Well, we did it. We got through it. Yesterday were all the services, cemetery, and luncheon that had been battles and tension. In the morning, everyone at my house got ready for it with a veneer of lightness and an undercurrent of forboding. This was the final thing; this was the reality of saying goodbye forever.
I pictured it like all the funerals I’ve been to. My family and I would line up, my stepfather sitting down, and we would greet the people as they walked by. Instead, the looseness of standing wherever, seeing family members come in and going up to them stayed on during the public viewing. I’d be in one room and hear my name and dash off somewhere else to hug people, to be surprised at who came, and to take them around to pictures and the dolls that looked so much like my mom as a little girl. The room was filled with laughs, tears, hugs, and tight grips. Kids too tiny to understand peeked in with parents, and others stayed to play on a back porch. It was loud — for a funeral, not the wall shaking volume that a family dinner can be — with boisterous energy, no matter what the emotion.
It was completely us. It was completely Mom.
Her pastor gave a wonderful talk in his eulogy. He described exactly who she was, and like the rest of the day, it had smiles, laughs, sad shakes of the head, and tears. We had asked to speak ourselves, but in his own grief, he forgot. Not a problem; I will type up what I was going to say and post it here as my goodbye.
And like our family, there was miscommunication — who’s getting the pictures back to the house, did anyone tell Ralph? — and tension — their family does some things differently, leave them alone! Mom loved us all; don’t disrespect her on this day by causing problems or spitting venom.
I blew up at people once, we had some gritted teeth at a moment, but on the whole, we gave Mom the absolutely right goodbye.
At the end of the funeral service, leaving for the cemetery, I had a hard time getting some people to go. (The cemetery was the same way.) A couple people were manic in their depression (we all grieve differently), and I respected that, but we needed to go. Eventually, they left, some kissing my mom’s forehead and holding her hand.
I don’t have a problem with that. On Sunday night, each time I left with a sister from my mom’s hospital room, I held her hand. I kissed her tenderly on the forehead and cheek. I told her I loved her and always would. Our talks on the phone or in person always started with me saying, “Hi, Lady!” And ended with “Love you.” and 2 kisses in the air. That night, I leaned over and wispered, “Bye, Lady” and kissed her twice.
But this is something else. Her hand no longer felt like her hand. I won’t be morbid, because people understand anyway. I’ve never touched someone in the casket for that reason; it would not feel like them anymore.
But I actually got wistful for people making that final touch. So I leaned down and, very gently, kissed her hair. I was alone with her. Her hair still had her same scent, the same smell from all the kisses I’ve given her there. It was soft and brushed my nose, and the control I kept around me all day broke. My voice choked on tears, I told her that I would miss her forever.