I have experienced death a lot in my life and it is not a huge deal to me. I know that sounds like a weird thing to say but it's true. The exception obviously being very tragic circumstances, but what I mean is death as it happens in life somewhat naturally. I come from big Eastern European families that came to this country and proceeded to have families of 12 or so children. Families of that size tend to make for generations of large extended families and I have been lucky enough to be a part of that. But conversely, when your family is huge, people are always getting old and dying just as other people are getting married and having babies. It's the cycle of life. The first funeral I ever went to was my Grandfather's, I was 7. I remember the dress I wore, a cream sweater dress with pink and green little flowers knit around the collar and cuffs. I remember seeing him in the coffin and not being freaked out, maybe because nobody else was, I don't really know. I remember people crying. I remember my Mom kissing his forehead and leaving a lipstick mark. All I could think was "oh no, that's going to be there forever, that's not good". That still makes me giggle. I remember riding in the limousine and wondering how much longer this was all going to take. Then after all the services we went back to my grandmother's house and it was like a holiday party only not so much for the adults. But it was a family gathering much like any other holiday or party would be. There was tons of food and my cousins and I ran around while the adults talked and visited. We were together and in togetherness there is comfort and solace even if just for those few hours.
To me the hard part of death comes after the funeral. Returning to life and normalcy without that person in it. Doing the things you did every day before but with the thought in the back of your mind that someone is forever missing from your world. That's when the grieving process really starts in my opinion. After the funeral.
I had to go to a funeral Friday for my brother-in-law, my ex-husbands brother. He was 38 last week when he suffered a brain aneurysm without any warning and in less than 24 hours the world lost a beautiful spirit. I had to take my children to their first funeral because their Father is ill equipped to cope with reality and just split... again. I have been so angry and disappointed in him... again. However, all I could really do was turn it into an opportunity to teach my kids about family obligation and what it is to be selfless even when you are in pain.
So I helped my Sister-In-Law with whatever I could to plan her brothers funeral. My kids and I made a meal and brought it to my Mother-in-law with some flowers. We looked at all of the old pictures she had pulled out and sat and listened to her talk about her son and how much she will miss him. Because that's just what you do. I took the day off work Friday and we joined the family for the visitation and services. Then we drove another couple of hours to Athens for a celebration of life with all of his closest friends. You see, Curtis was a musician among many other things. He was your basic hippie, deep thinker and artistic soul. There was live music, dancing, food, drinks, a bonfire and many, many happy stories about this man, his adventures and the countless lives he touched. We laughed and we cried off an on all day but it truly was a pretty amazing experience. He, possibly more than anyone I know, lived the life he truly wanted to live. He did all the things he wanted to do and balls to the wall at that. Something I would like to have a little more of in my life because fuck playing it safe, there are no guarantees. Death sucks but it's part of life. We won't ever see him again, he'll never get married or have kids, no one really even got to say goodbye. Shit, I mean he never even saw it coming most likely. Maybe that's a blessing, I don't know, but the missing him for everyone that loved him is really going to hurt for a very long time.
So....Live every day like it's your last and for God's sake don't waste time on anything that doesn't matter to you. Live your truth and a life less ordinary. RIP Curtis. God speed.