Out of Late-Night Chats and Headlights

I was sitting backstage, trying desperately to think of the saddest thing I could think of before I had to go do my big emotional scene, and I realized something.

I’ve seen a lot of sad things in my life. I’ve seen my dad die of cancer and I’ve seen the repercussions on my mother. I can replay his funeral like some sick home video in my head, minute by minute, starting at the funeral home. We were trying to decide between an open and closed casket–my dad had lost most of his hair, but my mom I think wanted closure–give people something to see, instead of just a box–and so we met with the funeral director before the ceremony to decide what to do.

What they don’t tell you about embalming is that sometimes it can go horribly wrong. Our funeral director managed to fix my dad’s face, but he couldn’t fix his hands. My dad had these big hands. Rough, gentle, gigantic–but when he opened the casket, my father’s hands had withered into these shriveled things—and I couldn’t look at his face– I just kept starting at his hands and I just kept thinking “this isn’t my dad this isn’t my dad this isn’t my dad”…and it’s stupid, but in that moment, I convinced myself so thoroughly that that man in the casket wasn’t my father that when we arrived at the church for his funeral, I was surprised.

And still, I was sitting there,  unaffected, replaying these scenes in my head, time ticking by before my stupid entrance, and I thought to myself–“okay, Catie. What’s the most horrible, awful, terrible thing that you can imagine happening to you right now?”.

And I realized, in that moment, that the worst thing I could imagine happening to me is waking up without you next to me.

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