Ann and I were not really close bosom buddies, we didn't hang out or lunch together. We didn't spend hours on the phone together. But she was a presence in my life. She sent emails about health and about breastfeeding. We knew each other for more than 20 years. We cared about many of the same issues- breastfeeding and wellness and attachment. And now she is gone. A light extinguished.
I decided not to go to Ann's funeral service and wake today. Getting to the funeral home, the driving part,was very stressful. I drove on big highways and elevated roads. I am capable of doing these things. I am a grown up. But they really stress and scare me.
I know that I would have been a passenger. I was going to ride with some friends. But I declined. A part of me feels bad. I feel like a lair. I told people that I would see them. Not that my role in any of this has anything to do with the event, or Ann. I just know that the kind of sad I am feeling makes me feel vulnerable, both emotionally, but physically as well. I have been through a lot. I am good, even great most of the time. But I am still recovering from two major surgeries less than a year apart.
When my brother in law died, I got sick. Then I got sicker and sicker until Nick finally took me to the hospital with a 104° temperature. I ended up in the hospital for 6 days with pneumonia. Who knows, maybe I would have gotten sick anyway. But I am afraid to find out
Death, like birth, is something we all experience. I think of both as transitions. But when someone dies, someone I know, a contemporary, or a family member, it is personal. It is a part of life that I cannot control. Of course, I know that there is a lot I cannot control. Unlike in Star Trek where they say "space the final frontier", I believe death is the final frontier.
It's funny, Father's Day came and left and, while I thought of my father, I didn't miss him a whole lot. He was my father and I loved him, a lot. But I guess we were all so grief stricken over my brother Dale's death just a few weeks before my father, I already had been knocked down and I had not gotten up again. Yet.
One thing we miss when we lose a parent is that piece of living history. The connection to your ancestors and to who you are and why. But my dad was not able to share anything about his past. Not that he didn't have a past. There were just too many things that I think must have been very painful for him and that kept him from sharing. He would get angry whenever I asked him anything about his father- my grandfather. He had his demons, my dad. The only time he ever really said anything was in 1996 (yes I remember). My dad and I and my sister and her husband, and maybe my step mother, were visiting my dad's older brother. my Uncle Ralph. Uncle Ralph had dementia, so he was not very conversational. My dad sat down next to his big brother and the two of them held hands. One of them (I do not remember which) said "you have big hands like our father' and the other one said "yeah, he was a son of a bitch". Makes me want to cry.
I have been to too many funerals and memorial services. Some were people who were sick and old (at least older than me at the time). Their deaths were sad indeed, but not a surprise. Then there were the deaths from accident, or unknown heart disease in the case of one young man.
Ann was closer to a "certain age" when you see more funerals. An age that, in my grandparent's day was considered "old". She was 67. I am 61. Somehow, being in my 60s doesn't seem as old as I would have expected. Ann was a vital, energetic woman. She was health conscious. She ate well and took care of her body. The cancer was stronger.
Recently I was thinking about going to graduate school. I think it was because I drove past a sign that said "George Mason University". That's my school! I graduated from there! I was 50 when I graduated. Now, some people think it would be a waste of time to go back to school. I am too old. What's the point?
The point is, at least in part, that I love learning. I want to learn more and more. Maybe I can learn more things that will make my work with mothers even better. Or maybe I can make myself feel better. Learning is a way of understanding more about the world and life and what it's all about. Yes, I am going to die. No, it won't make a difference to the universe what I do with the rest of my life- or even how many more years or decades I live. But, if it matters to me, that's enough.
Ann lived every minute of her life until she just couldn't any more. She didn't sit passively waiting to die. I don't want to either.