Jenna Mukuno
Eavesdropping on the Eve of a Funeral

"Who does he work for?" "What is his job exactly? I don't quite understand the description." (I don't think he knew what his job was. He was in "business." He graduated from the University of Michigan, and U.S. News and World Report ranks it as one of the top ten undergraduate programs for business. At least that's as much as one could say of his education.) "How would his co-workers describe his mood?" (His brother-in-law said he was a zombie. He would walk around the office staring at one beige tile after another.) "I know this is difficult, but how many mortgages, leases, loans contained his signature?" "How did the argument start before he left that evening?" (Ultimately, she needs to stop blaming herself.) "Did she drive him away?" "Please try and remember his cell phone number. (She cannot bring herself to type the numbers.) Who would you contact in an emergency?" (His phone was left in the basement. She's the only one who can retrieve his phone. The coroner can only release his personal belongings to immediate family, and his parents are too distraught to make the trip.) "How many bills have you paid in your lifetime?" "How many bills are you expecting this month?" (Is it strange she does not know how to pay a bill? So he was the one that took care of all the finances...) "Did you hear about the man who...?" (Paul passed away. No. Paul killed himself. One may as well call it what it is.) "Why was this day any different from the day before, and for how long was this day decidedly different?" When was the last vacation they took without stress? (I was so scared when he took her to Florida. I thought she was in danger for her life. I almost suggested that we make it a couples thing.) What was in the letter to his daughter? Why did he hide it in the laundry basket? Does he want her to read it to her? What do you do with the clothes now? (I think she will appreciate the letter later. For now she must face it head-on.) What are you going to do with the car now? (She can't afford that thing now! She doesn't even know how many bank accounts he opened. It's safe to assume that he had a checking account in each bank within a ten-mile radius. He was struggling to repay the loans...) How do you label a death on a death certificate? (Well, it depends. Laws vary state by state. Auto-asphyxiation...? The word hanging is just too brutal. I have the most terrifying image in my mind. No, Paul killed himself. One may as well call it what it is.) Who's going to move out all the furniture from the lake house? (Her sister called a moving company. Problem is, there's furniture in there that is still on credit. She offered the rest to her niece. Yes, the niece that's driving cross country to start medical school and needs the furniture.) Did someone call the coroner about his wallet? (She's waiting for the phone call. Don't press her too hard about it.) What bakery can cater last minute? (The one on the corner will have to do.) Black or white poster board? Where are your photos of him? (We chose white, but then we used black trim. Then we added shades of red...) Do you have the capacity to make a single decision? (She's laying down right now. Someone must take care of these things.) Do we have the family reunion still? (I think it'd be nice for her to get away from the house. Plus, we're all here. Though the lake house was close to our lake house...) The banks would like to meet with you about the house, when is that convenient? Where is Amanda right now? How many fruit baskets do we need to throw out or donate? (There's too much food. Eat, everyone!) How have you prepared for your death? Does she have a secondary income? Does she have an education? Can she get a job? (I don't even know if she's been to the bank in years. He took care of everything.) Does she want to start talking to us again? Does she have a choice? (She has to.) When do all the flights arrive at O'Hare? Would you mind if someone went through those file cabinets of old documents? Where did he hide the key to his safe? How does someone learn how to tie a rope like that? (Don't ask that question. It's morbid and unhelpful.) Is there a final thought? (I would imagine there's a sense of calm.) How do we tell all the people who loaned him money for his investments? (Her brother-in-law will take care of that...he knows how to phrase it well.) Did he want to be buried or cremated? Do Catholics cremate? Will his body be ready in time? (The coroner said that it's too early. There won't be a body at the funeral.) Have we cried yet? How is she holding up? (What do you think?) Can the doctor prescribe Lunesta? Which pharmacy? On which street? (Just MapQuest it. And hurry.) Who will live in the lake house next? How long can you float while it's on the market? (His parents want to visit the place first.) Is wine a good idea? (She's a tiny woman.) Is it appropriate to take picture of Amanda's friends outside the church today? Did they read the letter like she asked? (She wants her sisters to read it and see if they can help her figure it out...) Does she remember the movements of a Catholic mass? What other streets can we drive down? What can we tell her about what his parents think? Is there a wrong question? (Nothing is off limits.) Are there a finite number of answers? (Well, then...) If you stifle a question, does it still exist? Should it? How soon do you use the past tense? How long can you keep the present tense? (Everyone keeps switching unconsciously between the two.) When can we process the information? Can we process the information? (No, we cannot.) Can each person think about him as he once did? Does "before" exist now? Do you change the way you see a photograph of him? Is his face happier? Paler? Younger? Do you want to save the newspaper clipping? How have we prepared for the story to change? Has he left us with a story? Have we made one? (Where do you store it?)