|Johnson-Romito Funeral Home|
Joyce has written eloquently about living next to a funeral home, and just now I did a quick Google search to see if I could find that essay so I could post a link to it. But right at the top of the search results was something that stunned me: a notice from another funeral home with information about a service for one Joyce Ann Dyer, who died in 2007.
Joyce Ann Dyer ... that's my wife's name!
Terror immediately replaced Depression in my mind. (I know, I know: irrational.) I left my study for a minute, walked to the bottom of our stairs, listened for Joyce working in her study. I heard nothing. Up the stairs I went as fast as my old legs could carry me. Not at her computer.
But I heard her shower running. I took a peek. There she was--and you get no additional details about that.
Imagination can be a boon companion, asking, as it ever does, What if ...? And so we picture living in a fine home we pass, owning a rare first edition (I'd take a First Folio, wouldn't you?), being young and lithe again, being as slim as we ought to be, having ... You get the picture.
But he can also be a grim companion, a Debbie Downer (remember Rachel Dratch on SNL?). And the What if's? assume a horrifying aspect. Like just now ... thank you so much, Google.
I just did a smarter Google search--placing "Joyce Dyer" in quotation marks, and I found that essay--"Funeral Home"--was in the Fall 2011 issue of the little magazine Stoneboat. And the magazine's website reminded me that Joyce had earned a Pushcart nomination for that piece. (Link to more information.)
And now, I see, that--as usual--I've gotten off the subject. I was going to write about the oddest feeling I had this morning as I walked back from the coffee shop. It was dripping rain as I arrived at the funeral home parking lot (adjacent to our house), and I saw a young man, a former middle school student of mine, standing outside with a woman. Both, I know, are employees. The event was about to begin, and they were there to manage parking and greet the arriving mourners. We called greetings to each other.
And it was right afterwards, taking the steps up to our front porch, that I realized that in all likelihood that young man will one day (not soon, I hope) be managing traffic and greeting mourners I will never see for an event I will not realize is even going on.
That provoked a small shudder--but nothing near the one that arrived when I did that initial Google search for my wife's essay.