Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Brick Bats and Battle Scars

Somewhere in the mess that is "he-says-she-says" is the underlying truth that neither party likes the other. They have never liked each other. They never will like each other.

And, of course, in such a situation involving family, you're going to take sides and somehow attempt to mop up the damage.

The horrors of Monday have passed now. I'm back on solid ground, back where I need to be with my energy levels and emotions. I have to thank Brother Jim for giving me a quick healing at my Mason's rehearsal last night. He managed to pop the cork on the pressure cooker by bestowing me with a bit of reiki and a cuddle. Amazing how powerful these things can be.

"You look like you could murder." he told me.
"Should be thankful you only have the goat lead."
"Yep. Cos if I was holding that spear you have in your hand, they'd be rushing you down the Epworth."
"Oh. Wassup?"
"Family shit."
"And you're owning this?"
"Nope. Pure energetic transferance. Not mine. I've done a cleansing - got rid of any extras. Doesn't mean I'm not feeling everybody else's stuff. Still processing the hurt."

I think I managed to witness every possible emotion on Monday. From despair to contempt to love, honour, anger and betrayal. Some of these emotions appear to have been taken on board.

I watched with immense pride as my step-sister farewelled her mother with joy and love. Her eulogy was touching, sweet and funny. Her first line. "Well, this is shit." Very JD. Her ex-partner, Liz, was at her back, hand gently at the small of her back, supporting her.

Twenty minutes before, Liz was in my arms, sobbing. She and JD had just done the final viewing. Liz was distraught. "She doesn't even look like her!"

Of course she wasn't going to look like her - Trista wasn't there any more. She passed away last Sunday morning. She's no longer suffering. All I could do was stand there and hold Liz as she worked through some of the shock.

"Who's with JD."
"Which one?" Garry is the name of my step-dad. Trista also married another Garry some sixteen years ago. It's a bit confusing.
"Her father."

JD and Trista's second husband have never really got on. Over the last few months we've been hearing about the litany of crap to which Gaz Mark II has been subjecting JD. Stupid, pointless, mean things such as emailing her to tell her that her mother is in hospital - when he knew that she only checks her email once a week if lucky - besides, stuff like that demands a phone call - a text at the very least. Once Trista had passed, he was adamant that she have nothing to do with the funeral arrangements and demanded that she come and collect her mother's effects before he "shoved the on a bonfire". Of the post-mortem shenanigans, Liz stepped up to the plate telling the idiot, "She may have been your wife for sixteen years, but she's been her mother for forty. Blood trumps marriage. Now back the fuck off."

Liz is a great person to have about it a crisis. She works in child protection - she's trained to deal with idiots like this, unfortunate as it may be, Gaz Mark II is a mild case.

And JD got her say and her way. She was responsible for the wonderful presentation of photos of Trista, showing her growing up, through her days until the end. Every smiling, ever dancing - a light spirit in a heavy world. The horror of the fact that she died too soon in many ways was apparent.

Cancer is a complete and utter bastard. It's cruel, unrelenting and sadistic.

I was sitting back in the pews with Jude, one of Trista's best friends. Stoic and quiet, Jude stared into the middle distance. "You'll look after me, wont you, Pandy."
"Of course."
I have no idea what it's like to lose a friend you've had for forty years.

Behind me, my Uncle John stood. He farewelled his wife a couple of months ago. I watched as he steadied himself.

The thing that was impressed upon me the most was how loved Trista was. She said in the week before her death that she thought only twenty or thirty people would turn up for her funeral.

The chapel, with seating for two hundred and fifty, was full.

My sister, affectionately known as Manhands, told me that this is where Dad's funeral was held. "You weren't here for that." she reminded me. She also reminded me that I wasn't there for her wedding. Or for the birth of her first child. I had to correct her on that last one. I was about - interstate, but I was there two days later to meet my new niece.

I should have thanked her for the guilt trip. Just what was needed. I let it go. No need to take that crap on There was enough happening around the place.

Others spoke. Trista's brother. A long-standing friend from Myponga with whom she's gone on bicycling holidays and finally, one of her line-dancing friends, sans pink t-shirt. Each speaker was shocked and relieved in turn

Trista loved to dance. It's the one thing I remember about her most fondly. She was funny. She had strange and varied interests which she threw herself into - line dancing included (I think like dancing is the new form of tap-dancing when it comes to social ridicule - but made her happy and that is all that matters).

After the service, after we had all shuffled past her white, flower-strewn coffin, we had the obligatory cup of tea. Managed to catch up with half of the town, most of whom I hadn't seen in many years. Still called "Pandy" by the Myponga throng. I can't win.

JD was surrounded by a group of her school friends - friends who have been by her side for over thirty years. There were times when one of us had to hold her back, the desire to thump the crap out of Gaz Mark II was evident.

Both were grieving. Though firmly in JD's camp, my thoughts went out to Gaz. A broken man. From all accounts he's been broken for a long time. Never could see what Trista saw in him. Not many people could. Still, he's the grieving widow - you have to give him a little benefit of the doubt.

The wake over, our side of the family went down the pub. As you do. Off to a very civilised beer garden in a genteel suburb - all sandstone, creepers and fountains. Lunch was purchased. Of course, I was berated for stealing chips.
"Don't knick JD's chips - she's just lost her mother." berated my sister.
"I know. I don't discriminate. I knick everybody's chips." and made seagull noises, diving in for another.
"But it's a wake!"
"Life goes on. Deal with it."

Memories were shared. Tears were replaced with a few laughs and some steely resolve. My sister remembered the onion and cheese bread Trista used to make (She was an excellent cook). For me, my most lasting memory of Trista was when I was thirteen-years-old. A school friend of mine had passed away. I remember Trista comforting me. Somehow, she took away some of the pain.

Finally, the group dispersed. One telling comment from one of JD's friends, "Well, at least you don't have much more to do with that arsehole. It's the last time he gets to try and grope my breasts."

Lovely man is Gaz Mark II.

We have to be sympathetic. He's just lost his wife.

I find it amazing that when somebody dies, things go into this strange vacuum space. It's like everything is wrapped in cotton wool. You start to feel things that you haven't felt before - or haven't felt in ages. Things come to the fore. Behaviours - well, some behaviours are forgiven.

But this is when the battle scars really come out. Death is just a reminder of what we are. Human. Mortal. Alive. Interlinked.

And for as much as we will miss the person gone, we also realise that they have marked us in some way. Like a scar. There, out in the open to be seen by all. A constant reminder of the battles, the reunions and the lives we've faced together.

1 comment:

Kath Lockett said...

Nicely observed, Pand. Thought provoking as well....