happiness

LOVE has come for you.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

North of Town

my brother's headstone


my grandparents markers are behind this stone



from the gravel road just west of the cemetery



Today was a great and happy day, my nephew Levi graduated from DCHS. I lived with my sister the summer of 1991 to be his babysitter. He was such a cutie pie then, and he still is, just much taller.
I stopped at our family graves on the way home. It had been a few years and I just needed to be there a moment. We don't make it to C o k a t o very often, and usually we are heading back home in the dark. It always pains me to see the plots with black dirt, or new grass, thinking of a family's loss and pain. There was another woman visiting the cemetery when I arrived--I couldn't see well enough to tell whether hers was a familiar face, but I felt like I should know her. As I was driving out, I noticed this marker of my sister's friend. A place for her family to remember her...obviously well tended. Lovely.
I cried when I reached my brother's grave. I was 6 when he died. I remember feeling bad that I didn't cry at his funeral. It took my Mom years to be able to talk about Jimmy, and we just don't discuss the details of his death. I won't here. I think about him often. When Theo was about 4 months old something about his nose reminded me of his uncle Jimmy. This made me very happy. Today my tears surprised me, and it was the kind of cry that starts with a lump in your throat. Becoming a mother really changes perspective, and I think some of the sorrow I felt today was for Mom, and her loss, since now I know how dear and deeply a mother loves her child.

Last year an old friend of Mom's lost her son, you may have known Betty H's boy was 22. In May Mom was able to visit with Betty for the first time since her son's passing (she was in town for another son's wedding :). It was a short conversation, but they were alone in a quiet room at church. It must have been good to talk to someone who understands that kind of loss and pain. That both son's were 22 when they left their Mamas... Well, it has been so difficult for my mom to process her grief, because it is so deep and raw. I think there was some peace for her--to share a few moments with a woman Mom has long admired, who has shown kindness (when often others have been distant), who has known this pain--in finally moving with her grief. I hope.

Yesterday my pedicure client mentioned a website she has for parents grieving a child. I meant to write it down, maybe to share with Mom if she'd be open to it. One thing Client mentioned from her web page is that people will ask about the circumstances of the death, and that it is usually really an awful question for the parent. She says that parents want to remember their child's life, and share happy memories. I wonder if it goes the same way for people who have lost parents? My Mom just had an experience with someone who said, "Aren't you the one who's son ...?" Mom said, "I don't like to talk about that now." He didn't stop. She felt horrid. People are total idiots sometimes. I like to remember my brother as the guy who gave his baby sister a can of oil for Christmas. She cried when she unwrapped that gift. Bawled. He quickly opened it, revealing the can was full of candy. All for her. Sweet memory.

12 comments:

Elizabeth said...

that is a sweet memory. somehow I suspect that while he thought it would be funny, he didn't expect tears. :) I hope you have many other sweet memories of your brother.

I love the lines in the photo from the gravel road.

congrats to your nephew!

Anonymous said...

i'm sorry for your family's loss. beautiful memory, jenny. i hope you and your mom find comfort in your sweet remembrances.
God's peace!
~ann b.

Jan said...

Lots of food for thought in this post. I always wonder what is the appropriate thing to say to people about their loss of a loved one. Is it better to say something, even though it might not be the "right" thing, or to say nothing? Especially a loss of a parent or sibling or child(besides miscarriage)- I have not lost those, yet, and I have no idea, I can only imagine, how hard it is.

Any suggestions on what is a good thing to say?

mella said...

Your post touches my heart, Jen, I'm glad you shared about this.

Sounds like a true gift for your Mom and Betty to connect with one another, and your love, support, and respect for your Mom and her choices in handling her grief is also so beautiful to me.

Levi looks so handsome all grown up. :)

And how delightful that Uncle Jimmy's spirit showed up through his little nephew's nose!

Confused Chaos said...

I'm glad you got to visit your brother and what a great memory!

ethiopifinn said...

I never really know what to say to someone who has had a death in the family, but a couple of people have told me they appreciated acknowledgement. And that it is better to say something like "hello, i'm sorry." than "I know how you feel." Even when the "i'm sorry" is annoying, it would probably be better than nothing. nothing is ever right, I'd say. My pedi client said listening is most important.

Anonymous said...

I feel a little weepy today and when I read your post I got a HUGE lump in my throat.
I don't know how your Mom could even go on......the grief! As a mother one can only imagine how hard it's been on her.

I got to the end of your post and laughed! What a sweet gesture for a brother. I am sure he adored his baby sis.

Bette

Joni said...

I really enjoyed this writing Jenny - and the memory of Jimmy's Christmas gift is great. Thanks so much for sharing everything. You really have a gift and I'm glad you have this means of using it. I feel like I'm "cheating" somehow because I always feel so thankful to have you in my life and to be able to "log on" to see what's going in your mind, and then I feel a little sour at the one-sided-ness of it all.

Laura Jean said...

Thanks for sharing that story. I, also, never really know what to say. Although through this adoption process I have learned saying, "I understand how you feel" is NOT correct. The best anyone can do is say, "I'm sorry", hey? It's sincere, it doesn't open up added questions...again, thanks for sharing. I'm glad you had that experience, tears and all. :)

Leanne said...

Thank you for sharing this story, Jen. Wishing you continued peace and love.

~ Junkyard Jennifer said...

Such sweet memories. I hadn't known you'd lost a brother. My heart goes out to all of you. But, in knowing this, my heart truly goes out to your mom because that is a pain most unimaginable...

I never know what to say to someone either, but I don't always feel comfortable saying 'I'm sorry.' For some reason, it doesn't always feel right to say it. Does that make any sense? I say it sometimes but I tend to say 'I've been thinking of you." or 'You're in my thoughts and prayers.'

ethiopifinn said...

jennifer--
Thanks. I feel weird saying "I'm sorry." too. There is just too big a chasm for sorry.