I went to work and continue to try and move forward with getting the hose out for fires that have been raging out of control for months. The stuff that rattles around in the back of my mind, even when in the throws of St. Jude. Work still needs to be done… Even if it was very poorly on my part during this time.
At noon I called Angela and made sure we were still on for getting to Henderson Funeral Home to “retrieve” Summer’s ashes. I suggested that maybe I come home and pick her up. Angela, as if she hadn’t been thinking of it said “That’s a good idea”. I was pretty sure that two of us showing up in separate cars would not be a pleasant experience for one of us. Not sure who would have it worse and I was not about to find out.
We came back to town to finish out our business with Greg. The funeral home was quiet, but I’m guessing that was about to change, as the main entryway was now decorated for someone else’s service. Name tags were on the table for the family members and some photos were set out. I blindly looked down at someone else’s life memories in the form of photos stacked inside ziplock bags. A minute later, Greg came in and got me refocused. Greg had the urn/box set aside in one of the casual meeting rooms with a table. We took a look at the box and he explained how this “urn” came with a compartment for us to leave some notes when it’s put to rest. We chose this one because it’s 100% biodegradable. So, notes seem a bit temporary. Then again… What’s not temporary? Everything is depending on your scale of time.
Greg told us that because of the nature of this box… We need to keep it very dry until we bury it. Noted.
There was a nice velvet bag that he slipped the box into so that we would not be carrying it exposed to the elements.
I took the bag and cradled the box inside. It was heavier than I expected. The substantial weight of the box gave me a bit of a shiver. Angela was looking at me with those blood-red eyes that I have become accustomed to as he hit the horrible milestone moments. I could tell she did not want to touch the box. As I look back on the day… She never did. As I was holding the box… I looked at Greg and said, “This is very surreal”.
We thanked him again for the late night on Friday and left.
I set the box on the floorboard of the backseat of the Fort’s 4Runner. Like this was just some parcel, we continued on our path to do a few errands. I had to run to the DMV to get my expired license renewed. The expiration was the day Summer passed. I was not getting away for DMV nonsense at any point over the past 2 months.
Once there, I hopped out and walked to the door of the DMV… And all I could think of was that Summer was stuck in the hot car. Seriously. It’s so damn weird. I felt like a shmuck for not leaving the AC running or the window cracked.
(The DMV experience for my REALID was 1000% better than my last attempt in Roanoke. That was a disaster that made the podcast! Pekin staff were awesome)
We stopped at Aldi for some milk and I told Angela I was fully ready to get home. She wanted to stop at WalMart… I told her that I was seriously having some kind of anxiety attack. I could feel a tightness in my sternum and that stabbing pain behind my right ear. Aldi just about killed me. I was praying I didn’t see anyone or would have to talk to anyone while we were transporting Summer. Why? Shell shock maybe? I was walking to co-workers today… Jill said she was surprised I was back already. I don’t think there is a right or wrong time to try and get back to work. But I told her and the girls at the front desk… This has to be a bit like PTSD. Coming back and trying to do normal things after 1 year of solid St. Jude time, hospice and a funderal skews your sense of normal.
You go from normal conversations and then dive straight into the deep end of the pool with reality checks like today.
We got home… I was trying to carry a gallon of milk and an empty can of Coke into the house while holding the velvet-wrapped box. As I tried to unload the backseat, a droplet of coke got on the bag. I stared at it and just wondered what kind of an idiot I am. How did I get entrusted with this? I cleaned it and brought the box and milk into the house through the front door. While setting down everything in my hands… I lost grip of the box and dropped it 6 inches onto the table. It was still in the bag, but it was now sitting on its side.
Again… I took stock of the fact that I am an idiot. Summer would absolutely kill me. Angela was nowhere to be found and that was probably for the better.
I thought about it for a minute and decided that the ashes should be in Summer’s room. Her daybed is still covered with some of the memory items from the visitation. There was a little area that allowed me to set the box cozily against a blanket. I released the box from the bed and stood there for a moment to make sure my composure was not going to melt away. Again, nobody was around. It was just me in her room with the box. Another surreal moment.
I then took my pounding head and slept for 2 hours. It kinda helped.
I think the sooner we get the grave situation settled… The better. I cannot speak for her, but I feel like Angela is keeping her distance from that box because she doesn’t want to visualize this as being our daughter. Ang said to call and get the spaces next to Mom and Dad. Then we couldn’t agree on how many to get… So, nothing was settled. Maybe tomorrow?
Like most everything lately. This is pretty horrible.