It was a weird funeral. No hugs. No extended family. One friend. The world’s routines had altered, but my world had changed forever.
I was angry. I didn’t want a farewell. I didn’t want to say goodbye. I didn’t want others to think that they loved him more than me, that they knew him more than me. I had loved him for nineteen years. Only. My grandparents had been married for sixty years. I could have loved him for another forty. I’d been shortchanged.
Around the world (literally) people were watching the livestream. Impersonal. There was to be video footage of people talking about him. As if they had insight. He was my world.
I knew. I knew that he woke up with one strand of hair always facing the wrong direction. I knew that he was incoherent until the first swig of coffee. I knew that most mornings he would sit in his car before running back inside for his phone. I knew that he was angry that Kraft Peanut Butter had been bought out by Bega. I knew that, after twelve years of trying, he cried for a week when our son was born. I knew that he couldn’t grow a decent beard. I knew. I knew. I knew everything. My picture of him was complete.
An old schoolfriend was on the screen, talking about how two young men had climbed the water tower, and etched their initials up the top. How had I never heard this story? I’d loved him for nineteen years, and never knew. I knew he was a larrikin, but this story I never knew.
My sister-in-law was next, remembering how he had traversed the shops for his mother’s favourite lipstick on what would be her last Mother’s Day. I knew he was kind, but this detail I never knew.
A colleague spoke of the Luke Skywalker bobble-head, and how he would add the “May the fourth be with you” to his email signature each year. I knew he was a Star Wars tragic, but these minutiae I never knew.
The night before, my son had confessed that whenever his dad bought petrol, he would buy Slurpees for them both, dumping the containers in a public bin before returning home. I knew he was devoted to our boy, but these special rituals I never knew.
I had been naïve. I didn’t have the complete picture, and probably never would.
His picture had been woven by a lifetime, a short lifetime, of threads. Family was a common thread. Resilience another. Humour a different thread. Over. Under. Over. Under. The weave was complex. The design meticulous.
Kind - over. Star Wars - under. Dad - over. The Sea Eagles - under.
Some threads caused pain. Perfectionism - over. Self-doubt - under.
The same picture looked different to different people, like a Rorschach ink blot.
The funeral was weird, but I saw my picture of him more clearly.
A perfectly imperfect weave.
swinburne microfiction challenge
Part of the Emerging Writers Festival