Posts Tagged ‘#death’

Aunt Anne passed away on Sat. Morning at 7:30 am. We got word yesterday from family that the funeral is this Thurs. up in Harland, WI. The Rosary is at 4:00 pm, visitation is from 4:30-6:45 pm with the mass at 7:00 pm. Then Greg got a call from his mother saying to call Sara (Anne’s youngest child) right away. So he did and she asked him to be a pallbearer. Greg is taking Thurs. and Friday off but using hours he got from an award and not sick leave. It’s about 2 hours from here so we’ll have to leave mid-afternoon to get there and skip dinner until afterwards. That’s not a big deal but something to consider. When we saw the funeral would be at St. Charles Catholic Church in Harland, we wondered why. Aunt Anne was devoted and passionate about her faith. She was a Catholic and she got Uncle Dean to convert to Catholicism before he married her. She was selfless and loving with everyone. She and Uncle Dean lived their faith and were really the only examples I’ve known of true Catholics. They even ministered to prisoners. Besides going to church religiously and tithing, they were the first to help anyone. Aunt Anne belonged to St. Mary’s in Pewaukee her entire life. The church was sold and the congregation began going to Queen Of Apostles in 1999. I never liked that church. It has such a modern look inside, it feels soulless. St. Mary’s reminds me of the church I grew up going to that was not much bigger than a house. Anyway, for all that Aunt Anne has done for the church and the congregation over the years, they won’t let her funeral be there. The day they are having the funeral is CHOIR PRACTICE. That is laughable. They could sing at her funeral. They could cancel and just wing it on Sunday. You’d think church-going people would understand. Instead they put out this nice family in their time of need. This is everything that is wrong with religion. 

There is still no word on Stephanie’s funeral. The coroner hasn’t even released the body yet since they are waiting for a dental expert because it was vehicular homicide. 

