we survived. at times barely but i helped bury one of my life's best friends. honestly there were times in the days leading up to the funeral that the words "i dont know if i can do this" wanted to escape from my lips. and it was true but i kept it to myself because i felt somehow if i said it it would grow in power and truth. the truth was i could, i had to. we drove 3-4 hours down to middle-of-nowhere west virginia after going the wrong way three times. this with a garmin, iphone map, and access to the webpage of the funeral home which had directions. moral of the story: west virginia is really curvy!
i must say it has been one of the oddest moments of my life driving to what to me felt like another planet, opening a door and seeing the somber, tear stained faces of 8-10 of my closest high school friends. each one as equally slack jawed and in disbelief that we were all congregating under such circumstances. i stood in the middle of the aisle knowing that my first expectation and desire would be to go forward and peer into renee's face. but how? HOW can you look at your friend? i was scared to see how hard life had been to her in the last 8 yrs. afterall she'd lived on the streets and in shelters, been on all kinds of drugs no doubt. i was scared my picture of my sweet renee would be tarnished by the last image i would have of her. i made it half way down the aisle before collapsing into a puddle of tears while david stroked my back. gosh i could not have walked through this day without him.
the service was just awful. it sounded more like a sermon than a funeral. it was very clear that this pastor had never met renee and knew very little about her as he only passively referenced her a handful of time. i remember someone saying "i wanted to stand up on my seat and scream ARE YOU GOING TO TALK ABOUT RENEE?" and i think we all felt that way. and oh. people. the outfit they buried her in. outdated, clearly picked out by an older family member. if i see her in Glory someday i think she will have some funny words to say about all that if such things occupy our minds and mouths Up There. we went to the gravesite and discovered she was being put right next to a "No Dumping" sign. the lengths of my patience and grace towards this family was already stretching thin given the backstory involved but this? THIS was the period at the end of my friend's earthly story? i was embarrassed and angry, sympathy-less for her biological mother as she wailed about her baby being gone. but i clung to the shoulders of my friends and shared some laughs and many many tears. dustin and i agreed to come back down and take holly, who was unable to come down with a work schedule conflict. i think that was part of the big hurt, that she was being buried SO FAR from those that in my opinion, knew her and loved her best. in some impersonal backwoods plot and not with her mother who raised her, who is in marysville. i am not one to hang about in cemeteries, i just don't believe a person is in this or that place after they die, they are above all of that physicality. but to know that i didn't even have the option to go see her hurt me.
after standing around tearfully catching up with friends we all went our separate ways, planning to reconvene on sunday at a local celebration of her life in our hometown (marysville). we left and i felt a real weight lifted off of me. like, that was the big crescendo in all of this and if i can get through that i can get through the rest. i ate my first real meal in days on the way home and i dont know if this happens to anyone else but i felt like i could have just passed out in the car. i had to have a cup of tea to just make it through the evening. grief is so stressful on a body. when beatrix died i lost about 10 lbs in one week because of this "diet" and sleep routine.
the kids did a great job being away from us. augustine i had no question, but olive, she'd never stayed the night away from us. heck never even slept anywhere but our bedroom.