Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Just an ordinary day

Friday is the one year anniversary of my Mother's death.  As you know from reading my post of April 30th, it was a hard day.  She died here in my dining room, void of it's furniture save only for the beige metal bed that raised and lowered her according to need. There was a small dim light beside her.  I had been holding her hand, exhausted in that very late and dark hour.  I had just let go and walked to the far, far end of the room to rest on the couch for a bit.  She was asleep and I needed a spot of that myself in order to return with proper attention.

I closed my eyes and then turned to check on her after what seemed like only a minute to see those last two breaths.  They came hard, not like the soft surrender that I had imagined.  They came almost violently and I was so shocked that I didn't immediately know what they were.  One of the hospice nurse's had said that sometimes holding the hand of someone who is passing may keep them lingering.  They really don't want to "let go"until they know that you have let go.  I think she needed me to let go.

She was finally buried last month on August 26th.  Her ashes had sat on a shelf in the place where they keep ashes that are not buried - there is a place for that - almost a year.  I had suggested several dates to the other three, I don't know why that was my job, but all had been rejected by the other three for various reasons.  August 30 was my last effort, her birthday.  Still various reasons, so the 26th was as near as we were going to get. You just can't fight every battle.

I accidentally locked her flowers and her poem and my Father's flowers in my car, he's buried on the other side of the cemetery.  I was distraught.  You can imagine.  She had waited a year and I wanted to let her know, properly, she had not been forgotten. I wanted to let him know as well that he had not been forgotten either and to take comfort in knowing that he also had been forgiven. I wanted a ceremony, a ritual of some sort.      There was no waiting. For various reasons the other three siblings  could not wait. They told me the drivers schedule could not wait, the gave diggers could not wait the professional carrier of ashes could not wait, I wanted to wait.  Wait for me, wait for her. My heart was in a grip that was squeezing the air out of me.  I needed her to know.

Was the locking out about her? Was the locking about a mourning family standing by, not standing by, the one who has brought ceremony?  I believe in the whole "there's a reason" thing.  It's walked into my life too many times to scoff.  I'm trying really hard to forgive.  To let go. My anger is only a burden to me, that's not trite.  And it's late in life, I need to lighten my load.  Maybe the locking out was for me, to practice, practice the peace making act of forgiveness.   I know her well enough to know that's what she would want me to do. At the end, for her, forgiveness and forgiving were all that was left to do and she was determined to finish well.  I was determined too - we did a good job, together.  Even so, had she been there, she would have chosen the schedules of others too, over the emotion of ceremony, the need for requiem  --  over my needs.  She was who she was. I struggle to learn from that. To learn to stand with the one who matters to me and not put others before her. I can't control the other three, I can barely control myself.  And I am no judge, although I struggle against that and so many other things.  I want to change that thinking for them - but it's not my place. God, how I want to change that thinking.

 I went with the three siblings, I hardly know them any more, and the driver who led us there with the important schedule, and the grave digger with the important schedule and the professional carrier of ashes with the important schedule.
The silence made a stillness that was pounding in my ears. I mourned the lack of flowers, the lack of words as much as I mourned her. It wasn't a conscience slight on the part of any of them, they meant no disrespect towards our Mother, it was just that it had been a year.  I'm a stubborn bitch, I am.  I stopped the grave digger, one moment could be afforded, and I reached to the mound and scattered my own handful.  I had to be a part of this, bitch that I am.  He struggled to get the well cut turf replaced to invisible, but finally had to remove it and take out a handful of dirt, one small handful.  Sometimes this human life is very hard.

When the unlocker got there - he was quick, bless his heart -- 15 minutes, such a short wait. He got that it was a cemetery - he got it. So I took my flowers to both, but not the poem.  The poem is still here and I will take it , with flowers to both on Friday, her anniversary.  What an odd word. Will every year be an anniversary?  I guess they last forever.  But this one will be a circle, finally completed, with requiem. I still need it.

 And then I will leave for a long drive, much needed, to visit my friend - S.  My dear, lifelong friend, S.  We will have laughter and cooking and Lemon Drops and walking and just plain old loving as only two lifelong friends can do.  And I will forget forgiving - even though I know there was no harm intended by these three that are so different from me, sisters and brothers go the way they each choose to go, but only the long standing habits of a suffering family.   I will forget for three days my ever present practice of forgiving because it is patient, it will wait for me.  Forgiving is in no rush.


