Many people find funerals as a time of reflection. One remembers the life of that person and how they changed your life or changed those people around you. Often people think about their own mortality. For me, it has brought up things that I have blocked out about Pete's funeral. It seems the more I remember about the day of his service, the more I remember other things about the days before. I have often thought to myself, "Why can't I remember those things?" Now that I am having these flashback moments, I wish I wasn't seeing them and feeling them again. However I do feel blessed not to have the same reaction. That whole feeling of "Why am I here, and How can this be happening?" Although, I do still have that disbelief feeling as I watch these memories replay in my mind of "how did I really stand there and not fall down?"
My mom's husband passed away on May 26th. His memorial service was held on May 31st. It was a nice service. The music was beautiful and words that the minister spoke of, a life in reflection. I thought at the time that I was prepared for the funeral. Wrapping myself in a protective wall around my heart and soul as to not take on any one else's grief. Being the empathetic and sensitive being that I am, I have to prepare and protect, to remain in the present moment. So that I could be there to support my mom in her time of loss and heartache. I was doing a great job at first. I walked into the parlor of the church. I said hello to my sisters and gave my mom a hug. I gave my condolences to his side of the family. I smiled and nodded, trying to remain light and cheery. I was doing great until my eyes fell upon an 8 week old baby and my step faltered. My breath caught, my heart skipped a beat, and I remembered.... It was like falling down a hole similar to Alice in Wonderland.
All the sudden, there I was. Standing in a purple, white and black outfit resting my hands on my big belly. Standing next to a life size picture of Pete, and next to that life size photo, was a closed casket. Even now my heart races at this memory. I want to run away, as if I am not seeing it. Like in a scary part of a movie wishing to hit the fast forward button but I can't find the remote. I stood there smiling and shaking hands. My eyes empty. I would see people that I know I knew but I couldn't remember their names. I was standing next to a chair that everyone kept trying to get me to sit in. I couldn't understand why they wanted me to sit so badly. As if sitting was going to make it any easier. I would still be inside of that damn mortuary beside my husband who should have been alive! Why the hell would it matter if I sat down. I can see it so clear now. And yet I cant tell you who was there. I still sometimes will see people I haven't seen in a few years and they will mention being at his funeral and I will be like "You were there?" Where was I?
While all of these things passed through my mind in mere seconds, it felt like another life. I pulled in my heart, my thoughts, and did the best I could to slap that wall back up. That wall that now had a crack in it, right down the middle. I put on a smile and walked into the church with my sisters, family and close friends. I sat there and tried not to listen. Of course one knows what happens when you try hard not to do something. You listen and think anyway. Finally the service was over and back into the parlor to meet, greet, and thank. This time I stayed on one side of the parlor and tried not to wander over close to the adorable and yet tiny baby on the other side of the room. As if avoiding her was going to make it any better. The problem was, that it had nothing to do with the baby. It was me. It was my memories that I have been running from. Or blocking out and refusing to see. But really I don't think that's it either. I was not refusing to see them. I just wasn't strong enough to absorb them. I guess that says something. I am strong enough now to "see" them and feel them.
I came home after the service changed my clothes and hugged my kids. I talked to J about my experience and the tears that couldn't flow at the time of realization, now were falling freely. J held my hand as I talked about reliving my moments. The fear is still there, the sad, the despair, and some of that terrible creepy feeling I had. That I Would not stand too close to that casket. I mean I didn't even want to look at it. I remember thinking "Why, he is my husband. My whole world, my other half." I know why, I couldn't absorb it. I couldn't let the reality touch me. It was too much and I was trying my best to make it to term with this baby.
One of the major things I realized however, is that no matter when you remember or how far out you get from the Angelversary, those moments will always be hard. They will always be scary. Which surprises me and baffles me at the same time. I am happy now. The kids and I have come through an amazing, life altering and epic experience. My kids and I feel as if we are finally healing. Why the pain? Why be scared? For me I feel that I am figuring it out. Its scary for me because, I couldn't feel the scared at the time. I couldn't feel anything other than complete, utter, and total loss. He died and I did too. I was just a shell of a woman. I looked like Kathryn, but she wasn't there, Not. At. All. I was that song "When you're lost and alone and you're sinking like a stone, carry on, carry on" (Fun. "Carry on") It's because I can feel again, I can live again, I can laugh again, I can breathe, sing, and feel joy again. That's why. I can feel, so I can heal. I am in a place that is safe. My daughter can look at me and say "I miss Daddy" and I can say "I know Bug, I do too." But it doesn't break us the same way it did before. We can still miss him, but we don't have that same terrible gut wrenching moments of complete despair that we are all constantly feeling and thinking. I can hold her close and whisper in her ear, I know your Daddy would be so proud of you. These are things I never thought I would be able to say to her or to him without throwing up, from the fact that I had to say them at all. It's knowing that we can, heal, grow and learn to love, in all aspects of our life.
These two funerals I have been to, they were a month a part. They have brought up many emotions, and memories that I thought they wouldn't. I should know better to always expect the unexpected. And while these last few days I have been pushing out my thoughts and trying to push forward at a "gung ho" pace. It's in this moment that I can see what a blessing these were in disguise. I learned to feel new and old things. I learned that I could go to a funeral and not be a big panic mess. (which is what I always thought would happen) And I learned a new form of healing.
In every breath I will always think of Pete. With every smile and milestone my children make and reach I think of him. I see him in them, and I can smile. My heart still breaks when I think of a moment that he is not physically here to see it. I still long to touch his face, hold his hand, or rub his goatee. However I am so blessed to have loved him and unfortunately to have lost him. I know though that in every breath I take from this moment on, I am healing. A,P, and CL, are healing. With every memory that is brought forward, with every tear that drops from our eyes, and with every time we open our hearts a little more we accept love. Love from a man who once was, Love from a man who is now, combined with the four of us into one. We will reflect, live, and heal.