It’s been a month and I’ll tell you what, there’s been even more going on than there was before. There’s been another death in the family, and it’s been difficult for everyone.
Let me start by saying that about 12 years ago, my Aunt Brenda died. She was 32 and died from an epileptic seizure. When she died she had three kids: the oldest, a boy, 11 years old, the middle child, a girl, I think she was 8, and the youngest, a white-blonde haired boy, was 2. My aunt was a single mother and only one of her children had a father that was involved, and had been a father to all of three of the kids, until they split. When she died, her daughter went to live with her father, and her two boys were placed with my grandmother. A year and a half later, the middle child’s father died-so she was placed with my mother. There was a custody battle between my mother and my young cousin’s grandparents from her father’s side-who lived a few states away. They eventually won the custody battle and she had to move. It was heart-breaking because we were all still dealing with the big changes in our family as a result of my aunt’s unexpected to death.
My grandmother was in her late 50’s or early 60’s when this all happened, and she took in the boys. The youngest one has just turned 14, and he has moved to live with his sister, who is turning 19 in December. My grandmother died a few days before his birthday in August. Thankfully he wasn’t home, but nonetheless, it’s still so astounding to us all. (She slipped and fell, and even though she was in her 70’s she was still full of energy.) We knew she was older, and we’d had talks with her about raising my cousin because she was, well, tired. Then a few weeks later, she died.
And it still does not seem real. I have seen my mother cry. I have seen her cry so many times in my life, and I have seen her hold back her tears, and deal with death-when I was little my “aunt” Wendy died in a car accident, shortly after her brother died of suicide-and I watched my mother grieve and pull it together. Her father died four years ago on the same day that her best friend died. I’ve seen my father’s face as he told me his mother was going to die soon, because of pancreatic cancer. I’ve seen his face at her funeral. I’ve seen him since then. He seems to be doing okay, because he deals with death and grief and feelings differently than most people I know. He watched my brother place my sister in law’s urn in the ground, and said that was when he finally broke down.
My mother lost her best friend-her daughter in law-and her mother in a span of 6 weeks. I have never seen my mother so worn out and emotionally exhausted from grief. She has always been able to pull it together. I don’t know if she really can now.
It’s been a few weeks and because my grandmother was found a few days after she died, she has to be cremated. But no one had anything saved back because well, we’re unprepared for two deaths in such a short time span. And so there hasn’t been a funeral. She hasn’t been cremated. It makes me angry, and hurts so much that she hasn’t had a proper funeral service. My cousin, who is like her son, never had a birthday party.
So I’m working more hours and have put off surgery for carpal tunnel on my right hand, along with taking a leave of absence from school, so I can help pay for my grandma’s funeral. She deserves to be remembered, and as a family, we all need closure. If we don’t, we won’t forgive ourselves, and the resentment will grow and cause more dysfunction in a family who basically defines the word.
I miss my book buddy, and I miss my grandma. My world has been tossed upside down twice this summer, and I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget the grief on so many faces.