Sunday, January 20, 2008

Leaving Massachusetts

The sun shone. The rain came, a torrential downpour complete with thunder and lightning. And then it snowed. And rained some more. All in 10 days. I'd forgotten how bizarre the weather could be in New England.

She was brain dead but we kept her on life support long enough for them to find donors for her organs. Four people were given a second chance at life. This is a comfort to me somehow, knowing that some part of her lives on in others. Like me, she had no children.

She was cremated. Her urn is actually a beautiful wooden box, which we will take to Hawaii. We will disburse her ashes in the same place we did our mother's ashes 6 years ago.

I went to her boyfriend's house to get her things. I had this odd moment, this memory-echo, when I went to get into the rental car stuffed full of clothing and paperwork and medical supplies. I remembered Tammy and me in Hilo, standing next to my mother's car, which contained all of her belongings. It seemed so sad that her life fit into a car, and my sister Tammy sobbed then, horrible wracking sobs that echoed in the jungle with the same mournful quality as wolves howling. My other sister unpacked the rental car when I got to her place. I couldn't seem to do it. I was so blocked on it, for some reason. But she understood and did it for me.

We had a quiet ceremony at the funeral home. Just family and a few close friends. Friends of hers opened their restaurant early and served us lunch. I had homemade tortellini soup and a portobello mushroom salad. It was all quite tasty. It was the first thing I remember tasting in a week, actually.

Friday we opened her bar for a goodbye party. Last call for alcohol. It was just for 4 hours, but there must have been 250 people who showed up to pay their respects and send her off. I think she would have liked it. She always threw a good party.

I'm in Portland now, with an 18 hour turn-around and then to California to see my sister Caro before she dies. She said come now, she is tired. The tumor on her aorta makes every beat of her heart painful, and she is ready to go. And so I am coming.

Such a painful way to start a new year, with so much loss and suffering. I could make it mean a lot of different things about the world, about life... I could chose to make it mean that life is unfair, that it sucks--all sorts of things. I choose instead to make it mean that Tammy is free of suffering and Caro soon will be, and that life is what it is and every day we have is the most important day of our lives.

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Anonymous dannyboy said...


i like your writing a lot.


9:51 PM, January 30, 2008  

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