It has been about a week and a half since I learned another friend had died. I really did not make the connection to her father in our church congregation.
The news was a total shock, again. I opened the newspaper in the morning and there she was. “No… not Lisa.” Memories flooded my mind of a hip chick I recalled from Institute (part of Church Education Services) and church dances– someone who was a loyal friend and had concern for my first younger sister, who had taken a black sheep role in the family.
After missing three memorials/funerals of other friends and acquaintances, I vowed I would be present to hers… I had no excuses left when the viewing and funeral was at our own church meetinghouse, just a few blocks away. I stumbled out of bed and quickly dressed myself so I could make the last minutes of the viewing.
My wife insisted that she and the kids would come along because we needed to do some shopping for breakfast. She said she would drop me off, but I didn’t want to stay that long. I went in and found myself horribly underdressed– everyone was in their Sunday best, while all I could manage was cotton long shorts, a polo shirt, and my dress loafers.
I managed to pay my respects– her father, first, but he was emotionally guarded. Her stepmother (a respected dance instructor in our area) kindly mentioned my wife’s e-mail (Cimmy mentioned my connection to Lisa) and invited me to see the body. It was not a pleasant experience– a trip up from Salt Lake meant the smell of preserving chemicals was strong. It was not the Lisa I remembered– she looked bloated and old (she was only a year younger than Cimmy). I quickly made an excuse that I needed a drink of water (which was true; I was still dehydrated from just waking up).
Her stepmother and some young women I didn’t know blithely mentioned earlier her cause of death: three rounds of different cancers: breast, ovarian, colon. Hit me like a ton of bricks.
I decided after my stop at the drinking fountain that I would look at some pictures that did look like the Lisa I knew, but, they were at the entrance to the chapel and therefore the funeral. I didn’t feel comfortable lingering amongst people I didn’t know in clothes I felt were less than appropriate. So I sat in the foyer and wept, and wept, hoping no one would really notice a fat man who no one knew (or did not understand my reasons for coming) sobbing.
Someone I didn’t recognize led Cimmy to where I was sitting– I had forgotten she was still waiting in the car with the kids, so I spluttered something about squirrelly kids and that I couldn’t stay for the funeral.
Yesterday morning (I’d say today since I can’t sleep), I stumbled sore and in pain out of bed. After a hearty dinner I’d slept from about 22h to 01:23, and couldn’t sleep after that, especially after Boy got up. Cimmy then abruptly said Princess had a dental appointment, and I had to wait to sleep more until they got back, trying to keep Boy entertained and amused. He seemed pacified and still as long as I maintained physical contact and touch. (I will explain how it’s part of his autism, but meaningful to me later.)
Anyways, after another 4 hour stint of sleep, I was stumbling out of bed and trying hard to get dressed, as I knew I’d be late. Bless my PT office– they are incredibly flexible. But before I could put full clothing on, I found that my father had struck my daughter in a fit of frustration and anger. This was not the first incident of violence in recent years; I had vowed to call the police if it was repeated. I didn’t feel it appropriate this time (I respect our local city police although I have fairly little for Child Protective Services), but… I am conflicted.
The previous generation– half my grandparents and all of Cimmy’s grandparents– I could feel their concern as I laid on ice for stim therapy at the end of my physio session. I could feel their presence, although it has been varying lengths of time since their passing.
These traditions– they cannot continue. It has cracked my generation. Cimmy’s family has problems, but, they come together when the chips are down. They’ll do the family reunion thing (although I saw many strangers I did not know). My family… no. A cousin of mine has drifted apart, and only a day before my birthday did I learn it was because they had trouble accepting her black husband. The rest of the kids… *sigh* They have some petty differences. My dad’s older brother, their father… he married twice, and his eldest daughter from his previous marriage, she was the only one during my short stint on Facebook that would have kind words for me, much less anything to say to me at all. I regret not being able to know her better. I lament my aunt (Uncle D’s second wife, the only one I know) and my father being bitterly at odds, her… petty judgments, I guess, one resulting in some silent treatment towards my folks. Some… control issue, I think.
My dad’s younger brother and his wife, they dearly love Cimmy unconditionally, but we only kept in touch with the younger son, really. The older one drifted away. My aunt did a lot for me, and for Cimmy. But… they do isolate under stress. Thankfully, although my uncle has grown more and more quiet, they still love us dearly.
My first younger sister– we have not really spoken for 15 years. I am told she detaches to avoid entanglements with the problems of the rest of my family. Supposedly, she wishes the most to avoid entanglements with mine, so… she does not speak to me, while she will have passing contact with my other sisters and my parents.
My second younger sister lives in town. She happily accuses me of getting her into the gaming world, but, I left most of it behind to keep the peace. Our community has not fully outgrown its small town roots, and the social awkwardness that gamers tend to have (they share subcultures with hackers and certain writer’s circles that roleplay)… I found too many people with toxic behaviors, and I had to rid myself of them as they brought out the worst in me.
My baby sister, well, we share a birthday and we’re far enough apart age-wise and also location-wise things are going pretty good.
I have written of my father’s illness, and my mother’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s. I don’t want to rehash that too much, now.
Sloppy end… ’tis rambling now. The usual time-sensitive rules apply; this post will be password-locked after a certain (somewhat arbitrary, but most often week or two) amount of time. But maybe I won’t. ‘Tis all in the Journey now.
Till all are one.