Chapter 3 – Part 1
Robbie: The Funeral (Before the Tea)
Robbie sat on the floor in the lobby of the church with his back against the wall. He finally been able to convince his dad that to give him some space so he could finish editing the eulogy he was going to read at the funeral. It was an hour and half before it would start and no one was there yet, except for his family and the church custodian.
Robbie was dressed in his suit, but he didn’t care about getting it dirty. He was focused on the same thing he’d been writing for the past two weeks. He had the eulogy out and kept scratching out words that he’d written only to rewrite the same thing moments later. No matter how hard he tried he just couldn’t get it right.
He felt, rather than saw, Jesse sit down next to him. She reached over and grabbed the pen from his hand.
“It’s going to be great. Stop worrying.”
He turned to look at her. “I just don’t want to disappoint Mom.”
“You won’t. Are you kidding me?” Jesse laughed. “She was so proud of you. You were her favourite!”
“No, I wasn’t,” he said, his eyes got huge. “She loved all of us.”
She raised her eyebrow at him. “I know she loved me, and I’m not mad or jealous or anything, but you were definitely her favourite.”
He could feel sobs bubbling up his throat, burning. His eyes stung with tears that he tried desperately to bite back. She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him.
“I miss her,” he whispered.
They sat for a bit as Robbie read and reread the eulogy when Jesse suddenly broke the silence: “What’s Dad doing?”
She pointed at their dad pacing back and forth in front of the glass front doors. Suddenly, he dropped to the ground in his suit and did a couple of push-ups. Then, he’d jump back up, do a couple of bounces on the balls of his feet before he started pacing again.
“I have no idea. He came to my house first thing in the morning acting weird. He insisted on taking me out for breakfast and wouldn’t leave my side. At one point, he tried to escort me to the bathroom.”
‘What?” Jesse said, giggling.
“Oh sure, you laugh ’cause it’s not happening to you. I hate that Dad thinks I’m weak.”
“He doesn’t think you’re weak.” Jesse insisted.
“Why else is he hovering over me? He doesn’t think I can handle today,” he frowned. “You know, I’m stronger than people think.”
“I know. And so does Dad,” Jesse said. After a pause, she added, “Okay, seriously, what is he doing?”
Robbie looked up and burst out laughing. Their dad was facing the glass door and exaggeratedly frowning and glaring, all the while talking to himself clearly arguing with his reflection.
“There you are!” Alison said, striding towards them from the sanctuary doors, her heels clicking on the hardwood floor of the lobby. She glared at Jesse as she walked. Robbie sighed. This had always been how Ally handled stress. She got as busy as she could so she didn’t have to feel how much pain she was in.
“I better go,” Jesse whispered as she patted his arm and then stood up. “You’ll be great.”
“I can help too,” Robbie said, starting to get up.
“No,” Alison said, “You work on the eulogy. Make it perfect.” she said, smiling at him. “C’mon Jesse.” Then she turned on her heel and walked back into the sanctuary.
“Geez, no pressure or anything.” Jesse rolled her eyes at him. “Seriously, it’ll be great.”
He started reading over his paper again, as she walked away.