A Day of Respect For My Brother

So the day of my brother’s service has begun. What should it be called? A celebration of life. He was 32 when he died. That doesn’t seem suitable. A memorial? To remember what he had accomplished up until this point, and what more he could have done. Usually memorial’s are for people who lived a longer life. A funeral? What is a funeral. Why do we even use that word when putting together a gathering to mourn the loss of a loved one. Is it even mourning when you don’t cry? Who defines what mourning is? Question upon question keeps running through my brain.

I have seen every one of my family members express their mourning in different ways, and at different times, but I really have no idea what they are feeling and thinking. I struggle trying to deal with everything myself. I have been trying to pull all my thoughts together to understand why we do this ritual, and what makes it easier to accept that the person is no longer living amongst us. They are dead. We throw this party as their final party.

Except in this case, we will have one more in the Spring of 2011 to spread his ashes in the same spot as my dad’s ashes.

I have to give credit to my director. She is amazing. I know I wasn’t ready to go back to work last week, and she made it possible to spend more time off. I don’t know what sort of a mess I would have been if I was thrown right back into work, and not given the time I needed to deal with this. Remember for me, it’s not just the death of one immediate family member. Derek is my second one. Within 8 months.

…and so the Day of Respect to Derek’s Memory began.

Naturally, I haven’t been sleeping, so I was fully awake before the sun had risen. lll KiRa lll woke up and hit the gym. He invited me, but I wanted to stay in bed. I turned on my XBOX and played a few rounds of scavenge. I did my morning stuff.

It was raining and sure to be cold for the day. Jones Lake is 9 km up a mountain and it’s bloody cold on a cold day! No little black dress for me. Jeans with a long black skirt over top and a black sweater.

I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know what kind of service it was going to be. Melodie asked me to bring a black dress, but it was being held outside (rain or shine). I didn’t know what was appropriate. Shannon was texting me the night before and the morning of, wondering what she should wear too!

I made some breakfast around 9:30am and then we went down to Starbucks to meet up with Shannon and Mike (not Michael). I need to know the difference! After an hours worth of sitting in a construction zone and some phone issues, they arrived. We left around 11am and went to pick up Sean. I was highly caffeinated by then as I had my typical Americano (triple shot) and I was bringing an Iced Green Tea Lemonade for the road.

We avoided the highway took a detour through some smaller towns. It was a bit of a longer drive, but it was better than sitting bumper to bumper! After about an hour of driving, and discussing the coolest games and what we are looking forward to. BTW, I can’t believe how much Shannon and Mike are waiting for Halo Reach FAIL! …that’s just a personal opinion. They are in for a Risk Night (starting mid-day) as well… so we have at least 6 people who are keen. I need to get on scheduling this!

We went up to Sean’s place to use the bathroom. While I was a bit “occupied”, Shannon got a phone call from her mom. She was just wondering how long till we got to the bottom of the hill. I decided the skirt was a bit much, and it would probably be casual so I decided to wear jeans and a sweater.

We didn’t do any more stops, just drove straight to the bottom of the hill. Hill is a very, uhm.. nice way to say huge mountain! With many steep inclines, windy narrow roads, and cliff-sides! Errie…

We met up with Shannon’s mum at the bottom of the hill around 1:30, and after a bit of anxiety and tears, and some fantastic coaxing that the ride wouldn’t be too rough, we were on our way! Mike took it easy going up the hill and stayed in first gear. A few bumps and scratches. (Not to worry it was a rental vehicle…yea right, with no insurance!). The potholes are big enough to swim in and there was about 3 kilometres of “roadway”, where you are left wondering where the road actually is!

Success! We made it up to see mom and the rest of the family, as they were packing up to go to the West of Jones Lake. That is where dad’s bench is. A bit of a much needed bathroom break and then back down that 3 kilometres and up another 3! Mom had to go back down the whole thing to pick up Shannon’s mum cause there was no way her car was going to make it up there.

We arrived in the West. There was a huge area covered with tarps and it was really nicely set-up. Apparently Amanda (my sister) and my mom made enough food for 50 people, which was fantastic! There was a table that had photos of Derek spread all over it. With candles and prayers. I later found out that the orange velvet box was actually holding his ashes too. That brought a “real” element to this, Dad’s ashes were in a red velvet box. Sigh… it’s crazy that we as a family have two coloured boxes which contain the remains of our father and brother.

The first place I went was to my dad’s bench with lll KiRa lll. All over the ground were teeny tiny frogs! The side of my index finger nail. I love frogs so baby ones are just adorable! They were everywhere. We had to watch where we walked. The bench was soaking wet due to the rain and there was a couple people fishing right beside it, so it felt weird walking into their space, but I wanted to see it. There was a quote on it that I got from a friend when my dad died. She had lost her a mom a month before my dad. She died of cancer. Tragic.

I wanted a picture with the bench. Shannon and I stood beside it. It was time to go and greet my family. I had to introduce myself to a couple people I didn’t know. Derek’s boss was there. Some extended family members on Michelle’s side (David’s wife).

For about 2 hours it was a social gathering. People were eating, talking, and looking at photos. There was a slide show but it didn’t work properly so hopefully it will go up on Youtube so we can view all the pictures.

Then attention was brought to the group, we were going to take 32 Orange balloons over to my dad’s bench so we could release them while saying a few words to Derek. Orange was his favourite colour. Mom was writing messages on them, and then she read out a beautiful letter that she wrote to Derek after he died.

…it was decided that we would count to 3 then release the balloons, while shouting “I love you Derek”. Really nice sentiment. 1…2…3… I Love You Derek! Off goes the balloons. Floating above all of us and over the lake and so far away that we couldn’t see them anymore. A few tears and lots of hugs later, we watched as the kiddies sang a song they had prepared for the service. It was called “Miss you”. Lovely song.

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2 responses to “A Day of Respect For My Brother

  1. thanks for sharing this.These words are a Gift to your brother it seems to me.
    You have writer stuff in you.Don

    You smile upon your friend today,
    Today his ills are over;
    You harken to the lover’s say,
    And happy is the lover

    Tis late to harken,late to smile,
    But better late than never:
    I shall have lived a little while
    Before I die for ever

    19thc gay poet AE Housman who
    lived his life in the closet

  2. Hey —

    This is @clanmackay from Twitter. Found a link to your blog, and was reading backwards, enjoying your stories and writing, and — then hit this.

    Which is remarkable, narratively. And absolutely heart-wrenching, imagining the feelings your family must be digesting.

    So, wow. This was impressive and moving. Thank you. It was a gift to me, and I’m sure a gift to your family.

    I’m subscribing to your site. I’ll see you on Twitter and, most likely, in the comments on this site.

    Be well, and “hang in there”. Dumb dumb dumb phrase, but your position? Not fun.

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