It’s like resurfacing after a long deep sea dive. Of course, I’ve never been deep sea diving, so I’m only guessing here but I’ve paid attention during movies featuring deep sea dives. And I feel like I imagine one would feel after resurfacing.
If you follow my creative writing blog, you know that my mother-in-law died early this month. As we’ve been saying, it is a sad event, but not a tragic one. She was 94, enjoyed a long, happy, and mostly healthy life, and left it peacefully with her family gathered around her. It’s what I hope for myself.
It’s the aftermath that lingers in my mind like the effects of that plunge to ocean floor, those endless surreal days of details, details and more details, most of them costly. If you’ve been though it (the aftermath, I mean, not the actual event), you know about the business of death. Yes, business. And oh, what a business it is. We tried to keep her send-off as low-key as possible, because that’s what she wanted. But every time we turned around, there was someone there with a hand out.
Along with the services one expects from those involved in the business, there were others that came packaged in guilt. You know. Of course we want the best and most lavish (read expensive here) of everything available accompany to our loved one into eternity. The flowers have to be the lushest (read showy, out of season and, yes, expensive) possible or people might think no one cares. Even the priest managed to work a pitch for donations into his sermon “because she was committed to philanthropy.” (I should mention that he’d never met her.) For the most part, the family was able to resist all these elements of commerce, and the resulting final goodbye was simple and elegant, which is just what she wanted. But, even so, I was appalled at the list of fees included in the final bill.
But then there’s the family. That was the good part. It was a joy to have the entire family, some from afar, gathered. It’s not something that happens often. It’s a shame that it takes a funeral to bring us together. Given the occasion, everyone was on good behavior. (Oh, there were a few exceptions, but I can make allowances for grief. Mostly.) My mother-in-law was Irish-American, and I know she would have enjoyed to tenor of the proceedings. It was most reminiscent of a true Irish wake.
And now it’s finished. As things return to normal, I realize I’ve let just about everything fall by the wayside for a few weeks. I haven’t even write a word on my blogs, let alone visited any of those of my friends. Time to shake it off, move on, and pick up where I left off.
Perhaps I should start with the bills…