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A fine tribute

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Feb. 12th, 2006 | 01:27 pm
mood: reflective

Yesterday was long and tiring, as expected, but good and healing, as well, which was unexpected.

The funeral service was very nice. It didn't dwell on death, but celebrated life and celebrated what we can learn from someone's life. The initial reception for everyone was pleasant; the food went over well, Andrea's DVD (with songs and memories of mom's life) was fantastic, the flowers were beautiful and people seemed to enjoy themselves. I don't know that I spent enough time talking to enough people, and I hope I didn't miss anyone important, but on the other hand I certainly didn't get to eat or drink much there, and my throat today is sore from a great deal of talking.

And then, the reception I was dreading most, at the country club turned out to be really great. Many of us were tired by the time we got there, but it was family, so it was okay to get a drink and some hors d'oeuvres and sit in a corner and chatter on about life and things outside of mom and her death. And family, because you're all going through this together, doesn't come up to you and take your hand patronizingly and say "so. How are you?" or "And how's your father/brother?" in this deeply serious, regretful tone of voice. I realize that the people who ask these things are asking because they sincerely care and none of us quite knows how to deal with the death of a loved one, but I'm never sure how to answer those questions and where to go from that. Family (and close friends) know that you're hurting, and know that this is hard and know that life is never going to be the same, so you move away from that and you share your rememberances or the present or some mingling of both. And you can talk about things in real terms, terms of what you understand about what your life has been like lately, and how it's changed and all the rest, what perspective you do have, and what perspective you don't. Which is nice.

And after we'd all had plenty to eat and drink (and the hors d'oeuvres at the club were excellent), we sat together, crowded around two long tables in a small back room and remembered my mom. Everyone took turns telling stories, and talking about the things we remember about her -- her laughter, her passion, the way she put her whole heart into everything that she did... which is probably why she was so good at so many things. And her attitude that she really could do and be good at anything, which is the other part. There was a lot of laughter in the stories, which fit, because my mom was always laughing. And the family, bit by bit would fill in the missing pieces of one story or another, opening up each other's perspectives, and painting a beautiful picture of a life that touched so many people. I think my mom would have really liked that.

"... really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." ~ Mark Twain

My uncle wrote that quote on a posterboard tribute to my mom. And unless you could include laughter somewhere in that sentence, I don't think it's possible to find a better one to describe what she did for every person she met.

The evening ended with many hugs and goodbyes and keep-in-touch and "if you ever need anything..." comments and wishes. Really great, because as terrible at keeping in touch with people as I am, I really love my mom's family (biological and emotional), and I want to keep in touch with them. I have had many moments today and yesterday of sitting around and looking at everyone and listening to everyone going through this together and thinking to myself how lucky I am to have such a great group of people for a family.

"You're so brave," said my Aunt Laura, hugging me after everything last night.

And I get that a lot. But the truth is, I'm not very brave, or at least I don't think so. I am loving and passionate, and I think it is how well I knew and how deeply I love my mom that keeps me strong through all of this. Because really, there is no choice but to go on, here, and continue to push forward and live my life, which is what she, the perpetual cheerleader, and the person who always believed in other people's dreams and their abilities to achieve them would want.

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from: vanillahyacinth
date: Feb. 13th, 2006 12:37 am (UTC)

I'm so glad it was healing and helpful to you. Thanks for writing about it here and thus keeping us a part (in a way) of this intimate gathering that happened.

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