I guess I really have lead a sheltered life. The calling hours for my beloved friend were long and hard. Practically the whole town came out to say goodbye. Her dental hygienist and the dentist, all the boys scouts that meet at the Church she belonged to, her whole family pretty much, even parents of in-laws. It was a huge turnout. I certainly know I have not touched that many lives.
I got there and she had a rosary in her hand and there were flowers there in spite of the no flower request in her obituary. I would have sent flowers since she was my best friend. (I felt cheated.) I knew her mom put the rosary there. My friend no longer considered herself a Catholic and belonged to a United Church of Christ/ American Baptist parish. She felt that the abortion she had in college excommunicated her. Her mother to this day does not know about this incident. It is part and parcel of my memories of Boston and the Blizzard of 1978, since the procedure was just after the storm, and I drove. So that was the first weird thing for me. I know it gave her mom comfort and I said nothing. Then I kept thinking that she would just take a deep breath sit up and start laughing at us. HA HA its all a big joke. I know that as denial. Finally I worked my courage up to touch her and pat her arm and hand. It was still so soft and not all that cold. But I really lost it when her mom wanted to kiss her goodbye and was too short to reach her forehead. To bury a child is so awful!!!
I was about to leave when the final shock came. She is being cremated. In theory I have never had a problem with this. My husband wants to be cremated, and I have known others although no one close who have been cremated. I have heard the ashes to ashes dust to dust thing my whole life as has everyone, but alas I found this just appalling. It is hard enough to accept her death, to reach out and touch her one last time but somehow I envisioned her going back to the earth slowly and gently. I wanted to be able to visit her grave and envision her lying there peacefully like she was in the casket. How ignorant of me not to think about this ahead of time.
The memorial service the next day was good and bad. The minister really did say words that consoled my immediate family and me even if only until the sun set. The words still are clear in my head or at least the gist of them but they longer give much comfort. Without a casket in the church it once again seemed like a charade.
Afterward the church women put out a spread, and we stood around looking at photos of my friend in better days. I contributed about 15 pictures that spanned high school when we met right through to June when she attended Kendra's graduation. All those pictures you mean to share but always forget during the all to brief visits you get in either direction when distance is part of deep friendship.
Finally it was back to the house for more food and drink, but we were all in auto pilot by then. It will be months for me and her family. The Catholic side of her family felt very dissatisfied with the arrangements and will have a memorial mass said in January, so I will go through all of this again.
The bright moment of the day were the minister announcing a memorial scholarship fund in loving memory of my friend who was also a past deacon of her church. The other touching moment was when one of her sister-in-laws came over to me, she has been part of the family for a very long time but lives a few hours away. She gave me a big hug and told me how sorry she was that I lost my best friend.
I drove the two hours home with hubby and youngest snoozing. I tried to normalize by paying bills and feeding our dogs and generally keeping busy. The youngest had to return to school for play rehearsal and hubby had to nap so he could go to work for third shift. A knock came at the door. Flowers had been delivered to my neighbors house for me since I was not home. They were from Kendra's pal Morgan and her Mom. I do not want flowers, I want my friend back!!! To top it all off my neighbor has prostate cancer, hopefully in control, but his wife was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer the same week as my best friend was originally diagnosed with Breast Cancer in April of 2000.
We leave for Las Vegas on Saturday. I can not think about relaxing and having fun. My parents are meeting us out there but Dad's health is getting very tenuous and travel is taxing him. Dialysis seems to be lurking in the very near future. This is scary to me, and he is thinking about a transplant and is applying to the local program. He is getting frustrated with feeling poorly and does not want to be tied down for what ever life he has left. The transplant thing scares me even more, alas it is his decision that counts not mine. Much as the memorial service was not mine to plan.
Well I will try to take it one day at a time.