Some friends of mine were driving across country to visit friends in Arizona, when they were involved in a car crash in Oklahoma.
I have never gotten a straight answer on what caused the crash, only that the car collided with a truck. One of my friends, Nikki, died in the accident. The others were gravely injured.
A few days later, after we went to the funeral, my friends and I gathered at a friend's place for a wake.
The first hour or so was a typical wake: lots of alcohol, people telling stories about Nikki, and crying and some laughter.
Then, someone brought up that Nikki had been practicing Wicca, but her family was Roman Catholic, so they had her funeral mass said in their parish.
My friends who were Wicca were all up in arms about this, saying that Nikki's family had no right to bury her out of a church, and, further, that they, my friends, should have been in charge of the service.*
I (and other friends) tried to point out that family wishes take precedence, and, that services are more for those left behind.
These friends would not let this go. The discussion was getting more and more heated. We were all close to losing our tempers.
Then, suddenly, another friend, Terri walked in, carrying a cake... specifically, a birthday cake.
See, it was Terri's birthday, and she was going to celebrate her birthday no matter what.
Part of me was horrified, I mean... Terry could have waited until the weekend, though, honestly, I didn't say anything. I was stressed out and tired, so I just stood there. I figured someone else would object.
No one did. Many of my friends were overwhelmed, and also just stood there.
A few minutes later, we were all singing "Happy Birthday" to Terri, and, simultaneously, celebrating her birthday and eating our way through our sorrows with a delicious Devils' Food Cake.
Looking back on it, I have to give Terri credit. Whether she meant to or not, Terri broke the tense mood in the room. (Terri was not a stupid woman, she may have realized that the wake would become unpleasant, and planned this.) BUT, it caused a new problem.
I mean, celebrating one friend's birthday while memorializing another's life leads to mood whiplash in the worst possible way. The mood in the room became decidedly uncomfortable and more than a little strange.
At that point, I realized I needed to leave. Three of my friends and I went upstairs and played Dungeons and Dragons the rest of the evening. I mean, playing D&D at a wake was certainly no more peculiar than the birthday party/wake taking place downstairs.
*I always thought that this was less about Nikki and more about those folks making it all about them. In the aftermath of all of this, they would all prove to be major league drama llamas.
This is for LJ Idol: Kummerspeck.