I hit the road at 6:30 this morning. It's only a 2.5 - 3 hour drive to Houston, and the funeral wasn't until 10, but I wanted to be sure I made it on time. When I heard Heidi had passed, I didn't immediately think about going to the funeral. It wasn't until after I'd written about her that I realized, of course, of course I needed to go. It would be almost like missing a parent's funeral.
Saturday morning, my mom called. Heidi's daughter had asked if I would speak at the service. Just a few words, perhaps a funny story or some other special memory that would impart to those gathered a sense of the meaning of the life that had just come to a close. Being asked to speak at a funeral or a wedding is the kind of thing you really can't turn down. If worse came to worse, I could just print up my post about her and read that.
I met my mom in the parking lot of the funeral home and we walked in. There were a lot of people there that I didn't know, but who all remembered me from when I was a little kid. Which left us with not a lot to talk about. As is the style with modern funerals, there was a photo montage playing on repeat. One of the pictures was of me at about age 4 or 5 with a huge smile on my face, my arms wrapped around Heidi, looking exactly like my eldest son when he gives those kind of hugs.
I made it through what I had to say with a minimum of stutters, uhs, ums, and ya-knows. I actually did end up drawing on a few things I said in my post because they were simply the truest things I could say. I debated whether or not to mention the koala bear reincarnation bit, but decided it was the wrong crowd at the wrong time. I also tossed in an anecdote about how, when I was little, I was always a little hesitant about going out of town because Heidi always said she was going to barbecue one, if not all, of our cats. I was always relieved to come back and find them all alive and well. Eventually I figured out that she was kidding.
I had not seen any of Heidi's children in years. They all seemed a bit shell-shocked as the attendees proceeded past them to pay their respects. They seemed to just want the whole exhausting episode to be over. I could see how each of them had grown into looking like one or the other of their parents. Tina looks just like her mom. The youngest son pulled me into a hug and thanked me for what I'd said. I was glad I'd come. It would've been wrong not to.