I buy UGG boots because they’re supposed to be warm. But not those fuzzy slipper-looking ones. The boots that I buy have to be somewhat stylish, since I’ll be wearing them on services. I work outside for half of my job; the days of the funerals. These days we park cars, say prayers, and wait at the gravesite once the family has said their final goodbyes. We wait until it’s finished. We take care of these bodies until they’re placed into the ground.
I try to stay warm on these cold winter days. We always have snow. The air always hurts your face. I own fleece-lined tights, fleece-lined leather gloves, hats that cover my ears, and these UGG boots. But today, I couldn’t feel my toes. Today, the ice grabbed my feet and wouldn’t let go. Today I was alone by the gravesite, with only the cemetery crew to witness this body being placed into the ground. But I waited until it was done.
My grandfather passed away in the middle of November. My grandmother decided to die during the famous October storm of 2006. Google it. We couldn’t bury her for about two weeks. And then, you all know about Eddie, who passed away on December 14th. Death always seems to come for my family when it’s cold.
Today, January 2nd, also marks a year since a close family friend died. His burial was one of the coldest I’ve ever done. I stood at the foot of his grave and watched as the vault lid went on. I couldn’t feel my feet then, either. But it’s all part of the job. Honestly, I don’t mind that much. During these times, I remember how I felt having to say goodbye. I remember the pain, feeling broken, and the tears. I remember knowing, that even though these are the shells of those that I love, that these bodies still mean something. They matter. It would have been so much easier, if the cold that I felt in my feet could have just traveled up to my heart. We sometimes think that are problems can go away if we numb out the pain.
But we have to go through this pain. We feel pain because we love, and if pain is the price we pay to love, then I will gladly take it all. All of those good times are worth it, they really are. We’re going to cry, and scream. There are days when we’ll try to numb out the pain and find that we can’t succeed. And in the middle of all of this, we’ll find ourselves laughing at a memory and then the tears will roll once again. We have to go through it.
You will always feel what’s in your heart. But today, I can’t feel my toes.