The piano begins to play as family and friends of the dad stand to face the aisle where his casket is being carried. Along with the people standing is the lone woman in the back of the church. The pallbearers of the father are his four nephews and two brothers. Behind them are Lilah and her mom who both fail to acknowledge anyone as they stare blankly at the tile on the floor.
As the piano begins to play, Gretna jumps a little and fixes the fiery red hat that is perched on top of her head. As she looks around and sees others standing, she then does the same. Her eyes are instantly drawn to the girl walking behind the casket. She assumes that this is the daughter of the dead man. The girl's red eyes and salty tears gleam for a moment as the sunlight is shown through the stained glass window. Gretna furrows her eyebrows in a confused way. She questions if the girl's stomach is turning? Is she thinking about what life will be like now that her father is gone? Just like the girl walking behind her father's casket, will Gretna's sons do the same for her?
For the longest, Gretna has been depressed and plans to kill herself soon. When she heard about the funeral-taking place down her street, she decided to attend. She is not obsessed with death, but by attending this funeral, she is expecting to see how her own will turn out. In fact, this is the third funeral she has been to within a month. After the death of Gretna's husband, her three sons gradually began to distance themselves and failed to stay around for support. When she finally realized what was taking place, the love Gretna once had for her sons suddenly turned into hatred and a sense of disgust towards herself. Just as the sky would to turn pitch black and the streets emptied, Gretna would reside to her usual corner filled with prescription pills to ease the heartache.
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Gretna's eyes continue to follow the fifteen-year-old down the aisle until she is seated at the front of the church. Behind the pulpit comes a booming voice, "We all are gathered today to commemorate the great life of our late friend and father, Joseph Campbell. He was a great farmer and we all know that cancer took him away from us too soon.” Gretna could imagine the girl walking out one morning tending to the horses when she sees her father lying there lifeless in the bed of hay. Gretna thinks about how she would be found. Would she be found in the tub lying besides a radio? Would she be found in her bedroom next to the sleeping pills? Or would she be found in the kitchen next to the butcher knives? And who would be the one to find her there?
Once being seated, Lilah begins to grip the top of her thighs with her long sharp nails adding to the red marks that were previously there. As she crouches over, letting her face meet her thighs, Lilah is then grasped by her mother who struggles to control Lilah's shaking. Gretna then shifts her attention from the girl, back to the front of the church. The first half of the coffin is lifted to reveal the pale and hardened face of the farmer. In an instance, Gretna sees herself lying there: a childhood photo and teddy bear she often let her sons play with, accompanies her. There is a long pause when the heaving and gasping of Lilah is the only thing being echoed throughout the church.
The pastor does not begin to speak until Lilah has finally calmed down and can sit upright. Her stringy hair is slightly covering her red eyes as she stares at the cherry wood coffin. Lilah does not seem to be paying attention to the pastor as she constantly looks back and forth between her father's corpse and back down at her, what are now, bloody legs due to the incisions she made with her long nails. Within the blink of an eye, Gretna imagines her three sons staring emotionless at the cherry wood coffin as she lie there.
When Lilah looks up again, the pastor is closing his bible and signaling the pallbearers to come forward. The pallbearers for the dad all stand up simultaneously and motion towards the front of the church. At this moment, Gretna sees the pastor at her own funeral, looking hopelessly through the crowd, failing to find anyone to carry her out. The coffin rocks as they pick it up and face the double doors at the end of the aisle. As they follow behind the coffin, just as they did in the beginning, Lilah looks at the side of the pew where Gretna is now standing.
Looking inquisitively into the girl's eyes, Gretna realizes that they resemble those of her youngest son. When leaving the funeral, Gretna is the only one not engaged in a conversation. As she stands there watching the casket get loaded into the hearse, she then decides what she would do next with her life.
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The Curious and Reflective Thoughts of Gretna During the Funeral. (2023, Mar 22). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/the-curious-and-reflective-thoughts-of-gretna-during-the-funeral/
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