Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most

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The other day, amidst dazzling sunshine, I attended a wake for a friend of mine. She was a little bit younger than me, and her infuriatingly short life had been characterized by stretches of both astonishing brilliance and debilitating psychological turmoil.

It was, of course, unbearably sad, but there was at least one moment of bleak hilarity:

There was an open casket. And one of the eulogizers (he was trying hard to make sure that all of us who hadn’t seen her for awhile got the point that it wasn’t suicide, that she had in fact managed to put her life back together in recent years) was saying how radiant and healthy she had been looking lately. And then, gesturing helplessly at the casket, at the corpse, he said: “This doesn’t do her justice.”

Good Day (Ray Davies)

The Kinks

3 Replies to “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most”

  1. Your comment prompted me to add a (hopefully clarifying) line to this post.

    I was trying (not wholly successfully) to anecdotally convey a point through pitch-black humor, rather than “diarize” a recent unhappy experience. Through my sodden Kleenex I did laugh out loud at that line, very Chuckles the Clown — and it is funny, to me at least, in an awful, awkward way. I don’t suppose any corpse does the person “justice”!

    But I didn’t want to be seen as making fun of the eulogizer either, who is a also friend of mine, and who made a very good job of a very difficult thing. Poor man looked stricken as he hung there for a moment between what he was saying and the unfortunate evidence on hand for all to see.

    So anyway, I kind of bungled the whole thing. Not writing too clearly these days, but nothing to do but bulldoze through shambolic blocks in the brain.

    And the Kinks song is rather lovely and quite fitting, I think, so I wanted to get that up there too. I believe — I hope — she would have liked it: the joke and the song.

  2. I think the eulogizer was expressing something everyone feels when they see an embalmed corpse: it’s not really that person’s body anymore, it’s just a sculpture which the undertaker made. I’ve never seen one which was a very accurate rendering.

    I had a friend from college who was a fairly well known writer… and even though she lived just a few miles up the coast from me, I didn’t see her undertaker’s sculpture (if there was one.) But I did see her obit in the NY Times. I was sitting there at my dining room table thinking, “Cool! She made the Times obit page, and it was a nice writeup and they even had a flaterring picture of her.” Only after a few seconds did I realize that she died about 40 years before she should have (and that she died from a painful disease, AIDS.)

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