We laid my brother to rest this afternoon. There are issues surrounding death that we don’t think about when we’re younger, because you hand them to the older people in the family, and they handle it. For you. The details. I never realized until recently how much I truly didn’t know about the process. Things I am still finding out. And even more I have yet to find out.
When my family attended my Grandpa’s service in 2003, the Priest did not know him. Didn’t know who he was as a person. We all nudged each other when he stated, “Jesus was a carpenter”…relating it to Grampa also having been a carpenter in his younger life. We watched him reach for that, unplanned, as if he’d only just remembered. In front of all of us. And that was hard. Not feeling like his memory was represented properly. Even though we knew. And that did define him in a way. It just would have been nice. So, that was a major source of anxiety these past few days for me. That no one would really get to experience my brothers character. Or who he was. Because the Priest, again, did not know him. But…we knew him. And we were the only ones there. That was enough. So it was okay. It’s all okay.
The biggest difficulty, for me, is coming from the fact that we did not get to see him before the interment. It was a discussion he and I had last year when we realized these issues weren’t something we couldn’t not talk about forever between the two of us. So I did know that was his preference. I did know that. It’s probably going to be mine too. And passing nearly 3000 miles from home presented every last one of us with our own personal issues. I’m slowly making peace with it, or hope to, because at least this way, my memories can be what I choose them to be. Not just something in a box or a jar.
My heart hurt for my father most of all today. He wasn’t able to speak when it was his turn, which I didn’t expect, and I know that’s going to come back to him later on. Even if it takes a while. I’ve heard him, in the past, excuse his absense in these things by saying, “oh…they know how I feel about this kind of stuff…” as if, from somewhere, far off, they would see and understand why he didn’t participate. I’m still not sure if he believes what he’s always told himself. But I think everyone has their own ways. I’m still trying to figure out mine.
He wasn’t pleased with the placement. Again. He said he can’t visit a hole high in a wall. Nor was he pleased with the dirty utility ladder that the dirty grounds worker brought in for him to climb. Again. We did the best we could. We wanted him near my mom, whose placement he also hadn’t cared for. So it wasn’t new. But, it was still embarrasing, and hurtful and he was right when he said my brother deserved better. Even though it was nice apart from that, I think it’s natural to always feel there needed to be more. Something else. My dad has always said he hates cemeteries….”I only want to go there once”. I remember being horrified when he said that out loud at my great-grandmas service when I was a kid. But these days, I get it and can laugh about it like he does. Now, far past his agreed limit, the family discussion this week, and the main goal, will be him joining spaces with me. A prospect that gives me great joy. Even if he hasn’t exactly attached to it yet. Once he leaves there won’t be anyone near to keep watch on my brother or mom. No one to visit. Which worries him. Which brings up a new worry for me.
I realized that I don’t know much about the moving of remains. It feels silly even wondering as an adult if that is legal. Probable. Allowed. I just don’t know. So much. All I know is that I’m going to ask to receive both this week and hope for the best. I wasn’t asked at the time. And maybe I didn’t consider it before that because I hadn’t had to. But I will be finding out once all this has settled. Because part of me feels like I want the four of us to be at peace and I feel like it needs to be together. That maybe that’s when the quiet will come for my dad. At least that’s what I think and I’d like to give it a shot.
It is not easy to be far from family. Let alone, to be incapacitated that way when something happens. With your hands tied. From a distance. Without the knowledge or resources that you need so badly. I’ve always felt my mom’s illness and passing ended up serving a higher purpose in my life and for my children. And that is how I got through it with gratitude when I couldn’t have time to grieve. In this case, I can’t help but think there was supposed to be more time. But, strangely enough I also feel like the purpose still remains to be seen. And I will be looking for it. And I’ll be waiting. And that’s also okay.
I am not someone anyone wants to know in a time of tragedy. I am not a graceful griever. I know that now and I can’t apologize enough. I just can’t. I don’t know how to ask for help or time. I just get angry. And resentful. I withdraw. I forget my kids and what they need. My family. My friends. And I stop caring for myself. I stop being me. And I stop being me to the people I love. I forget to be grateful for them. And more importantly, to tell them. In time, I come around. But it’s my own fault that I end up there by myself when that time finally comes, wondering what the hell went wrong. My fault. And I see that. I just don’t know how to do it. I know how to talk about how I feel. And how to say the wrong things. Consistently. I know that now, too.
Whether we see grief coming, or we do not, it is never what we want. Or, God forbid, what we chose. But this will lead to other things we don’t want if we let it. And I do let it. I don’t try to…but I don’t try not to either. Because I don’t know what else to do. And I never have. But on that same hand, I have to find ways to keep going too. Me. Even though it may be small, I have a legacy to take care of in my kids. I don’t have any choice in that. I can only say, that mode has been all I could see for the past week. To keep going. Absolutely all I could see. Nothing else. And I didn’t even do that properly. And I’m sorry. I will be me again. I will keep showing up to my life even when I’m going to fail. I’m still learning. We are all still learning. It seems that is the only thing you can plan on.
I’ve stared at more walls in the past few weeks than I have admitted to anyone. But…The focus tonight will finally switch gears towards my dad. We’re fittingly having a full family party, and my plan is to bombard him with options, shoot down any arguments he thinks he has against moving, and keep him away from the beer. Or try. Aside from that, I got the jacket. And that was what I wanted most.