Friday, September 2, 2011

The Long Road, Part Two

I had more thoughts on my great-grandma's death that I wanted share, but I thought the last post should be all about her and my memories of her and my great-grandpa.  I wanted to pay tribute to her without muddling it up by making it all about me, as this post is.

This is the first time since Brian died that I've had to deal with a death in the family.  It wasn't unexpected or sudden, and it wasn't someone who was taken from us while still far "too young" (though I know that designation doesn't matter to fate, no matter how we plead).  That helped make things easier for me. 

One thing that has made this harder is being away from my family.  The funeral and visitation for Grandma Cooper are happening this morning -- right now, in fact.  They are happening about 16 hours up the road, with "the road" being I-35 (it really is a straight shot all the way from San Antonio/Austin to Hampton; to drive it, there would be maybe 30 minutes total that weren't on that road).  A very long road indeed.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it to Iowa for these events.  This is the first time I've had to miss out on anything really important because I'm so far away.  I hate that.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I am ready for another funeral.  That is a lame excuse, I know -- life (including death) goes on, and I don't get a pass forever just because of my personal history of losing Brian so young and so suddenly.  It's not like I get a "funeral pass" for the rest of my life -- at some point, I'm going to have to face that demon again.  It might be one of the last milestones, actually -- I've managed to go to weddings, after all, and hear "'til death do you part," and I've gone to baby showers and fantasy football drafts, Bears games, etc.  I can't use my pain or fear as an excuse, though I am certainly worried about that additional emotional toll that a funeral will bear for me because of my history.  This would have been a good one to go to -- a funeral for someone who led a full and happy life, who has been wanting to be reunited with her late spouse, and a funeral where I'd be surrounded by the love and support of family. 

That matters not, though.  I'm here, in Texas, and not there.  It sucks.  I have paid tribute to Grandma in my own way, though, telling "Antonio" all about her, writing about her, and I also plan to make some of her famous Rice Krispie bars once I can locate a recipe (I distinctly remember seeing a recipe at her house once; it was the first time I'd seen the word "oleo").

Facing death again also makes me think about Brian.  Has he found Grandma Cooper yet, to welcome her to the other side?  Or is he giving her some time with Grandpa Cooper first?  For that matter, have my dead relatives and friends met Antonio's dearly departed on the other side, as they look down on us with love? 

One thing I'll say is that I'm not bitter that Grandma Cooper got eighty-eight years and Brian got thirty-one.  I can't explain why, but I'm not.  I do, however, feel sadness that he didn't get to do as much on earth as her, or as much as he wanted.  He didn't get to have children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  He didn't get to retire.  He didn't get to have that fulfilled feeling that I can only imagine one feels when surrounded by their offspring.  He didn't pass on his legacy in that way, didn't get to see the future he created through his life, didn't get to sort of see the beginning of the end with the love of his life by his side, and that truly breaks my heart.

The way Grandma Cooper lived and died is the way it's "supposed" to go.  I'm thankful for that, while also mourning that it didn't happen that way for Brian. 

As someone who loved them both, and someone with (I hope) many years left to live on this planet, all I can do is celebrate their lives and remember them fondly.  That is what I will do to pay my respects.

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