Friday, August 18, 2006


Dang. What a sucky day. The young lady from yesterday went to the crematory today. I think I may have hit her in the face with the lid to the casket insert. We have a rental casket for people who are going to be cremated but also have viewing. A plywood box with a nice liner goes into it, the whole thing is removed with the person and cremated. When I put the lid on, I think it hit her, even though we were very careful and removed the pillow from under her head first. It keeps running through my mind, even though it isn't possible because her face was well below the top, I know I didn't really touch her, but I keep thinking if it were my daughter in a box and the lid touched her face. Crap. It's one of the more and more rare days when i take on grief which doesn't belong to me. I don't even know how to describe how i'm feeling. I know the lid didn't touch her, but I keep seeing it in my mind that it did. Maybe it's the finality of her life and the closing of the lid somehow made it more final. Did I say that her Mom went and bought her a beautiful long prom dress. Her daughter could be a princess one last time.

I thought i'd do some shelf cleaning in the back this morning. There are two urns which have been here since last year. I cold called both families and said come and get them. One is a still born baby, who I talk to and who I feel so sad that he's still here. I called his mom and told her we're taking good care of him, but he really should be with people who love him. She was obviously caught off guard to hear me, but she said they'd come on Monday to pick him up. Well, as I was working with a lady whose son will probably die this weekend, a young man came in. It was the baby's dad. As soon as he said who he was, I said oh, I'm so glad to see you. I excused myself from the lady (see next paragraph) and went to get the baby's ashes. The dad was struggling to remain composed, I didn't struggle at all, I just cried. I told him I couldn't imagine how hard it must be for him and how sorry I am for he and his wife. He said it was good for them to come and get him, they needed to be able to finish dealing with it. I told him that I'll miss his son, and I will, and that we've been taking very good care of him, but I'm also very glad he gets to go home now. The dad hugged me, not a quick hug, but a long hug, a grateful one. Then he told me very quietly that they're pregnant again, they didn't think it would happen again so soon and that they are excited, but scared. I wished him well and sent him on his way.

There was no pretense when I went back in the room with the older lady. I told her I was sorry, but sometimes it's just a difficult job, I dried my tears and we began to once again talk about her son. He's 39, colon cancer. She did okay for a while, then her tears began again. She asked if i have children, yes, five. She wished for me that I would never ever have to bury one of them. She said how wrong it is and of course she's right. It's unnatural for a mother to outlive her child. I can not fathom a mother's grief. A 19 year old girl or a stillborn son or a grown man, it makes no difference to the mother, it's still unbearable. To the father too. I hope to never experience it. I wake in the middle of the night sometimes filled with dread that one of my children is in a bad situation, usually my youngest son. I wait for the phone call to come or the doorbell to ring, all the while praying that God would hold him (or her or them) in His hands and keep them safe for one more night. Finally exhausted from the depth of the unknown, I drift back off to uneasy sleep.

I can not imagine the grief of a mother. Nor do I want to.

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