07 June 2007

Not joking

The ExMr Stapler is a very funny guy. He always said that when he died, he wanted to be buried in a Krispy Kreme donuts box and have "Papa Ooh MauMau" and "Katmandu" ("If I ever get out of here, I'm going to Katmandu") played at his funeral.

That idea gave me plenty of laughs then, but now, with my dead sister cremated but not yet disposed of, I am having a much harder time.

I am not handling the idea of "scattering" her ashes at the beach later this month very gracefully. (Edited to add: the family is coming out the weekend of the 23rd to do this.) You might say I am being the opposite of graceful. Not clumsy - more like "a great big hysterical ball of snot and wetness." The term that keeps coming to mind is that I am handling this "with extreme prejudice" which, though technically inaccurate, appeals to me somehow.

Oddly and coincidentally, my new long-lost brother, Kevin Charnas tackled this very issue today.
And I also hope that they bury me in gold lame, with an afro stapled to my head, hot pants riding up my crack and roller skates glued to my feet.

After all, I would like to roll in on Judgment Day with a little bit of style. And I have a distinct feeling that god likes disco. She'd better, or there's gonna be hell to pay.

I know that my sister would like something like that. She was always down with the flamboyant, the wild and the fun. She bonded with Liberace immediately upon meeting him.

But this is me we are talking about now. She is off cruising the galaxies and I am stuck here dealing with the remnants. Every time I imagine myself at the beach where we played as kids, scattering...ah, see, I'm crying again. I just want to puke at the thought of it.

I know it isn't her. I know it has nothing to do with who she was, what she is, what her memory means to me. But I just don't think I can do it. People do this stuff all the time. Why can't I? I just really, really don't want to.


debangel said...

Ouch. I really, really know how you feel. You can tell yourself all you want that the body is just a shell, but I know that when I watched the workmen grout my mom into her crypt, I wanted to barf and sob at the same time.

When my mom was dying she was worried she'd miss us. So I told her my theory on time, which is that it is linear and not circular (fitting in with God being both alpha and omega, in my own belief system of course). I told her that every happy memory of our family was still going on, somewhere and sometime, so in essence we would never be separated. I think that somewhere and sometime, you and your sister are still playing on that beach and having the best time together, too.

Hang in there. You're not alone.

Lisa said...

Oh sweetheart. I am so sorry.

super des said...

I don't think people DO do this all the time. I think that everyone that has this responsibility struggles with it, especially being as close as you were / are.

Take your time with it. Do what feels right.

QT said...

I agree with super des - I don't think it is easy for anyone that has to do this. Unless there is a deadline, why not just wait until you are ready? Will you be alone or will other members of your family be present? Would it make a difference if they were there or not?

I am so sorry :(

Anonymous said...

What a personal post. My family jokes about the same stuff as the ex-mr. My dad wants to be in a folgers coffee can, my mom wants to be in a purple canning jar. I am pretty sure they are absolutely serious about it.

But-- I cannot fathom having to make the decisions about this some day. Just.too.damn.hard.

Anonymous said...

When my Grandfather's ashes were spread across Lake Michigan from the back of a fishing boat, his friend, a boat captain, wrote a tribute to him that began by listing the date, time and boating coordinates of the 'drop' location. His simple but hearfelt words are now framed and hung in the family cottage on Lake Michigan, where my Grandfather was at his happiest. I love to stand and read those words every time I visit.

I don't know if something like that would help, or if you're already planning to write a dedication - but having that memento as a memory of my grandfather's resting place has always felt reassuring to me.

LittlePea said...

This so hard for you and that's normal. And even though people do this stuff all the time, it's never easy for them either so don't feel weird. Anyone who has lost a loved one knows just how you're feeling. I wish I had something more meaningful to tell you other than I'm so sorry. Because I am.

Perstephone said...

My heart aches for you. Grieving is hard because it turns so many fantastic memories into absolute agony. Take your time, cry it all out. And as was previously suggested, go at your own pace if possible.

Kevin Charnas said...

SueBob, I'm so, so sorry...

I actually don't blame you one bit. And as much as I would like to think that I'd be okay with scattering ashes of a dearly loved family member, I'm not sure I could.

We know that it's not the person, but it is the last tangible remnant of them. So, I understand why you feel this way. I can only begin to try to imagine the sorrow that you feel, but I do understand your extreme apprehension in doing this.

At this point, I think that if you can, get really, really quiet...and listen...to yourself. And then do what you want to do. If you truly just can't go to the beach with your family, then don't. Honor your sister's passing in your own way...and your own time.

I'm sending you my best, my new-found sister from another mister.

lizgwiz said...

It sounds like maybe you're just not ready. Nothing wrong with that--everybody has their own timeline when it comes to grief. I know people who've waited a year or more to do the scattering. Would your family consider waiting a while?

