This is the last time I’m doing this (for now)

Jesus, here lies my brother
Tortured and blown
Stretch for the heavens and go
…I watch him go
Here it comes

Jesus was a poor boy
Jesus was a poor boy
“It’s justa spring clean for the May queen”
I’m coming home

And this one’s for the life
This one’s for the funeral in the rain
And if only for tonight
This one’s for the funeral in the rain

We decided last night that it’s not just the industry in which we work that leads to us leaving so many behind so young.  I’m sure, honestly, that that has something to do with it — we deal in alcohol, we all drink (most of us too much), we smoke, we’ve got histories of drug use and fighting and possibly even a little real criminal activity under our belts.  We’ve lived too much too soon, saved too little, seen more and planned less than most people ever will.

So, yeah, there’s all that, but as was pointed out to me, when you work in a bar for as long as I have, you come in contact with more people than in other worlds.  And a lot of them are one-and-done, sure, but a lot more are at least acquaintances, some become regulars, and a few become friends. Plus the steady stream of people coming and going from jobs in the bars, and then the fact that a lot of the bars form a big, loose, dysfunctional family.

The day’s gone and the year’s gone
And I don’t know when I’m coming home
I can’t hold on to what I’ve had
When what I’ve had
There’s nothing left at all…

So this one’s for the life
This one’s for the funeral in the rain
And if only for tonight
Close your eyes and try to sleep again…

You try to take moments like this to shift your perspective, to realign your priorities. When you realize and accept that this day, any day, any moment, could be your last, you try hard to weed out the unnecessary worries and stresses in your life.  You try to figure out what really means something, what you hope to accomplish, what is important to you and what’s a straight waste of time.

It’s too easy to get caught up in grief and the cessation of any momentum you’ve built up. There’s a comfort in wrapping yourself in that blanket of tears and pity, just stopping and letting come what may, but it’s important to use these moments as stimulus to keep moving forward, to reset your sights, to separate the signal from the noise and focus on the sounds that mean something to you.

Because death is best left to the dead, and those of us still here have the responsibility and gift of living.

A world away, you turn away
I’m wide awake, and I don’t need your home
Tell me why he went, it seems to be
An element to this mystery
It’s so cold today, so I get away
And I’m left behind with nothing but words…

And I went to the funeral in the rain
And I went to the funeral in the rain

Some find this as a firmament to faith; some find cracks in the foundation.  For those of us without dreams of another world after this one, an afterlife or reincarnation or acceptance into the Great Hivemind of the Universe, it’s a simpler time, and simultaneously more complicated.  There is no strength to be found from a higher power, but the questions still remain without easy answers.

But at the same time, I don’t have to evaluate whether or not I’ll be going to Heaven or Hell or Nirvana or Valhalla based on my actions of today or tomorrow.  Nor do I really worry, personally, about whether I’ll be remembered fondly or even at all after I’m gone.  I’ll be gone.  What does it matter?

I hope that I can leave behind a sense of closure — no big works left unfinished, no farewells left unsaid.  I hope that I can avoid anyone that I care about feeling any sort of guilt, whether responsibility for what happened to me or a lack of chance to end our time together on a better note.  But that’s all I do – hope – because that’s all I can do. There are no guarantees, no promises; I might have 60 more years ahead of me, or 60 seconds, and the same goes for everyone in my life.

And that’s okay.  If for no other reason than, in the words of Vonnegut: “So it goes.”

But until it goes, I’ll try my best to appreciate what and who I have, to keep moving forward, and not to sweat the small stuff.  And I’ll try to teach others to do the same.

lyrics from FUNERAL by Devin Townsend, from the Ocean Machine album, ©1997 HevyDevy Records

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