Monday, April 28, 2014

Behind the Wall to Death

I remember stepping back in fear.  Nanay (my Grandmother) wailed as my dead mother was carried up and out of the house where she had been kept for some time before the funeral.  She was my mother but I felt little of what Nanay was belting out.  She would have her daughter stay in that house for one moment more if she could but it was time.  A crowd had formed outside the house and we slowly followed my mother’s coffin as it was transported to the Catholic Church.  I remember walking near my grandfather and, in one of the few fond memories I have of him, I could feel some commiseration with him as we both mourned.  He for his daughter.  Me for my mother.  I held in my emotions though.

I only cried for my mother once-when my father came into my hospital room.  I was in the bed waiting to be transported to the hospital at Clark.  He came to my left side and told me she had died.  He removed his glasses, put his head down, and began to weep.  My mom was gone and my dad, who had been a statue of a man was now breaking before me.  With a few tears of my own, all I could do—all I felt I could possibly do--was to put my hand on his head.

Now we were in the church.  My relatives were all up there next to coffin as the priest did something with smoke and water.  I looked at all of them.  Aside from my cousin, Jessica, who only looked back at me, I was angry at all of them.  I loved them, but I was so angry as well.

You see my mother was kept at my grandparent’s house.  My dad wanted her cremated but my grandmother wouldn’t have it.  He relented to a Catholic ceremony and burial.  I think that in his Protestant way, his memories of my mother were all he needed and to insist on cremation would not help his position,  only hurt her family’s.  So she lay in her coffin—for how long I can remember—days at least.  People would come by and look.  They would offer their condolences.  I dreaded it.

What made me angry was when they brought God into it.  They all did.  Inevitably I would get an “It’s God’s plan,” or “Your mother’s in heaven and watching over you.”  It’s not that I hated God.  Actually, I took comfort in my religious beliefs back then but I never made the leap to claim to know that God did this or to know that my mother was in heaven.  How could they possibly even claim to know any of that was true when her own son didn’t?  I knew they didn’t know but I felt that I couldn’t call them out on it because I understood that what was being said did come from a sympathetic heart.  I just wish they could have seen that it wasn’t bringing me comfort.  It actually brought me even more pain.

My cousin, Jessica, was the only one that I remember not being angry with.  She made no claims to make me feel better.  It was her eyes which conveyed sympathy.  For my father, it was my hand.  They are expressions that convey more than words ever can.  I am awkward when it comes to offering my sympathies to others who have lost loved ones.  I have no doubt that I always will.  So please know that if we should ever meet, know that behind my few short words, a touch, or even a hug, my heart does go out to you.  We are all on this road of hurt together and I want to be there when you start moving again.

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