I SAT in one of those uncomfortable metal folding chairs the director set about the funeral parlor to accommodate overflow guests. The "dearly beloved deceased," a physician suicide, lay on white satin, his face spray-painted in mortuary pink and green. His eyes were closed; a faint, supercilious sneer distorted his mouth, a failure of reconstructive efforts to conceal facial injury suffered when he drove his car into a bridge abutment. At the age of 45, his life was smashed. The shards of what was left sat about me.
His wife sat rigid, stiff-backed, and grim, staring with contempt at the minister as we listened to boiler-plate platitudes. An older brother sat across the aisle from her.
A 6-year-old child, wide-eyed and uncomprehending, stood next to her mother, whose arm circled her shoulders. In the adjoining chair, a 12-year-old boy sat sobbing. The new widow extended her hand to cover his.