funeral for a friend today

Today I go to the funeral for the mother of two daughters the ages of my two daughters who took her own life last week.

I went to see the two daughters yesterday at the visitation.

The visitation is a ritual I am not particularly familiar with, but it seems to me to be a good thing.

I think it's like an Irish Wake without the alcohol.

The alcohol might have been more fun, personally speaking.

But as it was, the room at the funeral parlor, or whatever they call these places now, was full of fairly cheerful people, no one really dressed in black, or particularly sad, although a person here and there had wet eyes to be sure. 

There was no open casket, or no casket as far as I could see, at all.

Maybe we don't look at dead bodies any more?

Maybe that's too bad?

But I also don't know how the woman chose to end her life and so maybe showing the body was not possible.

I don't know that part of it at all.

I don't know who found her or in what state she was found or even where.

What I do know, that was the theme of the day I think, was that the woman had tried to kill herself before and had almost succeeded some ten months prior.

This information changed everything, I could see, for the two daughters.

They told me that the first time their mother tried to end her own life that they were crushed, and ashamed, and traumatized in every way. But in the months after, as their mother did not return to any sort of stability, they were left with the constant awareness that she would try again. And so she did. And this time she succeeded. 

The daughters said that this time there was a certain relief around the whole thing.

I could see that this was true in their faces, in their demeanor.

It was an amazing thing to behold, the way the course of events had made it possible for them to be prepared, as they said to me, for this day in some way.

Life is a great mystery.

I spoke to a couple of other mothers I knew from that community, but I didn't stay to talk to more people.

I could see that the idea was to stay around and talk and be a community in solidarity for the girls. I respect this concept, but I didn't want to go around to these different people I had known years ago. I knew that many of them still lead the same lives they had lead when I knew them. I knew that my life might be of curiosity to them, my divorce, my going to New York, my returning and now living in the city with the music producer I work with, at his wonderful little house, I with no savings left, no diamond ring on my finger, no investment portfolio. I who have gained so much though and feel very rich in my own way. I didn't want to be a person of curiosity in this day of support for the daughters of the mother who ended her own life. So I left quietly once I had spent a long time speaking with each daughter.

But today is another story. Today is the funeral.

Today we will sit in the church and hear whatever someone is going to say to us to help us understand, or to help the community process this occurrence. I will be all ears, that I can promise.

I am very curious as to how a high functioning community of success oriented people deal with this sort of thing that is a failure to thrive for an individual in their midst. 

And what made her so hell bent on ending her life when she had these two beautiful young women who were her daughters, her own flesh and blood, for whom I witnessed her devotion as a young mother? 

And surely she could understand that this choice she made will be with them all of their days.

But it is bigger than that sometimes, I understand.

I told the two girls a story, one that they had never heard before they said, of a minister in that same community from the time when they were little girls and their mother and I were friends.

There was this very kind and gentle minister of the Unitarian Church in the town where we all lived. He had a wife and a young son who both loved him dearly. He had a whole congregation of followers who loved him dearly. I was a musician for that church then, when I was a young mother. 

One Sunday when I was playing my music for the church service, that minister announced during his sermon that he was having trouble battling depression. He said that he and his wife and son would be traveling to the great Mayo Clinic the next day, on Monday. He said that he was probably going to be admitted for help in their Psychiatric Unit. He said he didn't know how long he would be there, but that the assistant minister would be covering his duties at the church.

Everyone was so supportive of him. His wife and son were there that Sunday service, and after the service everyone came up to them, hugging them all, wishing them well, sending him off with their devotion and blessings.

Well, he was admitted. He was in the special unit for people who are suicidal. These people receive twenty four hour surveillance and care to insure that they can't hurt themselves.

He had only been there a few days when we heard the news.

The minister had been walking in the hallway to have lunch, was walking with his supervising nurse along side of him, when he suddenly turned his body and threw himself through the plate glass window at the end of the hall and fell the four floors to his death.

There was just no stopping him.

Why?

I have no idea.

I pray for all of us that we can see the beauty in this life every day every minute.

Last night on the phone with my sweet and feisty daughter Ava, we were talking about all of this.

I told her that I had the most delicious healthy smoothie drink I bought from an organic health restaurant in our old community near the funeral place.

I told my daughter how absolutely delicious this strawberry smoothie was. I said that I just wished everybody could just live to see another day even just for the delight of ordering themselves a six dollar super delicious smoothie like that. Just the delight of something small and delicious that could make somebody's day.

Ava got mad at me. "Mom, are you kidding me? You think it's that simple? You are so naive that you think you can just tell somebody to snap out of it and go buy themselves a fucking smoothie? That's your answer?"

Ava graduated from college with a Psychology Major, and she has battled some demons of her own, and still does, so she should know.

I still think we among the living should all go buy ourselves a delicious strawberry smoothie today and take a long walk in the sunshine and name every single thing we have to be grateful for. That is what I think.

I'm going back to that same restaurant today and I'm gettin' me a smoothie before that funeral. That's for sure.

Comments

Courtney Yasmineh December 27, 2018 @10:11 pm
Thank you Ted. Great to have your comments here.
Ted Weir December 23, 2018 @12:02 pm
Funny comment about Irish Wake, as well as the serious subjects of no casket and your wonderful conversations with the daughters. Thanks for the wonderful holiday concert at the Riverview Cafe last night. I have just recently been reengaging with some of my favorite singer songwriters. It is a conscious choice because I tend to choose thoughtful and challenging music. As you beautifully portray with your covers and original words in song and prose.
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