Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dealing with the aftermath

Despite some descriptions to the contrary, for me when death comes to visit it carries a sickening sweet tinge much like the aroma of something made of sugar about to go bad. Because no matter how unwelcome and unwanted at times, it is a natural part of life and something we will all have to face in the end. This became especially true to me back in 2008 after my grandmother, mother, and Uncle Gwen all passed away within the span of thirteen months. While their individual passings were heart-wrenching age, health concerns, and long-term sickness made each expected on some level.

That did not make coming to grips with their departure any easier, but we still had to pick up the pieces and began to structure a life around the gaping hole that is their absence. The worst thing for me in many ways is to this day there are times I still think of them in the present tense and have to remind myself they are gone. It’s bizarre on so many levels to feel how important a particular person is to your existence and then remember they are no longer around.

The situation was hugely different and yet strangely the same last Saturday. It was my daughter, Darth Wiggles, birthday and the entire family, including my son’s girlfriend, were at the mall letting her spend the collection of gift cards she had received. I’d like very much to claim I felt something wrong, like someone might feel that subtle change in the weather heralding the coming of a rainstorm but it was a clear, sunny, and actually pleasantly warm day. If anything all signs pointed to yet another boring day becoming a boring evening sitting at the house with me wishing I could run down to the coast.

All that changed when we returned home and I made the perfunctory run upstairs to check the answering machine. As I mentioned in my very brief post my father-in-law’s passing was sudden and very unexpected. While a senior citizen, his health could have been considered excellent especially since he golfed several times a week and did all of his own yard work.

I have to be honest here and write that I have never mixed entirely well with my in-laws. This fact has to do with my blood kinfolk and me being the spontaneous beer and barbeque crowd at the beach and them being the deliberate wine and cheese set at the country club. That does not change the fact that they are all quite accomplished and talented people, at times irritatingly so, which in many ways made it more painful to watch them deal with such a sudden loss.

This going to sound trite as Hell but in the end I came away with the idea that with this insane world mired in a continuous set of disasters pulling everyone apart about all we seemingly have tying us together these days is the finality of death. It’s the lowest of the common dominators we all have and something I found beyond excessively depressing. If we had any sense as a species its something we would work damn hard at changing for the better.


Leslie Morgan said...

The one level playing field, eh, BeachBum? The one that none of us ever quite figures out how to best navigate and which the training manuals fail to address. I've been thinking of you all and hope the clouds will part soon.

Akelamalu said...

Death is never easy to deal with but it's the only sure thing in life isn't it and deal with it we must. x

Glen said...

it is hard and death is indeed the only thing we all have in common. I think dealing with life has to be more important, lets get that right and live together I say

not as in sharing out the phone bill and taking it in turns to clean the fridge either

Bill's Big Bamboo said...

Per donny's passing in The Big Lebowski ... quote Walter: "Good night, sweet prince".

With death ... that is about all we can say.

Windsmoke. said...

There are two things certain in this life death and high taxes even in death the taxman wants his bit of the action as i found out when my mum passed away last year :-).

Beach Bum said...

Leslie: I'm fine actually, its my kids and in-laws who are suffering. As for the clouds it will be many months before they part, the big issue is how to eliminate the property and possessions dad-in-law owned so mom-in-law can move back to Richmond, Virginia where she wants to be.

Akelamalu: Yeah, but like I mentioned above, settling all outstanding accounts because of his passing will be a huge undertaking. I am doing my very best to stay out of the discussions on this issue. My own grandparents had only a ting fraction of the amount of stuff as my dad-in-law and there were horrible arguments.

Glen: This post was a mistake to a certain extent, my pager went off at 3:00am and after calling the hospital telling them I was not on-call at that moment I could not go back to sleep.

My thoughts were along the same lines as you mentioned, far too much importance is put on death.

Bill: My wife is returning to my mom-in-law's house this weekend and I will be watching the Big Lebowski in peace and quiet.

Windsmoke: Absolutely right and I will do my best to stay completely away from those discussions.

Ranch Chimp said...

A couple year's ago, I had a buddy whose wife, mom, sister, and brother all died in the same year, he's retired US Army too, a small family business owner ... but he was so shook up, he went back to smoking after having quit for over 10 year's, and got more heavy on the booze.

lime said...

it is the one thing no one, regardless of resources and accomplishments, can escape.

Oso said...

All the legal BS makes things so much worse.Glad at least you're ok, they'll cope. It's never easy man.

Randal Graves said...

Death's the great leveler, on about 752 different levels.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

As long as we have Islamic extremists thinking that a paradise awaits them upon detonation and religious fundamentalists in this country who think that an AIDS related death is a punishment from God, death will simply be another thing that we argue ad infinitum about.