The Linnet's Wings Summer 2014 - Page 49

In case my brother dies before me, he and I already planned his funeral. It will go, more or less, something like this: Friends and family will file into the church. A few whispers, a few sad smiles and nods. I will sit in the front pew with the rest of our family, and our friends will sit behind us. Black suits and black dresses; tears and tissues. Sisters will hold hands, and husbands will hug their wives. Everyone will look to the front of the church, waiting for the last stragglers to find seats in the back so the service can begin. The first song will play. Quiet, for the first few measures. A rumble, then a few low chords. And then that unmistakable synthesizer—the pump-up song of wrestling practices and high school weight lifting. Drums kick in and Europe starts singing, and at the chorus everyone knows they’re listening to The Final Countdown. Grandmothers are whispering to their husbands, and my mother looks furious, and children are giggling and glancing at their parents. It goes on for five minutes. I will stand up after the music fades, and I will walk to the front. Everyone is a little nervous, now. “I loved my brother,” I will say. I adjust the microphone. “We spent a lot of time together, and we did a lot of things together, and we talked about everything together. And if I could tell him one more thing—” Here, I choke up a little. I pause, still smiling about the song, but wanting to cry, too, because smiling makes me miss him even more. I adjust the microphone again. “If I could say one more thing to him, it would be—" I will take a breath and look out over the pews. Another long breath, counting off a measure in my head, and then— “I knew you were trouble when you walked in! ” I will sing the rest of the song in its entirety: I Knew You Were Trouble, by Taylor Swift. No recording or accompaniment. Just my singing voice, which—the opposite of my brother’s—should never be heard in public, let alone at a funeral. At first, people will shake their heads and smile, but after I finish the chorus and start on the first verse, those smiles will turn into grimaces, and not-so-close friends will raise their eyebrows. “Is he serious?” “This is disgusting.” “Why isn’t anyone stopping him? This is so disrespectful.” People will start to leave. A few in the back, slipping out quietly. Then a grandfather from the third row will stand up. People will pull their legs in to give him room as he shuffles to the aisle. He will glare once more as I sing Taylor Swift as loud as I can, and then he will stalk out as forcefully as an old man can stalk. More will follow, and by the time I’ve finished singing, it will be a less well-attended funeral than it had been five minutes ago, and those who stayed will be whispering not-so-subtly. #