See Me, Feel Me by Ty Halton
I’ve never been to a funeral before.
I always thought there’d be a bunch of people wearing black and crying and sitting
around with tissues against their faces to catch the waterfall of tears spilling down their
cheeks. That everyone would simply exist in the funeral hall, just being somber. I
thought all funerals took place in a church and there would be an organ playing Chopin’s
Death March and someone would give a speech over the body and everyone is united in
We all think wrong sometimes.
The funeral – if one could call it that – is being held in a banquet room at a quaint little
restaurant off the 99 that looks like one sigh from a mildly depressed soul could
demolish it. I like to think that most of the people here probably got lost on the way to
the place. It’s easy to miss.
Shades of green fill the room – table cloths, chairs, napkins, even the deserts were green
(which only makes sense, because green Jell-O is obviously the best Jell-O). The handful
of people inside are all wearing dresses and shirts and ties and the like that make the
room look like a succulent shop.
There is no body. Only a podium and a photo of the smiling man we all once knew.
Piercing green eyes take the full focus of the photo.
I linger in the back corner, hoping someone will notice me.
They’re all too busy talking to each other to realize I’m there. I wander over to a small
cluster of men, a collection of Dos Equis bottles found at the bottom of the canal after a
frat boy summer. They’re giving each other hugs. Handshakes. Words of
encouragement. Talk about how they haven’t seen each other in ages and how sad it is
that they meet again on such a terrible occasion.
They don’t see me. Don’t feel me.
A group of old women with hair as silver as the spoon with which most of the people
here were fed walk past, moving toward one of the tables in the center of the room. I
follow. I sit amongst them at their table, my pale hands a stark contrast against the
green table cloth. A younger woman with dark brown hair and sunken brown eyes lets
out a small sob. I put my hand on top of hers.
She doesn’t react.
A young raven-haired man, nineteen years old, with more stress lines on his forehead
than someone his age should ever have is sitting on the other side of the room. Alone.
His presence takes me by surprise. I didn’t expect to see him here. Up until now, I was
absolutely sure that I was so far in his past that I had not a hope of being even a footnote
in his present.
But here he is. Wearing a pale green button down that makes his emerald eyes look dull.
They usually sparkle even in the dark; but the light that once shown in them is long
gone. I lean down in front of him. He doesn’t see me.
I put a hand on his knee. He doesn’t feel me.
But I think he knows that I’m there.
I wonder if he still thinks about everything. The Padre games. The late-night walks to
the corner store for chips and soda that was way too sugary for a kid. The long rides to
wrestling matches. The fights and inconsolable nights. The wars where neither of us
walked away a winner. The two years we went without talking.
My son. See me. Feel me, I urge.
But he doesn’t.
He walks over to his mother. Hugs her. She kisses him on the cheek.
It’s good to see them there together. To know that neither of them are alone.
His mother brings the room to order. They say a small prayer. She talks about my battle
with an evil disease that rips far too many souls from this world. People come and say a
few kind words next to my photo. Godspeed. Rest easy. Rest in peace.
I stand next to my family. Right in front of my son. My boy.
See me. Feel me, I whisper. Put a hand on his shoulder.
He looks up. He doesn’t see me. But he feels me. He knows I’m there.
And I always will be.
Ty Halton is 24 years old and lives in Bakersfield, California. He is an actor, writer, and
director. He earned his BA in English and Theatre from California State University,
Bakersfield and is seeking an MFA in Playwriting. He has been previously published in
Orpheus Literary Journal.