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One of my best friends lost her dad over the weekend, and today was his funeral. During the procession, they traveled on a major highway where there was some road work going on, and traffic had to be funneled through a bit at a time. My friend was angry because the workers let through the first three cars of the procession, and the remainder were left behind. This made me think of the times I’ve participated in funeral processions. Unfortunately, there have been a few.

You’re trapped in a car for an undetermined amount of time. It’s quiet. There’s not a lot to do. In some cases, it’s really the first calm moment you’ve had to think about the deceased. This can bring up all kinds of hairy emotions, so my friend’s anger over the traffic doesn’t surprise me. Hell, during one procession I was in, a woman in the car in front of me leaned out the window and vomited. I don’t know who she was, but I felt for her. The funeral was for a young guy in his twenties who died in a car accident. I think we all felt like puking.

Of course, the procession is just the beginning of that strange train we call grief. And “train” is probably the worst metaphor ever for it, since it isn’t remotely linear. It’s more like the ocean, with wave upon wave coming to shore. At first the waves are huge, but as time goes on they get smaller and more manageable. Then, just when you least expect it, a big-ass wave knocks you down and pulls you underwater. By the time you manage to regain your footing, you’re all scratched up, your bathing suit is all twisted around, and you have sand stuck in your butt crack. Shit.