The funeral went as any other I had attended. Except for the fact that I was dead.
I'm not exactly upset that I'm dead. It's more of a... detachment. Maybe ghosts, or spirits, or whatever I'm classified as now, don't really have emotions. Don't ask me. I'm no expert. I just find it difficult to muster any emotion as I watch my sister let a tear course down her pale cheek.
The weirdest thing about this funeral? I can feel myself in the casket still. I'm freezing, but it doesn't bother me. I sense the texture of cloth against skin, and smooth wood against what skin is exposed to the casket. I can't move the body that once held my soul, but I do somehow get a sense of slight claustrophobia from the shell in the coffin. I can hear, in a muffled way, the words said to the congregation and over my prone form. So apparently, only sight is free to this ghost form. I'm grateful, again in a detached sense of the word. At least I don't have to stare either at the insides of my decaying eyelids or the close wooden ceiling of the wooden prison my body now resides in.
Abruptly--or all least it seems to me--the service ends. Silent men bear the casket to a waiting funeral limousine. The cemetery is a good half hour from the church where my life was last formally remembered. I sit my spirit form upon a plush seat next to my coffin, marveling--again in the disconnected way--at the bizarreness of the situation.
When I'm formally in the ground, final words said, friends and family departed, damp soil is shoveled atop my coffin. I flinch repeatedly as the heavy dirt rains down on the lid of the casket, hearing becoming increasingly muffled as soil separates me--finally and completely--from the land of the living. Now I hear nothing. Not the beeping of the backhoe as it reverses away from the freshly filled-in grave. Not the murmurs of the workmen as they respectfully, gently, tamp the soil down. They leave, their work finished.
Except for one.
I only now realize who he is under the hardhat he has donned for the occasion.
He remains staring at my grave, his expression blank, eyes dry. For the first time since my death, I truly take an interest in the current situation. The once love of my life slowly bows his head over the gravesite. His lips move as his eyes close.
Suddenly, I can hear again. I'm no longer freezing. I can't feel the coffin around my body.
I catch the last few words of my once fiancee's prayer.
"I don't even know if you're listening. But God, I can't do this. I can't get through life without her. She was... she was..." His tears are now flowing, dripping off his cheeks to further dampen the soil over my casket. "She was going to be life. My partner. My everything. And now she's g-g-gone." His speech is rapidly becoming incoherent. A sharp spear of agony pierces... whatever I can count as a heart now. I float close by his side as he crumples to the ground, sobbing.
God, let me... help him. Let me give him peace.
And something happens, I'm not exactly sure what. Maybe I become more substantial, or maybe he captures a glimpse of me somehow. Because he raises his head.
I brush his cheek with insubstantial fingers. And whisper one last time.
"I love you baby."
And it helps, somehow.
He comes back often to the graveyard. To visit my body. I can't physically be there for him anymore. But maybe, just maybe, I can help to give my love peace. So I stay. I study his face, often still in reflection. And he talks to me. Even if he is just addressing my body. Tells me of my family, my town. Of his love for me.
So I stay, my spirit floating gently across the grave from him.