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Quiz: Is this my first book tour or my own funeral?

Kimberly Harrington

May 17, 2019, 11:30am

Everyone is in shock. How did this happen?

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My family arrives and no one knows what to do with their hands or where they should be looking or how they should be feeling. They just sit and wait for people to come to them.

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Professional colleagues who live across the country and are unable to attend send family members or mutual acquaintances in their place. They relay their loved one’s regrets.

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Friends from high school sit up close—sometimes in the front row—because they can’t believe it either. We are the same age, we’ve been through the same things. We were all riding in the same Gremlin when Matt high centered it in that cornfield that one time. Now we are here. Somehow, unbelievably, we are here in this room together. No one can believe it. Can you believe it? No, I definitely cannot believe it either.

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The flowers. They just keep coming. Some people bring small bouquets with them and wait for the right moment. Is there a right moment? Others send flowers to the house. Some of the arrangements are quite elaborate. Our kitchen table begins to resemble the floral cooler at Safeway.

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People from every stage of my life—childhood, college, different cities, every job I’ve ever had, a few neighbors—walk in the door tentatively and look around. They gravitate to vaguely familiar faces and remark how the last time they saw each other was at my wedding. What a day that was! Who could’ve predicted this back then! Boy, does time fly. Crazy to see each other like this again, isn’t it? Life sure is strange. Yup.

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Those who’ve known me almost my entire life stare at me intensely with a variety of emotions playing across their faces. I, of course, can’t address them or question them directly since I am the focal point of this thing but mostly I’m wondering, “Is that nostalgia? Or are you having busy little opinions about my makeup? What about you over there? What are you thinking about exactly? Is it about the time we had sex in that empty apartment we broke into when we were in our twenties? Or are you just in utter disbelief that I’m here right now? Is there a God? And if so, are you wondering, ‘Then God, why this?’”

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