You cannot attend your lover's funeral without also attending your own.
It was the day of Daniel's funeral and I remember feeling removed from my body. I was physically present, but my mind travelled to wherever Daniel was. We were Day 6 into Daniel being dead and my mind refused to accept it as the truth. The idea that I now existed in a world where Daniel didn’t, made no logical sense. I felt his absence. I felt people mourning around me. But there was still this part of me that somehow believed they got the wrong person.
I remember waking up on the day of his funeral; about to prepare to see him for the last time. It was decided that it would be a closed casket event, but his friends and family would have the opportunity to see him. When we made it to the funeral home, this is where the crew split up. Half of us knew it was a bad idea to see Daniel. My half of the crew thought it was necessary. I had to see him. He is my one truest love. I was not going to leave him alone when he needed me most.
I was anxiously watching the clock as my window to see Daniel was slowly approaching. I was planning on standing beside him, holding his hand while I played our favorite songs for as long as I possibly could. I was picturing one last beautiful moment together.
When I entered the room, there was a line of his family members waiting to say one final goodbye before we would close his casket and bring him to the church. I was shaking more and more with each step. Luca, Daniel’s best friend, put a reassuring hand on my shoulder. We would do this together.
When it was my turn, I stepped forward and my mouth immediately dropped and tears were streaming down my face. I was kicking my heels on the floor as if I was Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.
“Please transport me back to Kansas now.”
I was looking down at the person I loved most in this world and all I saw was a stranger peering back. I recognized him, but only vaguely. I had intended to stay there for the full thirty minutes I was given. I think I only managed to stay there for a few seconds before I was running out the door.
I was back in the lobby and the other half of the crew looked back at me in horror. I must’ve had it written all over my face. Before I knew it, I collapsed to the floor and Daniel’s older brother ran out after me. In a matter of seconds, I was surrounded as I cried on the floor in agony.
All I could think was, "How the fuck am I going to do this?"
They all helped me up and surrounded me in a hug in silence. I appreciated that everyone knew words would be worthless in that moment. There was nothing that could have possibly been said.
We all got in our respective cars and began the procession towards St. David’s church. The church I used to go to with my family. The church where I had my first communion. The church all Catholic schools in the area would rely on for any and all religious milestones. St. David’s was about to be the place where I said a eulogy for my dead soulmate. Isn’t it crazy to think about how differently you can experience the same place?
I remember it was a cold, gloomy winter’s day because I distinctly acknowledged the pathetic fallacy. Even the universe was mourning for Daniel. I also remember it was cold because I refused to wear a jacket. I welcomed pain in every way possible. I stopped wearing a seat belt. I stopped looking both ways before crossing the street. I stopped giving a flying fuck about my life.
When I finally arrived at the church and walked down the aisle, I kept my head down and made no eye contact; something my father taught me to never do.
“Always keep your head up,” he’d say with pride.
He taught me to always be positive and always find strength.
I’m sorry, daddy. Not today.
I did not want to see any of you. I did not want to gather under these circumstances.
There was a lull in the ceremony and before I would realize, it was time for us to say our final words. Daniel’s best friend and little sister were already standing in the aisle waiting for me. I didn’t know eulogies happened so early on in the ceremony. This was my very first funeral.
We took the stage and went in the order we had rehearsed. Four eulogies were about to be said: best friend, little sister, girlfriend and older brother. We worked on our eulogies together in Daniel’s room. I used to love being in there, but there was only a small window after he died where it still smelt like him. It was in Daniel’s room where I made a pact with his little sister. If she couldn’t get through her eulogy, I would help her. If I couldn’t get through my eulogy, she would help me. I would try to be the reassuring presence Daniel was for her. I would try to be someone worthy of her affection. I would try to help this family somehow.
That is not what I ended up doing.
I felt like a ghost stepping up to the podium. My eyes never went up for a moment. I wasn’t talking to any of you. I was about to talk to Daniel. Father Ernie had told us that eulogies said under these circumstances can be particularly difficult.
But he did say it would be important to have your words written down in front of you. The last thing you want to do, is start a painful rambling spiel in front of every single person in your hometown.
I remember standing there in that moment and after only uttering a few words, I acknowledged that Father Ernie had given good advice. While I had intended to support Daniel’s little sister, she had been the one to support me. His little sister who he always excitedly invited along on our dates. His little sister who he talked about all the time. His little sister who I was now supposed to take care of, not the other way around.
And once again, when it mattered the most, I would fall apart.
That moment was the eeriest experience I have ever lived through in my life. They say your life flashes before your eyes when you die. Well, I like to say, “When Daniel died, I died.” And maybe, I didn’t accept it the night it happened. And maybe, I didn’t accept it when I saw him for the last time. And maybe, if we’re being really honest, I don’t think I fully believed it to be true until several agonizing months later.
But for that brief and incredibly public moment where I was about to say the string of words to honor the soul of the boy that I fell so dearly in love with, I experienced the most painful and abrupt sense of, “Holy fuck. He’s actually dead.”
And that is the moment where I would completely fall apart. In front of everyone in my hometown. I was blubbering through my words. Daniel’s little sister was about to take over for me, just as we had promised in our pact. I was falling apart and my Lil sis was coming to my rescue.
But I would decide to painfully persevere through every word. This was my time to say goodbye and I knew if I didn’t finish, I would always hate myself for it. Beyond that, it was simply unacceptable for me to be falling apart when his sister was managing to be so strong and resilient. She just lost her fucking brother.
I steadied my voice as best as I possibly could as I said the following words:
When you asked me to prom, one of the lines in your rap was, “When I’m around you, life don’t seem that drastic.” I found so much comfort in your presence and I can only hope that I at least slightly helped to keep the darkness at bay. My world completely changed by your presence. You completely snuck up on me, I was so comfortable being alone and then I found myself only wanting to be alone with you. I still remember the night we met. I had snuck out to a party and we were turning onto the street at the same time. We always thought about how our lives would be different if either of us had left 5 minutes later. If it was predetermined for our paths to cross. We would always sit and question whether it was fate, destiny or an accidental series of events that led us to each other. I loved you for your mind and it was your mind that tore us apart. This lifetime was all I ever wanted with you. I can only hope that you were able to grasp the sword within your soul; the way Kyuta did. Not to my best friend or soulmate, but to the boy who always said, “We must’ve been created by the same stardust.” I hope we gravitate back to each other like we always had here.
I can’t believe I have to learn to say goodbye to the one person who gave me the courage to say hello.
It was time to relocate to the cemetery. I remember his casket passing in front of me right before they were about to entomb him. I put my hand on his casket and whispered, “I’m sending you positive energy wherever you are. I promise I will love you so hard you will feel it in whatever depths of the universe in which you now exist. I love you. I love you. A thousand times, I love you.”
I would watch as the casket left my sight of view. I would hear people all around me crying uncontrollably. I would feel countless people hugging me. But still, my head would tilt to the side and question, “Wait. Is this even real?”
I know I am taking us on a journey of some very painful memories, in which I share with many people. This is not just my trauma; we all lost Daniel on that fateful day. Still, if I'm being honest, the night it happened and the funeral are not even close to the saddest days of my existence. I didn’t even believe his death to be true yet at that point. I was still so early on in my journey.
If anything, for those of you reading who didn’t know Daniel; for those of you reading that didn’t bear witness to his greatness, for those of you who didn’t get the chance to fall in love with him:
I am sorry for your loss.
At least he was mine.
Always with love,