The Funeral

Originally posted on Socci.com November 13th, 2015

The kids and I did some of the planning together. We went to the funeral home together and picked out the various things, the urn, the prayer cards, etc. Hedy and Norma had suggested doing the funeral itself at the Deep River Congregational Church…honestly at first I wasn’t even sure I wanted to have a formal funeral. We were not church going people, even though we both did believe in God…we are more of the spiritual/we are made of stardust kind of folks. but, after such an outcry of attention from friends and family near and far…I decided to go ahead. Norma and I met with the minister to plan the service. Tim Haut, the minister, was amazing. We planned the service a few weeks out so that Hedy (the kids Mom) could be there.

I choose a few entries from Charley’s blog to be read. Invictus was read by our friend Rex Denton, and A Letter from Rudyard Kipling was read by Charley’s step-sister Linda Compton.

And there was music. Tony Sherr played “Peace of Mind” and Alex Nakhimovsky, Frank Lombardo, and Rex Denton played Ave Maria and another selection that seemed to be a mashup of Charley’s music. They were all incredible.

I made it through giving the eulogy. and other friends had some lovely words to say about Charley.

Norma gave a heart wrenching speech of how unfair and unfinished she feels about her Dad’s death. Very honest and very on point. I am proud of her courage for getting up and being honest about how much this just sucks.

We ended the service singing “this little light”. It was something Charley had been playing a lot in the last month he was alive. All the guys got up and played. It reminded me of the New Orleans mummer parade. It was absolutely beautiful.

Attending the Cremation

Originally posted November 11th, 2015

I started to watch a YouTube channel called “Ask the Mortician” This was before Charley died.

She had started out as a crematory worker, and I am finding out this is how most people start their funeral director life.

So, I knew I could be there when Charley’s body was cremated.

I thought I would either be scarred for life or it would help with closure.

When a body is cremated in the State of CT you don’t have to embalm the body if there will be no showing. I was glad because I knew Charley didn’t want to be embalmed. I don’t either. The body has to be in a container. In this case its a wood base and cardboard box. They use cardboard tubes under the container to help roll the container into the oven. I hate calling it the oven. Anyway, Alex joined me to watch the container being placed inside. I had a rose placed on top and that was the only   smell that came over me The crematory itself is a small building with a reception area that has a desk and a few comfy chairs. There is a large glass window and behind the window where the bodies are cremated. So they have the container in place and raise the curtain so you can see it being placed inside.

Then they close the door to the oven and close the curtain. I was told that I could stay so I did. The gals were so nice to me. We talked about how the gals choose this for a profession. About other losses. Then she told me she was going to “move his body” and did I want to see. I said yes. I braced myself as she opened the curtain again and then opened the door. I looked inside as she very gently moved his skeleton forward. The flames were hot white and orange. The most prominent thing I could still see was his spine and ribs. His spine looked so strong. The bones pure white. Peace came over me in the most comforting wave. She closed the door and I was ok. I decided to open up YouTube and played one of Charley’s videos and cried. She opened the door 2 more times and each time there was less to see and at the end it was just glowing embers. It looked like a field of stars. It was peaceful and beautiful. They rake the cremains into a container and then process them. The cremains go into a bag that has the medallion the body was cremated with attached to it. Then they go into the urn. The urn was warm when they gave it to me. I placed him on the passenger seat and took the scenic way home. I felt much better once I had his remains back home.