Today being March 10th gives me all the feels. It was my parents’ wedding day (in 1961). It was the birthday of my best friend in jr. and sr. high school. March 10th is also the day my last best friend died 10 years ago. I don’t think I’ve ever written about it because it was so weird. I don’t like writing mushy stuff. Maybe when I was a teen or in my 20’s, I might. I don’t even talk about this best friend. We met in slams (the question booklets sent through the mail) in about 1997. We had known of each other for another 10 years before that. Her name was Joni Souers. She was 11 years older than me. So she was a year older than I am now when she died. Joni and I were opposites in a lot of ways. She was only 4’10” tall and I’m 5’ 6 1/2”. She was Southern through and through and I’m as Northern as they come. She was brassy and loud and I tend to be quieter. We were both generous with people and had a tendency to be taken advantage of. She had led a hard life and been estranged from her few relatives. Her brother died and her nephew was like a son to her. She doted on Mike, his wife Cherie and their 3 daughters. I helped her through Cherie’s murder by her oldest teen daughter’s boyfriend. We wrote long letters to each other and then emailed every single day. That didn’t work for me. I balked at it and said it was too much for me. She let me know it was too important for me not to do it for her. So I did it anyway. It was the one “fight” we had. We talked on the phone sometimes and when we did, it could be hours. She was a truck driver (long haul) for decades but had quit to become a police officer for a short time. She loved trucking and her husband had been a trucker. He turned out to be a no-good liar who was a bigamist. She got rid of him but she didn’t hate him the way I thought she should. She was a forgiving sort of person who would give the shirt off her back to anyone. She had no living children and had lost a few babies to miscarriage. She fell in love with another trucker (John) and they worked together going cross country trading off driving but never married. She couldn’t have loved him more. Her home base was Texas but in the last few years she had settled in Colorado (outside Denver). She had 2 teacup chihuahuas (Tiny & Muffin) that she took everywhere with her. She and John had gotten a home in CO and she’d been staying home more and more often. She had fixed it up and did a lot of home cooking. She smoked like a fiend which I hate. She enjoyed it so much that nothing could make her stop. She had some health problems towards the end. She would get stomach and back aches. I encouraged her to go to the doctor. That didn’t really help until she doubled over and passed out. They took her to the hospital and found she had a huge mass in her stomach. They operated and removed it and it wasn’t cancer. I called her in the hospital and told her to rest and get well. I told her I loved her which I’ll always be happy about. I had no reason to believe she wouldn’t recover. Then I found out a day or two later that she was being taken for some other tests and she had an aneurysm burst and she was brain dead. Just. Like. That. Her nephew Mike told them to pull the plug because he knew she wouldn’t want to lay there as a shell any longer. I went into shock, as you do when given unexpected news. I can’t think of a worse time for it to happen. Not that there’s ever a good time.
Greg was scheduled to leave 3-4 days after I got the news. He was going to be gone for 10 weeks to canine training. It ended up being only 6 weeks. Anyway, I had all kinds of plans to chat on the phone with Joni and just make the most of not having a husband to monopolize my time. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want him to leave but I wanted him to be happy. I knew if I had Joni to talk to, the time would go faster. Well, that didn’t pan out. I was in shock. Greg wasn’t able to comfort me because he was so wound up with leaving. While he was gone, he didn’t know how hard it was for me to be missing him AND my friend. He was only thinking about his own stuff and then his sister had called him while he was there to tell him she had leukemia. If I hadn’t had my mom with me, I don’t know what I would’ve done. She knew Joni from me telling her all about her. Joni sent her a couple gifts which was so sweet. She thought the world of my mom which endeared her to me. Joni had lost a lot of weight and she a bunch of Walmart/Sam’s Club type clothes she had boughten and most were never even worn. They were the size Mom and I wore. She offered to send them to us. I balked at first but she was so happy that I was willing to take them and wear them, I said ok. She sent a huge box of mostly shorts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc. Mom and I divided up the clothes in half. We both wore them and I still wear them. It makes me feel good every time I do because I think of her. I also wear my mom’s clothes which may be creepy to some people but it makes me feel closer to her as well.
I’ve pretty much always had barriers up where friendship is concerned. Especially ever since high school. Then after losing Joni, I think I keep people even more at arm’s length. Sometimes I regret not being more open but other times it just feels like the right way to be.
All this talk and thinking of death just makes you realize that you can make plans but that doesn’t mean you’ll be here to live them out. I worry about hubby’s retirement. He’s about 4 years away. At times he wants to retire even earlier, then other times wants to wait until exactly then. Still other times he thinks he may want to work longer. It is such a hard call. If you’ve got enough money to last, is it better to retire or is it better to stay active? I hear too many stories of people dying right after they retire. I’m having a hard time deciding what I want to do in our later years. We talk about getting a larger home to fix up and then move to down the line. In your 30’s you have unlimited ideas and energy, in your 50’s not so much. You may feel like doing some renovation but tying yourself down to a long term project is not as appealing. Maybe I should just live day by day as that is all we are promised. Who knows what the future holds with the Coronavirus out there.


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Things have taken a turn for the worse. It’s been one thing after another. Last Thursday night, one of my husband’s coworkers was driving home from work on I-57 at 2 am. She was hit by a drunk driver who was going 85 in a 55 mph zone. He was out celebrating his 25th birthday and his blood alcohol level was .123. He struck Stephanie’s 1999 Jeep and it went over a concrete barrier, flying off a bridge, landing on railroad tracks below. We were originally told the car burst into flames then but later found out it burst into flames when it was hit before it went over the side. She was so burned up that they had to use DNA to verify the body. When Greg was at work on Friday, he was told that they weren’t sure if it was her. They knew it was her car and that she hadn’t picked up her child or gone home the night before. Everyone in his office is pretty shaken up. Stephanie was only 39, married with one boy about 5 or 6 years old. My husband worked with her the last 10 years or so at both O’hare airport and Midway. We are waiting to hear when her funeral will be. A GoFundMe has been set up in her name (Stephanie Anselmo) for her family. I don’t usually believe in donating to those but in this case it seemed the right thing to do. I met her a few years ago when I volunteered to help with the canine training at Greg’s office. We donated $100 and it’s now over $10,000.

