St. Lucy’s Church in City Terrace for Jose’s funeral Mass. The strange yet pleasant incense smell hits me as I dipped my finger on the sponge soaked with holy water and make the sign of the cross. A few minutes later, the same balding priest enters to begin the procession of pall bearers, casket and family. As the priest says the prayers, few people respond, a sign that there are lots of non-Catholics or lapsed Catholics (or simply people who don’t know the prayers in Spanish) in the church. The Mass is simple and somber. There are few tears, I think most were shed the night before at the velorio.
Gabriel, Ralph and I decide to leave the church parking lot before the procession to Resurrection Cemetery in Monterey Park. I tell Ralph, I know how to get there. Mando and my madrina Bertha are buried there. We take the 10 east to the 710 south to the 60 east and exit Findlay. We make a left at Markland, where we saw a horse-drawn carriage just waiting. Soon, we arrive at Resurrection. I tell the guys, I think we should just drive around until we find somewhere that looks like it’s about to be the location for a burial. A few minutes later we find the right location. Ralph double checks the flower arrangements. He sees one with blue and yellow flowers dedicated to a beloved Bruin. We wait a while in the shade. Soon other friends arrive, they all ditched (or were ditched) by the procession.
The casket and procession arrives. The priest begins his prayer at the grave site. It’s short and sweet. The sun beats down on us and I tell Chonsy to grab the umbrella from my trunk after taking a cue from some of the other mourners. The priest says a short prayer and gives the final blessing. The guy from the mortuary tells the pall bearers to put their white gloves on the casket and then asks them to give flowers to everyone so they can place them on the casket as well. I get a blue rose. It’s lovely. When I say goodbye, I don’t know if I should say a prayer or tell Jose how much I’ll miss him. I just pray, it’s easier.
After this, an older woman begins a rosary. In between each misterio, we sing a verse of “Pescador de Hombres”. I love the song, but she doesn’t sing it as beautiful as my father and the choir back at St. John Vianney. I try to sing too, but I forget the words. It’s a good thing; without fail, the song makes me cry.
All the friends, fellow UCLA/MEChA alumni say goodbye to each other. We’re the only one’s still hanging around at Resurrection. The family already left to the reception and we’re still trying to figure out the next thing to do. Ralph, Gabriel, Jake, Chonsy and I make plans to go a Hawaiian restaurant Jake recommends.
Lunch at Shakas in Monterey Park. We barely beat the lunch crowd. The guys all have giant snow cones to go along with their loco mocos and teriyaki chicken. We discuss baseball, particularly the Seattle Mariners of the mid to late 1990s. I hold my own in the conversation. I think, we must look odd. We’re all dressed in black.
I got conned in to driving to the Kwik-E-Mart in Burbank. Ralph promised me a Squishee. On the way there, he suggests going to see a movie after the Kwik-E-Mart. Harry Potter? I ask hopefully. Ralph and Gabriel actually agree.
We arrive at the Burbank Kwik-E-Mart. The line is shorter than I expected, but we still have to wait a little while. It’s also not as hot as I expected, but it’s still hot. We take pictures with Comic Book Guy and Marge. Whoever thought that going to a gussied up Simpsons style 7-11 would be exciting? Ralph keeps his promise of buying me a slushee in a collectible pink Lisa cup. I buy a couple of bobbleheads and cookies shaped like Simpsons characters. Ralph buys a half-dozen donuts.
We head over to the AMC movie theater and arrive just in time to buy our tickets for the 3 p.m. Harry Potter showing.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is over. On the escalator down, the guys say they liked it and I clear up some of their questions. I go into an explanation of why I thought the book was much better than the movie, even if I did enjoy the movie. While looking for a place to get some water, the guys suggest grabbing a beer. I can’t argue and we end up at Elephant Bar’s happy hour across the street from the parking structure. I have a margarita. The guys have beer.
Gabriel offers to pay, he just got a promotion. I don’t mind at all. I’ve been driving him around all day. He should be paying for my drink. We leave the Elephant Bar, which has quickly gone from being busy to being downright hectic. Ralph guides us back to East L.A. without having to get on the crappy 5 freeway.
Back in City Terrace, we unwind at Ralph’s apartment. I’m hungry again. I finally grab one of the pink sprinkled donuts we bought at the Kwik-E-Mart. It’s good, but it’s a little too sweet. The Dodgers game is on TV, but Ralph doesn’t have cable. Boo. Gabriel leaves to head back to the Coachella Valley. I check my email for the first time that day and while doing so Ralph invites me to dinner in Van Nuys at Dr. Hogly Wogly’s Tyler, Texas Bar-B-Que.
Dinner at “the Hog” with David, his father and Ralph. David and Ralph do the ordering. Two orders of beef brisket, one order of beef ribs, and sides of bread and french fries. The food is good and so is the conversation.
Traffic on the 101 sucks, but at least I don’t have to drive this time. I tell Ralph that today, Friday July 13th, was an almost perfect day. Well, if we don’t consider the fact that it started with Jose’s funeral. You know, I tell him, the only reason you, me and Gabriel were away from work today was because of Jose’s funeral. This great day would have never happened if… well, you know. His death brought together a bunch of people who don’t see each other enough as we’re all scattered around California doing our own thing. Suddenly, the great day doesn’t feel so great anymore. I feel exhausted.