So the kids get done with school, we pack their bags so they can go up and spend the summer with the first wife, hubby is healing and on his way back to work.... and just as I'm getting settled in to get this house in order again I get one phone call after another giving me bad news after bad news. I'm wondering when it's going to stop. Deaths happen in threes, it seems.
Last week my grandfather died at the age of 82. I just went to his funeral today. Military honors and all. It was sweltering hot, everyone was sweating through their clothes and I have to say that we were (all 150 of us) holding up quite well until the Taps was played. Then we discovered there was a severe shortage of tissues. My twelve year old niece was sitting on my mother's lap and when the three shots were fired she screamed and had to be taken to the car. She and Grandpa were close and she was just plain devastated and traumatized by the whole thing.
My nephew(by marriage) was killed in a hit-and-run this past Saturday. That funeral will be this Friday. My poor brother-in-law drank himself silly the day after it happened. Mother and I took food over and sat with him and my sister. He started yammering on and on about killing the guy who killed his son and then sobbing about how wrong he was so say such things. All I can say at this point is that our whole family has gone slightly psycho this past week.
THEN tonight, only hours after getting home from my grandfather's funeral Mom calls me and tells me that a longtime friend of ours died on Monday. He was living with family in Joplin, Missouri when the tornadoes broke out. He had cirrhosis in his liver among other things. He'd been bed bound for a while. Well when the tornadoes hit, he jumped out of bed to try and get a bag together and get to a shelter. He never made it. He fell to the floor in his bedroom and went into multiple system failure, dying two days later in the hospital.
This past week has been filled with nothing but death. I hope these are the last funerals I have to attend for a while.
Any followers of this blog who've read my posts on grief know already that I believe that the 'grief' of a loved one's passing from this material world is ultimately a selfish expression. And a subconsciously jealous one. Sadness they're gone from us(if we allow it to) tends to spiral into a selfish circular logic which is all about what the survivor has 'lost' and not what the recently deceased has gained. An aunt of mine said it best today, "I'll see Daddy soon and I guess I'm just jealous, really." She gave a silly laugh and smile afterward and we shared a knowing look with one another. No one else at the table got it. They looked at her slightly horrified.
I had a wonderful experience just before Mom originally called me to tell me about Grandpa's death. She woke me up from a sound sleep with her call and only a short time earlier I remember dreaming that Grandpa and I were talking. It was almost like a phone conversation but ... closer. I can't tell who initiated the 'call' but he asked me some sensitive questions; things I don't think I could have had the nerve to explain in person. He hugged me and told me that he understood everything and why I made the decisions I did and that he loves me. And, "everything is ok." More questions were asked but- it was easier and more efficient that he just take the information he wanted and then he said good-bye. I felt like he pillaged parts of my soul with that last bit but it wasn't intrusive in a bad way. Just... efficient.
I told Mom about the dream and she said she was so thankful that grandpa and I got a chance to talk. I was so sick during Easter this year that I didn't get to see him during that last holiday get-together. We made our peace with one another. I was still pretty numb that day but you know what? I had my one cry-fest and then I was done with it. I remembered what grandpa said to me and just like that- my sadness was gone. It evaporated like morning dew on grass when the sun comes up hot and bright. I felt his presence for a day or so and then he was gone, at peace at last, lying beside his wife who he'd been missing for more than twenty-six years.
From the Nag Hammadi scrolls in the Manichaean literature section, I'd like to dedicate these verses to all our loved ones:
Come, spirit. Death has fallen, and sickness fled away.
Let there be no desire for the house of affliction,
which is wholly destruction and anguishing death.
You were cast out from your native abode. You suffered in hell.
Come nearer in gladness. Don't turn back
to regard the shape of the bodies. See, they return
through every rebirth, and through every agony
and every choking prison where they burn and sigh.
Come nearer. Don't be fond of perishing beauty
in any of its forms. It withers
and fades like a broken rose that dries in the sun,
its grace destroyed.
Princes and dead souls lie shackled in the tomb
where all is blackness.
My soul is saved.
I am dressed in light.