About 2 1/2 weeks ago, Greg got a phone call from his oldest brother John. He was crying and saying that his wife Jane had just been diagnosed with breast cancer in both breasts. She is about 64 years old. Greg called John back this past weekend to find out how things are going. Jane was having an MRI on Monday and then meeting with her chemotherapy doctor. It sounds like there is one tumor in each breast and they are different kinds of cancer. She is having chemo first to shrink the cancer, then a lumpectomy and radiation. She caught it early and it doesn’t sound like it has spread to her lymph nodes. I have no doubt Jane will beat this as she is tough and she has a really great team of doctors up at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee.
The most recent bad news is that my husband’s favorite aunt was put into hospice on Monday evening. She had a fall last Wed. and had been going downhill ever since. She has quit eating and drinking which means it won’t be long now. Aunt Ann is 84 and I have loved her deeply since I first met her almost 35 years ago. Above everyone else, she made me feel welcome and accepted. I always said if I didn’t have my mother, I would want her as a mother. She is a saint and I hate that she has to leave this world already. So now we are expecting a call any day about her. 
The situation my husband has been dealing with which I’m not at liberty to discuss is still hanging over our heads. There is a glimmer of hope in that he has a few people helping him now but there is still no end in sight. We are both excessively nervous/worried and having trouble sleeping. It is taking a toll on us but I am pretty confident we will make it through.
There’s not a lot to look forward to. We got new iPhones on Valentine’s Day as a gift to each other. We both got the new iphone11. I got the pro max and he got the regular 11. Neither one of us have figured out how to use all the features. I thought it would make me want to take more pictures and post more on Instagram but that hasn’t changed. I will touch base when I know more about what’s going on.

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A week ago we found out that our doctor of 20 years passed away. This is who I referred to on my blog as Dr. J but I guess I can just call him Dr. James now. My husband had gone to Dr. Z (who was a friend of Dr. James) on Thurs. Jan. 24th. He had been put on Farxiga and the doctor wanted him to call him on Monday and let him know how he felt. Dr. Z had told him on that Thurs. that Dr. James wasn’t doing well. That he’d gotten pneumonia on top of all his other health problems and tried to treat it at home. He ended up in the hospital and was intubated. I told Greg when he called Dr. Z to find out which hospital Dr. James was at so we could go visit him.

