Again, this weekend we said goodbye to a second family member in three months. While this is my spouse’s side of the family, Grandpa John was special. He had the best hugs and wore the cutest suspenders and a fedora hat everywhere he went. He died after a long illness and left behind his wife, our Mimi, children and many grandchildren.
His service was one of celebration and not mourning. I find that when there is a celebration, people can see many sides of that person one might have not known or seen before. Several displays of pictures and memorabilia was shared that reminded all who walked in and paid their respects of what a special person Grandpa John was.
As someone who has been too far too many of these, I can tell you that it will always be hard to walk into a funeral home and say goodbye to someone in your life. No matter how long you knew them or how much they were a part of your life. I find walking into a funeral still brings back too many sad memories of my mom’s, my grandmother’s and my daughter’s funerals. It’s like a flash back of some sort that knocks the wind out of you and sends you back to a dark place you try not to visit too often. I remember the first funeral after my daughters was my aunt Barb’s. She and I had just begun to get to know each other again after many years apart. I struggled to open the door of the funeral home and had to call someone to come out and help me. My cousin, my aunt’s daughter and my brother came out to walk me in and I sat down feeling as if I was going to suffocate with grief.
I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable in a funeral home again. Too much pain and grief has entered my life over the many years. I know as I get older there will be more and I just don’t know how I will handle it. Saying goodbye is the hardest – especially when you didn’t get a chance to hear their voice or say goodbye – a meaningful goodbye. Saying I love you or I will miss you in my life. Those goodbye’s might be tough but not getting a chance to say what you need to say – it stings. When I went to my mother’s bedside, I did not understand the gravity of the situation. I did not know I’d only have days left with her before she’d slip into a coma and die a few days later. There was so much left to say and do and it was stolen from me.
When my nanny passed, she couldn’t talk or see me, but I knew she heard me in the room. I missed hearing her voice and just devastated that again, I found myself saying goodbye to someone too soon and without having time to say and do things together. Brittany passing – was unexpected and quick. 12 hours from speaking and seeing her looking fine to seeing her die right before my eyes after 12 long hours in the PICU watching her slowly slip away with each code to resuscitate her. Again, left with many things unsaid and not completed. There was so much life yet to live. I loved her with all my heart and soul. She was ripped from my life in just hours.
What I’ve learned about saying goodbye is – it sucks. It isn’t fair.
What I’ve also learned is that in living with the fallout of losing so many people in my life – that God has a plan that I am not privy to. That one day I will know why they all had to go too soon. Why was their time cut short? My faith assures me that one day I will be reunited with my loved ones and that keeps me going every day.
Until next time