Tuesday, September 2, 2008

'The Man' Tales - The Viewing

I was only home a day when I received the call that the funeral arrangements had been made. Cid’s body had been transported to Lethbridge and his uncle and mother had made all the arrangements. Now his uncle was asking me to come down before the funeral and stay at the mother’s house.

The sun sparkled off the snowy fields and I was reminded of how cold the earth was in February. Cid had made this drive countless times and I tried to see the landscape as he had. The fields stretched off to the west – vast expanses of white. Their sheer vastness butted up against the magnificence of the snow covered Rocky Mountains that stood up stark and hard against the blue bowl of the prairie skies. I tried to see this beauty through Cid’s eyes. I tried to experience the wonder of southern Alberta as he might have as a child; fresh from Italy and afraid. But it was hard to see through my tears.

My stomach was a cold hard knot and it clenched as I walked up to the front door of his mother’s house. The uncle opened the door and Cid’s mother gave me a stiff hug before turning away. I often wonder if there is any pain greater than a mother’s when she loses a child.

After I was settled, I met them both again in the kitchen and we tried to eat a little something before we had to go for the viewing at the funeral home. It was difficult to keep up some pretense of a conversation as we watched the minute hand inspect all the points on the clock. When Cid’s mother went to lie down, I found a quiet spot in the recreation room and wrapped myself in a blanket – and cried. I felt like Catherine from Wuthering Heights as I called and called for Cid in my mind – but like Heathcliff - he never came.

The three of us dressed and as one we walked silently to the car and drove to the funeral home. I didn’t think it was possible, but that cold hard fist in my stomach tightened even further as we walked towards the front door, and I suddenly realized I was afraid. The funeral director met us and shook our hands and ushered us towards the room that held Cid’s body.

My knees started to shake and I thought I was going to faint as we walked up that long aisle towards the casket. The cloying scent of flowers almost made me swoon but all I was aware of was the casket with the lid propped open – and Cid. Taking a deep breath, I forced myself to keep walking until I stood beside him and looked at that face that I loved so much. I couldn’t stop the tears and I reached out and laid my hand on his cheek and whispered, “Oh Cid”.

I don’t know how much time had passed before I noticed that I was standing at the casket by myself. I turned and looked behind me and saw Cid’s mother leaning heavily on the arm of her brother, watching me. I felt horrible and didn’t know if I had committed a faux pas, and I put a weak smile on my face and motioned for them to join me. I could see that his mother was close to collapsing and I took her other arm and helped her to stand as we stood beside the casket. I don’t know who loved him the most, but the three of us stood there and wept.

I kept telling myself that he wasn’t here anymore, but he looked like he was. Just asleep. I kept telling myself that he was with me - but there was that space between again. I kept telling myself that my heart was still in one piece – it really was – but it felt ragged and torn and I thought it was weeping too. I felt like my whole life lay there with Cid and I dreaded the next day.

We sat in the front row and watched as friends came and looked down at Cid’s body before they came and whispered to his mother. I almost held my breath when Cid’s ex-fiancée brought her 2 children and stood beside the coffin. I knew how much she had hurt him. I knew she had been cruel and uncaring towards him – even when she knew he had cancer and was in pain. I remembered when he offered me the diamond ring she had worn and I had told him to give it back to her. She had told him it wasn’t the same without him attached to it, but she took it. Something to remember him by. She wouldn’t look at me when she came to whisper to his mother and all I could do was shrug my shoulders. Wasn’t it time to give this nonsense up?

Still – we sat there. Mostly in silence. For what seemed like an eternity. I could barely tear my eyes away from his face knowing that once they closed that lid he would be gone forever.

But finally it ended and we drove back to the mother’s house in silence. Later, Cid’s uncle said there was a van sitting out front of the house and he went outside to investigate. He came back in and told us the ex-fiancée was outside but wouldn’t come in because I was there. I threw my hands in the air and got in my car and went for a drive.

29 comments:

Leatherdykeuk said...

How utterly traumatic for you! I don't know how you managed it, even through your love for Cid.

rosiero said...

My worst fears didn't happen. I had thought they might go ahead with the funeral without telling you. At least they did something right!

rosiero said...

Or did they?

Melanie said...

Ever tactful that uncle. Some occassions are too important to stand in the past. Silly ex fiance.

Poor you Aims going through that. Traditions vary according to families and the individual, in the UK. I don't know how I would cope with an open casket where a body still looks alive. (Can deal with bones no problem.) All that and knowing Cid so deeply and being in love with him still- how you managed it at all with dignity is beyond me.

