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The Boy Left Behind at a Funeral Home

Photo Credit: Creative Commons – Lilly Yellow

EdiTOR’s Note: Whether you’re dead, not dead or undead – funeral homes are no fun.

But I’m thrilled to share this guest post about a funny funeral home memory from blogging buddy Clay Morgan.

Clay is launching his new book this week Undead: Revived, Resuscitated, and Reborn and the story below is adapted from the book – which I just bought and will review here in the coming weeks. Check out more of Clay’s witty and insightful writing at ClayWrites.com.

My family accidentally left me at a funeral home when I was four years old.

I was lost, surrounded by strangers in dark rooms. Lost, Strangers, Darkness—LSD for kids. The trifecta of childhood terror.

Throw a dead person into the middle of that room and we’re set up for a fun little side effect I like to call “life scars.”

Amazingly, my reaction didn’t include stains on my dress pants; over the years, I would manage to rebuild courage from that small victory.

Not Quite a Zombie Apocalypse (but almost)

So there I stood, frightened yet determined to locate any member of my family—I would even settle for one of my sisters. But locating them required a full sweep of the establishment.

I’d have to approach the you-know-what. The dead person.

Trembling, I moved about the room. The thought crossed my mind that I might never see my family ever again. And that’s the problem with the concept of forever. The stakes are just too high.

I had to find my family even if it meant approaching the crowd gathered around the big box with a dead person inside.

When I stepped forward, somehow the room turned even darker which led to a disturbing phenomenon in which the brightest part of the room was the exact spot where the dead body lay.

The Dead Don’t Stay Dead (ask any kid)

Closer and closer I moved towards the body when I realized something that every little kid instinctively knows.

Corpses always lunge at you.

That’s the trouble with dead people. They always come back to life when you least expect it. I began to panic and froze in my tracks. My only chance was to be as still as possible and not even make a sound.

With any luck I might turn invisible. But it didn’t work, and I took off. I ended up at the other end of the building in front of a massive window through which glorious sunlight made my tear-stained cheeks gleam.

Eventually some teenager found me and calmed me down. I’m sure he explained that my family hadn’t left me to live in the funeral home with dead people who would eat me by nightfall.

By the time my family pulled up in front of the place, that guy and I were just hanging out on the front steps.

Abandonment or Honest Mistake – You Decide

We’ve often reminisced about that day with laughter. The whole ordeal was an honest mistake.

Our family had one of those station wagons from the 1980s, very hearselike, with an acre of space behind the backseat in an era with no seatbelt laws.

My older sisters had apparently indicated that little brother was somewhere back there and off the family had rolled, leaving little me behind.

I guess it sounds pretty bad, but what’s an afternoon of terror compared to a lifetime of laughter? And therapy.

It’s alright to laugh. My family and I do all the time although this story is turning up a lot more these days now that it’s featured in my new book Undead: Revived, Resuscitated, and Reborn.

I was interviewed a couple weeks back and wondered what the first question might be a

bout given all the content to choose from in my book. Of course the funeral home story came up first. Guess you never know what God might do with any given experience.

Question: Did you ever get lost anywhere as a child? Did you ever forget a kid anywhere?

 Clay Morgan (@UndeadClay) is a writer, teacher, and speaker from Pittsburgh, PA who blogs about pop culture, history, and the meaning of life at ClayWrites.com. He is the author of Undead: Revived, Resuscitated, and Reborn about zombies, God, and what it means to be truly alive.

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  1. theromanticvineyard says:

    Oh my – this is an experience where nightmares are born. The poor thing! Yes, I have been left before. And I’ve been a lost 6 year old – in the streets of Dallas with only my 12 year old cousin to help find our way home. He wouldn’t let me sit to rest. Finally, a policeman found us and took us home to safety. Great post, and I must read this book.

  2. I have so many thoughts here…
    1. Next time don’t be so quiet… they thought you belonged there (since quiet is not your normal self).
    2. Presuming this was a Christian funeral home, they knew you’d be fed, since there always seems to be food at those locations.
    OK, you can see where this is going…not to the funeral home, but the toilet.
    The good thing- is that you still recall the story with humor!

  3. I don’t remember this event, but I was told that I, as a toddler, wandered from our home near Lake Erie, and was found near the cliffs overlooking the shore. I’m sure my parents nearly had heart attacks.

    A little later on, a beloved neighbor–the “can man,” because he had a shoot under his kitchen sink which deposited beer cans in a barrel his garage–passed away. My parents took me to the funeral. I was four, or five. They encouraged me to touch his corpse. I did, and duly reported back that it “feels like a mannequin.”

    As a teen, my dad bought me Stephen Kings’s IT for Christmas one year. Being that I was 17, or 18, at the time, I got my own bed. In the basement of my dad’s house (my brother and I visited twice a year). I was up late reading on that cold Colorado winter night. I don’t recall being particularly afraid.

    Then the bulb, dangling as it was from the unfinished ceiling, burnt out. I lay back, immobilized by a sudden paralysis. Inky darkness floated all around me.

    Sleep was a long time coming.

  4. Nancy Rose Schilli says:

    Interesting what things go thru our minds as children and the impact on your life. Great story. I was more of a wanderer as a child and my parents had to find me. My brother got left behind once but he was playing with children and figured my parents would come back.

  5. For such an awful situation, I shouldn’t be laughing… what a great storyteller!

  6. Amy Putkonen says:

    My mom left us in a mall once. We only lived a few blocks away, but it was pretty scary that she just left. She said she couldn’t find us (we HAD wandered off) and so she just went home. Knowing her over the years, most likely SHE wandered off! lol…) We weren’t super scared, but it was kinda disturbing.

    The second story was when I was still crawling. We lived on a busy highway and some kids found me crawling down the sidewalk by the highway and just happened to recognize me and took me home. My mom nearly had a heart attack.

    Funny how our stories make up who we’ve become, isn’t it? We can also let them go and live beyond them.

  7. your link is broken to “look inside.” I’d like to look inside!

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