My mother-in-law’s twin sister passed away peacefully last night. We knew it was coming since the massive stroke she had 5 days ago. I told myself well “she will be in a better place; she’s not suffering anymore, yada, yada. Well you know what? It’s not OK; it sucks big hairy donkey balls.
For while I had 3 mothers – a mother and twin mother-in-laws. How lucky can a person be? So I was in denial thinking it would be better when she passed, but it’s not. I guess the denial helped me deal with the waiting. You can’t hide from grief. You can tell yourself all the things you hear people about the loss of a loved one but it doesn’t help. Nothing helps. Grief is just something you have to pass through and come out the other side. Like birth or death, it’s not something you can avoid or talk your way out of it.
It kind of helps a tiny bit to think of her in funny moments. Like the times she would sit there in the kitchen with her sister in the morning, drinking coffee wearing a mu mu and a hairnet or curlers. It’s funny to think of her favorite thing to say when someone annoyed her. She would bark “why don’t you just go shit in your hat.” I don’t wear hats, but I still think that’s funny.
At our wedding I was so used to her and my mother-in-law looking exactly alike that I forgot to inform my family that she had an identical twin. My aunt came up to me and asked “why does your mother-in-law keep changing her dress?” Now that’s funny.
So we all have to walk this road and deal with our grief as best we can. It’s a process and it just takes time.
Reading a blog I follow started my day off with a good chuckle. That’s the best way to start a day, in my opinion. The post was I’ll Drive The Getaway, You Bring The Glue. It was a quickie with a good laugh at the end. What could be better on a roasting hot Texas morning?
But it got me thinking about death, dying and humor. Approaching the whole thing with humor is better that the alternatives, fear, trembling, screaming, hysteria, etc. I know I will cross that thresh hold someday. Better to laugh about it than fear it everyday until that fateful day. It’s a waste of brain function and adrenalin better used for other things.
Gallagher’s post reminded me of a joke I heard. Don’t remember where or who to attribute it to..so hear goes. “When I die, I want to go peacefully in my sleep….not screaming in terror like the passengers in my car!” I snort every time I think about this, and of course hope that if I go in my sleep that I’m in bed or on the sofa, not driving a carload of friends. I’m perfectly OK with going it alone. This is one journey that I don’t want to take anyone with me. Unless of course, they are the cause of my demise. Then they are welcome to join me.***evil grin***
But on a semi-serious note. It is a kindness to loved ones to express your final wishes. Especially when it comes down what to do with your remains. Don’t make grieving people decide. Never did get my grandmother to tell me what she wanted done, where she wanted to be buried or anything relevant to her impending death. As a result she’s in a container from the crematorium wrapped in a blue velvet bag on the top shelf of the amoire in my office. Mother gets a kick out of it. She says it looks just like the bag Crown Royal bourbon comes in. I agree with her and Grandmommie would be spinning in her grave, if she had one. But she doesn’t and it’s because she wouldn’t tell me what she wanted, dammit!
I am reasonably sure I want to be cremated with one condition. I must be dead first! Then I want to be in a pretty cloisonne urn with pink roses on it. The jar can reside on the mantel, shrine or other place of honor for a limited time or until someone gets tired of dusting it. Then send it to where ever it is that one sends funeral urns for the rest of eternity.
Well, another musician has gone to Rock n Roll heaven. It’s a crying shame, in my opinion. I know many have voiced sentiments to the tune of “so what if another rich, spoiled brat celebrity overdoses?” The fact that anyone dies from a drug overdose is a big deal.
Ladies and gentlemen, addiction sucks the big one! I’m not going to get into an argument of whether addiction is a disease, a moral weakness, or indication of possession by demons. No one really knows the answer. When someone dies from drug abuse it is a tragic death, regardless.
Amy Winehouse is dead. She was a human being, with a huge monkey on her back. As a celebrity she could pretty much do or get whatever she wanted or thought she needed, with little or no reality check. She took advantage of this and paid the ultimate price.
To me drug addiction is a curse. There are several with this curse in my own family. I’ve watched them struggle with it for decades. None of them have died from it…yet. There are times when I tried to talk myself into detaching to protect myself from the pain. But that doesn’t work.
