***Please read this page: My Disclaimer before reading this entry. ***
< Wednesday >
The drive wore on and sleep started to cloud my eyes. I don’t like to drive in the dark, daylight is what I’m used to. The thought of falling asleep kept nagging at me as I glanced in the mirror at my sleeping daughter.
It wasn’t worth her life to get there right now.
Where to sleep? Rest area? Out here where there is no one? No way.
I have a fear of rest area sleeping, ever since that family was slaughtered at one. The image of someone killing my daughter plays through my mind.
The car won’t pull over.
I’m thinking of where to go… do I know anyone here, well, first off, where am I?
I look on the GPS. Then I remember my cousin. He lives close to here I think. I pull up Facebook on the phone; I can’t find his town listed.
I call my sister and ask her to call him and find out if I can crash on his couch. Lots of texting later, I have his new address and permission for use of his couch.
After 12 am, I arrive at his house. He’s happy to see me but to both of us it feels weird. I update him on my mom. He likes and loves her. He asks why I was gone the weekend, what did I do in NOLA?
I ask him, “You know how I grew up, right?” Although he’s younger than I am, he’s been to my old house. Not when I lived there, but recently to see my mom. He has a hint. He nods.
My daughter is too scared to sleep by herself, so I make room for her on the couch. At this point, after 2 full days of travel, I couldn’t care less if we slept on a couch or a floor. We are safe. We fall asleep until my arm goes numb and I make her move to the other couch.
Four hours later the alarm on the phone slices through the silent darkness. Time to leave.
And with no more than a whispered goodbye to my cousin, we head out.
Back on the road, my daughter and I chatter to each other about my cousin and the trip. We decide neither of us is hungry, we are just anxious to get to our destination, both sick of being locked up in the car. I realize I’m without coffee and figure it will have to wait, although every cell in my body says it wants some. The drives between gas stations are long here, so I give up. Gas station coffee won’t make me feel more human and there isn’t a Starbucks within miles (in the other direction).
The phone rings. My sister. Mom has died.
At this point, I knew I failed.
As if I were in a movie, I can hit the pause button here.
All along, I had a choice. I could have gotten ready faster, stopped less, drove faster, left sooner, and not stopped.
I think I did all that to avoid “the end”. Somewhere inside maybe, I stopped myself from being there?
Am I sad? No.
I have to say, when I started this trip, I didn’t honestly know how much time my mother had left. Since this ordeal began, I’ve been mislead more times than I can count. I can’t recognize the truth, I can’t see past lies. It’s all over the phone – except the one visit in March. I have that data to rely on.
I know people have fantasies of last minute death scenes from movies or books. I’d rush in and my mother and I would embrace and she’d tell me she loved me, and I her, and she’d say she was hanging on just for me. A light would appear from above and the sky would open welcoming her spirit like a white dove. In the background, harps would be in the arms of angels, and they’d gently stroke the strings and sing glory to God. I’d cry and you’d cry reading this and the beauty’d tragically haunt us all.
The only thing running through my head was my sister words from the day before: “Do you WANT to see her before she dies?”
Honestly, I said my goodbye to her in March. I never expected to see her alive again. I didn’t even expect or think about a “death” scene like the one above until much later in my trip. *more on this to come*
As we entered the small town I felt a weight lift off my shoulders and a new heavier one take its place. This town, the people here, they know me, but they don’t know me at all. They know me as some trouble making kid that lived in that trashy house down the road. They didn’t know I had a few dreams of my own that didn’t involve the hoardtastic house they saw on a daily basis.
As I pulled my car into the yard, I was unsure of what to expect. Family came outside to great us, the jumping dog causing my daughter to run inside. I didn’t even think to stop her and when I entered, I knew I should have.
There my mom lay. Dead.
Enter chaos. Hello friend, haven’t seen you in a bit. How have you been?
I could hit pause again here.
Deep in my gut, I felt the need to run home. To my home, 1000 miles away from here.
I’m going to skip forward a bit only because nothing said in that time really matters. The funeral men came to remove my mom and I felt bad that they had to enter a house the smelled of cat *stuff*. I helped move a chair so they could remove her body. He asked me if I’d like time alone with her, I told him no. He gave me a look, and I think he knew more about me than I’d first suspected.
“Your the one from XX aren’t you?”
Ah, so I have a reputation already? < I so wish I could raise my eyebrow and ask this question at the same time. But me doing that is kind of comical. Where is The Rock? > Instead, I just smiled and agreed.
My sister had a panic attack when the men removed my mom’s body. The “friend/old neighbor” my sister has been attached to on and off over the years was there. Maybe I’ll just call her Sue for this story.
So.. Sue is comforting my sister and my sister is acting like a five year old with her questions and I feel again like I should leave. I don’t belong here. I really want to add some order to the situation so I can find a place to take a shower.
I know this sounds harsh, but I came to terms with her death long ago. My sister is wailing about asking questions like, “Would you take me to shopping looking like this” and a few others. I know we all grieve differently, but really, these questions were not “right”.
Me + Drama = I want the heck out. Add in a childhood bully = Me + slit wrists (ok, I know that was in bad taste, but haven’t we all been there a time or two? Esp. us COH’ers)
I’m sleepy at this point and feel like ick. My mom’s dead, my daughter may or may not be traumatized, I’ve had ZERO coffee or food and now that I’ve been back in the Monster House, eating may never happen again.
