Thursday was my grama’s funeral. Wait, lemme back up.
Last Friday my mom called Blake and told him that my grama was going to pass either that evening or in the morning and that she didn’t need me there. Somewhere in the communication, I was told it was okay to go though, and I decided I did want to and I wanted my brother to come with me because whether or not my mom needed him, I was pretty sure I did. My Aunt Sandra and her husband John (who is my uncle obviously, but I’ve never called him “Uncle John”, so he’s always just been “John”) were there, along with my Aunt Betty. I hadn’t seen my Aunt Sandra or John in a really long time so I had no idea how that would go and my brain was pinging like crazy with like, PTSD type shit about my grama being on her deathbed in a hospital the same week I’d already been pinging because there is still some traumatic residue from being on my own deathbed 3 years prior. And obviously there’s just the scariness of death and the fact that this would be THE absolute last time I saw my grama ever in my life and she would not be the same lady I hung out with a couple of months ago on her last birthday.
I forget why but my mom texted me from HER finance John’s phone (yep, I’m gonna confuse you with 2 Johns; let’s call them M’John and S’John for “mom’s John” and “Sandra’s John” unless you can think of anything better) as she doesn’t have a phone of her own and she told me that I shouldn’t come to the hospital but lady, I just got out of the shower soooooo too late! If I had a WHOLE SHOWER, it’s serious business. I told her that I had a lot of things in my head from when I was sick that I would rather replace with something more like love and she said that she wanted my last memories of my grama to be spending the day with her on her birthday and I told her I’ll remember what I wanted to remember. And I didn’t say this to HER at the time because it wasn’t the time, but I didn’t want the first death I face as an adult head on to be HERS and my grama’s situation seemed pretty unscary by all accounts. (I was told she was sleeping.) So my mom said okay and I told her that Chad was coming with me and she said okay and by that time Blake had gotten home from work so we left to pick my brother up in Toronto.
To give my family privacy, I won’t describe the scene at the hospital despite really really wanting to. What I will say was that my grama really was just sleeping and she seemed peaceful (but not dreaming) and as things came to me about my own stay in the hospital, I asked my mom questions. For example, my grama was wearing an oxygen mask and I wondered if it was the same kind as I had when I was at St. Mike’s and as it turned out, I had multiple masks, breathing tubes and the trache which just lead to more questions but I didn’t want to bombard my mom completely. My Aunt Sandra and S’John and Aunt Betty left the room and my mom asked Blake, my brother and me if we wanted to say goodbye to my grama. I declined. My brother held her hand and said he thought his goodbye to her. Blake held her shoulder and told her not to worry because he’d always take care of me and the kids. She did not respond to either of them. I declined specifically because I didn’t want her to hear my voice and stay longer than she needed to because it was familiar and because our last conversation in May went like this:
Grama, raspy, breathless voice, crying and like, legit concerned:
Don’t even forget about me, Sarah.
Me, sort of stunned that she thought I *could*, whisper in her ear:
I could neeeeever. I love you. Thank you for everything.
Grama, crying harder:
You’re welcome, you’re welcome.
…and nothing at a hospital could replace that goodbye, for me, we said it. That was it. And this is what she looked like, wearing the birthday tiara I brought for her that day:
That day I brought her a trillium from the forest that I’d dug up the day before because it was kind of a thing between us:
Anyway, she died Saturday, around noon and like, everything between that moment and Thursday is basically one big giant blur of unadulterated panic because I would be seeing certain people for the first time in about a decade and I wasn’t sure who exactly or how they would be to me, but I did know my molester would be there. The one I’d said I’d forgiven but I guess that was just a lie I told myself to try and make it through the funeral because if it were true, I wouldn’t have been freaking out so fucking hard about just looking at him and being triggered. Blake promised me he wouldn’t be an issue. I decided to believe him because I didn’t see that I had any other choice.
Molester sat in the pew behind me, right behind my brother who knows nothing of this whole thing because we’d be in danger of having to bury two people that day if he knew. I just saw his oh-so-familiar profile out of the corner of my eye, pointed him out to Blake and then the funeral started. (Which was super traditional for our family and at a funeral home, not the “simple” graveside service I was expecting.)
When the priest lady or whatever she was, was done her funeral stuff and we were to exit into the salon rooms for food, they went from the front row back and I was in the second row. Blake switched spots with me and I didn’t really understand why, but he told me afterward that with the way it looked like the rows were exiting, molester would have been right behind me if Blake didn’t switch with me. So. Close call. Also I guess when I stopped before entering the salon rooms, Blake said it looked like molester was going to approach me so Blake stood between me and his line of sight.
I have never felt so out of body in my whole life than at this funeral. I was so completely unaware of my surroundings and who was around me. I just trusted Blake. I mostly spent the time eating sandwiches or looking at my shoes in the rectory area rather than deal with people in the salon rooms.
My Aunt Judy, her husband Uncle Clare and her brother, my Uncle Don were there, which I thought was sort of weird. My Aunt Judy lives pretty far away and they’re both from my grampa’s side of the family. My grama and grampa were long divorced before he died 11 years ago. I dunno, I guess it’s not weird, but I just wasn’t expecting them. I hadn’t seen either of them since my great grama Crittenden’s funeral and it was good to see them because I really like them both. I saw my cousin Terri was there (also my grampa’s side of the family) but I didn’t talk to her.
Near the end, we were about to leave and my molester’s brother started talking to Blake. I looked at my shoes because up until that moment, I thought my grama had told him what his brother had done to me and that’s why he was mean to me the last time we spoke. Then I heard, “Elmvale, eh? Near Wasaga Beach? Well maybe I’ll drop by sometime,” and I think my eyes probably got as big as saucers because the way he was talking sounded like my grama – despite all her threats and lies to the contrary – took my “secret” to her grave. Which is a very good thing.
After I got home from the funeral, I looked at Facebook and my cousin Cory (also grampa’s side, my Uncle Don’s son, around my age) reached out to me and sent his sympathies about my grama. I thanked him and said it was good to see his dad because I’ve always liked him and we both agreed that we should have some family time under better circumstances.
Then I was still confused about some things, so after I got my funeral clothes off and we’d been home for a little while, we got in the car and started heading in the direction of my mom’s, where we stayed and chatted for a few hours and certain things about our family were…illuminated, and now I find myself wondering who my family is right now. Like, after this it feels like it might be bigger than I previously thought. For example, my Aunt Judy totally confessed to Facebook stalking me on a regular basis like a total creeper even though she “doesn’t use Facebook” haha That is SO my Aunt Judy, who I love to death, and who I would absolutely love to spend more time with.
I thought that when my grama died the family would fall apart, but from where I’m sitting now, it looks like my bubble at least, might be getting a little bigger.