He approached his grandfather's body with the same eagerness with which he removed his dead hamster from its cage the previous Spring. He had been to plenty of funerals for hamsters and turtles. This, however, was his first contact with a dead human being. It was hard for him to understand that his grandpa wasn't sleeping; that he wasn't going to dart awake and tell him inappropriate jokes that would upset the women present. Worse, however, than his grandpa's refusal to come alive with jocular animation was the odor that was emanating from him. At first, he couldn't place it. Whatever it was, it was awful. Truth be told, he was reluctant to investigate. However, his mother pushed him along towards the body. The closer he walked towards it, the more familiar the horrific scent became.
As he knelt before the body, he was overcome with the desire to vomit. And then it dawned on him what the mysterious odor was: it smelled identical to the jelly beans that had rendered him horribly ill the Christmas before last. He looked up at his mother kneeling next to him and realized that there was no escape. He had to stay put. He had to kneel before the great odorous flesh that was once his grandfather. What came next, however, he was not prepared for. His mother leaned over and kissed his grandpa on the forehead, and then gestured for him to do the same. He couldn't believe his eyes. He would more willingly kiss the anal glands of a skunk.
He started to get up without offering the salutary kiss to his grandfather's cold forehead. His mother, however, grabbed him by the shoulder and pushed him down. He was going to have to do it. He looked at his grandfather, looked at the rosary that was draped around his pale hands, then looked upward at the cross where the body of Jesus was crucified. Suddenly, it dawned on him that all people would one day smell of revolting jelly beans and that the Lord Himself had borne the horrifying scent of them.
He began to gag. He could not tolerate this newly discovered truth. He hated those jelly beans. He wished they had never been. Or at least that he would've given them to his sister and made her eat them. This, however, was only wishful thinking and would get him nowhere. His mother looked down at him with disapproval. He closed his eyes, whispered a small prayer, and finally mustered the courage to kiss his grandfather on the forehead.
To his amazement, he was still alive. He made it through. His mother took hold of his hand and walked him to their seats. A deacon, who was sitting in the back row, got up to preach. It was a sermon about the resurrection of the dead. He struggled to understand why the deacon was so elated about such a horrifying spectacle. The dead across the earth rising from their graves and reeking of jelly beans was too much for him. He wanted to protest: to declare that the whole church had lost its mind in believing such things and that the world was a cruel, acrid place that should never have been created.
However, as he sat there, with his mother’s hand in his own, he was reminded of an Autumn afternoon late last year. It was raining outside and a cool breeze was drifting through the window. He sat under a quilt on his grandfather’s lap as his grandfather whispered jokes into his ear and his mother looked on in disapproval. There was one joke in particular that he loved hearing his grandpa tell. He thought of it now as the deacon went to take his seat. Despite the smell, he laughed.