too much but not enough

i'm sorry about your eulogy.

your mother wanted me to write it.  her voice broke when she asked me, catching in sobs across that long-distance call.

mimi, you're a writer, she told me tearfully.  you could write a beautiful eulogy.

fiction, i thought dully after we hung up.  i only write fiction.

so i sat for hours staring at a blank screen.  i wrote for no one but you for seven years, but somewhere along the way i ran out of words.

that sunday came suddenly, and i stood beside your gravesite reading a eulogy that did not belong to you.   in a stranger's voice that did not belong to me.  i invented anecdotes about the person you used to be, creating broad brushstrokes of a caricature i once used to know.  your friends and family watched me speak with wide, guileless eyes, searching desperately between my sentences for measures of comfort.  i gave them hallmark sentiments and it might have been enough.

your father thanked me after the funeral, told me it was a poignant speech.

you're a hell of a writer, he said quietly.  your mother nodded wanly in agreement, her face ashen and glittering with tear tracks.

fiction, i thought mirthlessly, after all the funeral guests left.  it was only fiction.

and i think about what i should have written, the last words i could've ever said to your face.  that even though my bed is cold and i have missed you like a visceral absence in this space between my heart and lungs, that i have never once forgotten the real memories you left, the ones that kept me up at night.  and it wouldn't have been pretty or delicate, not a carefully crafted speech about your love and bravery.  it would've been an ugly stream-of-consciousness with no rhyme or reason, spat viciously between choking sobs because the only thing i could think of when i looked into your casket was how you had fucked me over for the very last time.