8/29/2005

A real Meme

Communication is the key to getting out the news that there is a family emergency. Some one had been on the phone almost every moment since the accident. They were either checking on Grampa, Uncle and Aunt or finding our when the funeral would be or offering condolenses or being notified of the mess. Mom got home and went right from hugging us hello to the the phone.

I apologize to all of you that want the world to be filled with sweetness and light. It's just not built that way. Pretending won't make it so. We are taught to deal with a variety of emotions in a socially correct manner as we grow up. We are not taught how to grieve and deal with loss. Everyone just fumbles through the best they can and kids watch how they do it.

For our house pain, loss or diasasters called for humor. Grim, dark, and bloody humor. Dad breaks his leg, "Half a pair of pants costs less." His mom dies, "Now I don't have to figure out what to get her for Mother's Day." Some of it is actually funny and we would laugh, then feel guilty for having a good time when someone else wasn't. Some of it was just plain gallows humor, barely funny and not usually socially acceptable, but ok if no women or kids were around. It was the way we learned to cope.

Everyone learns a different way. For most people it's repression, controling their emotions in public, keeping the old stiff upper lip. A few lucky societies actually have public grieving. Everyone gets together and cries and wail till the tears are done then they bury the body and have a big party to help themselves feel better. I don't know which way is right.

I have had different reactions to different deaths. Losing Grama and Aunt Mary was the first time I lost people I loved for me. At twelve I was just beginning to see myself as a self apart from my family unit. I was smart, quick witted, tender hearted and used to being a leader of at least the rest of the kids and the kids I baby sat for. I was able to put myself in another's shoes and relate to their hurts or upsets. I could handle basic first aid and knew when to call in the reserves if I was over my head. I learned that I could also be cold, hard hearted and selfish.

Mom and Dad were really busy handling funeral details and family notifications as Grampa was not doing well enough to take care of things himself. Then I found out the funeral would be on Thursday, my birthday. I was shocked. You can't bury people on someone's birthday! It will wreck the party! I couldn't belive they would do that to me.

I was so torn. I loved my Grama and I liked Aunt Mary alot. They had both been good to me in their own ways and Grama loved me back. Grampa loved me, too, and he was very sad right now. He needed us to help him feel better. But I was too upset to help him feel better.

It was my BIRTHDAY! It's supposed to be fun. Presents given and recieved, cake and ice cream, parties at school and at home and I didn't have to do any chores all day or share my new toys for a week! It only came once a year and was better than Christmas because it was all about me!

I went back and forth in my head debating what to do. Mom had PROMISED the cupcakes but she obviously wouldn't be able to do them tonight, she was still on the phone with people and it was almost nine o'clock. I could make them myself but my cakes still fell so they wouldn't be as good. We would have to get up two hours early to make them in the morning. I was starting to see it was not going to work out at all.

I didn't want to remind her about the baking while she was crying on the phone and did finally catch her between calls. I ran up to her and put my hand on her knee and asked, "Can we make the cupcakes now, Mom?" She looked at me like I was an alien, then her brain shook out the fact that tomorrow was my birthday and dinged next to the promise of cupcakes and she got such a sad look on her face, I knew I was screwed.

"I am so sorry, Valerie, I just won't have time. I still have to call 4 more people and then get all our clothes ironed for the funeral tommorrow. You won't be going to school anyway, so you don't need the cupcakes."

Well, that did it! She didn't love me anymore! I burst into tears of self pity. "I am so going to school and I am taking a treat because it's my BIRTHDAY, I stammered out through the rising flood of hurt and tears, "I HAVE TO take the other kids a treat! EVERYBODY does it!" I rubbed my eyes with both fists and tried to wipe the tears away so I could see but it was a losing battle. The loss I felt for Grama and the pain of being shoved aside for dead people was just too much and there was no stopping yet. And then mom started to cry.

"You HAVE to go to the funeral, it's for your GRANDMOTHER! It's how you show you loved her and everyone will expect you to be there!"

I took a deep breath and used her own words on her, "I am NOT everyone else and I want to go to SCHOOL!" and then I stamped my foot. That blew it.

"You get right up to your room, young lady and STAY THERE until I come for you," she shouted!

With a loud wail of total pain I ran up the stairs as hard as I could, stomping on each one, I slammed the door behind me and threw myself on the bed, almost in hysterics. I cried and cried. The other girls couldn't come up when I was being punished so there was no one to comfort me.

I wound down after a while and wiped off my face then brushed my hair. I laid back on the bed and started to try to work it out but it was too late now and I dribbled tears because I wouldn't have a treat.

Finally mom came upstairs. She came in and sat on the edge of the bed and took my near hand in hers. "You really want to go to school tomorrow?"

I nodded, afraid to try to talk for fear of bursting out with sobs again. I was repressing, ya know.

"You really should go to your Grandmother's funeral. It's where you say good bye for the last time."

That was a no brainer for me, "I said good bye when she left and I even said I love you, I don't want to see her dead! I want to take cupcakes like you promised and go to school!"

She looked pretty miserable. Then she said, "I can't make the cupcakes but I will get you a treat and you can go to school if that is what you really want."

"It is," I answered.

She left the room and sent the rest of the kids up for bed. We were emotionally wiped out and we slept quietly that night.

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