We never made it that far because we found out he had already died on Sat. Jan. 26th. Greg texted me and the only obituary I could find was on his wife’s Facebook page. We decided to go to the visitation on Wed. Jan. 30th. Just to honor him and his life. I made a card on the computer, wrote a letter to his wife about what he meant to us, included a poem and an antique rosary. It was pretty awkward at the funeral home but we were able to pay our respects, sign the registry and leave the card. I will never get used to seeing anyone in a coffin. I don’t care how good the makeup is, they never look the same as they did when alive. Usually the makeup is on so thick and they look dead. I find the whole business of funerals upsetting and unnecessary. If you treat people right when they alive, you don’t need to glorify them when deceased. They say funerals are for the living, not the dead. I guess that’s true.
Dr. James was a big part of our lives and a part of our family. We knew a lot about him and his life because he socialized FOR HOURS with his patients. He was from Scranton, PA, had 2 sons from his first marriage. Raised Belgian Tervuren dogs and competed in dog shows. Met his last wife who is also a doctor when he started at Gottlieb hospital. He played the guitar and owned an RV. We will miss him terribly. I haven’t been able to get him off my mind or the fact that he was so young. Only 61 years old! He would’ve turned 62 at the end of this month. He was forced into retirement from ill health but never got to enjoy retirement. He’s only 5 years older than Greg and 6 1/2 year older than me. To think that one of us could be dead in such a short time is unthinkable. To work all your life, saving up for retirement, only to never reap the benefits.
So as I said last post, I haven’t been in a mood all year. Not a good mood either. This didn’t help it. We went out to estate sales this past weekend and they were TERRIBLE. Saturday was the worst. Went to 4 sales and spent a total of $1. I know part of it is the time of year but it just makes me out of sorts. On Friday, at one of the sales, Greg overheard that someone we know who runs an estate sale company had died. He didn’t think it was true. I looked it up online and sure enough, Kathy Petricca had passed SUDDENLY on Jan. 13th. It was really shocking since she was only 69 years old. She seemed in good health. I know she’d had her knees replaced and her hip too but was doing well. I knew Kathy because she always gave us good deals when we bought from her. She was from Wisconsin like us and she had a mother the same age as mine. I found this out when I bought a big bag of clothes from her for Mom and she charged me $1 per piece. Her mother had dementia too and passed away one year before mine. She had told me the story of her mom’s passing and when mine passed, she was one of the first people I told because I knew she could relate. We found out too late to go to her funeral but it’s still took us off guard. 69 doesn’t seem that old either…
The next thing that shocked me was finding out that someone else who runs estate sales is transgender. On Friday we went to a sale run by Brad. He’s always looked pretty much the same. About a year ago we noticed he had grown his hair long. Nowdays, I just don’t think anything of that on a man. Then awhile back he started wearing makeup and nail polish. None of that really phases me. I did joke to Greg, “Should I ask when his transition will be complete?” I would never ask someone that since it’s a lot like asking someone “When is the baby due?” and finding out they’re not pregnant. So I did some research online and found out he IS transitioning. He has 2 Facebook pages and goes by the name Cheryll now. I found out he’s (she’s? they’s?) my age which surprised me since I would’ve guessed 10 years younger. He also didn’t “come out” as trans until age 52. He has 2 kids, one in college, one in high school and a wife he is now divorced from. He has a girlfriend and seems to be very happy. I’m not going to treat him any differently but can empathize with all he’s had to go through to become who he wants to be. It sounds like a lot of work. 
My husband says I’m easily shocked. Things happen and stay with me for a long time. I don’t need anything else to happen to give me cause for more deep thoughts. My mind is cluttered enough as it is.

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Death keeps creeping into my mind and into the corners of my life. Friday night before bedtime, I got the news of another death. My friend Lisa in Mississippi lost her son on Thursday when a tornado struck his workplace. He was 28 years old and the eldest of her 2 boys. This is such a freak accident. It was the only reported death in the whole state from the storms that day. I googled to find out more info. His funeral was this afternoon. I’m trying not to be obsessed with death but death seems to be brushing up against me. Edging ever closer, the older I get. I didn’t sleep well Friday night because I just couldn’t get Lisa and her family out of my mind.