  1. Please excuse the double posting. I have no idea how that happened.

  2. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I know. I feel the pain of love and loss. Of forgiveness and being forgiven. It is the stuff of life. And yes, it all had meaning. Especially the locking in part - especially that. The needing help - needing the "unlocker" to finish the job part, because otherwise it was just too hard. On Friday it will be only you and her. The poem will mean more in that context. I love this post. Thanks.

  3. Astonishing. Truly. I need to sit with this for a moment, because I feel like I just walked out of your world. I have no biological siblings, and it always fascinates me to watch those relationships unfold with others. I'm so glad you're going to visit your friend - you need some ease and lightness. What a year you have had. Thanks for writing!

  4. AFBB -- Forgiveness, it seems we begin it with our first breath and never stop until our last. The poem is that little one that starts..."Do not stand beside my grave and weep, I am not there" I can't remember who wrote it right now but it's beautiful. And life goes on...

    SJ -- Siblings are a whole other ball of wax, as they say. Even step siblings are probably a complexity aren't they? But I'm glad you don't have relationships that are as dysfunctional (I hate that word, maybe broken is better) as these.
    You know I'm looking forward to your next post....xo

  5. Stunning -- in the true sense of the word. I don't think I've ever read anything about "letting go of forgiving" and find it beautiful and compassionate and so original.

  6. Dearest E,

    I don't know how to say it, but when you read you do more than just read. It makes the writing valid.

  7. Such a beautiful and sad but hopeful post. Family is so hard to navigate let alone understand. I have a delicate relationship with one sibling and none with the other, and a super complicated one with my mom, and it is hard to understand how we got to this place. I guess by being our selves.

    I'm glad you managed to gather the siblings for your mom's burial, and sorry about the locked car, things not going as planned. I took much the same role as you with my father's service, I was always the planner and organizer, and it helped to keep me busy so I didn't have to deal with the loss. My siblings did not do anything according to my plan but I managed to let my frustration with them go that day, but maybe not my judgement. That's been the hardest for me to accept or change, that I am judgmental to the core. I don't think I'm good at forgiveness either, so I admire your dedication.

    My father's ashes are still in my mom's living room, eight years later. He would not have wanted that, but mom will not let them go, not until she is gone too. Then she want's a burial plot somewhere? so that someone? will know that she lived. She didn't say they, though, and I judged that too. Dad wanted his ashed scattered, and I told her if she wants them buried with her, fine, but I get some of his ashes to scatter in his favorite places too. It would be nice to have some closure for all of us, and to honor his wishes. The irony is that Dad's wishes were always whatever would make Mom happy, but she did not get the happy gene.

    Sorry to babble on, but your post struck some nerves, and I hope your visit with your friend and your reading of the poem ease your loss and raise your spirits a little. Walking and laughing are the best therapies.

  8. Gosh Mel, thank you so much for the thoughtful comment. Long comments are the very best. I love knowing how others feel in regards to my posts.

    Aren't families the most complicated things? We spend so many intimate years together enduring - well, at least experiencing the same things - and yet we often act like strangers. Strangers with no affinity to each other.

    It's a tough trip too in trying to navigate the wishes of parents - deceased or not. I have one friend who completely ignored her parents last wishes and she doesn't regret it at all. She feels they really were not in their right minds and made very poor decisions. We are all so very different!

    Good luck with your Mom. My trip to visit my friends had an unexpected outcome - maybe I'll post about that soon. I hope you keep your momentum for a while and post more. Your writing is always so honest...the best kind.

  9. Liv, I saw that you posted but when I came to read, nothing new was here. I guess it was being posted as I was looking for it so I am just seeing this now. Wow is my response to your words, the whole sibling thing sounds rather normal compared to the crap I experienced in my family. My Dad was cremated. I asked my older sister, the executor, for some ashes and she said no. Either they are scattered or she has them. I can relate to your frustration and am inspired by your decision to go back by yourself with your poem later. I love your words on forgiving. As Elizabeth said, they are original and calming and true as well. I hope you got comfort from visiting with your friend. Getting away sounded much needed. I'm glad I eventually saw this post and read your beautiful writing. You are in my heart and I send you lots of love. Jo

  10. Oh, Jo - how do we do it? I keep seeing that image of the blowup clown with the weight in the bottom, and each time you punch him it seems like he is going down...but then up again he pops.

    I can't believe your sister would do that with your Dad's ashes. How incredibly sad that must have been for you. I wish this kind of familial dysfunction was not yours to bear either. But we do get by with the help of our friends. Thank you, friend.

    Your friend, Liv