The crematorium was the only thing that really convinced me that my father was really gone forever.
Watching him pass away in the house left me in such a shock that I actually tried to believe that he would wake up again.
But he didn't.
And in watching the coffin slowly pass through those velvet curtains, I began to get upset.
He was such a big man with a quiet power to boot, and that day I understood how precious life was, that an unseen killer like cancer could take my Dad away.
The crematorium was filled with love. I won’t deny that.
I was standing in between Alan and Ronnie Jr., my brothers. And since they weren't shedding tears, I thought that holding mine in was part of being a man. But I wasn't a man yet, so I wept. And I was consoled temporarily.
My mother was devastated. She too probably realizing at that point that once the coffin disappeared behind that curtain that was the last time my father would be in the world with us in the flesh.
I missed him already.
Barely reaching an age where I was interested in becoming a man (17) and the role model I was beginning to look up to wasn't there any more. It was a strange feeling.
And as every one left the place, I watched my Mom, stuck in a stance, crying hysterically. And people flocked to her. It was almost like slow motion.
And then I found myself alone. Walking all alone.
At the time it never really bothered me, and perhaps even now it doesn't, but I think about it sometimes.
Maybe no one really knows how to act. Maybe everyone responded the best they could to such a sad occasion.
I think what upset me that day, above all else, were the Glen Campbell songs that played quietly in all four corners of the crematorium, and also my shame for not understanding that my father was slipping away slowly over the months.
I should have told him I loved him. I should have told him he was the best dad to me and the best husband to my mother. But I didn't.
Gareth John Harkness