Yesterday (Sat.) I made a sympathy card on the computer first thing and was addressing it. Hubby walks up to me and says, “You’re such a nice person.” He always says it like it surprises him or shocks him.  I asked him why and he said “because you’re always thinking of others.” I really wanted to call Lisa but figured she had a whole group of people (she lives in a small town) surrounding her now and she’d appreciate the call more later after some time has passed. I was lamenting to hubby about “why do all these deaths affect me so much?”. His answer? “Because you’re such a sensitive person.” I’ve always been this way. I agonize over things that happen to me AND everybody else. I always put myself in everyone else’s shoes and try to imagine what they’re going through. In a lot of cases, I can’t know but I can TRY. I’ve made a career out of empathy. A lot of times I wish I wasn’t so sensitive. It makes life a lot tougher.
As I’ve said before, I avoid talking about death, if I can. I don’t think about what kind of shape I’ll be in when my mom dies. Or what would become of me if hubby died. Or if he died while we were on vacation, how I’d manage. While we were out walking the dogs yesterday morning, hubby brought it up, saying we should talk about it. He said if anything happened to me, he’d make sure to take care of my mom. I knew that but it was still reassuring to hear. Then I mentioned how if I died, his family would be by the day they heard to help him get rid of my stuff. He said it would make him mad if that happened. Then I went on a tirade about if I died, I’d hope that he wouldn’t get a lot of emails and cards from people telling him what a good person I was and how much people loved me. That would make me so angry but I’d be dead so I guess it wouldn’t matter. Then I said, “I think anyone would appreciate being told that while they’re alive. It does no good to say it after the person has passed away.” No sooner were the words out of my mouth and then I had a heart attack. No joke. As suddenly as anything could happen, it happened. I didn’t feel well. I had a severe pain in the center of my chest. I just felt like I had to sit down. It was 37 degrees out and snowing and I wasn’t about to sit on the sidewalk. So we kept walking. I didn’t say anything. That’s how my hubby knew something was wrong. I just shut up. I am a chatterbox so it brings a red flag when I’m quiet. I tried walking slow, stopping and leaning against a tree, etc. Nothing helped. I kept walking because I didn’t want to believe it wouldn’t pass, whatever it was. I like to believe I’m strong and can power through anything. I didn’t think it was a heart attack. I thought you had pain on your left side where your heart is or up and down your left arm. I wasn’t exactly short of breath. I’ve only had heartburn once in my life and this felt like that only much worse. I’ve had one panic attack in my life which kind of felt like that. So I told hubby I didn’t feel good and what the pain was like. He walked next to me and I could just tell he was ready to call 911 if I passed out. He knew better than to hover over me. So we walked super slow and stopped at times. I felt like I was getting worse so finally told him I wanted to cut the walk short and go home. I could barely make it home. As cold as it was, I started to sweat and even got lightheaded. I took a couple baby aspirin and went to sit down. It finally passed after a few minutes but I felt weak. I tried to talk myself into that it was a panic attack since I’d been upset after talking about death. I googled symptoms and when I saw that the pain could be in the center of your chest, I steeled myself. I don’t need any lectures on going to the ER. I probably should have gone and I will if I have anything similar happen again. I’m not saying this to get attention. I don’t like talking about myself but I don’t mind writing about myself. It makes me wonder how many other women are in denial or unsure of what they’re feeling. Logic says I should go get checked out but I’m ok now. I don’t know for sure I had a heart attack. I don’t know if I want to know if I did.
It’s been over 3 years since I’ve gone to the doctor. I see the dentist every 6 months. After my last health ordeal years ago, I thought I’d be better about going to the doctor. The fatter I get, the less I want to go. April 8th I finally called to make a doctor’s appt. for a pap smear and to find out what the weird pain in my legs is. The soonest I could get in was May 15th. For someone who wants to get death off their mind, this isn’t helping. I had forgotten that Rosie O’Donnell had a heart attack after turning 50. A woman I know on Twitter (a nurse) had a heart attack a few years ago, at age 50. I never really thought of 50 as the age your body decides to break down. I have a double dose of heart disease running through my family tree from both parents. My mom has congestive heart failure and my dad had a couple heart attacks and was one of the first in the country to get new heart valves and have a heart bypass. He had been operated on at the Mayo Clinic in the 1970’s. But he had smoked. I don’t smoke. I know from now on, I’ll have to watch myself. Instead of leaving everything to chance.
I don’t know what purpose it serves for me to write this except maybe to document that it happened. My mom always said “I’m going to live until I die anyway.” Which never made sense to me until now.

Death doesn’t take a vacation. Or a holiday. Or a long weekend. Every day, with so many people dying, we have to count ourselves lucky if we’re not one of them. We also have to count ourselves blessed each day that passes where our loved ones are not taken by death through all the possible ways that lives can end. We shouldn’t dwell on death, nor should we ignore it. We need to give it respect and a wide berth.

