5.14.2008

Fragile

I had a post all ready for yesterday, but then I didn't feel up to getting on the computer. I went to a funeral yesterday. A funeral for a young woman that I have known since she was a toddler. It was an unexpected death, and it was so very sad. I have known her parents since I was a kid, and nothing makes me feel old like seeing other people age right before my eyes, ya know?

Besides her parents and her grandparents, she left behind a younger brother with special needs. I remember babysitting them both when he was about 3 or 4, and she was about 9. He would not talk to me when I babysat him, so she had to interpret his wants and needs for me. He hardly talked at all. What has stayed strong in my mind all these years, besides her incredible beauty, was her patience with her brother. At such an early age, she knew she would have to care for him, protect him, around others. And she was fine with it. She took that role with no problems, and was so much wiser than her years.
Throughout the years, she took care of him, comforted him, and was his best friend.

Due to his special needs, the funeral was closed-casket. He wasn't quite 'getting' it.

At the burial, he was getting it. As each well-wisher walked up to the family, his distress became more evident. He started crying slowly, and gradually increased to full-out sobbing, complete with red face and runny nose. It just broke my heart. At one point, he said he was embarrassed that he was crying because he is 'a man' (he's 18 or 19 now). I just wanted to die right there.

I have been to my fair share of funerals over the past couple of years, and I always leave them with the same feeling: wretched pain due to the pain of those left behind. I am such an empathizer.

When it was my turn to talk with the family, I didn't know what to say. What can you say? I mean, really. I said the normal hallmark things 'I am so sorry', 'She was beautiful', 'Please let me know if you need anything', but they never do justice. They never make the ache go away for those who have lost someone they love. And they don't make me feel any better either.

After the burial, I left. I didn't want to see the ache on all of those faces anymore. Family members were passing out bright pink balloons on strings. I drove by the grave of my uncle; I have not been back since his funeral about 2 years ago. I couldn't stop. I had nothing to say; my heart was thick and silent.

As I pulled out onto the main road, I looked up and saw dozens of bright pink balloons rising higher and higher. It was beautiful. The wind was blowing to the north, and I pulled over, watching those balloons head towards home until they were dots, until they were no longer dots, but part of the unending sky.

9 comments:

Danielle said...

So sad.

It's true about the hallmark words. Whenever I've said them, I've totally meant them, but they sound hollow, repetitive, meaningless. I've always wished for something different and soothing to say...

Misty said...

Exactly. I ditto the above comment. None of my words can do justice to the post you just wrote.

I'm sorry.

Heather said...

=(

Beware: Social Worker on the edge said...

I am sorry for your loss, very sad.

Danielle-lee said...

Thanks ladies! I appreciate your kind words. Lucky for me, I am okay with death. It's those that are left behind that I grieve for.

MP said...

What a beautiful beautiful post..I'm like you..I feel their pain. It's hard to watch..I feel your pain...feeling their pain by reading your post and have tears in my eyes.

We aren't a "cemetary family".. we bury and keep our memories of them when they were alive. I know other's that decorate graves every holiday..I don't get it .

Hiya, I'm Kristie. said...

Sometimes those short phrases are exactly what a family needs to hear.

Friglet said...

I am so sorry about your friend. :(

Grammy Staffy said...

Dear Danielle-lee,
Thank you for the nice comment that you made on my blog. Like you, I believe that those we love are not far from us after they die. I am sorry for the loss of your friend. I'm sure that her sweet spirit will be felt from time to time by those who loved her...especially her brother.

It is hard to know what to say when someone dies. It is even harder when the person is young. However, just you being there and saying something means a lot. When we lost our baby some people seemed to shy away from me because they did not know what to say. I really appreciated those who talked to me...even if they felt like they didn't know what to say.

I firmly believe that life does not end with death. It is a great comfort to me knowing that we will someday be reunited with those we've loved. Again, I am sorry for your loss.