There was an argument, or rather a statement met with silence that he had said he wanted a ‘kegger’ at my grandfather’s funeral.
The kids, the proper family, couldn’t reconcile this. The man who swore to his mother as a young boy to never let a drop of alcohol touch his lips because it turned people ‘stupid’ suddenly being a proponent of it in his own memory didn’t make sense to them.
To me it did. I had talked to him. Saw him, the distant stare of his eyes when he discussed age, the understanding, the powerless acceptance of an ending coming regardless of one’s personal preferences. And in those moments I saw a weakness. A dullness that bore at the heart of it something beyond time. An ancient right written in pyre and song realizing that his decisions would not love past him, only the love, only the joy people could conjure in themselves in his memory would come to matter after the slipping of earthly bonds. Perhaps it was a feat of being guilty in harshness, the fear that without alcohol the stories of love could not run as they should, cascades of misty joy. But I can see him saying it. As easily as I see a Viking raising a stein to the memory of a warrior loved and then lost. I see fire. I see dancing, and I see alcohol. And this man, this Khan among men, I can see his late love of that. Love decided his course. His memory. That was free. That was a dream he could not see, a love he wanted as pure and free flowing as anything in creation.
A conflagration of body and a singing of souls. What could be more beautiful? Giving love the power to tackle grief and singing the love and stories in a quilt of memories the living could carry with them forever.