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I’ve never dealt well with death. The same could be said of a lot of people. The only people who handle death well are the dead. I try to avoid thinking about it entirely but due to the nature of life, it does show up sooner or later. On Monday night, we received a phone call that my mom’s best friend had passed away at age 93. I called her son back on Tuesday afternoon and missed him since he was at the funeral home making arrangements. I did speak to her grandson or tried to with a huge lump in my throat. All I could think of was all the letters she’d written my mom that I’d read. She mentioned her grandsons frequently and how fond she was of them. How good they were to her and how they even lived with her for a time. I start to get emotional without a real reason. Just knowing how much they would miss her made me start to fall apart. I got off the phone as fast as I could before he had to wonder what kind of basket case I was. My mother had been friends with Bea for almost 70 years. They had met in their 20’s and the friendship had survived moves to many states, marriages, children and lasted into their 90’s. They started out as coworkers and then roommates. They had many shared experiences that got them laughing whenever they spoke on the phone or in person. They always sent each other birthday and Christmas cards, no matter what. They always wrote letters telling what was going on in their lives. They shared recipes, lots of laughter and even comics that Bea used to cut out of the paper and send with her letters. My mom is not an emotional person. She used to be a bit more but as she’s aged she’s lost the ability to wallow in sorrow. Later that day, Bea’s son Gary called back and we talked for 37 minutes before I had to get off or I’d start crying. I can’t get over what an impact one person had on both our lives. I had long wondered who would go first. If I’d be calling Bea to tell her that my mom had passed away. The reason I handled the phone calls for my mom is that even with 2 hearing aids, her hearing is so bad she can’t hear well enough to carry on a phone conversation.

The only time I saw my dad cry was at his mother’s funeral. I was 9 and my grandma was 93. She had lived her last few years in a nursing home but before that had lived with us. My dad was very close to his mother since he was an only child. Seeing him just sobbing during the hymn Rock of Ages shook me to my core. It was my first funeral and my first time being around any display of grief. My mother’s mother had died when I was 5 but I didn’t go to the funeral. Maybe if I’d had more experience with death it wouldn’t be so uncomfortable for me.
I have since been exposed to several more occasions of death but it hasn’t gotten any easier. My dad died when I was 27 and I remember wondering if it hurts worse to lose a parent when you’re young or old. When you’re young (like 27 versus 50), you’re mourning the future you lost, what you could’ve had with them. When you’re older and lose a parent, you’ve had longer to bond with them and be close with them. Therefore, you’d miss them more. I don’t know which theory is true because the only thing I’ve figured out is it hurts either way. It hurts more the closer you are with the person. If you’re in daily contact with someone, there’s a huge void left when they’re gone.
I’ve noticed there are basically 2 ways people handle death. Yes, I do make over-simplifications. There are the people who think no one has ever grieved like they have. Due to my husband coming from a large Catholic family, there are way too many weddings and funerals to attend. My husband was taught to go and show his respects. We’ve been together for almost 28 years so as time marches on, more of the aunts and uncles have passed away. Some I’ve barely known, others I’ve known somewhat or quite well. About 10 years ago was the first one that really hit me. It was his Aunt Rosie. She was my hubby’s double aunt. She was his mother’s sister and married to his dad’s brother. That saying that you never forget how someone makes you feel is so true. I have always felt self conscious/ ill at ease around crowds at family gatherings. Not knowing who to talk to or what to say. Rosie always made a point of coming up to me and talking to me. She would ask about my mom and we’d talk about how she liked to gamble too. We’d also talk about travel and trips. It didn’t matter what we talked about, I felt like she liked me and I genuinely liked her. She made me forget all the other people around us and feel like it wasn’t a waste that I showed up at the family function. I truly grieved for her and shed tears at her funeral service.
There have been other funerals I’ve attended that had a mass hysteria quality to them. Even if I wasn’t one bit sad, seeing everyone crying to the point of dry heaving starts to make me whimper and feel like sticking a knife in my gut. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself. At a different funeral, 2 people threw themselves on the casket. They don’t even do that in the movies!! This service was so upsetting to me on so many levels. I’m not telling people how to grieve but I have a hard time understanding how people can turn on and off their emotions like that. One minute they are hysterical, the next they are eating lunch and laughing in the church basement. I guess this is normal. I’ve often said I don’t believe in funerals. Of course, I believe they exist, just that they are unnecessary. I believe in telling people how you feel about them while they are alive. I believe in comforting people who have lost loved ones but the big pomp and circumstance is not for me. I wouldn’t even want a service, nor a cemetery plot. Giving the dead license to take up real estate forever is just crazy.
I wished there was a bravery pill that would give you strength when you need it. When grief overtakes you and you want to appear strong, you’d take it. Many don’t need this since they are able to give a eulogy for someone they loved. I know I could write one but there’s no way I could get through reading it. I would break down so many times until I just folded up completely. I’ve never felt capable of crying in front of other people. It is way too vulnerable of a thing for me. I try to hold it in and wipe away tears but I don’t let it all out in front of others. It is a howling pain that I couldn’t inflict on another person’s ears.
Some people seem so matter of fact when someone passes away. They understand it’s a phase of life and have made peace with it almost instantly when it happens. This is probably the “right” way to be. At one of the family funerals a few years ago, I wasn’t exactly sad except for seeing so many others in pain. Then I looked up ahead of us a couple rows and saw my husband’s Aunt Anne. She is my favorite relative I gained by marriage. She is everything good in the world. Calling her a Saint is really not doing her justice. She is so much more than that. She’s got a great sense of humor, in addition to being a caregiver, mother, grandmother, gardener, cook, etc. She also has more faith than anyone I’ve ever met. She practices what she believes and ministers to prisoners and anyone in need. She is generous and always ready with a hug. She loves everybody and reminds me of Emma Snyder from As The World Turns. She makes everyone feel welcome and loved. All I had to do was think about how glad I was that it wasn’t her funeral we were at and I started crying. It was ridiculous. I talked to hubby later and he said he had been thinking the same thing. When she goes, even though we know she’ll be in Heaven for sure, we will both be a mess.
Maybe the only people ever truly comfortable with death are morticians and medical examiners. They have to see it and be around it enough that they become almost immune to it. Also seeing so many deceased strangers is quite different from a deceased loved one.
3 years ago my best friend passed away. It was unexpected but aside from missing her, I had no regrets. I had spoken to her a few days before when she was in the hospital and I’d told her I loved her. I have always done that with people. I sign my letters “Love” if that’s how I feel. I’m sure it puts some people off. They don’t put love unless it’s to their mate. I think there are many types of love and one is friendship. Love and friendship don’t always last but when it does, we have to consider ourselves blessed.
In closing, I want to include a few of my favorite quotes about death:
Death is a distant rumor to the young.–Andrew A. Rooney
Death does not wait to see if things are done or not done.–Kularnava
Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.–Norman Cousins
Have you had a lot of experience with death? Do you feel you handled it well under the circumstances? I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts on this topic.



