In November 2010 my mother and I set about the task of planning my brother’s funeral.
We hired a funeral director called Ben, who looked like he had stepped straight off a tractor and into our living room. He had the worst skin I’ve ever seen and fish guts or something smeared over his matching King Gee shirt and pants. We were unsure if we had made the right choice until he pointed to the second cheapest casket in his catalogue and said “She’ll do!”, after which we loved him.
Not wanting a traditional funeral, we decided to hold it in a park across the street from the beach and, instead of the usual eulogy, to just play some music and have a few people speak if they wanted to. Ben advised us that three songs would be ideal – the first to play as people were arriving, the second in the middle and the third as we carried the casket away.
We selected a Nora Jones song to play as people arrived, an Adele tune to break up the speeches (let’s face it, we really wanted to tug at those rusty old heart strings) and the song we selected to end with was Eye Of The Tiger. An odd choice, yes, but when my brother was a kid he thought this song was the greatest song in the known universe. We thought this was fitting and would be a nice light-hearted way to finalise the occasion.
The day arrived and the funeral was perfect, the lack of structure refreshing. A hearty round of applause was given after each improvised speech and, of course, everyone bawled as Adele blared through the trees in the forest surrounding the park. As the ceremony came to a close we walked to the casket, lifted it off its stand and started to carry it away as Eye Of The Tiger began with fervour.
It’s not until now, years later, that I have realised that perhaps we hadn’t really thought this through. If you aren’t familiar with the lyrics of Eye Of The Tiger, the lyrics of the first verse are:
“Risin’ up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance
Now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive!”
Hmm. Just a man and his will to survive. Back on his feet, he’s gone the distance, just a man… and his will… to survive.
My brother committed suicide. My mother and I carried a coffin holding the body of my brother, who had just topped himself, to a song about a man and his DETERMINATION TO KEEP LIVING.
Incredibly, it gets worse. What’s the name of the band who sang Eye Of The Tiger?