It’s such a cliché that one someone dies suddenly, his friends and family start re-examining their own lives. We immediately start wondering, “What’s it all about? What would I do if I knew I was going to die tomorrow?”
“I would just die!” Saffy announced the other day at the funeral of our friend, James.
We were seated in the Church of St Mary of the Angels and, just a few moments before, Amanda had wondered aloud what she would do if she knew she would die the next day. Would she live her life any differently, for example, she asked.
Which is what provoked Saffy’s statement: “I would just die!” She noticed our looks. “What! It’s true!”
“You would die today if you knew you were going to die tomorrow?” Amanda asked. You could tell her brain was starting to shrivel up trying to come to grips with the logic.
Saffy shrugged. “Might as well. What would be the point of stretching it out another 24 hours?”
We lapsed into silence as our eyes were drawn towards the coffin at the front of the church. After a while, Amanda said she was so relieved it was a closed casket. “The last time I was at a funeral, it was my Aunt Lucy’s and it was an open casket, I couldn’t sleep for days.”
“I hate open caskets!” Saffy said. “When it’s my turn, please make sure the coffin lid is sealed shut!”
Amanda piously crossed herself. “The entire time I was up there paying my respects to Aunt Lucy, I kept saying to myself, ‘Oh dear God, please don’t let her open her eyes! Please don’t open your eyes!’”
“Oh my God, if that ever happened, I would just die!” Saffy sighed in horror.
“Will you please stop saying that?” Amanda hissed. “You are really starting to freak me out!”
“Oooh, look! It’s Elizabeth!” Saffy’s bosom puffed up against her black top. She waved across the pews as she got up. “I’m going over to say hello.”
That’s the other thing about funerals. They’re such social occasions. If you have friends you’ve not seen in a while, chances are you’ll see them again at a funeral. James’s funeral was no exception. We’d barely taken our seats before everyone started waving at everyone else across the church.
Old friends hugged one another. We commiserated with one another and tut-tutted about what a shame it was that James had died so young and so suddenly.
“His poor kids!”
“Poor Mary. They just celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary!”
“He was so young!”
“He was so gorgeous!”
“I had the biggest crush on him when we were at school!”
“I slept with him one New Year’s Eve a few years ago!” Saffy suddenly confessed.
“Don’t tell anyone! If Mary ever found out, she would just die!”
“Ay, Laura, did you know Saffy slept with James?”
“Oh my God!” Saffy moaned.
In the midst of this confessional, phone numbers were exchanged. Quick bites of gossip were exchanged. Promises were made to catch up for lunch the following week.
When Saffy came back to us, Amanda gripped her by the arm and pulled her down to the hard wooden seat. “You slept with James?”
Saffy’s eyes widened and her bosom inflated to unholy dimensions. “Oh my God! How could you possibly have heard about that! I only just told Cathy that like two seconds ago!”
“The whole church knows!” Amanda’s voice carried clear to the top of the roof.
Saffy sighed. “I don’t know what came over me! Why did I tell Cathy that? I think I just got so caught up in the moment of gossiping!”
Amanda looked severe. “Do you even understand how gossip works? You gossip about other people! You don’t go and implicate yourself!”
“Oh oh,” I said. I slid down further into my seat.
Saffy and Amanda turned to me. “What?”
I lifted my hand to hide my face. “I think Mary just heard about you sleeping with her dead husband.”
Amanda gasped. “How do you know?”
“Because she’s looking this way and she doesn’t look too happy?”
“Well, why would she look happy?” Saffy began, turning her head to look. “It’s her husband’s funera…Oh crap! She’s staring straight at me! Oh my God, she knows! She knows!”
We slinked out of church faster than you could say “Hellboy”. Saffy only stopped screaming after we arrived back in the flat and Amanda slammed the door shut.
“Wah, jia you man!” Sharyn later said with deep admiration. “Even at someone funeral you can still cause havoc!”
“I am so embarrassed I could just die!” Saffy told her.