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I just got done saying in my last post that I didn’t want this blog to be a place of heavy pain, serious subjects, etc and then I proceed to address suicide. Gah! I’m not going to throw statistics at you but most of us have had our lives impacted directly or indirectly by someone who chose to end their own life. I have spent a lot of time thinking about suicide. These are my feelings and observations, you may not agree with them. I’m not an expert nor do I pretend to be one. If anything I say offends or hurts anyone reading this, it’s entirely unintentional. I never thought I’d have to preface a post with that but I write from my heart and try to be careful with my words but still seem to make a select few unhappy.

Monday Jan. 28th marks the 6 year anniversary of my nephew committing suicide. Steve was 41 when he made his final dramatic exit from the world. Steve was 3 years younger than me. Due to our strange family dynamic, I became an aunt at birth. I was never called “Aunt” by any of my 11 nieces or nephews since I fell more easily into the cousin or playmate category. I only saw my half-sister Dianne’s brood at holidays and a few other times a year due to the fact that they lived a couple hours away in Minnesota. We would bundle up and make the 2 hour drive to their farm or more likely they would come to our little house in Eau Claire, WI. My mom would fix a big meal and I’d always have to sit at the kids’ table in the kitchen while the adults ate in the DR. Steve and his twin brother were my constant playmates when we were together. It was always like no time had passed since we’d seen each other and we talked incessantly, played countless board games, Barbies, school, house, dinosaurs, spacemen or played outside. They made the holidays tolerable for me. We basically grew up together. I remember Steve asking me when I was 11 and he was 8, “Why do you wear a bra?”. I had just got my first bra and was self-conscious about it. I didn’t know how to answer. I knew I could’ve explained the whole reason to him but instead I said, “Ask your mother.” For some reason I also remember him asking me “Why are you so fat?” and I think I answered the same way. It hurt my feelings but he was very outspoken and less shy than his brother. When I started collecting Wacky Packages, the twins wanted to collect them too.

