Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Upon this rock

The truth? I wish someone would carry me through this week. It feels intense, so much to plan, so little will to plan it, except for the desire to do right by my mom. My brother and I do have support—my husband, our cousins Nicky and Maureen, Aunt Grace, and lately also my niece Dana, a graphic artist who is doing the program so beautifully, lifting a great weight from my shoulders.

My brother put the planning of the service and the creation of the program in my hands. He felt completely overwhelmed by those details. He is taking care of the repast at the church hall and then the family gathering after that at his house. It's a good division of labor as I'm glad I don't have to think about catering two events, ordering tables and cloths and bar service and all that. I also don't have to worry about the flowers as my cousin Maureen is good friends with the florist. Much of the planning had been happening at Maureen's house. I love being there not just because she has an airy, open home filled with beautiful art, but because her mother is there, and Aunt Grace is missing her sister as much as we are missing our mom.

My first job on Monday was to take a full set of clothes to the funeral home so they could dress my mom for the family viewing. My brother had scheduled it mainly for me. I needed the closure. The viewing yesterday morning was very emotional. Aunt Grace gripped my hand and didn't let go the whole time. My mom looked like herself, except for her mouth; they did a good job. We held hands and said the twenty-third Psalm over her. But it was so clear to me that she was elsewhere, and her body was merely the vessel that had held the animating spirit that was my mother. I will never get over the stillness of death, the complete absence of the true essence of the beloved.

The program options from the funeral home were depressing. If I had to sit in the church looking at one of those, I'd weep and weep. My mom was an elegant lady. Her program should look classy. As a designer, my niece Dana has a very clean and minimalist aesthetic. I knew this because she did the program for my Uncle Roy's services last year. She is his granddaughter, my parents' grand niece. Last night when we came to her with a flash drive of photos and the text of the service and hymns, she sat right down and got to work, all of us around her at the computer. In a hour she had a mock up of the program that was simple and elegant like my mom, and I was beyond grateful. She said she'd refine everything today and we should come back to give it a final proofing tonight.

Today, I need to write the remembrance to be read in the church by my brother and me. I don't know how to start.

My children arrive tomorrow. I can hardly wait to hold them in my arms.


  1. You need all the arms there can be to hold you up. And because your family is the family it is, those arms are there. And that is in no small part because of your lady mother.
    This may be the most difficult writing you've ever done. It will probably also be the finest and most beautiful.
    I love you. Right now I am thinking of you surrounded by flowers and love and the soon-to-be presence of your children.

  2. Our prayers and heart-felt best wishes are with you and your whole family now. We love you.

  3. How generous of you to write when you are going through such pain. I recently lost my father and you are managing to put into words exactly what I am feeling. Thank you.

  4. It's something how the process of planning and doing somehow helps *and* delays the emotional process of grieving.

    I really appreciate this: "I will never get over the stillness of death, the complete absence of the true essence of the beloved."

  5. I agree with Mary Moon. Angella, so much beauty is pouring from your heart right now. Simple and elegant words, so fine and spare. I think the essence of your mother is in you.

  6. It's unfathomable how the body empties. The person gone.
    xo Take good care.