Funeral Photography

If anyone has visited recently, you might notice I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks.  Please accept my apologies.  The past three weeks have been rough & although there have been some very positive & happy moments, I’ve been rather down lately.  I want this blog to be a happy place full of positive energy.  At the urging of two dear friends I considered writing the following post.  Then a post from FarmerLady-Adventures in Hinterland, came across my email.  She too has had a challenging few weeks but this statement resonated with me…

“Then I decided that part of the reason I keep this blog is so that Geoff and I can look back on this whole experiment and see how far we have come–so we would have a record of the ups, the downs, and everything in between.” ~FarmerLady

Therefore I’m from here on out giving you my hills and valleys…The beginning of August started as any other August – our county fair and preparation for State Fair.  The following week my sister-in-law’s mom was taken to the ER due to severe pain.  They found she had a tumor on her pancreas.  After two biopsies she’s been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and has been given 6 months to 2 years to live.  While dealing of this news and attempting to manage the pain, her mom passed away (my sister-in-laws grandma).   The following week they did a procedure on my sister-in-law’s mom which numbed the nerve related to the pancreas.  It helped lower the pain & cut the pain meds in half.  They are attempting to lengthen her life by choosing radiation and chemotherapy.  Both are becoming very difficult for her.  She’s extremely tired.  The nausea due to the chemo is taking it’s toll.  Today, I believe has been worst day yet.  She’s vomited numerous times this morning.  They are trying a fourth anti-nausea med. this afternoon.

The pain my sister-in-law is enduring is testing every ounce of strength she has in her petite body.   I wish I could give her a hug and make all of this go away.   Following my ‘step-dad’s’ fatal accident, so many emotions are back.  I’m so fearful of death right now.  We are young, my sister-in-law isn’t even 30, I’m only 33.  My other sister-in-law lost her mom to breast cancer almost three years ago.  We shouldn’t have to deal with this part of life yet!!

Two years ago on show day at our State Fair, my husband’s grandma passed away (my father-in-laws mom).  I always admired her perkiness and laughter.  When Pickle was a toddler, she would play and play and play with him.  Just as though she was a child.  It was hard to watch someone with such zest for life pass.  Being away at the fair we helped load all of the equipment while my in-laws took the cows home.  We were unable to contribute to the visitation/funeral photos. 😦

Then on Halloween night, as we were driving to my hometown to trick or treat we received a call that his grandpa had passed (my father-in-laws dad).  Three days prior he was riding in the combine helping finish up for the year.  His work here was finished.  Pickle and grandpa had been very close so there were pictures of the two of them mowing or sitting together at the fair.  A couple of Willis but not nearly enough.  This was a week before Pudder was born.

Then May of ’09,  my husband’s other grandpa became very ill.  His prostate cancer had returned for the last time.  I always admired his sense of humor & his silliness which was passed down to my hubby.   Again, we searched for photos.  Fortunately, the task of displaying them was given to his cousins.  We wished there were more pics of grandpa with all three of the boys.  We buried grandpa, a veteran of ww2, just before Memorial Day.

Summer passed, fall flew by and the second Sat. of December we lost a friend in a car accident about a mile 1/2 from our house.  She had hit black ice and went into the oncoming traffic.  She was one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever known.  Her smile would light up a room.  The night before the visitation her sister & friends were going through pictures.  Each looking for a certain photo, one with so & so or one from when she did this or that.  I couldn’t bare to look.  Little did I know.

Then Christmas Day.  A day that will forever be chiseled in my memory & heart.  One moment we were all looking out of the back of my mom’s house at all of the squirrels running around in the woods.  We each ‘jokingly’ picked out which one we were going to shoot & eat.  The next moment the man who was more of a dad to me than my own,  was on the phone being briefed about a wall that was caving in on a building at the university in town.   This gracious and giving man agreed to attend to the dangerous situation, but not until we opened our gifts.  (Two days later I read a similar sentence in the local newspaper.)

The boys were tickled pink, ok, camo, with the new farm set he & mom had given them.  Pudder was given a darling, soft teddy bear that he still sleeps with at night.  Then he acted surprised as he opened mom’s gift.  A new western vest for when they go riding.  (He had tried it on in the store a few nights before)  Time rolled around and he had to leave.  I gave him a huge hug & said our final goodbyes.  In the meantime, it began to snow.  We quickly ate our Christmas brunch, packed up all of our goodies and headed west.

Once we arrived home & unpacked the truck, I laid down for a ‘eye-rest,’ pretending to be Santa can be an exhausting task after all.  Then my phone rang.  My hubby answered and as I listened my heart began to race.  Something bad had happened.  I just knew it.  He hung up from talking to my brother.  My mom’s boyfriend, a man who if they had been married (they were together 12 yrs. and our neighbor for my entire life, had been killed by fallen concrete.  These moments and events still play through my mind at least once a day.   I needed something to do so I could get through the time before the visitation.  So his daughter & I took on the task of sorting pictures.  This was one of the most difficult tasks I’ve ever had to do.  Again, I found myself looking for this one or that one.  What about when he….are there more with him and Willis, or his other grandkids?

This passed Saturday night we celebrated my niece & nephew’s birthday’s (born two days and two years apart).  Her mom helped open presents as she doze in and out of consciousness.  As I have since Christmas, I found myself preparing for a visitation and funeral.  Taking as many happy photos as possible.  I encourage you all to do so as well so that your loved ones are properly honored.

I apologize for the dark & unmagical nature of this post but I needed to get this out so that I can move on in my blogging life.  I want to thank my two dear friends who encouraged me to share this and especially to FarmerLady for inspiring courage within me.

Until next time my neighbors…

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2 responses

  1. I am so glad you shared. I hope the process of writing has been cathartic for you. It definitely is for me. Sometimes the only way I can let go of the fear of future pain is by letting go of past pain through writing. God bless.

    September 2, 2010 at 11:56 pm

  2. Thank you!!

    September 12, 2010 at 11:49 pm

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