Me and The Twins. Steve trying to be as tall as me.

Me and The Twins. Steve trying to be as tall as me.

When I received the news that Steve had committed suicide, I went into shock. It was all I could think of. It was surreal. I thought back to all the times we’d shared as children and there was no way to predict that he would be the one to do this. There is no way to make sense of suicide. There is no way to look at someone and know that they’re thinking of this. We can’t see  how fragile someone is or what burden they are carrying around. From what I heard from his mother and brother, he’d been battling depression and had been dealing with incredibly challenging situations. I hadn’t seen Steve since my father’s funeral many years before. I have to believe he knew how much he meant to me and how I treasured the fun times we shared when younger.

Steve's 2nd grade school picture.

Steve’s 2nd grade school picture.

Suicide is not just for the lonely. Many people who make that fateful choice  have spouses, and children. They have good paying jobs, are well respected in their communities. They’re not failures, except maybe in their own eyes. I couldn’t fathom why Steve did this. He had more to live for than I do. He had a big, close family with a twin brother. He had 2 children and a wife. He had a fantastic job that paid well. He was good looking and funny. I have a husband but none of those other things. If he does that with that much going for him, what hope is there for me? His twin is an IT genius and put together a beautiful video montage of pictures of him throughout his life along with music. One of the songs played while the pictures flashed was “Smile though your heart is breaking”. Another was “The Valley Song” by Jars of Clay. Scott played it at the funeral and sent me a copy. I watched it over and over and over. I cried every time it started and by the end I was sobbing. It really broke my heart. He always looked so happy. Like he was having a good time and he had the world by the tail. I was griefstricken more than is normal. I was depressed thinking of a world that existed that he was not a part of. He had such a sensitive soul that could not thrive in a world this harsh. How did I finally stop crying? I quit watching the video. I still think of him but haven’t been able to get out the photo albums with the childhood photos of us to look at. Until now. I am going to include a few in this post.
Suicide is a moment of weakness. The God I choose to believe in does not call it a sin. He is understanding and will know what was in the person’s heart and if they were a good person. God doesn’t want people to be worrying about a deceased loved one going to hell. Suicide is simply a waste of potential and what’s left of a life unlived.
You can live to be 100 and only exist. Never making your mark on society or accomplishing anything major. You can live to a ripe old age and never put your heart out there. So just because someone commits suicide doesn’t mean they didn’t make a difference in our lives or the lives of others. They may have done more in their short(er) lives than someone living much longer. Not to make sweeping generalizations but those who kill themselves are often more sensitive than others and frequently smarter. The fact that they can’t see a solution to their problem, an end to their pain is a mistake. We make mistakes everyday. Some are bigger than others. Some can’t be undone. Suicide reinforces that the person was human and fallible. Maybe in our eyes they were Superhuman. Someone we loved, looked up to and admired. Forgive them for leaving us. Remember how they touched our lives. Remember how hearing the news of their tragic passing by their own hand impacted you. So that you can help others know there is nothing that can’t be solved together. No problem is too big if you have others to lean on.
I’m not trying to justify the irrationality of suicide. It doesn’t make you a hero to take your own life. It’s debatable if it makes you a coward. I haven’t touched on the anger and blame the survivors can experience or the tangible and non tangible mess the departing person leaves for the living to clean up. I feel like each of us are born a blank slate or an empty book. We are given the chance to fill our book with whatever is of our own choosing. Since we are given free will, we are also given the opportunity to end our story at any time. The fact that we choose to no longer get up every morning and see what the day has to offer is a choice. It’s probably not always a well informed choice, the decision can be tainted by physical or emotional pain, drugs or alcohol, horrific consequences of other poor choices we’ve made. The saddest thing about suicide is the story is over prematurely. None of us will ever know the true ending, what would have played out if leaving this world by their own devices wasn’t chosen.

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