Friday, October 19, 2007

Oh, Death!

I never know what to say when someone has a death in the family.

Recently, Mrs S had her mother-in-law die. I knew when she called me it had happened... I just kept talking away, instead of asking my usual question, and finally, she said, "Don't you want to know why I called?"

No, not really. I didn't want to have to face that entire thing of what to say, what to do, how can I help? When my father died, I was hard pressed to accept help from friends, grateful to have it, but, I shied away from anyone being there. I didn't know how to just say, "yes".

When I was back in the Land O'Utes, the Sisterwife's aunt became ill, and she traveled back to see her, knowing it would be the last time, preferring this over going back for a funeral.

It was a good time, spent with family, seeing the aunt, retelling stories. She tells a great story about this aunt, one I will not share because it's not mine to tell here... but, a story that makes me laugh very hard and long, especially when the Sisterwife tells it... her facial expressions and voice taking on the characteristics of another, it shows her great talent as an actor.

Her aunt died yesterday, before she had to suffer any more indignity from the harsh disease that had suddenly laid claim to her. Before she had to go though the rigours of chemotherapy, something that would have caused her great pain, misery, and would not have prolonged her life for any huge period of time.

Love was sent to my dear friend, to her mother, to her family. A candle was lit last night, with a prayer to go with it... I was raised that the smoke carries the prayer to God, and keeps the person and the prayer in His presence.

I don't know what else to do... we never really do, in the end. Harper Lee said it best, in my book of all books, To Kill a Mockingbird; "Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between."

I cannot bring her food, only send my deep love and prayers for her and her family...and I'll hold a memory of a good story told well.

Of a woman I never met, by a woman I know... and with that, she'll live on in our lives.

That's all we really want, isn't it? To live on in someone's life, in someone's words.


It's what I ask for, what I hope for, what we all, I think, really want and need.

10 comments:

golfwidow said...

If she lives on with you, even only in that story about her, she will have achieved immortality.

Kelli Wedemeyer said...

I am sitting here watching Jeopardy, my 15yr old asleep sitting straight up beside me, and my husband tapping and fidgeting in the man chair because no one is entertaining him, and my eyes are full. You have such a gift, a way with words they say. Thank you.
I send a prayer to your friend, and hope I live on in the memories of those left behind in such a beautiful way.
In about 60 years of course.
Kelli

Corye's mom said...

as a friend, you have two duties to a decedent's surviving relative: listen when the person wants to talk, or cry; and give the person space if s/he needs it.

that's all.

offer company and sympathy, and allow the person to keep dignity.

by doing these with love, you've gone above and beyond. same as, i'm sure, was done for you.

you did your duty admirably, dear.

that's what makes the world go 'round.

Peter Varvel said...

Very sobering, and touching, too.

Keeping you and Yours, in my thoughts and in prayer, dear friend.

Richard said...

You know what we do.

I sometimes think it's wonderful, so structured that it removes the need for thought, for choices, for creativity.

Sometimes I think it sucks. So structured, removing the need for thought, for choices, for creativity.

Typical of us. Contradictions in everything, the same words meaning opposites.

So I should come and see you? (Question)

So, I should come, and SEE you? (negative statement)

The key is not to say the words, but to mean them. It's not for us to decide whether to give help, only to sincerely offer whatever is needed and leave them choose. The value is in knowing the offer is there, really there, not in neccessarily taking up the offer.

I have my own way to immortality.

Die with debts. Big ones.

Then you're certain to be remembered.

LisaBinDaCity said...

I'm sorry if this is mean but I feel the need to say it.

If it had been me calling to tell you about a family members death, and you rambled on endlessly and had not asked me any questions, I would have wanted to shake you. The situation was not about you. Don't you think it was already hard enough for your friend? It was extremely insensitive to expect understanding about your needs when she was dealing with a painful loss.

I firmly believe in those situations you suck it up and deal with your own grief at another time.

Quin said...

thank you everyone, for your concern for the sisterwife.

and, lisa, i sent you an email.

hope that helps.

ellagood said...

my good friend recently lost her mother too. to lung cancer of all horrific things.

the best thing you can do is take some of a friend's pain into your own heart. i think when the sadness is spread around a bit more, it lessens some ( a tiny tiny some) of the sorrow.

Quin said...

and, i do just that. i am there before and after.

having been there myself, two years ago, when my daughter found my father dead...having to walk in and officially identify him, there on the ground, i know how it is to have that huge sadness.

when people said to me, "i'm sorry for you loss" i didn't know what to say in return. i wanted to comfort them for comforting me.

my friends are my rock, and i hope i am theirs.

so, i say the things that you say, and i mean them. i go back to the house and i cook and clean and do what i can. sometimes, though.. i know their pain is deep, and i can't make it go away. and for a bit, if we don't discuss it, i can pretend, the way i did with my dad, that it didn't happen.

Anonymous said...

Good for you, Lisa! Trailer trash here needs to be reminded to be humble. Look how she treated her own flesh and blood, what can you expect for someone else?