As the familiar lyrics of ‘Unchained Melody’ rang out through the church, Mary needed to utilise her daughters Melanie’s arm to steady herself in order to stand, as the six pallbearers slowly carried Bob’s coffin up to the alter.
They had been happily married for fifty one years, and had been high school sweethearts. During the course of their wonderful marriage, they had reared two children, ran a successful business, and traveled the world. As Mary steadied herself on her shaky legs, she still couldn’t quite comprehend he was gone.
It was heart attack, and poor Bob had collapsed on the toilet. It was a very undignified way to go, but Mary found some small comfort in knowing Bob would have seen the funny side of it. He had a wicked sense of humour. Bob’s sense of fun was the reason Mary had fallen in love with him all those years ago.
The priest’s spiel, along with the chosen hymns, went by in a blur, and before she knew it, her son was heading up to deliver the eulogy. Mary was not a confident public speaker, and was deathly afraid she wouldn’t be able to hold herself together up there in front of all those people.
Michael told the congregation lots of funny heart-warming stories. Bob would have been happy that there was so much laughter echoing from the pews. Bob loved a good giggle and was always the life of the party. Mary had always been the more reserved of the two. She had absolutely no idea what she would do without him.
It suddenly dawned on her, she would now have to call Michael to help with the smallest things, such as changing a light bulb, or mowing the lawn. Bob had always taken care of those jobs. He had been rather fit for his age and could still scale a ladder like a handsome, albeit, much older Spider-Man. If Mary attempted to climb up a ladder, she was almost certain it would not end well.
‘Mum, are you ready? It’s time to go.’ The piper belted out more of Bob’s favourite songs on his bagpipes as they all followed the hearse to his final resting place. As the coffin was lowered into the earth, it started to sink in that he was never coming back. This was it. She was all alone.
At the wake, she endured an endless parade of kisses, hugs, condolences, and kind words from acquaintances who struggled to find the right thing to say to a grieving widow on the day of her husband’s funeral. Mary felt a strange sense of relief when it was over and the last guest had left.
Unpublished Work (c) Hayley Walsh 2020