We returned home last night.
Thank you again to everyone for the kind comments and emails. It was truly comforting to know that there are such good and caring people in the world.
Although this was obviously a time of sadness, there was also a great deal of laughter and comradery. There is something simultaneously heartbreaking and cathartic about sorting through your mother's possessions after she has passed. One the one hand, it feels so invasive, to be handling these items; on the other hand, it brings comfort and memories.
There was a lot of stuff to sort through - personal items from mom's room, her will, the safe deposit box which contained some perplexing items. (Note to self: itemize my cherished goods so that when I die, people know their history and their importance in my life.)
But the tears and the tough decisions were eclipsed by the stories and the laughter. As none of us are religious, we were originally planning to have a self-directed ceremony, but it turns out that nobody had the heart to officiate the service, so we contacted the vicar or whatever of a local community church who had been recommended to us.
Pastor Tim was wonderful, as it turned out. We met with him a couple of days before the funeral, and he was so perceptive and so sensitive to our needs and desires that we immediately knew that we wanted him officiating the funeral. If I ever felt the need for organized religion, it would be at a church with someone like Tim as the head. He never once got into the god-talk during the service, but instead based his talk around something called The Mourner's Bill of Rights. It was particularly comforting to me to hear him say that everyone's grief is personal and unique, that there is no set protocol to how one experiences death. Because at this point, I was still concerned with being strong for others, with doing what needed to be done, and saving my grieving for a time when I could be in my own place, by myself.
I had the privilege of writing the eulogy for my mom, and my two of my nieces, who are currently in Korea and in Chile and obviously could not attend, sent beautiful letters of remembrance of their Oma. Their sister read these letters at the funeral, and I have no idea how she was able to read them in front of all those people, because they made me cry just reading them to myself.
About fifty people attended the funeral and the luncheon that followed, and I was saddened to see that there were only two people there of my mom's generation. At my dad's funeral seven years ago, there had been many more old folks, but I guess there are less and less of them left.
Personally I had a wonderful time, reconnecting with people, some of whom I hadn't seen in years. Many of them told lies about me to the Resident Offspring, claiming that I used to be a wild one, but we all know that I have always been the very picture of decorum, don't we?
My mom had a good death, as it turns out, and she would have been very glad to see her kids laughing and teasing each other, sharing stories and hugs with old friends, and not being able to make any decisions about who should take what. It's just the Bruederlin way.
I am going to beg your understanding if it takes me a few days to get back to visiting all of you on a regular basis. Now that the funeral is done, and we have dealt with most of the legal trappings and have made plans for how to deal with the rest, I think I will have time to do some reflecting. Now that we are no longer around people all day and all evening, I think I can find the space that I need to do my private mourning.
And that may take me a while.