Funeral singer: A Memoir of Falling in Love, Facing the Dark, and Finding the Light
Since childhood, Lauren longed for a transcendent kind of love, one that was so enduring, it would protect her from the ultimate disconnect of death. She often took comfort in an inner-knowing—derived in part from her religious upbringing, in part from her mother’s influence as a psychic, and in part from the steadiness of her grandmother—that everything is and will be fine. But then she went through a traumatic double loss that occurred within a few days of each other in her late 20s—an unexpected breakup and the death of her grandmother—which triggered an intense separation anxiety. She had years of experience singing at funerals and consoling friends, family, and strangers through major transitions, but could she help herself? She gets involved with an emotionally unavailable musician as her rebound. Then she meets Alan, a cinematographer, while working on a television show in Philadelphia as a stand-in.
Toward the end of their job, she learns he is the mysterious street poet whose work has been giving her flickers of hope. They become long-distance muses, posting their poetic aphorisms all over the world for each other. Once she finds enduring love with him, her anxieties heighten: How will she survive if she loses him? Will embracing a life with him force her to say goodbye to her former lives and selves? How will she accept her parents’ mortality? During her travels to several continents with Alan for his film and TV jobs, and at home in Los Angeles with him during the pandemic, she confronts many goodbyes in her life—past, present, and future. She explores the question: How do we reconcile our connections with the people we love (including the conflicting iterations of ourselves) with the eventuality that they somehow have to end, at least as we know them? Through Alan’s steadfastness and her own self-discovery, Lauren learns to love the contradictions in life, in Alan, and in herself. She decides it’s worth it to fall in love and that a well-lived life means embracing its fragility and uncertainty, especially its goodbyes.