Stones

Stones come in many shapes and sizes. Some might be the shape of a heart, so they say. I had a friend that collected “heart-shaped-stones”. To be honest, some had absolutely no shape, but she swore they looked like a heart.

Stones can be rare and expensive; some simply used to hold something up. Who hasn’t etched their name on one or two? Who hasn’t received a stone from a child as a token of a valuable find?

I remember my brother’s grave-stone being placed. His picture was on it. As a young girl, I wasn’t really sure what I was feeling. The “first” big loss in our family…how to handle it? My voice had been muffled already, so I didn’t dare put my two-cents in the matter. Besides, his wife was making all the decisions in a way that spoke louder than words.

Now, it was me, making decisions…fast, furious, with no time to think; with every part of my being desiring to be far, far away from this place. BUT, the burial needed to take place AND the proper “embellishments” had to be ordered. The “cash-register” ringing, ringing, ringing. Every little detail had a price. Goodness, how taxing to an already heinous journey. In the fog of it all, one makes the best decisions attempting to not listen to the sales-pitches and the playing of ones emotions.

Nobody told me that a flat stone would be open to tractor tracks and scrapes. Nobody told me that it would be covered in dirt and mud, more often than I can to think. Nobody told me that the passing of time would make it sink deeper and deeper. NOBODY told me that the sight of this would make my heart hurt, if it were possible, even more than it already hurt.

Somewhere along the way, I decided that Angie’s flat grave-stone had to change. My already taxed emotions just couldn’t handle digging it out, one more time. We looked into a different kind of stone. “Well, of course we can change it – AT A PRICE!” was the response.

Yesterday, her new above-ground-stone was placed! AND this one has a picture on it.

Things that I never thought would be part of my life, are. Things that I would have never thought would bother me, do. Things that I never thought would make it a little easier, exist.

Senseless

Is everything business? Is nothing sacred? That proverbial “used-sales-man” pitch. They sell you a Lamborghini while you drive off in a lemon. My stomach turns, I get angry, my heart aches even more.

Just a thought: Maybe, just maybe…NO SERIOUSLY…”sales-people” at funeral homes and cemeteries need to be better trained on how to handle grieving loved ones (material for another post).

The cemetery – when one is being taken on a “tour” to pick out the “best-spot” for your loved ones resting place (this is just wrong!), it almost seems like it’s a tour of a resort with lots of sales pitches. Gosh-darnit, I HATE IT! It was the day after my daughter took her last breath. All I remember is a buzzing sound in my head and just having to get this done…IT had to get done. Could it had been handled better? I think so!

The cemetery’s website showcases beautiful manicured grounds, while the reality is far, far from it. Was this Photoshop or taken somewhere else? Fake advertising!

I have been “assaulted” with sights that hurt me deeply! Tractor tracts so deep that I wondered if they did wheelies on my daughters site. A deep, deep hole as her site was sinking (which I reported and reported and was told it would be fixed. However, they took so long we ended up fixing it ourselves because I could not stand the site of this anymore). Flowers and decorations thrown away. And, yesterday, her stone was completely covered with mud and her decorations where cast aside.

Am I petty? Am I overly sensitive? I say NOT!

I’ve been so upset that I’ve thought of taking a shovel, digging her out and bringing her home. YES!!!!!!!! Kinda, like when you take your kid home cause that’s the only way to protect them. Yes, I sound like a lunatic! At times, I scare myself. But this is my reality. This is what I live with. I believe her remains don’t feel any of this BS, but this Momma’s whole being trembles at such horrific sights. The grave is horrid enough without all this muck!

Venting…Vomiting…BEING REAL…grrrrrrrrrrr!

A Year Plus

One year and six months…547 days…lots and lots of hours, minutes, seconds. Each second your absence is felt acutely, deeply. Life continues, even when I want it to…STOP! Your room is still the same. Your bed has the same sheets, unwashed, to preserve your essence. Remember Cam (a stuffed animal)? You held that thing, close to your face. Now, I hold it to my face. I miss YOU!

I saw some of your friends on Sunday, they miss you too. It was difficult to be around them, but it was good. Someone said to me, “We are glad you are here. We miss Angie so much. By you being here, we feel like we have a piece of her.” Angie, I hadn’t thought of that. You are missed by so many.

The holidays are coming. Goodness, how you loved the holidays. Not sure how it’s going to be, but hey, today is here. I’ll just do “today”. We will see about “tomorrow”.

I long to hold you, to hear you, to simply be with you. Time makes it feel like you are further and further away. Pictures and videos are just not cutting it. However, I am so thankful for technology, and that I have those videos with your voice and beautiful face. I view them often.

I LOVE YOU so very much and MISS YOU to no end ❤

Valuable Dirt

What draws me here? What do I expect to find? Is it that I am sorely aware that your shell is beneath this manicured lawn? No amount of decorations, beautiful though they are, can remove the agony of reality. Every bug, every worm a horrible reminder of ones end. From dust we came, to dust (dirt) we will return.