I lived in New Orleans for over 20 years. For much of that time I worked the night scene. Almost everyone I knew from back in the day is dead now. All directly or indirectly from drug related violence. I visited friends dying in a hospice from Aids caught from by sharing needles. Went to a funeral of a beautiful woman, with a heart of gold, shot in the head on the stairs of her apartment building by a dealer. My brother in the neurology ward of a hospital with possible permanent brain damage from taking a fall while drunk out his mind. My mother transforming from an intelligent, articulate conversationalist to a slurring, cursing sot on a regular basis. My beautiful daughter lost in her own personal nightmare of drug addiction and all that accompanies it.
It’s a miracle I lived through all of this myself just from wandering around the French Quarter at night while all this craziness went down. But, most people who die from drug or alcohol abuse don’t go out in a blaze of gunfire or a quick overdose. They spend decades spiraling downwards into degradation, poverty, and a slow death. For the people who love them and watch this, it is a slow torture that is beyond my capacity to put into words. But I’m giving it my best shot today.
Miss Winehouse, rest in peace. I shed a tear for you today and for all those fighting addiction and the family and friends who love them.
Sounds morbid, but true. In my humble opinion. Being detached from my clothes this last week has me thinking about attachments in general. (clothes are all under a tarp, while Grandson is painting.) Contemplating death is a variation of live each day like it’s your last. What bothers me is that no immediate answer comes to mind when I ask myself this question: What would I do if this was my last day on earth?
Should I do something on this last day? Or think something? Even thinking is doing something. Make peace with God? Just be? Who knows? I know I don’t know. And that’s all I know most of the time. Mr. Husband will probably raise his eyebrows on this one. Huh? She knows all, sees all, and has done all at least twice, according to her.
In comparing my life to lives of those I meet along the way, I have done a lot more than the average Jane. I’ve traveled a lot more than the average Jane also. It’s not with a sense of urgency that I do these things. But my outlook is that this is not a dress rehearsal, this is my life. The only life that I know with 100% certainty I have.
I’m one of those lucky people who had a profound experience at an early age. A “near death experience.” That’s the term for it these days. Wasn’t aware it had a label back then. At 17 I smashed out a windshield with my head in a car crash. I remember sitting there thinking “oh hmm, what is this?” My body slid from a sitting position to laying across the seat. I heard voices and people scrambling around, calling my name. “What is wrong with you people, it’s only a car” was my thought. An ambulance came. They put my body on a stretcher and tore down the highway. I’m thinking “la la la”. I was covered in blood. Yuck what a mess, but it wasn’t my problem.
When we got to the first hospital I stood on the sidelines, an observer. A doctor looked at my body and whispered to the ambulance driver “there’s nothing we can do for her here, she looks dead. This is just a clinic, we don’t have a morgue. Take her to” <name of another hospital>. I looked on with calm curiosity. Oh my, my skin was grey and my lips were blue. Not a good look.
A few minutes later at a another place, they rolled me into an emergency room. My sister was holding my baby on her hip crying, baby’s daddy was crying too. I was in such a peaceful place. I knew everything had always been fine, was fine now and would always be fine. I felt compassion for sister, baby, and daddy, but no strong unpleasant emotions of fear, or grief. My sentiment was that no matter what happened next it would be OK. But, I also had a strong feeling of a choice. I looked at my baby daughter and made the choice.
The next thing I know I’m on the gurney, confused, scared, wailing, thrashing around, in pain. They were wiping my face and it was ticking me off just like I was 2-year-old. I guess at this point they decided I wasn’t dead after all. Ha! Just try to slow me down, I dare ya!
No one ever said the slightest bit of anything about the dead part. Maybe they assumed I hadn’t heard. Diagnosis was a strong blow to the head, concussion, 2 sprained wrists, and neck injuries. The doctor cheerfully announced that I would have problems with whiplash in the future. He was right. I wore a neck collar for a while and found out what it’s like to not have the use of ones arms. I couldn’t brush my own teeth, hair, or potty without assistance. Bleh!
I recovered and went on with life. But that feeling of stepping back out of the fray never left me. Usually it’s in the background. But still every once in a while I get that blessed distinct feeling of the difference between the me that is interacting with others at a physical level and the “real” me who is observing and chuckling at all the silliness.
I have something that no one can take away. Maybe it’s that pearl of great price. Oooo… I love pearls.