19 Mar The Morning After And The Funeral – Part 3 – Becoming the Wildflower – Tell It All Tuesday
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After what seemed like a few short hours the darkness of the night faded to morning. My younger siblings that had slept through the commotion were up and getting ready for school. I remember my younger brother, who was about 10 at the time, was excited for the day ahead, readying his lunch and getting dressed up to go to the symphony for a field trip with his school.
They were blissfully unaware of the events from the night before.
My mom discretely let the older kids know to get ready for the day and to meet in the living room before the little kids were to head off to school. She said our Bishop and our home teacher would come over and we would have a family meeting to explain to the youngest siblings ages 3, 5, 7, 10, and 12 the events from the night before.
We all met in the living room, all 8 kids at home, my oldest sister and her husband, my mom, our bishop and home teacher sitting on the couches, the room was full.
You could tell by the confused expressions on the younger kids faces that they didn’t know why we were having a family meeting on a school morning and why our faces were swollen and our demeanor was gloomy.
Then it was time…
There’s just no way to describe that moment. The moment that changes everyones lives in that room FOREVER…
And then it was over. The bliss of obliviousness was gone in an instant. You could see the looks in their faces and the sadness in their eyes as they processed what was being told to them.
I just wanted to make everything ok. I think ever since that moment I’ve had a deep connection with my siblings and part of me will always wish to make everything ok for them.
Then it was over and we all dispersed to process and grieve alone for a few moments. I remember walking through the house and pausing for a good cry when I came across my dads suit coat and brief case in the formal dining room, right where he would leave it every night after he got home. His suit jacket hung on the corner of the chair and his briefcase on the floor next to it. His shoes were next to the front door where he would slip them off after he came in.
After a few days, they were put away for the last time…never to be left in “his spots” again…
Later that day was when I got the phone call from my friends asking if I wanted to come over. They had heard what had happened and all left school to comfort me, I talk about that a little here. I was so truly grateful and blessed to have an amazing group of supportive friends.
Several days later came the first funeral in Virginia. The chapel was packed with family and friends. My dad was an influential person in our area and our church. Being the National Agronomer for the USDA in Washington DC, Jim had many colleagues that came to his funeral.
All of my friends were there; even my cheer coach came to support me. She was one of the first faces I saw as I walked into the chapel following my dads casket. When I saw her and the care on her face, I burst into tears, unable to control the emotion. I was a mess.
I can’t remember if all of 10 of us spoke at the funeral because I know it was discouraged for us to speak. Several of us spoke anyway, even though we weren’t on the program. We wanted to honor our dad and his memory. We wanted to be able to speak about him and our memories of him, at his funeral for the last time…
It was a wonderful service. This poem was written for my mom and shared by one of the speakers that day. I love it and it has often brought me comfort. Especially when I slip into “why me?” mode.
After the service in VA we flew on a plane to Utah to have another funeral in the city where he would be buried.
I was really sick at this point and had to visit the hospital for a shot of antibiotics. The circles under my eyes were dark like bruises from crying…
And then the second service was over and it was time to say goodbye to him. The national guard had a wonderful tribute.
We all put carnations on his casket…
said goodbye, and then he was gone… Forever from this earthly life.
We were left to figure it out now…
To be continued….
Life sometimes is different than we imagine it will be. I’ve often heard if we accept what is happening instead and let go of what we thought it should be, that we will be happier. I understand the concept but putting it into practice is much harder. Navigating this “new normal” was a process. An up and down adventure over many years.
We could all go through the same experience and come out completely different. Everyone processes grief in their own way. Sometimes quickly, sometimes over years. Sometimes through sadness, anger or denial.
I’ve come to realize that the anger that followed me for many years after we lost my dad, that came from grief, was an enormous amount of fear, personified.
Sometimes we fear, and to hide that fear creates anger. We may have fear of losing another loved one, or fear of life changing from the loss.
But we can overcome the fear. We can work through the grief. We can become good at living our new normal, being forever changed and never the same. But possibly, if we allow it, an even better version of ourselves emerges because of our loss.
We can become more empathetic, more caring, more kind and thoughtful to those around us. The storm forces our roots to dig deeper to stay upright, to find the sun, to look for hope in what lies ahead.
All of this makes us more rare and beautiful.
Grow through what you go through. For where a Wildflower blooms so does hope.
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