As the reel of my mind plays and replays those horrid images, which threaten to undo what little sanity remains, I have to purposefully make the choice to think and meditate on images of heaven – you are whole, complete, full of joy! There is no other way for this Momma’s heart to find comfort and solace.

Almost a year and a half of your departure, AND it still feels surreal. I’m learning to accept that this “feeling” will be part of me until the day I take that same journey and we are united again. Oh, how that day drags on…endlessly painful…my eyes blurred to the horizon.

Do you think of me? Do you miss me? Of course NOT, that would be torture! I know…I live it! No, this isn’t living…I’m barely enduring it!

Death, the ultimate separation. The gut wrenching reality we will all have to face. No one escapes it!

“Grief has a way of lodging itself in the body…There is a substance to sorrow, a gritty reality and physicality that, if left untended, has the power to choke out one’s hope.” ~ Annie Parsons

The Unexpected

The quadruple bypass had been a total success. The family began to let their shoulders down and breath a little easier, until…that first meal! Those infamous cornflakes – tasty clusters of flakes, yet deadly to a paralyzed, empty stomach. The first spoonful hit the stomach producing nausea, stomach cramps and pain, making the stomach bloat with extreme speed. The symptoms had now become agonizing with no sign of relief. Rushed to the OR! Doctors in desperate search of what had caused this drastic turn of events, and trying to figure out how and why this was happening while he was slowly making a positive recovery from his heart surgery.

The family lingers in the room waiting for an update. The nurse comes in and says, “He’s losing a lot of blood. Are any of you able to give blood for him?” We are willing. After some tests, it turns out only two of his kids are a match. One has been using so he’s out. The youngest of them all is taken to the room where she’ll sit as the precious life giving liquid flows out of her veins.

Waiting and more waiting. Finally, a doctor approaches. “We did all we could…” Words that you hope would only be said in movies, but no, this is real. Before any emotion can be shown, the doctor whispers to the widow, “If you want to take him now without waiting, we are going to have to wheel him out as if he is still alive. Otherwise, you might not get him for days, or even months due to all the red tape.” She, “strong-as-nails”, her norm, says, “I’m taking him now!”

The family is then asked to “stuff all their feelings and emotions” and act as if nothing has happened.

The gurney in front, the family behind…as if…all is good.

The body is delivered to the family home, and is customary in that culture, they will dress and prepare him for the all night wake.

Two of his five sons and his two daughters enter “that room”. He is wrapped in sheets. They approach and start unwrapping…GASP!!! UGH!!! The sight, the smells, the liquids! “How? why? Could they have closed him up? Can someone else do this? This can’t be happening!”

One white shirt after another, stained…useless. “We” aren’t equipped for this?” “This should be done by a funeral home.” Nope, this is us and this is how we roll…yeah…swallow that!

Somehow, he is prepped and ready for the all night wake and viewing of the tons of mourners that will come and pay their respects. Rosaries, prayers, coffee, chatter. Tomorrow, he will be carried through the streets of his village, ending at the cemetery with the proper burial. Then the people will scatter, life will continue as usual…

BUT those four “kids” will live with those images of their Dad. Neither will talk to each other about it; neither will talk about it to anyone…because that just how this family rolls.

The Unforgettable Crate

It was a crisp December day. The beehive buzz around the village was thick. One of their own would be arriving today. Not with the usual fanfare, however, this arrival was one robed with the blackness of grief and sorrow. The house had been readied for the owners arrival. This time, however, the bedding was not washed and pressed because it’s owner would not be sleeping in her bed. The front room was set up with the customary stands and candles to hold the all night wake.

The unmarked van turns the corner.  Could that be? People straighten up and stand, a sign of honor and respect. The youngest daughter waiting to sign the paperwork indicating she had received the “cargo”.

The van parks to the side of the road. Back door opens. What?! A wooden crate?!?!?!

The youngest daughter paralyzed at the sight. Nausea threatened to make her loose whatever she had managed to eat. “Nobody told me…! I just can’t…!” her thoughts shattered by the pounding of a hammer…P-O-P! P-O-P! P-O-P!

AND so it went…FOREVER…and ever! Each “pop” releasing a nail. Nail after nail that held this crate together, pounded…releasing each nail, and with each pound her heart sank deeper and deeper in pain and unbelief.

She stood paralyzed by feelings of sadness and anger. A slow rage boiling inside. “This is a human body, for God’s sake! She might be lifeless, but she still deserves honor and respect!”, thoughts screaming within.

Fulfilling her mother’s last dying wish came at a great price, both emotionally and financially. But here they were. It was what it was…no turning back!

Images that stay; that haunt; that you wish you could erase. And, so life continues…but you can never see a “crate” the same again.