Thursday, September 3, 2009

This is a good home...

Funeral is tomorrow. 11AM.

Death is something I have not been exposed to much. Yes, all of my grandparents are dead.

Grandfather, mother's side, lung cancer and liver failure due to a life of excess.
Grandfather, father's side, multiple strokes and diabetes.
Grandmother, mother's side, mental deterioration until the body broke down.
Grandmother, father's side, Emphysema.

I was... 5 years old, fourteen years old, twenty years old, twenty four years old.

Spaced out deaths.

Family friends have died, yes. Some of them that I have known my entire life.

And I am unfazed.

I am the nominated eulogy reader. I am the one who does not cry at funerals, even when everyone around me is breaking down. My mother lets people know that if they cannot complete what they have written about the deceased, I will be perfectly able to get through it.

I stand at the podium, at the altar, wherever we are conducting the service, and read aloud the words of others.

I wonder if I don't realize the immensity of it.

Or if I'm blocking it out, like I have trained myself to do with so many other emotions. It's a lifetime of training, that pushing away.

The pain hits you, you nod at it, and shove it into a closet until you have time to examine it and lick your wounds.

My aunt... I am more concerned about those around us, those she left behind, than her death. Her funeral, the arrangements, the constant phone calls, watching my mother navigate the house, phone pressed to her ear, address book nearby, calling, calling, calling. Notifications, details, logistics.

I feel nothing for the loss.

I ache for my father, I ache that I cannot stop this pain, that I cannot take this blow for him. My skull pounds in the frustration of knowing one is impotent.

The best I can directly do is touch, hug, and make phone calls.

The best I can indirectly do is shadow my mother, make sure she is taken care of, make sure that she is not upset, make sure that she is not stressed and overwhelmed.

By knowing that I do this, my father is able to retreat in his grief and focus on himself, not worrying about his wife.

It seems like such a small thing to do, but it is all I can.

When he called me, the next day, I was at work. From his tone, I stepped out of the office. When he asked me to sit down, I did so on the edge of the nearby wall. I thought something horrible had happened, something that would make me collapse. Worry about my mother choking me.

And then he said that his sister had killed herself.

Such relief.

How sad, how true.

I was relieved.

He talked to me, told me about his guilt in not calling me right away, told me his guilt in wishing he didn't feel like he had to tell me, that he was going to ruin my weekend with this knowledge.

He talked. I listened.

He talked about how upset he was, in the brief words that he uses, barest acknowledgements of suffering, but for him that is merely a sign of how incredibly broken he was inside.

He told me how my mother and sister had freaked out. How upset they were. That they're unable to control their emotions, he says, like we are. That we put our heads down and go.

That's one of the only times he's truly admitted how alike we are in more than our work ethic or driving skills. That inside, we are too much alike.

I don't know how to comfort without touch.

I don't know what to say or what to do.

Death is... foreign. I've never mourned due to death, so to try to relate to someone who is experiencing that loss, to know the social patterns I must engage in... it's a blank wall.

I crawl around it, looking for clues, but I do not know what to do with someone mired in grief.

I kept quiet and listened, then planned my workload so I could leave the office early and be there for my mother.

That's all I can do.

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