Thursday, June 26, 2008

I Lied

My darling Wunderlings, I am sorry, but I told you a lie. Life has not been fireflies and lemonade stands, though there's been some. The image just sounded beautiful, like a place I would like to be rather than the place where I am.

I should explain.

Last week I stood on her patio, watering her plants. I thought "she'd be happy to come home and see these". As if she went away on vacation. But she did not. On the last Saturday in spring, just past dinner she said she'd come and do the dishes in a minute but rather sat down in her chair for a rest. She fell asleep, coughed a little, and she did not get up.

We buried her on the last day of spring. Can you believe that at least 300 people came to the church to say goodbye? Can you imagine that I stood up in front of all of them, refusing to cry, and told the world what she meant to me? I could have talked all day, if they'd let me. But did you know that the Catholic Church doesn't like anything secular to invade on their holy space? Just before I spoke I was told that the only reason I could talk about my godmother, my aunt, at her funeral was because my family has been so prominent in the church. God bless the poor sucker who is not. Imagine why I'm no longer Catholic. The priest said "keep it to 3 minutes". I stood at the marble lectern she bought for that church and spoke for more than ten. And no one was sorry that I did.

They buried her, as I said, on the last day of spring. I came back to the grave that night. Already the casket was in the ground, already the dirt was flattened over it. Under the Strawberry moon I sat in her dirt, pulling up fistfuls and telling her "I want you back. I want you back". A wish. It won't happen. I left, barefoot, but a clump of dirt in my hand.

I've so many relatives, so many people-more than 300 as I said. Everyone suffers. But to me, the pain is all around. If I leave my house and go west I will pass her house. When the girls and I go to swim lessons we pass her house. She lived there for more than 50 years. She let me live there for a while too. If I go east, I pass her grave. We saw how they tamp down the dirt with a noisy gas-powered tool. We saw how they cover the grave with straw. Inelegant, true. But how the details are done. We are forced to see them. When the girls and I go to tennis or soccer, we pass her grave. Every day, every day I pass both her house and her grave. I cannot stand the sadness. I want her back.

Two weeks ago I came home from her house, a little slip of a plant in the basket on my bike. I looked like a bush on wheels. She wanted me to have it from her garden. She had insisted and we dug it together. What did I know? This was an everyday thing. I wouldn't have guessed that two days later she would die. Last week I came home from her grave, the last of the dead flowers from her grave. I looked like a dead plant on wheels. Ferns and palms poking from my basket.

I want her back.

There are messages on my answering machine. Everyday things but in her voice. I won't hear again. My whole life I imagined how sad this time would be. Losing her is not like losing a parent, I know that. But it is awfully close. I'm off my rails a bit. I cry too much. I can't find it in me to be quite normal right now.

I want her back. Please understand, I'm just taking a bit to get back to right.


FranIAm said...

Oh Jess... I am so very, very sorry in so many, many ways.

You will find your way and I have a feeling that she may guide you, and always with great love.

Sorghum Crow said...

Jes, my condolences. We'll listen 24/7 and no three-minute limits.

dguzman said...

Jess, I'm so sorry for your loss. Talk all you want. Write about her all you want.

Thinking of you today.

CDP said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Good for you for giving her her due in church, to hell with officious priests. We'd all love to read more about her, whenever you're ready. Hope your pain starts to ease soon.

Dr. Zaius said...

My deepest condolences. My father died recently, and my cat just died on Christmas. The smallest thing can set off vivid and heartrending memories of them in my mind. I want them back, too. A death in the family can be very difficult.

Rhubarb Ranch said...

I lost my Dad last September. I'm very sorry. Thanks for writing about it.

Rhubarb Ranch said...

Oh, and a hearty Amen to what cdp said about "officious priests." I'm sure my Bishop (Anglican, not Roman Catholic) would have slapped him silly if he heard such nonsense.

Dean Wormer said...

I'm so sorry Jess.

Consider this a digital casserole I'm brought over while you're focusing on your loss.

She sounds like a wonderful person. You do her credit in writing about her. It makes her seem like someone I'd like to meet.


DCup said...

Jess - I'm so sorry for you loss.

Jean said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Sometimes the wonderful memories are harder to bear than the bad ones.

The Cunning Runt said...

This is so hard.

We all want them back, don't we? When we love them, and they're taken away. I though I'd cry forever when my parents died.

It hurts less, it fits better with the world when I think that they went ahead, as did their parents and uncles and aunts, as will we in our children's eyes, preparing the way for the journey we too shall make.

It isn't a bad thing, it's just a mystery.

May acceptance bring you peace and strength and immortality.

Ed said...

My heart goes out to you. My father died last fall and I'm constantly finding new situations that remind me of him. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it's nice, but it's always... I don't know, powerful, I guess. An aunt who was present in your life is no less deserving of your grief than a parent. It may be different, but it's real. It's all about what you meant to each other. Suzy and I will be "holding you in the light", as the quakers say, in the coming days, weeks, months, ad infinitum.

Love to you and family,
Ed & Suzy

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

She lives as long as you remember her. She's with you always.

Bubs said...

I'm sorry for your loss, and you have our condolences.

Hopefully, with enough time, those constant reminders that you pass every day will cause less pain.

Comrade Kevin said...

Take all the time you need to heal, my friend.

Jess Wundrun said...

To everyone, thank you so very much for your kind words. Particularly Dr. Z and Ed who lost parents in the last year, and Bubs who lost a good friend. I'll try to be as strong in grieving as you have been. I think the suddeness of it is what I'm having the most difficulty with, but all of you have shown such amazing compassion. I am truly grateful.

Mauigirl said...

Jess, so sorry to hear of your loss. It is never easy to lose anyone, and when it's sudden like that it is always hard to accept. My deepest sympathies.

Freida Bee said...

Jess, I am so sorry. What a wonderful goddaughter and neice you are. I love my aunts so much and my uncle is dying and I feel so badly for his mother and siblings and children. I wish I could give you a hug. How about a virtual one?


Zoey & Me said...

What a sad, sad story. Our prayers are with you Jess. Find the strength to move on.

GETkristiLOVE said...

This is a beautifuly written post that obviouxly reflects how much you love her. You guys were lucky to have each other.

Distributorcap said...

i am so sorry.... but you wrote about her so elegantly

i know how hard loss is -- but the memories will make it easier