Saturday, September 10, 2011

In which I ride my scooter to a funeral

Matthew Orland

I should ride my scooter to a funeral?

I posted this on MV and the responses varied.

I ended up riding the scooter.

The morning started off very damp and very foggy. Like the world was encased in cotton balls, muted and soft. Then, sun finally came out and the fog melted away. It was a beautiful early September morning. You could tell Fall is on it's way by the crisp bite in the air and in the slant of the light in the trees.

As funerals go, it was typical.

The service was too long. The choirs sang too much. People reminisced forever. At the luncheon there was a crowd of people with faces too young, and mountains of too much food. The pain was too great, and numbness was setting in. It was all too-much and heading for overload.

And underneath it all, was the death of a young man, not even 25 years old, who slipped away seemingly by accident. He slipped off that pontoon boat to swim, and slipped out of everyones lives.

Your parents dying. That is natural. We all know this is going to happen some day. My friends and acquaintances dying of AIDs even that became natural after a few years. After a while, you even understand, disease and cancer, that too is natural. You expect it. You can rationalize it.

A death like this is not natural and cannot be accepted. My own death or injury while riding, is a natural possibility and easier for me to understand than this.

There is no explanation. No reasoning, no logic, that can take away the sting of this loss for Matt's family and friends.

Without answers to my questions, I rode and found it beautiful. The sky was brilliant blue. The air soft and damp. The roads clear. My scooter handled well. As I rode I thought about a young man, the only son of my co-worker. Her only child, lost. And here I rode along, enjoying the day. Was this an effrontery in the face of a somber occasion? How could I enjoy this?

When I arrived at the crowded church, I looked around at all the too-young faces. Matt was a break dancer. He loved different music. He like beer and a quick laugh. He had seemingly hundreds of friends from all walks of life. Riding a scooter to a funeral with this lot was no big deal.

Beauty in the midst of pain. I suppose that is how the human brain works, at least mine does. This world is such a beautiful place, even in the midst of despair and pain, you cannot deny the beauty of life itself. Beauty within the humanity, in the shared loss. I saw this beauty in faces of those who came to pay tribute to this special young man.

I rode my scooter to a funeral because it was a beautiful, sad and tragic day. But above all it was beautiful. Loss cannot destroy it. Loss cannot eradicate it, it is impervious to any destructive force. It is woven into the blue of the sky, into the green of the trees and in the faces of those who are left behind. The ones who have to continue on without Matt.

We are gone too quickly from this beautiful place. Appreciating what we have, that is a gift too great to squander. I think Matt might have understood that. I can only guess.


  1. You write beautifully, Martha, and I really appreciate what you had to say. Also, since I couldn't be at the funeral (I hope there were lots of GIA people there), I was glad to hear a little about it.
    Thanks for sharing your observations and your poignant thoughts.
    See you tomorrow

  2. Bel, it sounds like it worked out well. Take good care, and ride safely.


  3. Bel, I somehow think that a young man who loved life and loved to break dance would somehow be happy that you had a pleasant ride to his memorial service. We have to find a sliver of joy on even the hardest of days otherwise the human psyche would shatter. I like to think he had a hand in how you felt.