Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sean's Funeral

I just made it home from my nephew Sean's funeral. It went pretty well, considering it was my ex's side of the family who don't do funerals very well. It was a weird kind of deja vue, arriving at the funeral home for the service, because the place is so damn familiar. We have all been there together for many, many services over the past 20 years or so. One of the last ones was six years ago, today, for Andrew.

That fact made today especially hard on me, my girls, Bill, and anyone else who realized it. It was an ironic twist that landed Sean's funeral date on this day. My nephew Russell, who was left to plan everything, realized it after he had finalized all the arrangements, but there wasn't really anything he could do about it.

Bill said to me after the service, "It's just a thought. Let is go." I had, I thought, but it wasn't gone. It was just ironic.

There were lots of little ironies in this day. A little boy and his young mother were sitting in the same pew as we chose. The little boy looked at us and said, "Hi! I'm Kameron." Kameron, Sean's son Kameron? Oh yeah. Fine place to finally meet him. I lost it then. I was sitting there, feeding a bottle to my own little grandson, and thinking how this little boy would never really know much about his daddy. He might learn, someday, that his daddy was addicted to heroin and died by a drug overdose. I hope that doesn't define his daddy for him, because Sean was a sweet and fun boy. He just had a lot of pain to try to mask.

I was sitting in the pew behind my ex, on opposite ends. It wasn't intentional. We could have sat together and been just fine. My ex-sister-in-law who had been married to Bill's brother Don was sitting in the pew behind Don, too, on opposite ends. I wonder if that was planned or accidental? Anyway, we were all here, together, so to speak, for Sean. For the two remaining brothers, Russell and Cody. Just like old times, only completely different. No one would be hanging out at my house, drinking beer and barbecuing.

I saw a lot of ex-relatives that I hadn't seen since the last funeral. We decided we all had to stop meeting like this. Maybe the new generation of kids will start planning an annual barbecue so they can get together on happier circumstances. 

The service was actually pleasant, especially when compared to Sean's father Gary's funeral, or his mother Rollynn's. Both were so unbearable it was awful, because the priest that was sent over to do the service was a nut case. Russell was going to have the same one do this service, but he wasn't available. I guess he didn't remember how insane it was.  At least this person kept things in a good perspective.

I saw my niece from my side of the family there, along with her cousin who had once dated Sean. There were several of Sean's former girlfriends at the service. Anyway, small town. Everyone is related by one degree or another.

My oldest daughter was hoping to escape right after the service without having to deal with anyone. It was really a hard day for her. But it didn't quite work out that way. We visited with family and friends on the way out, and in the parking lot. Then my youngest daughter and her husband whom I had ridden with took me to my car and I headed home. I thought of Sean's little sons and started crying again.

As I got to the top of the grade, I thought about the photos my son had taken from the top, up the fire road. I wondered if I could drive up there? I pulled over and turned up the road. After a few feet, I could see the road was rutted with deep crevices that my car could negiotiate. I couldn't turn around, so I had to back down the hill. I turned to maybe go down the fire road heading south, but then I saw a "youth" in that roadway and decided not to drive by him. He just didn't look like a real good citizen. Foiled, I turned around again and got back on the highway.

Well, damn it! If I couldn't walk in Andrew's shoes today, I would at least cook a good piece of tri-tip for dinner and have a beer at home. Andrew would have like that.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

More Grief

My nephew Sean died last week on a heroin overdose. It was April 1. His service will be held on April 15, a significant date because that is the day my son Andrew died in the hospital.

I am not sure how I feel about that date. Here at home, I am kind of indifferent about it and the upcoming service, but I know when the day gets here and I go through the group grieving process with the rest of the family, it will be much more real and difficult.

Like Andrew, Sean made a lot of friends in life. He was almost always smiling and happy, so it seemed. He liked to joke around, be active and light up a room. Unfortunately, he also liked to get high and escape all those painful memories that had taken over his life. A lot of his "friends" have been in jail, served time for petty drugs or burglary to get drugs, and some worse. All of these kids know each other, gotten high together, and they what each one has been involved with. They have gotten busted together, been to court and rehab together, achieved sobriety and washed it all away with another high down the road. 

