November 2, 2007
I could number my dead by the funerals I’ve attended, in which case my total (not counting pets) is four. Though actually, that’s not quite true: I can think of at least one funeral I attended as a musician (the mother of one of my high school classmates had died, and I played the flute in a quartet at the service), and technically my maternal grandmother didn’t have a funeral, just a viewing and a burial, because my grandfather — who, as far as I’m aware, is not a religious man — claimed funerals were pagan rituals.
Still: four. Granddaddy, just after I turned eight; Nikki, when I was sixteen; Mama Nora, when I was twenty-four; and Uncle Glade, who hadn’t technically been my uncle for at least a decade, when I was twenty-six, about eighteen months ago. One dead of a heart attack, two of cancer. The fourth — Nikki — I don’t know. I doubt I ever will. Her obituary said “natural causes,” but what natural causes result in the death of an apparently healthy seventeen-year-old? She went to the junior prom on Friday, to an amusement park on Saturday or Sunday, and was gone by Monday morning. I’ll never understand, and in the end I suppose it’s not for me to know. There were rumors: asthma, bulimia. Neither struck me as fully believable.
I’d known Nikki since grade school. She’d played the flute, too; we were in sixth grade honor band together. In high school I started dabbling in brass instruments (I still play the flute as well, but I discovered in high school that I am, at heart, a tuba player), while Nikki joined the drill team. We were never close, but I considered her a friend. Read the rest of this entry »