I do what I can to move the process along. I grab the pictures my sister has picked out for the funeral home; we are going to meet the director there at 2 pm to make arrangements.
I get the kid and agree to meet my sister and her boyfriend at her house. By this time, my kid is starving and there are ZERO places to eat in this area. We have to drive to her house in the next town and there we stop at a gas station to eat some nasty fried food.
Sue shows up at my sister’s house. How she wormed an invite to the funeral home is beyond me. Maybe, I think in the back of my mind, she can take my place. She can be me during this process and I can slowly slip out the door and find the way back to my life.
During this time, my father is out wiring money to my brother so he can drive up. Can nobody function on their own in this world?
I drive my daughter and myself to the funeral home two towns over. The town I went to school in. Sue is there also. Sue likes to point out how she was ordered to be there, so I want to ask her to go ahead and leave.
I forgot to add, I dressed up to go to the funeral home. Therefore, Sue tells me she has to go home and change. I point out that I don’t have clean jeans to wear, I just came back from a trip and all my clothing is dirty. Please don’t feel you have to dress up.
I must add that I’m often dressed up or in heals because when I started my job at my current place of employment, I was told I had to dress up. I got used to it. And really, I look better *wink*. I’m cool with jeans and tee’s though. By this point though, you could see the tension in the air, and I knew it was a contest. Fine. Have at it.
The funeral director seems to be a nice man. Well dressed in a suit, but when I sit down at the table, I can’t help but wonder if that’s the same suit he wore into the Monster House that morning to remove my mother’s body. I wonder if he took a shower after being there, because some small part of my brain thinks, most normal people would want to.
At the funeral home, my sister did her crying thing; I just tried to get down to business. Give me facts and data and let’s plan this thing. I didn’t want to be emotional, I didn’t want to cry or to think of my lost dreams, relive my childhood in the hoard, think of all the times I’d begged my mom to try to change, try to live. I didn’t want to think of how preventable this whole saga was.
Also, this funeral was already supposed to have been planned. Months ago, over the phone, my sister said she knew everything my mother and father wanted and she would make sure it was done. She didn’t need my help. She knew ev-er-y-thing. She just asked me if she got all the inheritance money.
My mom wasn’t a religious person. She didn’t attend church; she cursed God at every given opportunity. Some day I’ll write about it.
I am religious. I am not ashamed. I love talking about religion, the Bible, and God. I love to explore it all. I love the unexplained; I love how it ties in with science and people. I love clouds too *wink*
My mom and I fought about God. Never about clouds.
Knowing all of this, I suggest a non-religious service, more a celebration of life if you would…. or just something to save money. Like the funeral my grandmother had, even though I thought it was dumb, it saved money.
My sister threw a fit. I said, “We’ll do whatever you want.” Really, if she wants someone to preach my mom into the Heaven she didn’t believe in, fine by me.
I guess I should point out that my mom was trying to find “some” way “somewhere” near the end. This really needs to be it’s own post, but I wanted to let the record reflect that she indeed did ask to be anointed, she asked for prayers, but then also asked for proof of God’s existence and for a Chaplin to “give her more time”.
Ok, I go with it. They are unsure of a pastor to do the service; I guess there are rules in the churches, etc… My mom wanted this woman to do it; I didn’t want to ask why she couldn’t do it since I wasn’t impressed with her (met her in March). Maybe the rules?
I’m not sure of these rules because I don’t belong to their denomination. Neither did my mom, so I silently chuckle at this. I’m probably offending everyone with my dark sense of humor, but really, this is how I roll. Sorry. This is why these thoughts were silent and not spoken.
It was pointed out to me by Sue that I didn’t know my family… I wasn’t from there anymore… I didn’t understand how many friends everyone had… blah blah blah.
I was so “over that”.
When it came time to pick out the urn (which was supposed to be done already I thought) my sister actually had a good idea. My mom had a “candle holder” which was really an urn. She loved it (as she did with everything she bought) so we’d use that. Finally, an idea that’s good!
Almost 4 grand later and a plan… we leave the funeral home.
My daughter, dad, and I go up the street and pick out a guest book at a store that seems ripped from time. Roll back time 20 years and a person would feel at home. My sister and sour-faced Sue go off together, and my sister’s boyfriend goes to pick up their kids.
I went back to my father’s house and told him I’d help with anything he wanted. We decided to do a bit of clean up on Thursday. A knock at the door sounded and it was a man to pick up the hospital bed. My dad was getting down to business. Get the stuff back to where it belonged. I understood.
The table they’d given my mother was covered in duct tape. My poor dad tried to get it off but couldn’t. The adhesive sticks well, but my sister said the nurse said she had stuff to get it off. Her bed also felt the full force of her duct tape romance.
After the equipment was taken care of, I went back to my sister’s house and took the kids to the park.
Later we went through pictures and I chatted to a very understanding person online. Without her… my week would have gotten to me more than it had already. She was a rock I didn’t know I needed, someone I could voice my frustrations to. My husband was working and I couldn’t call him much – and this probably saved him a lot of frustration.
He doesn’t like me being there.
Later as my body screamed at me to sleep, I couldn’t. Not because of stress or loss, but because I had no place to sleep. My sister’s kids decided they couldn’t sleep in their own rooms and took the couches. I slept on the end of the couch with my feet on a kitchen chair thinking, “I want out.”
I fell asleep to the sounds of buzzing mosquitoes.