Even as I leave, I know there is the funeral. Even as I climb into our cheap convertible, and the rain comes down and the roof goes up, I know. You have been a good friend, even though our lives are so busy now we are sometimes like strangers. You have been a good friend, and now your dad is dead.
The road is long and windy and wet. The Wicklow hills call from the far coast, and in between the car is stuffy and hot to keep the windshield fog off, and I shuffle to get comfortable and try not (for my dear driver’s sake) to nod off. But I have never been good with staying awake, and besides, although I talk for Ireland, a passenger seat is the one place I get lost in my thoughts, climb into my self and am silent, then asleep…
I jolt awake with a smack to the head, and the sound of a smile in my ears. We cannot have my head collapsing on him as he drives our cheap convertible with no airbags. We cannot have it. So I fight the battle with my eyelids who go on strike so often I think of hiring a crane to prop them up. The light is green tea and amber now, the trees form a canopy. A light mist has replaced the rain and sleep rises from me as contentment settles down.
We pass a house with horse-head pillar stones, and a lady with squeaky wipers, and a three-legged dog ambling along, and he drives me deeper into the heart of nothing. We have other friends who need us this weekend, it’s all arranged. Unlike the funeral and I’ve been told that up the North they do things strange, it can take longer for the carcass to be primed and changed into ‘the corpse’. So we leave you to your death and carry on with life somehow, though really it’s not that difficult, which seems logical and wrong.
Hours later my legs are danced to jelly, my throat is raw. The rain ricochets off the roof of our stuffy tent, insistent staccato beat, but I still fall asleep. Sleep and dream of water. Sleep and dream of swimming in a lake of milk, then fire, as a heat between my legs wiggles forth. Whilst I was sleeping my organs conversed, my ears heard the rain and my bladder’s fit to burst, but I will not get up. I will not get up. I will not get up. I lever open one eyelid, and my claustrophobic-self bursts roaring from her cave. Canvas too close to face, no air, no air, trapped, suffocating, I rip open the tent flap, devour space and air hungrily. Resolve: tomorrow we will be there for you.
Morning dawns bright and beautiful. We have a long drive ahead. We put down the roof, become part of the landscape, which begins with billowing smoke. A woman with a cross arm planted on her hip. A dead badger. The Bent Elbow Hotel. Then a lake. Two men in a mint green rowboat. Those weird white wind-spinners on the hill. A man on a scooter with a red helmet. A buttercup yellow sun smothered in Vaseline, smeared across the sky. Life’s minutiae thrill and happiness comes in starburst moments.
Even as we arrive we know there is the funeral. Even as we climb out of our cheap convertible, and the sun beams down and the roof goes back up, we know. Remind ourselves: Your Dad is Dead. We wait for the service to end. We wait for the queue to dwindle. We wait to take you in our clumsy arms. Your eyes are so lost. Your pain is so real. Your sorrow wraps its hands around my throat. All I can see is a black cat stalking through an empty house but no clever image can transform this dead man into a dancing corpse. It’s over. A deep sadness settles on your soul, never to be removed.