So as many of you know, I lost my wonderful Mum in 2015.
It was – and still is – a hugely traumatic incident, but as I wrote [and wrote and wrote] at various times over that dark period, there were moments of relief.
Some of that came from the outpouring of compassion and care I received from so many wonderful people, some of it was through the inappropriate – and yet utterly perfect – actions of my son, but there was one other that I haven’t talked about.
When we were organising Mum’s funeral, I was asked about what music we wanted.
While there were so many possibilities, I thought the best thing to do was choose songs that Mum loved and the easiest way to do that was to look at her iPad and review the ’25 most played songs’.
It was quite an eclectic list but that also was testimony to my Mum’s openness to music, regardless of era.
So after talking it through with Jill, we got it down to 3 pieces …
So far so good.
So we come to the day of the funeral – a day I was dreading – and the ceremony was beautiful.
The church was full of people wanting to pay their respects from far and wide, little Otis slept through the whole thing – ensuring we didn’t have to worry about him crying through a very emotional moment in our lives – the celebrant was utterly wonderful and I even managed to make it through my eulogy without breaking down too much.
As funerals go, it had been beautiful.
And then it happened.
You see, when we were choosing the songs for the funeral, I didn’t really listen to more than 5 seconds of them.
Part of this was because I knew the songs already and the other part was I had been too emotionally raw to hear all the songs all the way through given what they were going to be associated with.
Now before I go on, I should point out I’ve never been good with lyrics.
Even when I was in a band and wrote some of the songs, I could never remember what were the words. I am much more a melody person than a lyrical one … which is my way of explaining what happened as the funeral drew to a close.
The ceremony was over and people were invited to leave the church.
As we sat there, waiting to depart, Christina Perri’s song started to play.
Maybe it was because I had nothing to do as I waited to be able to leave my seat … maybe it’s because I was in deep reflection of what I had just experienced … but I started to listen to the lyrics a bit more intently.
This is what I heard:
I know I can’t take one more step towards you
‘Cause all that’s waiting is regret
Don’t you know I’m not your ghost anymore
You lost the love I loved the most
I learned to live half alive
And now you want me one more time
And who do you think you are?
Runnin’ ’round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don’t come back for me
Who do you think you are?
While the sentiment of the song is what I assumed it was – the sadness of the people you have left behind – the context of it was ENTIRELY different.
Instead of it being a heartfelt message of goodbye, it was a middle finger to a cold, selfish bastard of a player.
In other words, the most utterly inappropriate song to play at a funeral … especially at my wonderful Mum’s funeral.
On hearing this, I literally grabbed Jill’s hand and said, “Let’s go. Now”.
Fortunately, I found the whole thing a bit amusing – which stopped me from falling too deep in the darkness that I was feeling – plus there’s the fact it was one of her favourite songs so it was not an entirely random choice.
Later that night, I told Shelly – my best friend Paul’s wife – about the incident and she admitted that when she heard it, she had thought it was rather “an unusual choice of song”.
The thing is, I think my Mum would have found it amusing too.
I can imagine her laughing about it … like she is in the photo above.
Which is why if people were to ask me how my Mum’s funeral was, I would reply – as funny as it may seem to say – it was absolutely perfect.
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