During the 40 minute drive to the Funeral Home my sister and I talked about nothing but Fahris, her sister Morgan and her parents Brenda & Kevin. We agreed that all of them are nothing short of amazing to us. The strength they have found to deal with Fahris's illness from the moment of her birth to now and beyond. We both agreed that no matter how difficult it was for us to go, it was nothing compared to what they are all going through. As we drove through the small picturesque town we remembered from childhood, the memories came back to us full throttle. Being transplanted there after our parents divorce from the suburban life we once knew, all of our cousins, aunts/uncles grew up in this village. Everyone knew everyone, we didn't. Personally I always felt like an outsider. There was one cousin, Kenny, who was my favorite and he always favored me. Never treated me different like the others. And then he died. Calling hours were at the same Funeral Home. As I stood outside in line with my sister those memories just wouldn't leave me. I stood there and watched as people leaving passed us, sobbing, tearful and that lump in my chest just got bigger and bigger. My sister breathing slow and steady so as to contain her panic disorder. My tears started rolling and we weren't even inside the door yet. I kept telling myself to hold on, don't loose it now, you have to do this. For Brenda, Kevin and the rest of our now smaller yet tighter family.
As we entered the building I noticed stupid little things like the ceiling in the front hall had started to show age and lack of maintenance. The giant stairway that lead up to the old living quarters of it's original owners. As the line snaked through the first room you could hear just whispers of voices, soft weeping coming from those who could brave stepping over to view the easle displaying photographs of Fahris. I looked from a distance as at this point I was unable to move. Thinking of the day my Grandfather was laid out here and especially the horrible day that my favorite cousin Kenny was here. Fahris would have been his Grand Niece. As we approached our cousin Karen and her husband Skip the tears just came and I couldn't stop them. Litterally I could feel my heart break, I took her and hugged her tight but just could not speak a single word. Not one. I just looked at her…..she saved me and said "I know". Passing Brenda's two sisters/spouses, Kevins family members and finally to our Cousin Larry and his wife, Linda. Within an instant I flashed back to them as highschool sweethearts, kind of like in that show Cold Case where they show younger to older characters. I remembered when Brenda was born to them, such a beautiful little girl and how happy they were. When Larry looked at me he just said "oh Jacquie" grabbed me and hugged me so tight and he sobbed. I didn't think I could take another step, not one. Again I was speachless, couldn't produce more than an "I'm sorry." He told me that it meant a great deal to him that I came. Then we were at the point I most dreaded; Brenda and Kevin. What can you possibly say? There are no words. Brenda hugged me, thanked me for my support and for coming, as did Kevin and on her sweater was a pin, a pair of shoes encrusted with red stones. Fahris's favorite shoes, ruby red and sparkly laid on top of her closed white casket.
The line continued on into another room which you had to go through to leave. In that room was a TV video set up showing clips of Fahris along with music and I just kept going. Didn't stop like my sister did, I walked through that room as quickly as I could short of running. Then there was the line I had to get through to get out the door. The people were everywhere waiting to get in, line ran completely out through the parking lot and there were still 3 more hours to go before it was over. My thoughts immediately went to "how are they gonna do this for another 3 hours?!" It just blows me away where people find that kind of strength.
We got into the car and the first thing I could say to my sister was "Thank God we never have had to do that, we've been so blessed to have healthy children in our family." As we drove through town again I thought of how much we take for granted on a daily basis. And I prayed that Brenda & Kevin will somehow get through this, be able to move forward.
*to those of you who are my vox friends & neighbors; I just had to get this out emotionally. I don't want to make you sad or depressed, I just have to let go and write. Thank You for understanding.