With his final breath, came relief. My mind said, “now you can rest.” But hours later the realization that plans for a service were in need came into my awareness. I was *not* ready to do that yet, but people were already on planes or booking their flights and hotels. It had to be done.
Raised Catholic, but not actively practicing Catholicism in his adulthood, I wondered what exactly to do. Sure, Tom had joked about combining a Catholic Mass with his “other” spiritual community. Could I really get away with merging the two? He was joking, but I know that a part of him was serious about it.
While I initially entertained the thought of a Catholic Mass in the immediate future and a memorial a couple of months down the road, I changed my mind. I memory of Tom’s amusement, I have begun arrangements to play out Tom’s instructions (however jokingly he meant them).
We will be having my Uncle do the mass. He is currently the Bishop of Reno. He and Tom had a fond respect for each other and he puts on a very entertaining and lighthearted mass. I didn’t think that I could pull this part of the instruction off although Tom was pretty sure if niece Julie asked that I would be so. As it turns out, Tom was right.
It seems only natural to combine the two now.
His death, difficult as it was, was an eye opener to the “other side of Tom” for those who could have it. They were very aware that when his “meditation friends” arrived that he was calm and more peaceful. I am so thankful to those who helped to make that possible. They kept the room grounded so that Tom could work the energy of dying. It was, after all, his death not ours. It needed to be on his terms.
There is so much to do still. I haven’t much time to think about it all. I am realizing that the “hurt” gets held back until I am alone with my thoughts. I haven’t had much alone time, but want some where the family is still here to hug me when I come back for being away. It hurts. During his dying process, I remembered our life together (happy and bad moments). Now, I am remembering those last few days (his final hours, his last breath, his final tear…). This grieving stage isn’t going to be fun.
This morning is the first morning where I don’t have him to care for. As I listened to BoBo get ready for school, a rush of sadness hit. I haven’t had much alone time, which forces me to be “okay.” Last night, when I was in the shower, I began to let myself cry…but then YaYa was outside the curtain saying “knock-knock” jokes. I sucked it back in so that I could interact with him and not want to yell for him to go away.
Later, YaYa and I cried a little together as he talked about Tom being with the family and friends that have died ahead of him (his Mom and Dad, other relatives, David B, and Bob W to name a few). YaYa said the he’ll visit with them a while and then come back to earth to join a new family, in a new body, when he is ready.
My Dad is coming by today. It turned out that last night would have been better but he was nervous about being in my home when the body was still there. We did allow for the kids to see Tom’s remains a final time (if they wanted) before he was sent on for creamation. This, too, was his wish. This part was no joke – I have very clear instructions.
The family is rushing in from all over. I don’t know who from my large extended family will come. A lot, I expect. My Auntie Maria called me last night and I could appreciate her “I’m sorry” more than anyone elses. I know that my Aunt and Mom truly understand what I’ve been through, what I am trying to figure out right now, and what I’ll need to do moving forward (minus the kid part).
I realize that people can’t find the words to say more than that, but I am so tired of saying “Thank you.” There’s nothing else. No words can resolve it. I do remember my Mom saying the same thing to me after my Stepdad died. She preferred to hear “You have my condolences” to “I’m sorry” or “I feel so bad for you.” I now understand. It’s another energy thing. Condolences do not need healing. Sorry and feeling bad does. I can’t heal anyone else right now; I’m tapped out with healing the kids and myself.
We are envisioning the post Mass party to be here at my home. It will be crowded, but it will just *have* to work. We will cater in some food but ask that anyone who wishes to bring a food item to share should do so.
More later – YaYa is awake and there is so much to do.
Cindy J says
As you work through your grief, please know that I am there for you if you need me to be. A run, a cup of coffee, a walk, a talk … a hug. I can only imagine what you must be going through, and my heart goes out to you and your family.
Just remember that nobody is expecting anything out of you Juls. You can save the thank yous for much much later. Having so many loving and caring people around you is what you need now, as claustrophobic and stifling that may be. When the time comes, the roads and trails will be calling you to sort out the twists and turns of healing on the paths you know so well.
“I’m sorry” and “I feel bad” don’t need a response – really. It’s just another way of saying “condolences”. Feel free to make that transformation. You and your family need the healing energy – the rest of us are just here wishing you peace and strength.
I always thought that the practice of sending thank you notes for flowers and sympathy cards was the weirdest Western tradition of all. I still do. No one who is greiving needs to worry about manners and reciprocation.
As Queen of Everything I hereby grant you permission to just nod your head and forget about the thanks. Don’t thank me for that!! I mean it.
The next few days will turn into a blur. It is so important that you do what works for you and follow what you and Tom talked about. In future days, for your peace of mind that is so necessary. Your healing process is beginning, and at times will be very tough but other times you will experience a calm of peace that will help make everything ok. My thoughts and prayers are with you through your journey/
Juls, my deepest thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Mario Guerra says
I’m Mario Guerra, from Costa Rica, member of Hal Higdon’s blogs.
My mother died in October 2000, after 5 months battling a pancreas cancer, so I know firsthand how do you feel.
My prayers and best wishes to you and your family.
It sounds like you have some wonderful friends and family around you. I’m sure it’s a comfort you you to know that Tom is now at peace, and that the upcomming services will be a celebration of his life.
*head nodding* for all
Paula Sue says
Julie – Tea posted your blog link for the V-Team. We were and are so sorry for you and your family. Many, many thoughts and prayers are going out to you right now and over time.
Tom sounds like a special man; I would have liked to know him. I don’t always comment, but you’ve been in my thoughts, and I hope you get through the grieving process without too much pain. I’m glad he’s no longer suffering.
Kate A says
Julie – my thoughts and prayers are with you and family in this time of loss.
Even though some of us aren’t in your everyday life, please remember we are here for you.
I wish I could be there to support you Juls, instead accept my heartfelt condolences and thoughts of healing and love for you and your family.
i’m sorry for your loss. obviously you’re right about the hurt only coming in your alone time. i hope that when the crowd disappears, and you’re in that alone time, that you’ll continue to reach out to your friends and family.
one other comment i have is that i’m so impressed at how you handled the end of tom’s life. so often decisions are made differently and the end of one’s life is spent in an ICU somewhere, cut off from family and friends. having him at home with hospice care seems so humane, and it sounds from your posts that it was beneficial to tom, as well as to his family.
may the future bring happier times to you and your loved ones.
Jeanne’s blog post sent me over here. I have been reading your blog now for an hour. I am so moved by your poignant writing. Don’t stop. It’s as good as running when there’s only a little time.
We are all here. Know we wish you a smooth transition from a painful month to a numb month to a rebirth sometime soon.
My deepest condolences Juls!
My prayers go out to you and your family as well as my heartfelt condolences.