In the end I did go with my fella to the supper. He came home tired, not really feeling like going either, but as if he “ought” because he was one of few outside the bereaved family to be invited. We wouldn’t stay all night, he said, if we went, but if I didn’t want to go that would be fine with him, as he could use a nap and would rather stay home himself. The promise to stay two hours and not six was all I needed; I was ready, after all, having bathed and cleaned up and gone for my two-mile walk.
And then we entered the seniors’ building where the meal was being hosted and were greeted like long-lost friends, hugged, our presence appreciated . . . of course I knew our friend would be glad to see me but was pleasantly surprised to be equally warmly greeted by his mom and sister, whom I don’t know well.
I do remember writing them a long note in a sympathy card I sent after their son/brother killed himself many years ago, and having a short visit with his parents before they moved away, when my fella was doing some work at their suite on Main Street. I still cringe a little when I think of what I wrote, as it was likely inappropriate and maybe even insensitive: as well as saying I’d known their son since we were teenagers, though not well, I added that he was probably regretting his action (he’d shot himself) now that he would be seeing the pain he’d caused to his loved ones. The note was written from the heart, and so maybe that’s why they don’t appear to think I’m an asshole. Maybe they don’t even connect me with the name signed to that card all those years before, when they may not have known who I was.
When we were leaving the hall, the lady who cooked the meal even hugged me and thanked me for coming. I don’t know who she thought I was, or why she hugged me, but you know what? I can’t get enough hugging. I love hugging people, and I love it when they hug me, and so it doesn’t matter whether there is an intimate connection or not. Hug away! I’m yours and I’ll hug the dickens out of you, right back.
We drove our friend back to his room at the hotel and the boys had a beer; his mom, aunt and uncle joined us and they all watched the last quarter of a televised football game (I read the safety tags hanging from the blinds in the room, and waited impatiently—inwardly, that is) before we left. Arriving home, my fella reached behind the seat for his jacket and realized his buddy’s beer was still in the truck, so we turned around and went back to town to take it to him. And came right back home again, where I made popcorn and we parked our carcasses in front of the TV for a couple hours. I don’t even remember what we watched; that’s how forgettable much television seems to be.