Sunday, October 26, 2008

past week

My mom's oldest sister died today.

Aunt Barbara called me a couple days after mom passed and told me she was in too much pain to travel up for the funeral. I know Barbara was greeted warmly by Mom as she passed through the veil...a joyful reunion I will one day get to hear all about. Pretty interesting how close their deaths were....almost like it was meant to be or something.

I am home now. I arrived yesterday. I decided to stay a couple more days after the funeral so Joette and I could clean and organize Mom's stuff.

I just want to record feelings I guess...of this whole past week. If you read a million blogs a day- this might not be the most exciting read- but I am writing it for me anyway. This is sort of a journal entry I suppose. I am going to be making my blog into a book here at the end of the year. I finally found a bookmaking company that fits all my online writing and picture saving needs. Click HERE and see what I mean. So anyway:

The Sunday night before the funeral we dressed Mom. I was a little apprehensive and a little uneasy about seeing Mom's body again. When we got to the funeral home, my mom's best friend Pat and her daughter Heather were already there. Joette, Calie and I thought it would be a good idea to have Lynette come too- who is a best friend of the family and has sold Mary Kay to us for years- we thought "why not have a dear friend do Mom's make-up rather than some random mortician who doesn't even really care about Mom"

So of course I was in tears as I entered the funeral home. I was just a mess. I really don't know how to handle this thing called "death" I hate looking at Mom and not being able to talk to her, laugh with her, cry with her- her body is just this shell- cold, stiff, heavy- I was sharing my honest feelings with everyone at the funeral home and Pat suggested we have a prayer. Joette said the prayer. In her prayer she said something like this: "we are grateful to dress our dear mom in her sacred temple clothes. We are so thankful our mom taught us about the temple and taught us how we should go to the temple often" I kind of felt ok after the prayer and I was sort of starting to grasp the wonderful concept that we are to be buried in our temple clothes- it is so interesting how every aspect of our lives is covered by the Lord. His plan is so perfect. Even in the sorrow of death, He allows us to feel peace...and what greater way to remind us that we will definitely see Mom again than to dress her in her white beautiful temple clothes. I know it is all symbolic...yet still- it is a very reassuring eternal feeling.

It took me awhile to touch Mom. I was a blubbery crying mess...but the spirit was in that room and she looked so amazing. She looked asleep. Seeing her all dressed in white with a little make-up on her face left a far better image in my mind than what I had.

Death is so weird. I can't believe my mom is dead. It doesn't seem real...but it is- because she hasn't called me on the phone yet. She is really gone.

Keith, Dad and I went to the funeral home on the Saturday before to pick out flowers, casket, etc. The funny thing is- is that Keith and I both knew what casket Mom would have picked out and I kind of got the goose bumps when we made our final decision. I thought picking out flowers would be an obvious woman daughter thing- but Keith was pretty certain on what flowers needed to be on Mom's casket. He picked out roses- and they were gorgeous. I was touched to see Keith so involved in the little things that go into planning Mom's funeral.

There was supposed to be a private viewing...but Mom was late. We had to giggle that Mom's body hadn't shown up to the church on quite a few people were given the chance to see Mom- she really did look good. They did a marvelous job on her. Once again...she didn't look dead- she looked like she was sleeping...after the viewing was over we had a family prayer. I then took Mom's veil and placed it over her face. The casket was then closed and latched.

The funeral was kind of a miracle. We somehow had the strength to handle the day quite well. We could feel Mom's confidence in us that day. Calie, me, Joette, and Keith were all able to speak and sing while for the most part keeping our composure. It was actually really therapeutic to talk...and tell funny stories about Mom. It felt so good to hear the audience laugh. Mom would have wanted us to laugh. At the end of the first row of benches in the chapel where we were all sitting as a family- there was a nice comfy chair from the foyer. Pat, Mom's greatest friend, has a hard time sitting in the pews for a long period of time, so she had the chair brought in where she could sit- but she must have changed her mind about using the chair because it was left empty for the entire service...or was it? We all like to think Mom was sitting there- a perfect front row seat for her to sit and enjoy as we celebrated her life for 2 hours.

