Today is the hardest day. It won’t get worse than this, right now. The day after a funeral service always the worst, at least to me.
My nephew Paul was killed in a car accident. Yesterday they held his funeral. I was unable to attend. I sat in vigil all day, alone, trying to recall memories, trying not to think of what his mother and siblings were enduring, sending thoughts of love and support to them.
I have been through losing my oldest brother, and more recently, losing my mother. So I know what they are feeling, the immense sadness and the draining fatigue, being unable to sleep. Feeling okay for a few minutes, then getting slammed by a tsunami of why-did-this-happen, I-want-him-back, I-can’t face-this.
The Paul I knew was a happy, sunny soul. I changed his diapers when he was a baby. Then he went into the hospital, and when he came home, his vision and his brain were damaged.
Paul attended school. He worked, held a job and he was very proud of that.
For me, it is the morning after the funeral, in the quiet, that is the worst to bear. All the frenzied arrangements, the accepting of other people’s condolences, the bearing of the body to its resting place and the soul to the Lord, all the forced rituals, the things that must be done and borne, are over. Shined shoes, borrowed suits, ill-fitting dresses, are put away, and we wake up to wear again our own clothes. Back in our own skin, we feel the numbness fade.
Back to work, for some. Where we have to accept, endure, more condolences from people who don’t know what to say, and we don’t know what to say to them.
It is new, this trying to feel what life will be like now that he’s gone, our brother, son, nephew. We wish the anguish would lessen, and we resent that it will, that it won’t always be this sharp, knife-like pain.
We look through photos.
We want to be alone in our grief, and no one wants us to be left alone.
We try to console ourselves. Paul lived a happy life. He is at peace now, but wasn’t he at peace when he was alive?
None of us realized how big a hole his absence would make.
How can emptiness carry such weight?
I pray for my sister Charlotte, Paul’s mother. I hope this day, the first day after, that she find some rest, some sense of peace.