Sean's father died when Sean was only 15 years old in a sudden traffic accident on his way to work, then his mother passed away eight years later from multiple internal failures probably steming from her alcohol and painkiller abuse. There was a lot of alcohol and substance abuse involved in their lives, and that pattern has been passed on to the kids. Even though Sean was the middle child with two brothers, he felt lonely and totally abandoned by his parents. They all do. Each one sought out coping mechanisms, but it seems that the older brother is managing to move on and live life in the most adaptive manner. He is married and has a good job and a wonderful wife. The youngest brother is still trying to find his way and has moved out of state with his girlfriend's family. We are all still waiting to see how that plays out.

I just know that the grief of Sean's passing is widespread among his friends and family, and that it just adds another layer of pain on top of the grief the surviving two brothers and the rest of the family will have to bear. How we all do it is a very individual thing.

Not looking forward to the 15th even more this year.


Sometimes you just have to write it down right away, like right now. This is not about my son, Andrew, but it relates in a way. Writing it right this minute is risky, because I am at work, at my desk, facing the holding cells, but I want to remember my thought that are racing around in my head at this moment.
She’s back. It’s my older sister’s best friend from high school, and back then they called her, "Weasel". I am not sure where that came from, but it was her nickname. My sister's partner-in-crime, so to speak. They pushed the limits of what a kid should experience in high school, and in many ways, broke down barriers and helped set boundaries for me. I had a pretty good idea going in to high school what I could and couldn’t get away with, things I might get “killed” for by my Dad, and things that he could be reasonable about.
But this is killing me, seeing her like this at my workplace, the County jail. “Mary” is killing herself, slowly. So slowly its rather incredible. You don’t realize how much a human being can take. But she is taking and taking and taking. She is living on the streets, getting arrested every week and now every few days for being “Drunk in Public”, a high-crime in our parts. She looks bad, but oddly, not as bad as one would expect.
When I was 12, I worshipped her. She was an awesome horsewoman, and had her horse trained to follow her voice commands. She would say, “Load up,” and the horse would walk right in to the horse trailer. I had a rough, green-broke filly that I was trying to train to be a good gymkhana horse, even though I was a fish out of water. She traded me horses for a few months and spent some time training my horse while I got to ride her awesome horse, Brandy.
So when I see her in jail, sleeping off a drunk, it breaks my heart. As I see her come in time after time, it kills me…slowly. Obviously not literally, like she is killing herself, but it hurts. I wish there was something I could do, but at this point she doesn’t recognize me, I don’t have to interact with her, and its best to keep it that way. When an inmate discovers they know you, they talk about you to other inmates, they yell directly at you, they may bring up something hurtful or embarrassing from your past history with them…and that’s never a good thing. It would leave me vunerable. She had once posted something on my sister’s Facebook page about “who does she think she is?”, insinuating my sister had no business trying to run her business of healing therapies, trying to project a healthy and happy lifestyle. No matter how well a person is doing in recovery, this stuff brings you down a notch, sometimes all the way down.
I saw her on the street one day when I was out riding my bike. It was at a street corner about a block down from the Homeless Day Center. I had to stop for a red light, and she was stopped there, too. We were within arms reach of one another. I so wanted to say something, but, again, its not a good idea. I just gave her a smile like I would most anyone. She commented something to the effect, “Yes, I wait for green lights, too. Funny, huh, a homeless person waiting for a light to change.” I said something like that would be the logical thing to do, then the light did change and I pedaled ahead. Conflicted. But I keep on going. Sometimes that is all you can do, kind of like my own sister’s journey. She made the decision to get sober 25 years ago, and she has been living her life, going through her own struggles, but she is fighting to stay sober and live the best life she possibly can. She is a good and happy person. So to see this person left behind, hurts.
I always come back to Andrew in my thoughts of these people on the streets. He was so vunerable. The precarious bond of trust we had could have been severed at any time, and he would have been out on the streets with his increasing paranoia, victim of the harshness of that life. I am ever thankful that he didn’t end up on the streets, homeless. We took care of him the best we could and kept him safe from that, until he had enough and ended it. It could have, would have, gotten much worse. I need to remind myself of that. But it is still depressing.