Montrose, Michigan.