The viewing went as well as could be expected. Unfortunately, though both Linda and I had planned to take the kids home when they'd had enough, the weather and other circumstances decided against that; snow is falling pretty heavily even now, so I wasn't about to take Ronnie's car and drive the slick mountain roads. Linda, on the other hand, found her car blocked in by the massive crowds coming to say goodbye to Rita. Luckily, there was a playroom next to the main viewing room, so they were able to play in there without disturbing too many people.
As far as the viewing itself, it felt positively surreal for me. For the first half-hour or so, before people began arriving, it was what I expected it to be; Rita looked really, really good, and the immediate family members were able to comfort each other quietly. After that, though, the many people who loved Rita began filing in, filling the funeral home to the brim. It was a huge testament to the number of lives Rita touched in her life, and I know that if she was looking down, she would have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love in her memory. On the other hand, for me, who didn't really know most of the people who were there, it began to feel less like a calm farewell to my mother-in-law and more like the reception of a wedding of a very distant cousin. I barely had a moment to breathe between chasing the boys and being introduced to old friends of the family, so that when by chance I would catch a glimpse of her coffin out of the corner of my eye, it came with a jolt, reminding me of why I was there in the first place.
But that was okay; the viewing wasn't primarily for me, of course, and by chasing the kids I was allowing Eric and his family the chance they needed to love and be loved by each other. Eric had the chance to spend time with his mother, and he says that he was finally able to accept that she was gone. I know it won't be as simple as that, but that's good for now, I guess.
Sam was hit a little harder than I thought. Seeing Rita in her coffin frightened him a little bit, though once we realized that his first concern was the whereabouts of her legs (hidden in the bottom of the coffin, not removed, as he feared), we were able to reassure him a bit. He visited with her a handful of times over the course of the evening, and in between that, he played with Hailey. Several times I overheard him trying to talk with her about what was happening, but she was completely and totally oblivious. One exchange actually went something like this:
SAM: I miss Grandma very much. (pause) I'm so sad!
HAILEY: About what?
He decided, after much deliberation, that he doesn't want to go to the funeral tomorrow. I explained what it would be, and he decided that he'd rather stay at home, but perhaps go to the gravesite with Eric later (the funeral won't include an interrment ceremony). I told him it was all right, that nobody would make him do or go to anything that made him uncomfortable. He's working through this still, and I think he's doing an admirable job.
One of the high points of the evening was the presence of Protho and another old college friend, Aaron. Having them there really helped Eric, I know, who was able to relax in the support of his buddies. We hadn't seen either of them in too long, so it turned into a mini-reunion of sorts. It's terrible that it took an event like this to bring it about, but it was appreciated nonetheless. Phone conversations with Laurie and a couple of other old friends have also eased the pain around us.
Tomorrow will be the funeral, and my parents are coming in for that. I'm exhausted, and I really should be sleeping right now, but Gabe fell asleep in the car (and no wonder!) on the way back from the viewing, so I decided to take him back to the hotel instead of joining everybody else out at the house for a very late but needed meal. Pizza just got delivered, so I'll go do that, now. Good night!
one year ago:
Today he found the book with the map of the United States, and he's been running through the states and asking bizarre questions. "Is Daddy Texas? Is Texas blue?"
two years ago:
Whine, whine, whine. Get over it, Carrie; nobody wants to hear the teacher complain about the tests.
three years ago:
Oh, no, it first bent, and then in sprang upward and jammed itself deep into the meaty pad of my right index finger before detaching itself in a long rip downward through my flesh.
four years ago:
There's something very wrong when he dreads going to work in the morning because it will mean starting the car, and he's terrified that the engine will either not start or make horrid noises if it does.
five years ago:
The library sent me to a Mock Caldecott panel, and I got to participate in a limited version of what the actual Caldecott panel will do in January.
six years ago:
I used to be one of the most insatiable green-eyed monsters on the planet.
In the ears:|
On the Bookshelf:
On hold until we get back