Monday, December 12, 2011

One Big Weekend - Four Small Posts... Part 1

This weekend we were sad to lay to rest Mike's kindly Aunt Bonnie, with the apple cheeks and great skin and the most expressive eyebrows I have ever seen. She loved her family and books and all children. We have lots of children's books in our collection which she purchased and inscribed for our kids at every gift-giving occasion. She had wonderful taste.

Throughout the weekend, we gathered with the extended family at the funeral home for the visitation, cried with the family at the funeral and shivered with the family at the burial. My schedule demanded that I go to the visitation at a time when I only had Ava with me. She was reluctant to go. I asked her if she'd ever been to a "viewing" before - I couldn't remember. She said she hadn't. I told her that there would be a line of Aunt Bonnie's children, siblings, mother and husband and that we would speak to them all. And at the end of the line, Bonnie's body would be in a casket, since some people would like to see her one last time before she is buried. ("And you can look, if you want, or not." "I won't!")

Ava watched the recieving line for awhile and asked, "So, all those people? They're saying they're sorry?"

"Yeah," I said. "They are probably saying things like, 'I'm sorry you've lost your mom,' or 'what a terrible shock.' But they are also saying, by being here, 'You are important to me. I'm here for you. You can count on my support in the bad times.'"

"Oh." I was proud that she was noticing and that she focused on the family and their loss instead of the fact that she didn't want to be there. And she was so GOOD at the social interaction with the adults. The only child at the funeral home at the time, all those inclined zeroed in on her to exclaim over her habit of growing, or who she favored in her face and build. Everyone she met, she hugged! Whoa, does she do comfort and grief great!

Everyone's loss experience is their own, but I often see them falling into two categories: Complete Shock by an unexpected death, or - like with my mother - Thank Goodness the Sickness is Over, which often comes with an extended illness. Aunt Bonnie had battled cancer twice, so I'm sure her family had spent time processing her mortality, but she actually died of a sudden, massive heart attack, which caught us all completely off guard.

Today, Uncle Carlyle's children all leave his home, returning to their own homes across the state. Uncle Carlyle, who looked down into the hole in the cemetary and said, "I love you, Sweetheart," before sprinkling his shovelful of dirt, is now going to have to figure out what The New Normal looks like in his life, where nothing is normal at all.

1 comment:

  1. oh you made me tear up with your uncle's comment.

    I love how you explained the proceedings at the funeral home to Ava.


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