While you were complaining about bills; yelling at your kids; wondering where the good tablecloth was; playing video games; cleaning the fish tank; calling your mother or learning a second language, I was picking up the pieces of a multiple-family car wreck. One man’s life is forever ruined; his wife and daughter are dead and, according to the medical examiner, not viewable.
I intend to prove him wrong, of course…I’ve reserved an embalming station for three days and will park myself there until the non-viewable are viewable.
I know what he’s doing in between waves of grief that will literally put him on the floor. He’s kicking himself over the last thing he said to them. Maybe he was angry. Maybe his wife had spent too much on Christmas, or on the party dress she wore. Maybe his daughter had brought home a bad grade and she wasn’t supposed to go to the party but his wife said she could anyway.
Or maybe he was not at all angry, but the last thing he said to them was something trivial. “We need paper towels.” “Did you arrange for someone to take the cat?”
Whatever his last words to them were, they were not good enough for someone who was never going to see them again. Everything leading up to this moment no longer matters. What I was doing yesterday before the accident doesn’t matter. What you were doing doesn’t matter. Nothing right now is more important than this man and the fact that his whole family is dead.
One thing I have yet to understand after having worked in this business for a decade is how people put so much time and energy into things that just plain don’t matter.