But death is quite a natural process, the enviable end for all, no matter how much we Pilates, kick and lie about our ages of, cough, thirty three. Of course there are some who refuse to lie down and stay dead long enough to be put in the hole and covered up. And just my luck one of these too dumb or too stubborn to go through with the funeral was surprisingly my mother-in-law.
‘Why was it open casket? Why can’t the lid be nailed shut and the casket thrown into the incinerator right now?’ these are the types of thoughts that run through my head when I’m sitting in a chapel cradling my husband’s hand and staring at the glistening coffin with the lid open.
“Mary-Anne was a kind and gracious soul,” Father Mead spoke in a calm voice.
‘What in the world? Was there an alternate universe in which Mary-Anne was actually human and not the hell hag who was so evil that all in hell, including the devil dared not angered her? Wow.’ I casted my eyes about me and looked at the people.
There were quite a number of mourners and not all of them were faking. Actually none faked the odd tear escaping past the tissue being smashed under the reddened eyes, or faked the nodding agreement of the Father’s description.
‘Great. It was just nice to have all of the disgust pointed at me, the inferior daughter-in-law that cannot care for her husband properly.’
“Now please form a line to say your farewells before the casket is closed.” The Father stood to the side, head bowed.
Annie, my sister-in-law, headed the queue, sobbing the whole way through her final farewell. There were other family members, quietly making goodbyes, before it was time for David and me.
I stood beside him and peered in at the resting devil. She was dressed in her best, I should know. David had hovered as I went through her closet passing judgement on all choices. Finally we settled on the all white suit she wore to David’s thirtieth birthday. At least it was a tight fit, four years later and dead.
David reached a hand in stroking stray hairs back. “Love you mum. Wish you were here.” My chest tightened and the back of my throat felt clogged. I really hate to see him like this, rarely occurred. My poor sweet man.
Something twitched. I saw it from the corner of my eye. There was something in that coffin that moved.
I peered in closer and frowned. What could be in there with her? Had the grubs already moved in and begun the buffet? They wouldn’t last long in the incinerator.
“Come on,” David tugged on my hand.
‘Probably was nothing anyway.’ I followed David back to our seats at the front and held his hand in both of mine.
“Don’t worry babe.” I whispered, ‘the wicked witch who gave birth to you is dead and all of the little munchkins can now sing and be gay together without her tyranny.’ Of course I didn’t say that part out aloud. I did value my life.
“What in the name?” Father Mead crossed himself and stepped back. The mourner who stood next to the coffin retracted back, stumbling and falling.
“What’s going on?” David leapt to his feet. He was half way to the casket when a hand from inside shot up, wriggling fingers.
“Shit,” I gasped and clutched at my heart.
The hand floated down to the edge of the coffin, gripping as the body of Mary-Anne raised its self-up.
A few people let rip screams, most gasped and stared not at all positive as to what was happening.
“Mummy?” Annie gripped the back of the pew and stared shell shocked.
Wasn’t this just great? More complications to the funeral; which will add more to the accumulating costs as it was. David did not want to skimp on his mother, even if she was just going to burn.
Mary-Anne opened her eyes. Dulled yellowed eyes, that looked about then came to rest on David. Her face muscles scrunched into a smile, not so smoothly. It was almost like she had way to much Botox injected at once.
“Hello.” She croaked. No longer was her voice honey smooth. “My David.”
He hesitated before rushing to her side. “Mother? Mother are you really back?” he reached his hands out, to help her climb out. Three others came forward and finally she was free from her last resting place and stood surrounded by bewildered men who stared at what the just helped out of the coffin.
“Well hello all. Thank you for all coming to my funeral. I really do appreciate knowing that you cared for me. But right now I would like to head out to the wake and then onto home before I miss another episode of NCIS Los Angeles.” She slipped her arm in David’s and begun to walk.
David looked at me with wild eyes. “Come on,” he mouthed.
I had no idea what to do. Standing I looked about before following at a nice safe distance, the type o distance that allowed a mad dash in the opposite direction from any sudden zombie movements from creaky Mary-Anne.
Outside, the man who drove the hearse glanced up. He did a double take before screaming. ‘Can males really squeal like little girls and still have certain appendages?’
David opened the passenger’s door and helped his mother bend in. She swatted his hand as he moved to o her seat belt.
“What do I need that for? I’m already passed my use by date.”
I rolled my eyes.
David just closed the door. “Oh my god. Is this really happening? Can this happen?”
I shrugged. “You’re guess is about as good as the next. Breathe. We should probably take her to a hospital or something.”
He nodded and walked round to the driver’s side. I on the other hand took a breath and looked at the mourners, all of them; pile out onto the steps into the chaplet and watched with open perplexity. Father Mead, I could see, was having a fine time with a cigarette off to the side while muttering what could only be a prayer.
Mary-Anne rolled down the window. “Get in the car Cynthia.”