Stinking Billy said...

aims, baby, you couldn't have been looking forward to writing this one. They don't come much sadder than this but, as usual, you went ahead anyway and re-lived it. For the readers it helps to know that better times were to come - like now.

Daryl said...

Bitch.

Ahem.

I am so very relieved that 'our' beautiful city sustained almost no serious damage ... electricity being out is nothing compared to what it could have been ...xo

:-Daryl

Lane said...

My heart goes out to you and what you went through aims.

And the ex fiance with her pettiness? Some people:-(

Akelamalu said...

I held my breath with you as you went into the funeral home. I know that feeling. :(

Maggie May said...

Aims... I am gutted reading this.
I have been there for several people now.

TSannie said...

Still here still reading this achingly beautiful story of yours. Thank you once again for sharing.

dawn said...

That is so terrible. It is even worse that people are so immature and won't be brave enough to be in the same house as someone. The ex fiancée sounds insecure.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Funerals, loss, grief, old scores to be settled - death brings out the worst and the best in people. It is a surreal time and people behave in the most bizarre of manners. Dignity, you kept yours dear girl and that is all that matters - that and knowing Cid was proud of you.

travelling, but not in love said...

aims, it reminds me of sitting with my Mom, staring at my dad's coffin. Just the two of us there, looking at a closed box. Neither of us knew what to say to each other, let alone to the coffin.

Awful. just awful.

Valleys Mam said...

When my husband died, the coffin was closed, he had been in a head on car smash, they didnt think it wise that anyone saw. It was strange , a large wooden box, lovely flowers ,so many people,so many tears. Do you know i struggled to get his face in my mind.
I can still remember it

Biddie said...

Wow. I don't even know what to say. You have been through so much,and you are always so gracious, even when it must be hard as hell.
The smell of flowers always make me think of funerals. It makes me swoon, too.

lisaschaos said...

:( To relive again, even if only your mind, your soul, must hurt.

San said...

Wrenching, Aims.

I'm having a birthday and put up a long playlist over at my place. Also a LONG post. Lots of dedications. One of them to you.

bichonpawz said...

How very difficult for you, aims. But you did it all with dignity. And Cid would have been very proud of you. The ex-fiancee obviously doesn't know how to act like an adult.

Frances said...

tough time.

fish said...

Congratulations on winning Best Inspirational Blog!!

Melanie said...

I have a little something for you on my blog.
In Appreciation,
Melanie

Irene said...

You always bring me so close to tears, as some of what you experience, has been my experience. The final end of death, but then the eternal presence afterwards of that loved one for the rest of your live. Death is not the ending. It is a long pause filled with awareness of the other, until you meat again. Cid is always with you. Day after day.

Mima said...

I'm glad that you got the chance to say goodbye, I wasn't well enough to get to the funeral home for Grampa, so I only saw a closed coffin. Some say it is a good thing - my Mum for one, but I also would have liked the chance to touch him & just say farewell. I don't know how you coped with his family though, you were very brave, and seem to have dealt with it in the most honourable way possible, a real achievement in those circumstances. I'm now caught up, and have read the bits that I was dreading with it being so close at the moment, but it was cleansing re-looking at my feelings to. I have a pin board at the bottom of my bed covered in photos, and Grampa is smiling out at me from there.

DK Green said...

just leaving a compassionate ~hugs~ for you.. such a thing to go through.

Much love x

Crystal Jigsaw said...

An unforgettable experience. Can trigger many emotions that we often find too hard to deal with.

CJ xx

CrazyCath said...

Oh why do people continue with the pettiness of it all at times like this? If you and Cid's mother could recognise your common bond in that you all loved Cid, why couldn't the ex-fiancee?

What a trauma for you after everything else. And how traumatic to be reliving it. Take care of yourself.

John-Michael said...

How difficult and painful ... all that you have encountered and endured in the making of Who I have come to cherish and embrace as the You that you are today! And how miraculously lovely the workings of Life in bringing you through it all ... that we ... all of us who are so individually, and particularly blessed by your ministry to our personal Spirits ... might have this instant of knowing and appreciating the Gift of your Presence in our lives!

I love You.

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Poor you, aims, being made to feel like an outsider in the midst of all that heartache. Once again, I feel for you. Love and thoughts, M xx

Lehners in France said...

Aims, I always cry at your posts, but I a;ways come back too. What a shame Cid's ex was such a hard bitch. Debs x