I have to blog about this nightmare of a day in two parts as there is just so much to tell you all.
Below is an extract detailing the sequence of events that I endured that day, taken from my autobiography. The beginning of the extract explains the lead up to the day, part of which I have mentioned in an earlier post about the phone call with my sister but as it is part of the chapter and important to the story, I will keep it in.
Part 2 will follow on Saturday.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN – THE NEXT CHAPTER
My father’s funeral took place on September 5th 2012 in East London. It was based at his church and fully organised by my sister. I was sent an email confirming the date and time.
On the only phone call after my father’s death, my sister rang to talk about the arrangements. I wasn’t really a part of it but to keep up appearances, she called anyway. It was an awkward conversation, the first without my father present. It was like speaking with a stranger, with someone who knew nothing about the history with Him. Yet, she was well aware of everything. She was just choosing to make every excuse in the book to defend him. She talked consistently about the funeral. I remained silent. What was there to say? I felt I could not speak my mind. That was until she began talking about songs and flowers.
She mentioned that a song, my father’s favourite song, would be played as his coffin entered the church.
That song was, “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.
When I think about the lyrics,
I see trees green, red roses too. I watch them bloom, for me and you and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
These are not the lyrics that remind me of my father. They only make sense to me in reference to him being gone and me being free. I’m pretty certain my sister was implying the opposite.
It was also a lie.
What a Wonderful World was actually my mother’s favourite song. Somewhere along the line, my sister’s lines had become blurred. My father never really cared for music.
In regards to the flowers, my sister casually asked me how much I would be willing to pay for my half of them. She listed the types of flowers and what would be suitable to surround the coffin. That was as much as I heard before I couldn’t contain it any longer. The tears I had held back for years, the trauma and the stress all exploded and in one breath I made it very clear I would not be contributing in any way. Everything poured out. I couldn’t hide it anymore, she needed to know.
Through endless streams of tears, I mustered the strength to reveal as much as I could. She listened, at best, she was silent. I could never tell the difference. I told her about the last time I had been with my father – the afternoon in the car in July. I opened up about the way he behaved and the fear I felt. Expecting my older sister to understand, I was shocked by her response.
“He was very ill by then,” she said as she began pleading his case, “he was probably tired; he couldn’t help it”.
She wasn’t even there and she silenced me.
Why did I think my father’s greatest supporter would back me?
I left the conversation immediately.
5th September 2012
I had been dreading this day for the previous two weeks. It had finally arrived and I had to gather any courage I had left to face it. My friend Natasha offered to come for the service. I accepted her offer, she and David were my protective barrier that day against the people who just couldn’t understand.
His funeral service was held in his church in East London.
As the burning sun beat down on me, I wiped the nervous droplets from my brow and entered the church. My sister and her husband were stood in the corridor greeting everyone. I hugged her, reaching out for some kind of emotion but I received nothing so I continued my way through to the church hall where the funeral was taking place. My brother-in-law did not acknowledge my presence.
I looked around the barely decorated room. It was filled with people, friends of my father’s, family and neighbours. Everyone was smartly dressed, paying their respects. I was wearing loose black trousers and a bright green peplum top. I needed to wear something bright. I needed to show them I was not mourning. Green was the colour that calmed me; it was the obvious colour to wear. My eyes immediately met with my mothers’. I headed straight to her. A man appeared by me as I struggled to keep my emotions together. He gestured for me, as my father’s daughter, to sit at the front. My breathing quickened as I placed my hand tightly on my mother. I could only muster one “No”. The man didn’t understand my refusal. I looked at my mother. She understood. She knew I was not going to pretend nor be part of the farce I was about to face. She told me to sit where ever I wanted. That turned out to be the front of the back section of chairs left out for late arrivals behind the congregation. I positioned myself directly ahead of the aisle.
My mother turned back to see if I was okay. I smiled. I was glad she had come especially with the support of her close friends. It was important for her to witness it.
My sister entered with her husband and a band of people followed her. She was being comforted by his friends. I watched as she made her way to the front row. She hugged one of his pastors, a man who thought very highly of my father.
Music began. Thankfully, it was not What a Wonderful World. Heads turned as his expensive, wooden coffin was carried in. It was placed on a stand directly ahead of me. I stared at it; I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
I was determined to get through the charade. I had brought a notebook with me. I focussed on putting all the feelings I was going through into it and wrote down a detailed account of the following two hours. Writing was the one thing that kept me going through that horrible, deceitful service.