Detached in the woods (mostly fiction).

My first memory of seeing a dead body was at a funeral.  I’m unsure of my age at the time, perhaps four or five, but I remember how I felt.  Detached, mainly, as if the events happening around me had no significance in my life.  I suppose they really didn’t.

It was the funeral of a great aunt, or a great-great aunt.  I remember sitting in the church, one that was not familiar to me.  There was no one talking, not that I recall.  I am sure the organ was playing.  One by one, or sometimes in small groups, the adults would walk to the front, pause at the casket, and eventually take their seats.  There was a small line.  I remember my mother asking if I wanted to go forward as well.  I nodded yes, more out of curiosity I expect.  I didn’t really know this aunt.  Even today, I only have the faintest images of her life before she died.  We walked forward, and there she was, appearing as if asleep.  That’s how I saw her.  That’s how I knew her.  Nothing had really changed to me.  I felt detached from the whole situation.  I’ve avoided funerals ever since.

I had a similar feeling that day I was walking in the woods.  I had come into a clearing, and there it was ahead of me.  A body.  Not one I knew.  Not one I was familiar with.  And I felt disconnected.  Oh, intellectually, I thought I should be horrified.  Every cultural norm from literature to cinema told me that such a discovery should illicit a big reaction, but I had none.  Upon closer inspection, the scene became more disturbing.  The body was missing most of its head.  It was otherwise intact.  Nearby, strewn on the ground, were another set of limbs.  No body to be found.  At least two had died here, and I could only imagine how.  Or, to be more honest, I tried not to imagine how.  Perhaps it was shock.  Perhaps it was the minds defense, but I felt only disconnected from the entire situation.  I touched nothing.  I moved on.  And a short time later found myself back at the clearing, as if to confirm it was not some waking dream.  I can’t even call it a nightmare.  That would be dishonest.  It was just an event.  An event that I had no connection to in my life, except that I happened to stumble across it and witness the aftermath.  And that was how I left it.


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