I might as well grab the bull by the horns and tell you a story about Paul's memorial service/wake.
It was incredibly hard to be there. There was a slideshow video running through all these pictures of Paul growing up, us backpacking in college and sitting in his parent's finished basement when we were teens. I didn't know she was going to do it, but his sister had enlarged my blog post and it was sitting on an easel next to the table that held his urn. The post and the picture from it were surrounded by other pictures of Paul with his friends. One of our finished swords was sitting on a sword stand next to the urn.
It was a hard thing to see, but I'm glad she did it. If there's one thing I'm not, it's a public speaker, and there was no way I was going to get up there and say anything in front of a crowd.
The deal was that from 5-6pm it was just friends and family, then from 6-8pm it was open for the general public to pay their respects. We had arrived at around 4:30 to help get everything set up.
Earlier in the week Paul's wife had asked me to put together a CD of a song or two that he had liked, so I did. I made a CD of 4 songs, and I figured they'd be playing them in the background during the wake or something. Turns out, that wasn't the case.
Instead, she had asked all of his friends to bring a song that was special to him. After the minister gave his sermon, he invited us one by one to get up and speak if we wanted to, and after each person was finished speaking, the funeral home employee manning the CD player would announce the title of their song, then play it. Apparently, since I had provided a CD, the minister had assumed that I wanted it played even though I wasn't speaking.
Unfortunately, my CD wasn't clearly marked by song. I had just quickly scribbled "Paul" on it with a sharpie right before I left the house. There were four songs on it, as I mentioned. When the minister said, "Here's a CD from JV entitled 'Paul,'" I quickly decided the song I wanted them to play was the 4th song -- "Rivendell" by Rush. Paul was a huge Tolkien fan and a serious scholar of Middle Earth, so the song seemed fitting.
I looked at Paul's wife across the room, who I assumed was sort of managing the song thing, and held up 4 fingers to indicate the fourth song. I found out later she took that to mean there were 4 songs on the CD. Instead of the song I wanted, the CD player guy queued up the first song. It just so happened that it was a song called "Open Door" by Genesis. Here are the lyrics:
There's the morning light
Shining in your hair, and in your eyes
And just a little way behind that smile of yours
I see another one, oh so far away
If only for one second, I could hold you close to me
When the Master calls for me again
There's nothing I can say, or I can do
Goodbye, my love
Time has come to say farewell
I hear the call again
Goodbye to the world
I've sheltered for so long
Oh there's so much my love, that I can never say
And in a little while, in a little while
There's nothing left to see
As the years go by and I have not returned
And the night has come, falling all around
Ooh, if you count the stars you'll know
How many have gone out
And when the Master calls for me again
There's nothing that I can say Or I can do
Stand in the sun
Shut your eyes and feel the world
It's changing every day
Goodbye my love
Each day will seem so long
Ooh there's so much I feel, that I can never say
I can't see you
I can't feel you anymore
I've just a memory of that open door
So while it's a hauntingly beautiful song that both Paul and I loved, it wasn't quite what I had in mind.
The song ended.
The room was totally silent.
I sat there for about 5 seconds, then applied the JP rule of humor which states that if something is at least twice as funny as it is inappropriate, then you are morally obligated to go for it.
I took a deep breath and announced:
"I'M NOT GAY.*"
Most people thought it was funny, although think I may have pissed off a relative here or there. It doesn't matter though, because I know Paul would have laughed his ass off.
As for the ghost story, here it is. Keep in mind that I've never had any supernatural experiences in my life. I've never seen a ghost, I've never seen a UFO, I've never witnessed anything weird first-hand that couldn't be explained away by logic. I consider myself more or less an agnostic. I don't *not* believe in a creator, or an afterlife -- I just figure I don't have enough facts either way to make an informed decision. Paul and I used to joke around and say that whichever of us went first had to come back and let the other know if there was anything after.
On the dresser in our bedroom, there's a cast resin candle holder that looks like a round castle. It's been up there for maybe twelve years, (I know, I should clean) but it was an early gift from my wife when we first got married so it just sort of moved with us from place to place, and I never had the heart to toss it or store it away. It also happens to have a music box mechanism in it that plays Camelot. Since Paul died, there's been a picture of him leaning against it.
Two days ago, early in the morning, it played very slowly for about 5 seconds.
Here's the thing: It hasn't been wound up for at least ten years.
*not that there's anything wrong with that.