May 10: My mom passed away
May 11: Her visitation
May 12: Her funeral
May 13: My twenty-second birthday
May 16: I graduated from college
In the defense of the situation, I was not planning to be at my graduation. I had finished classes in December, and had been back in St. Louis doing an internship as a final requirement. I already had a full time job and had no vacation time yet, so it really wasn’t something I was considering. I was thankful that my dad had planned the funeral and visitation before my birthday. This may sound selfish to the reader, but knowing my mom, she would have wanted it that way, too. I didn’t request this; it was something my dad felt was right. And, I had a good birthday. So many people came to the bar, and I truly felt surrounded by people who cared about me. I felt a little guilty for having fun, but I know my mom would have approved.
We honored my mom’s wishes and had a closed casket. Some family members wished they could have seen her one last time, but I was glad it was closed. I didn’t want to see her like that, and for that length of time. I had the mental picture of my mom that I wanted to keep, I didn’t want that skewed by an open casket. To this day, I see my mom with her bright eyes, smiling face, and great laugh. When her memory pops into my head, I see her alive.
I don’t want to write in detail about the visitation and the funeral. These were two of the hardest days of my life and I felt like I was running on fumes, just going through the motions. The one redeeming factor that says so much about my mom was that there were so many people who came to her visitation. At times, the entire funeral home was packed. I still feel proud that my mom was able to touch that many lives. On the down side, having to talk to so many people who I had not seen in years was hard, especially in my frame of mind. Sometimes I felt obligated to hold a conversation with someone because in reality, no one knows what to say to a person after a death in the family. I still don’t know what to say to someone else who has lost, and I’ve gone through it. You are obligated, for obvious reasons, to hold the visitation and funeral immediately after a death, but the persons most affected by the death are in no condition to act as a host.
For me, the funeral started my grief. The finality of the funeral and burial propelled the beginning of my life without my mom. I didn’t want to say goodbye. It wasn’t fair that she was taken away from me. I would never talk to my mom again, except in my thoughts and prayers. I would never hear her great laugh that always made me laugh, too. I would never be able to share a joke that was only funny to us. She would never crawl in my bed late night to watch Jerry Springer. No more of my mom’s cooking, which will always be my favorite. No more rolling my eyes when she tried to make me go to church every week. No more watching her eyes light up when any of her nieces and nephews came over. These were the things I thought about that day, and at that point in my life. Now, ten years later, there are so many more things that I have gone through without my mom that just seem so unfair.
May 10: My mom passed away