My First Funeral

I entered the church and went straight to Emily. I hugged her, as we always do when we see each other, but I held on longer. She didn’t mind.

We aren’t family, so I wasn’t allowed to sit with her. I pointed to the pews along the side, where Judy sat. 

“I will be with her. I will always be looking at you, so if you feel like you need me I’m right there.”

I’d never been to a funeral before. Judy said she had, so I let her tell me what to do. Make sure your friend can always see you. Make sure she doesn’t see you cry. Tell her family you are sorry. Don’t ask how they are doing. Don’t talk to Emily about her mom.

Why would I ask how they are doing when I know the answer? Why would I talk to Emily about her mom? After all, she’s dead.

Emily and I never talk about my Mom, either.

As soon as it started Emily cried. It made me want to but I remembered Judy’s words. Emily looked my way, so I smiled and waved. She gave me half a smile and half a wave. She seemed a little better after that.

I think maybe Judy was right. 

We didn’t stay for the burial. Judy said I’d done enough. So before they walked to the cemetery we hugged goodbye. It was even longer than before.

“I’m sorry your mom died. It’s really hard not having one.”

Emily’s dad hugged me then, too. He’d never really hugged me before. He smelled like sweat and his coat itched, but I let him. While he said goodbye to Judy, Emily and I held hands. She was still crying. I didn’t think anything would stop that.

“Darryl and I are here whenever you need us.” Judy told him. It was still weird hearing him called Darryl. 

Once we were in the car I couldn’t help it. I cried and Judy let me. She didn’t say anything — she just drove. She drove to an ice cream shop near our house. My favorite place.

“You rocked it today kid.” I sniffed, blew my nose on the tissue she handed me.

“I don’t like it when you call me that.”

“Well, I don’t like that you call me Judy. Want some ice cream?” I nodded, we went inside.

She poked at her cup of vanilla. I licked chocolate off my hand as it ran down the cone.

“What do you like?”

“What?” Judy looked at me. Sometimes she seemed far away when we were together. 

“What should I call you?” She swallowed.

“Maybe … Mom? One day?” I thought about that. About how happy dad was and how she helped me. I bet Emily was still crying. I thought about having a mom.

I looked at her and smiled. She smiled too. We finished our ice cream and went home.