I had a friend, Les, who was a mortician AND a comedian. He said it helped him keep his other job lighter. Whoosh. Les wanted to have a Halloween party, at the mortuary where he worked. Oh boy.
An old friend, Steve, said he would go to the party with me. We got to the grounds but didn't see any evidence of a party. We pulled up to the back of the main building that had Miami Vice type clear ice blocks in the walls and a door. You could see movements beyond the blocks, light inside the building. This might be the place? We sat for a minute, deciding if we wanted to proceed or not, and the door opened. A tall geeky looking guy in white lab coat and glasses came out, splashed with blood. The smell of formaldehyde was unmistakable. Oh yuck. Steve asked for Les, while I sat stiff and still as a board, trying to melt into the passenger's seat. The guy slowly and silently pointed to a fairly normal looking house within the grounds. Not a word. Off we went, totally creeped out, staring at each other with saucer sized eyes. He watched us all the way. We giggled a bit uneasily.
Inside the residence, Les and the party was forming. It wasn't long before we moved the party over to the mortuary, once all the employees had gone home for the night. Standard gory stuff, punch that looked like blood, and one of his buddies popped out of a closed coffin in the coffin display room.
I pulled Les aside and asked if there was anyone in the viewing room, could I go 'see and listen' quietly? He agreed to let me in, asking me to keep this to myself. Les unlocked the room, saying he would relock the room when I was done.
This would be one of the largest learning experiences of my life.
A very large room, two coffins, separated by screens and curtains directly in front of me, divided into two family areas. Two very small steps into each section would be where I would stand for my visit, not wanting to intrude into the very sacred, hushed atmosphere.
The larger side contained a plump older woman with short, fluffy white hair. She looked happy. Sweet. Blue pastel dress, lace, necklace of pearls, holding a bible and a rosary and a small bouquet, with other several items placed there by her family? Flowers filled the room, and so did she. Still in the immediate area, and the feeling was one of deep contentment and peace. Stillness. Acceptance. Unmistakable presence in the corner, almost at ceiling level. A soft and gentle rocking sensation.
On the other side was another woman, judged to be quite old from her appearance. She was rather stout, dressed in victorian black and no frills. Plain grumpy expression. Harumph. She was still there, too, but much stronger. She was mad and she didn't care WHO knew it. Grump. Grrrrr. Very strong, very angry, and everywhere, an energy not centered in any one place. Very uncomfy. Very oppressive.
As I left the room and looked back, I could visualize these two women, on either side of the curtain, two such extreme emotions, so close together, yet independent and ineffectual against the other. Almost yin and yang, black and white.
I returned to the party, shaking off that anger as best I could. I found myself wondering how I would have felt had I visited them in reverse order. Would the peace have been strong enough to alleviate that intense anger? Is anger and hatred always so much stronger and more powerful than peace and bliss, harder for us to leave off? The experience did make me aware of how easily we are affected by another's anger and negativity!
I pulled Les aside, told him I was done, but could I ask him, what was the circumstances of both the ladies?
He shrugged and said one lady died peacefully in her sleep, and the turnout tomorrow was expected to be quite large. She was very loved and mourned by a large family and many grandchildren.
The other lady? She had committed suicide. It was hard to get any cooperation from her family, and she was almost buried in a pauper's grave. The family must have been almost glad to see her go and they didn't expect any significant visitors.
I didn't need to clarify which was which. I knew. We left right after that. I had enough and was drained by the viewing room.
This also taught me well that people don't always move on right away. They can hover, for whatever reason, for whatever length of time. I suspect Mrs. Grouch hung around a long time after Granny floated on.