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Letters to Nowhere

Friday, October 29, 2004

All God's chil'ren got shoes

I'm back from my brother's funeral. This has been the longest, hardest month I've ever had to deal with. I'm ready for this year to be over.

I went to Jacksonville on Monday expecting the funeral to be on Tues. It was delayed until Thursday. In those days, I saw the worst in my family.

Blame, recrimination, backbiting, old wrongs dragged from the closet.. I was damn near ashamed to be related to these people. There is alot of guilt held by the 3 people that were with my brother the night he died. And instead of dealing with it constructively, they've lashed out at the rest of us.

My mother and step father accused me of letting my brother go hungry, of not being there when he was in withdrawals, etc. I've washed my hands of it. John and I know what kind of relationship we had. He knows he always had a place to come if he needed to .. and often he did. I didn't even try to dignify the accusations with answers. There was no point. I tried, hell am trying, to file them away as things said in pain, grief and heartache.

My sister is in real danger at this point. If the family doesn't stop this guilt trip and blame laying, she may very well end up committing suicide. I've explained to her, cajoled her, held her and whispered "it's not your fault, it's not your fault" for what seemed like hours.

By the time the funeral actually did come, I was so emotionally shell shocked that I was little more than running on instinct. Hold them when they cry, direct people to the restroom, make sure coffee is made, introduce various people to other people, try to answer questions, offer comfort, and not go insane.

Everyone kept commenting on how well I was holding up, the fact that I was there to comfort all of my family, I never ended up a wailing sobbing mess kneeling in a corner somewhere. I'm not a person that can do that. My grief, my pain, my screaming, begging denials are private. I can't fall apart in public. It's almost impossible for me. If I even start to something inside me rises up and forbids it. I swallow my pain until I can be alone, then I can come unglued.

My sister in her pain and grief was worried about the oddest things. John was cremated today, but for the showing and funeral yesterday we had to rent a coffin. (ugh how creepy is that.. a rented coffin) Anyway she was worried they might not have tied his shoes. So she looked under the little curtain they have that separates the closed portion of the coffin from the open. She was stunned to realize John didn't have shoes on.

I had to explain to her that it is pretty common for them not to put shoes on the person, for some reason. It was bizarre. The whole thing was bizarre.

At the service my sister got up and gave a very long winded, very rambling speech about the damage drugs can do, the fact no one reached out to John.. etc I hope she takes her own message to heart and gives up drinking and drugs herself.

I heard more than one person quietly joke, after the funeral, that if it had been the Oscars they would have started the commercials over her speech. I'm ashamed to admit I laughed .. it was true. I was starting to wonder if they had the hook waiting in the wings to pull her away from the mic myself. She meant well.. she tried.. she did what she could. I'm proud of her for standing up there and giving her speech knowing that a good portion of the family does secretly blame her.

My brother would have HATED the way our family behaved. He hated confrontation, guilt trips, arguing, or hard feelings. John would do anything to make people laugh, to try to defuse a situation. I pointed this out time and time again to my siblings, my mother and her husband. I might as well have tried explain the Pythagoras theorem to a 3 year old.

My cousin and I left to come home almost immediately after the funeral. I don't know if there was fighting, I really don't want to know. All I know is .. I have to move on with my life. My son and I have to move on. The rest of my family will have to get through this on their own. I have officially given up my 'unofficial' job as family confidante, peacekeeper, and problem solver.

I have to worry about my son and I. I love my family, crazy as they are, but I'm doing my best to stay out of it.. away from it.. and go on living.


  • You are totally right. It's time to move on, don't think about ur family blaming each other and no one accepts part of their fault. Life goes on and i hope it will go better for u.

    By Blogger Joan, at 7:11 PM  

  • Welcome home Jen. My thoughts have been with you all week. I have come to admire your strength over the past few months more than I can ever express. I hope you have a soft place to fall when you finally do find that private moment to grieve. Take care hun. Sue

    By Blogger JustSue, at 9:31 PM  

  • Jenn,

    You're doing the RIGHT thing. Your son and you both need time to mourn. I can't say get over it, because you never get over losing someone that close to you. Life goes on no matter what we go through. And you have it all right, for life won't pass ya'll by your way. Take care and let me know If you need to talk.

    By Blogger Love, at 10:52 PM  

  • You are SO strong. And SO smart- you realize that your son comes first. right now.

    It's okay to love your family. They're YOUR family. You SHOULD love them. I just think it's awesome that you get the whole picture.

    Good vibes you..your life has sucked me in. I hope you're okay.

    I hope this comment comes across okay.

    By Blogger some girl, at 11:54 PM  

  • Good to have you home my friend. You got through it and did it all with strength and compassion and the will to do the best you could as others have mentioned. You have always seen the whole picture and I commend you on your smart way of dealing with it all and doing the best for your son. As you so aptly say it is time to move on and think of your son and yourself. You have some far away friends that are ironically close but will help in anyway possible. Love you lots.......

    By Blogger moon, at 11:45 AM  

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