I'm actually considering a couple of possibilities for my own ashes when the time comes. Being packed into fireworks or becoming part of a barrier reef. There are companies that do both those things. Doesn't a fireworks display sound fabulous? I really like the idea of going out in a beautiful, colorful way.

Anonymous said...

Don't do it then. I don't know you or your family, but if it were *me* and I felt that way about it.....I probably wouldn't go. I have a feeling you and I probably believe the same about this kind of thing and you and I both know it's just the physical remains.......I don't think if you didn't witness the act of letting them go, I don't think you're offending or dishonoring her soul at all.

On the other hand........knowing the little bit I know about your sister, it seems like it could be very liberating if you think of it in a certain light. I mean, her body failed her, in a way. Her body confined her. By spreading the ashes of that body, you are helping to renounce that confinement, you are helping to completely free her spirit. You are almost giving the finger to the disease that held her down in a way. I dunno........just some random thoughts on that.

But yeah........I'm a firm believer in the process of grieving being about the griever.........the loved one is already gone. They are in a place where they understand a lot more than you or I can right now. So........do what you are comfortable with. Don't traumatize yourself. Do what you need to do to come to terms with all this, because, after all.........as cliche as it sounds, isn't that what your sister would want most?


I'm going to be in your neck of the woods around July 7th.......maybe you'll let me take you out for a margarita.

Anonymous said...

I have no idea how you feel, I've never lost someone so close to me. But my heart hurts for you.

Jhianna said...

I'm so sorry.

I'd say that I know how you feel, but I just don't.

I'm stuck right now needing to mourn my grandmother. It's been a few weeks, and I still can't seem to let it happen. I learned all these things about her at the funeral, and I know that she had a full life. But I'm not ready to let go. I'm not ready to give up the woman I knew for the woman she really was. I'm just not ready.

(I hate making things like this about me, but I thought that maybe knowing someone else was having a hard time right now with something slightly similar would help. Sorry if it doesn't)

Anonymous said...

My mom always said that she wanted her ashed waxed into the stage at an Aerosmith concert.

My sister and I ended up letting her boyfriend have her ashes when she died, so we'll never know what happened to them, but I like to think that they've been rocked upon.

ByJane said...

Stay home and make the potato salad. Kevin et al are right when they say we each grieve in our own time and our own way. You can best honor your relationship with your sister--and her life--by honoring your needs, and not those of Society or The Family or the American Association of Fitting Funerals.

meno said...

It seems you need more time.

Other than that, i have nothing useful to say as i have not had to face this situation.


Serena Woodward said...

This is one of the reasons that my will has specific instructions: There will be no funeral, no burial, no scattering of anything. I'm a body donor. A medical school gets me. My family can have a wake or a party...look at pictures of me and then move on with their lives.

I'm so sorry to hear that you're having such a hard time. You're sister sounded like someone I would have enjoyed meeting a great deal. She sounds like she loved life and lived it to the fullest. When you go with your family scatter her ashes think of it this way, you are giving her one last gift. You and your family are placing her in the wind to be part of the world she enjoyed so much. After that, every time you see a sunset, she'll be a part of it. Every time it rains, she'll be there. Instead of seeing it as a last good bye, try looking at it as a way of giving her a new place in the world. A world that , from the way you describe your sister, she filled with life and laughter. I think it's a fitting tribute.

Mom101 said...

Oh Suebob I'm so feeling for you. Your emotions don't need to be explained away.

Julie Marsh said...

While I would like to be cremated, I once had a close encounter with a velvet bag filled with remains. It was terribly disconcerting to think "This was once a PERSON."

The beach. That's where you have good memories, and she did too. I think it's the finality of it that would get to me - not only is her spirit gone, but so is the rest of her.

Anonymous said...

I can relate. I buried my mom's ashes in my backyard under an apple tree. I just did not feel like I wanted to scatter them. It's nice to have a little spot to go to to think of her. Maybe your family might like that, too.

Anonymous said...

One moment someone we love is here and the next...they're not. We can travel to the far ends of the earth to try and find them again and it would be a futile mission. I remember thinking about this the first time I lost someone I truly loved. It made me feel powerless. You knew and loved your sister in life. You looked into her eyes. You heard her laugh. You held her hand. And now her essence is burned down into ash form and it is way too much for the human mind to comprehend. I'm right there with you, SueBob. Scattering what remains of her is going to take a great deal of guts, though I know that the memories of her far outweigh the importance of the form she takes in death. Buried or cremated...I guess it matters not universally-speaking, but to allow the winds to take her to unknown places seems strange and brutal, I guess. I agree with the others in that you should do this when you are ready. I'll be thinking of you.

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