Now that the funeral is over, I keep thinking about all the stories and neat things about Mom I forgot to say in my talk. Joette and Keith mentioned the same thing. What was interesting is that we felt so compelled to talk about how Mom had shared the gospel with us and how she helped instill a testimony in our hearts. It was kind of repetitive but it now makes perfect sense. Her greatest mark she left with us was her testimony...and we know nothing will make us happier in this life than our subtle yet burning conviction of the truth. Mom didn't do anything spectacular to teach us about Christ and the restoration of the gospel...but it was her everyday life -and it beautifully surrounded us as we grew up as kids. As I think about all the things she taught me- I treasure her testimony the most, her constant efforts to keep trying even though life was far from going perfect- she did all she could to do what was right- and her testimony and ours strengthened because of it.

I loved seeing my mom's siblings at the funeral. I really don't know my aunts and uncles all too well. This is really embarrassing but I had to ask my uncle Dean who he was!!! I just laughed about it and so did he...because I'm sure he didn't know who I was either and it was ok. Uncle Billy came out to the house to visit- I can see why Mom had so many good things to say about Billy through the years.

Well now I am real home. It is kind of hard being here- so far away. The last 3 weeks have been very emotional yet I have felt so much comfort and love from friends and family. Everyday was filled with visits, laughter, service, planning, music, gatherings, food, stories, memories, hugs...-and now I must return to my old life. Church was kind of hard yesterday because no one knew my mom and no one knew what experience I just went through- and I just really missed being surrounded by family. I kind of felt alone and lost. It hit me real hard how far away Mom felt. I was actually out in the car yesterday after church waiting for Chay when the tears began to fill up my eyes. I scurried to find my sunglasses but it was too late and Brandy was in my car before I knew it. She hugged me and told me she had missed me. It felt so good to hear that from someone. Brandy has lost two close people in her lifetime to death and so she knows the ache that comes with losing someone. She said to me, "it is like your whole world has come to a complete stop yet everyone and everything around you keeps going, keeps moving" She described my feelings perfectly. Thanks Brandy.

But it will all be ok. I will figure it out- I always do somehow. I am so grateful that I can pray and read the scriptures for comfort...I have been reading "Beyond the Veil" these last couple days- a book on people's near death experiences and it has been hopeful and fun to read as I imagine Mom up in the spirit world doing her magic as she teaches and listens...

I have told Chay this probably a thousand times as I keep repeating myself over and over again all the feelings I have about losing my mom: "If I am on my death bed and I'm having a hard time letting go of life- just remind me over and over again that I will get to see my Mom soon and I think I will die very quickly...because I seriously can't wait to see her again." ok well I better go- I need to live for Mom and get things done around the house and plan the Family Home Evening lesson- doesn't do me any good to just wallow all day over Mom...


Heather said...

Oh April, I was sad to hear that you had left. I wanted to get together one more time before you left. I got so busy with school and midterms this week. Darn it. Stupid school!!!! But I am glad that you are home now as I bet your girls are too.

Your mom did look beautiful; she is such a beautiful lady. I love her chin. I still chuckle to myself about her cute little feet. She traveled so far and did so much on those little feet. I can understand your hesitation about seeing your mom again. It is a hard thing. You did amazing!!! But my mom was right; it was an honor to do the last bit of service for her. I know that I felt honored. I also loved Joette’s prayer. It was so beautiful and just what needed to be said. I still cannot forget the chickens on the furniture’s fabric at the funeral home, it must have been a man who picked that out!!!! You guys did an amazing job at the funeral. Your mom would have loved it, and I did also. It honored her so well. Your mom was incredible. It was good to see you again. I miss being a child and playing with you for hours out in the fields, and in your basement.

And the lasagna was easy it is from the pioneer women’s website. I can make it because it shows exactly every step with a picture. It’s hard to screw that up; she even shows you how to brown the meat. LOL the only thing I did different is I used chopped canned tomatoes instead of whole.

Thanks for blogging your thoughts. You are so good at expressing your feelings!!!!

Tiffani said...

April, thank you for sharing your mom with us. I feel like I have known her for a long time - when actually I probably have only been around her a couple times. I look forward to seeing you and your family at Thanksgiving. Please let me know how I can help - when you want to visit again just give me a ring! I love adult interaction! Love ya, Tiff