Today, I am struggling. A week ago we learned that my sister-in-law passed away. I didn't believe it, at first. Then I brought flowers in from my garden, along with a small oak branch and some leaves from other trees in my yard and I put them on my altar. I sent fervent prayers to my Goddess. Then I waited, at home, while my husband went to his family and they supported each other. I was at home with our kids and he asked me not to tell them until we could all be together. I understood that and respected that.
Eventually, we all met up at Denny's: me and the kids, my husband, my nephew and his wife, and my niece and her husband. We told our kids what was up. Then we waited for my mother-in-law, father-in-law and brother-in-law to get there, but they were very late. Our other niece called in a panic. She had been out of town and had not gotten any texts or messages until a very callous one from an acquaintance. She was able to get to Denny's and sit with us for a while. We all ended up back at our place, after I bought everyone food.
The rest of the family showed up shortly after that and everyone talked. Everyone comforted one another, but I felt like a liar. I had never accepted this woman as my sister, so why did this bother me so? I needed comfort, but felt like I had no right to it. I felt like I needed to be the comforter, the hostess, the one who made it all better.
They didn't stay long, just long enough to make sure everyone was all right, to see each other in person. My mother-in-law and father-in-law (who are no longer married) stayed the night. We all gathered together for morning prayer the next day, and I read out some prayers that I found online. They were good, not perfect, but good enough for a very quickly put together remembrance. We made sure that my father-in-law (born-again-Christian) knew what we were doing and that it was non-denominational. He said a few words, too, for his daughter. It was needed, so very much. My son became very emotional and had to crawl into my lap for part of the prayers. I didn't mind much.
My guests left that afternoon to stay with other family members, giving us (and me) back our house and our semi-normal lives. That helped me a lot, so I could have a sense of normalcy and continue to go to work and support our family. The nephew in the Army at Ft. I***** in California arrived Monday morning and I was able to take Monday afternoon off of work. We hung out with them at his sister's house for a while, then they all went to talk to the Medical Examiner about an autopsy. To the relief of all, he agreed to perform one.
We went to the YMCA Monday night, and I am very glad we did. I needed the physical exertion to help with the emotional strain. However, Tuesday saw my brother-in-law and his live-in (ex-wife) girlfriend and her son show up. They spent 2 nights. They were in town to attend the viewing of my sister-in-law on Wednesday morning. They just put up tents in the back yard and were very respectful of our home, but still, more guests. (sigh) I am a terrible hostess.
The viewing was.... difficult. Her youngest son attempted to take charge and order us to go in, as did his wife. I told her in no uncertain terms that we were waiting for Grandma to be ready and we would all go in together. No, I wasn't nice, but I did think it rude to not wait for her. After all, it IS her daughter that died!
She looked peaceful, lying there in the viewing room. So quiet. Our kids had insisted on going. DH did some research on the internet regarding death and Native American practices, and then he wrote a song for her. He also brought the porcelain mask he had gotten her for her birthday but never given her.
My brother-in-law had found a French Clown and had us all sign the clothing. This was tucked in with her and was cremated with her. He also found a scroll and had me write DH's song on it, as well as a dedication. I listed that she was a daughter, sister and mother in part of it. Then it was pointed out, in the viewing room, that it needed to say grandmother, too. It was just then that my son spied a marker on the floor, spilled from his grandma's purse. When he handed it to me, I saw that it was the exact marker I needed to add that word to the scroll, so I did, right then and there. It was meant for me to do that, I am sure of it.
I took the kids out to keep from heating up the viewing room too much. I then went to use the restroom. When I came out, everyone was gone! They were all in the viewing room and DH was reading what he had written. I am hurt beyond words that I didn't get to hear the first part. I felt like I had been forgotten and was not a part of the family. It still hurts. I wasn't important enough to notice or to wait for. Even my entrance into the room in the middle of the reading didn't garner much more than a dirty look for asking to be let in by the person standing in front of the door. Really? Am I that much of an outcast, even in my family? I don't understand. Did I do something to warrant this treatment? My heart hurts and I am struggling to understand.
After the viewing, I had to go back to work. But I did not want to go home and face the people I felt rejected by. I stayed late and hoped they would leave to the gym so I could stay home alone for a while. Well, they did leave, but late, and my brother-in-law and his family were still there. Not much alone-time there. I continue to struggle to "stay strong" so my DH and kids have someone to turn to.
Thursday, and it is payroll day at work. I stay late again so I can get that done, a normal occurrence. When I walk up to the house, my brother-in-law is packing up. I go in, putter about and generally do what I normally do after work. I am not intentionally ignoring them, but they eventually leave without a word to me, but a quick call to DH's phone. I missed the call and he left a voice mail. OK, but not my place to check that. I already knew everyone went to float the river, so I expected to be alone again. I didn't expect to be alone until 9. And a text from my oldest niece asking if I knew when they would be back got a really sharp reply of "no one tells me squat."
Turns out they didn't leave until late, took forever to float the section they floated, and got back late. But they all arrived safe, if a bit worse for the wear and with a scary tale to tell. But they were safe, just as I had asked from Cerridwen.
DH has been wanting to celebrate his birthday, and maybe combine it with his sister's wake. Since we had no idea about when we would receive her remains, this has been up in the air. Also, all week I have been trying to plan a Lammas celebration, but getting no where. I don't have the mental focus to read up and create a ritual for us, and I don't have the physical energy to do the work, either. It has been left largely undone because I don't know what is going to happen in the way of a birthday and wake and whatever else.
Saturday, and my oldest niece-in-law leaves. Our oldest nephew calls us and asks for a ride from his motel within 30 minutes, so I go to get him. His little brother is there, too, and showing off a bee sting from Thursday. He went to the ER and has a cellulitis infection.
After we got back to the house, DH got a call and was told that I should know all about the autopsy, the results and when they were getting his sister's ashes. Again, I snapped that "I don't get told squat" and felt left out and in the dark yet again. Apparently, our youngest nephew was supposed to have told me when I ran into him at the motel. See? Not important enough in this family to have been kept in the loop. I don't know that I ever have been.
After all this, DH thought it best to have the wake Tuesday or Thursday next week, and told people that. Even though we have given our opinion that is should be at a park so non-family could easily attend and when it should be, DH was still asked if it would be on Sunday. People just don't listen, sometimes. And I am not going to plan this party. This is on her kids, they get to plan.
I don't WANT to plan this, she wasn't my sister, and I never really accepted her as my sister-in-law, though I was trying. I was moved to put her in my daily morning prayers the Monday before she passed and to ask to put aside our past and move forward on a more positive note. I am glad I did, but I still need to pray for her forgiveness and for myself to show her the honor in death I failed to show her in life. I have a lot of work to do there, still.
Through all of this, I tried to talk to DH about Lammas. He didn't seem to be interested, though my daughter is. She even insisted on baking corn muffins for the feast which moved me to bake a Lammas loaf. For the feast that I no longer wish to hold. That I don't feel the desire to do. On a day I would rather just crawl back into bed and cry. Even though, yesterday, when I was searching for a place to be alone where no one would barge in and demand my attention, I was led to sit in a place with ripe rye grass to harvest. Even though there is ivy right next to that. Even though my daughter is thoroughly enthusiastic about this, I am not.
I don't know if I will hold the ritual or not. Everyone has left, again, to go to the gym with our oldest nephew (who is staying here until he leaves, Saturday at the latest.) I guess I will go do the shopping and see what I find. After I do some praying to see what I feel.
May you always walk in peace and feel the love that surrounds you.