Mom’s memorial service was beautiful, but not in the way of music or flowers. I’ll try to explain and hopefully my words are not lacking in meaning because this post is important to me. I’ve waited to write it until I have a clear head and some rest and perspective.
I’m not done telling my surgery story, but this needs to be told next before moving on to the next day or it won’t make sense.
My mom passed away in March. My youngest brother scheduled her funeral during the week of my back surgery, in April, so I asked my oldest brother to arrange a memorial service I could attend prior to my surgery. The only day that could have all of my brothers attend with me, was the day before my surgery.
We got everyone up and dressed, loaded in the van at 6:30 am for the 2 hour drive to my moms church. My kids were all angels even at that early hour, I was surprised no one was too grumpy.
We arrive at the church just a bit early so they can have a snack before going in. As we are munching, my in laws arrive: mom in law, dad in law, sis in law, brother in law. I was so touched they drove out so far and so early to support me.
We enter the church and head for the restrooms. I am surprised to find them in the old part of the church, the gymnasium where mass used to be held when I attended as a child with my mom. I was prepared for flashbacks, but instead, I was filled with joy. My mom was there and it felt like a bright warm hug. That was our room and I felt so connected to her, even though it was an unused, dusty old gym now. The fancy new chapel was lovely, but meaningless to me.
I shared some memories with my kids and hubby, absorbing as much of that room as i could, then we headed to the small chapel where weekday morning mass is held.
I saw my oldest brother and sat near him. It has been many years since I’ve been in a Catholic Mass, but I found myself responding at times with the correct phrases. My kids were mesmerized and confused, and well behaved.
The priest mentioned my mom’s name as a lost soul and everyone prayed. The regulars all came over at the end to wish us well and comment on my beautiful family.
I looked for my other brothers and spotted them outside the door. I was afraid they hadn’t come. My youngest brother barely looked at me but gave me a hug. Middle brother asked me to come to his car, he had something for me. He had a photo album mom had put together for me in her last weeks of pictures of me and my brothers. He also gave me a vase I had given her as a gift, and some paintings I had painted for her.
I lost it. Uncontrollable sobs racked my body so hard I thought I might break right there in the parking lot. My brother looked so uncomfortable. He said he had to get going, he had an appointment soon. (He would be living on his own now, and had to see his caseworker daily)
When the others came out, we decided to go to breakfast at a nearby restaurant. We were seated when we noticed the man at the next table said hello with a smile – it was the priest that delivered our mass. He said our mother has been mentioned in mass every day that week. It felt extra special to dine with him, like mass was extended now.
We waited for youngest brother and realized he must not be coming. We tried texting but he did not respond. Oldest brother said this was typical behavior for him recently.
We all had a nice, warm, loving breakfast. My oldest brother was kind and gentle with me, showing understanding, and support. He shared some concerns about youngest brother, apparently attempting to swindle us out moms money. Not that she had much, but it seems he wanted it all left to him as the only good son, just like he managed with dads money. Wow, had he grown up to be a cold hearted manipulator? It looks that way. I don’t care about the money, a few thousand makes no difference, and I can’t believe he is willing to lie and deny to get it.
He says we had an idyllic childhood and are ungrateful and undeserving.
Oh….Idyllic must have a different meaning….
I am grateful my brothers were there to help my mom. But youngest brother prefers to think I’m a bad person, not that I was struggling and in need of help myself. I was not in a position to help anyone. But to believe that means believing my childhood was not idyllic…so he is stuck in denial where he is right, where he feels safe. It’s alright. I understand. I’ll be here if he ever feels safe enough to come out.
After much thought, I feel at peace about my mom. I feel connected in a good way, and like I was able to hold onto the good that she tried to do for us. I feel I see it clearly, the good and the bad. I accept the life we had. I’m happy she didn’t suffer long. I feel an immense relief now that both of my parents are gone. Like I can just live. Like I don’t have to expend so much energy protecting myself and my kids. I feel free.
Or more accurately, I feel I could be free now if I let myself. So I will continue with my therapy program to heal the roots of PTSD and I will see what happens.