A week after the fact and I decided to post what I typed last Tuesday night after the visitation for my aunt.
(I got home around 10pm last Tuesday, took a hot bath and had a good weep, hopped into bed and started typing until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer)
Let me just say that I hope I never ever lose a loved one again (impossible, I know)… because I would be a wreck. I was a wreck last week and it was just my aunt. I can’t imagine having to bury anyone closer to me…my mother, father, brother, grandparents…
I guess I’m sharing this somewhat personal post to give you a glimpse into my Tuesday last week. It was rough and although I don’t want to relive it anytime soon, I want to remember what it was like. And I apologize in advance for my scattered thoughts.
Tonight was so hard.
It was the visitation.
I received more handshakes and hugs than I could count.
I saw people I had never met before, let alone even seen. Niki’s life reached out to so many people! There were people from her church, people from her children’s schools, neighbors, friends, people from the various businesses she participated in, people she scrapbooked with, the list goes on and on.
When someone would tear up giving their condolences, I would tear up too.
When friends (who I knew) of Niki’s would share stories, I would cry. One woman in particular was sobbing as she told a story and then I started crying, and then she gave me a huge hug. I’m such a baby when it comes to my emotions, and I knew once I started crying I wouldn’t be able to stop.
My feet and knees were sore from standing for hours. My eyes were tired. My mouth was tired of smiling and saying “Meredith” “a niece” and “22 years old” (LOTS of people asked how old I was…they were guessing 15 or so. Weird.)
Standing in front of her coffin was so surreal. But it definitely hit home with me that she’s gone… not coming back. Ever. No more Niki smiles or hugs or games or karaoke or stuffed mushrooms or talk about old movies or vacations or girl talk. No more.
Gosh, I’m falling apart just typing this.
And one of the saddest things? Seeing and hearing her husband, my uncle, thanking people, hugging people, and trying to keep from crying. I stood next to him and I would have been a pile of tears had it not been for the fact that I had to actually talk to the people in front of me in line. Just watching him react to friends and family broke my heart. My uncle put up a strong front , but I know he’s dying inside.
Oh, and another sad thing? My cousin Gabby running around playing with a friend, not knowing what her family was doing or why there were so many people there. Whenever she would run by me, I would stop her, give her a giant hug, and kiss her head. After a while, she would push away, but I wanted her to stay there, safe and unharmed in my arms. My motherly instincts have been in high gear lately.
After the line had dissipated (around 8:30pm), the family members who stayed the whole time, sat down. I couldn’t sit, knowing that if I gave myself a second of rest, a second to think, then I would break down. I walked around the room reading tags on flower arrangements, looking at the pictures of Niki and seeing so much of her in her youngest daughter. I was trying to keep the floods of tears from flowing out of my eyes. I couldn’t handle my emotions any longer in that funeral home and I wanted to leave.
Gabby came running in and grabbed my hand. She pulled me to the space in front of her mother’s coffin.
“My mommy is in there. I picked it out, isn’t it pretty? There’s a heart on the inside.”
Don’t those words just make you want to cry? A 6 year old helping pick out her mother’s pink coffin. There’s something not right about that, or the whole thing.
After dinner, when I was safely at home in my bathroom, I finally let all the tears out. Tears I had kept inside for days, not wanting to cry in front of my uncle or cousins…I had to be strong around them. Tears I had kept in at work, when I explained to my coworkers how my weekend had been. Newfound tears from the funeral home…seeing pictures of her as she used to be, seeing people coming to offer condolences, seeing that life had to go on without her.
She was so young – 38 – and it doesn’t seem right or fair for her to be gone.
I couldn’t stop crying.
Visitations are my least favorite thing about life and death. Why can’t people just stick a sympathy card in the mail, or stop by your house with cookies? Why have to go through the torture of standing for hours while people come up to you, crying, hugging you and offering words of love and support? Why had to try to put on a strong front when inside you are being eaten away by emotions?
Last Tuesday night (and the funeral Wednesday) took a toll on me emotionally, and I hope I don’t have to go through that again anytime soon.
Have you ever lost a loved one? How did you handle it?