My Brother's Funeral (Part One)
Some of you may remember that last year my 21 year old brother died from Leukimia. The day after I posted about it here
I had planned to write about the funeral afterwards but for some reason I couldn?t do it. I?m still not sure why. The funeral was at first going to be at the KH that my parents attend, however to my relief my parents decided to have it at the funeral home instead. My two older sisters had come here from out of state and stayed with us for several days. One of my sisters has four little boys, so for three days we had a total of 10 people in our house. My parents were going to have the after-funeral reception at their home, but I volunteered our home instead as it was larger, and I wanted to help and relieve my mom from the headache and preparation of having so many people at her house. You can imagine my husbands reaction when I told him JW?s were going to descend upon our home in a few days.
?So my mom was planning to have the reception at her house.?
?Yeah, but I told her that they could come to our house instead?
?Oh really?? His eyebrows went up. ?Sooooo?. I guess you need a few days to cleanse our house of pagan materials huh??
I laughed. ?Yeah, It?ll be like that movie the ?Birdcage?, oh you know what? I guess we can?t put the Christmas lights up this weekend like we had planned.
?Or the Christmas tree.?
I sighed heavily ?great. What are we going to tell the kids??
?Well we will just have tell them the truth and that we?ll put up the tree the week after.?
I sighed heavily again. ?Ok, umm so will you cook??
?Of course I?ll cook!?
I got up and hugged my husband, ?thanks I know this is hard. My mom has barely even met you and we?ve been married for three months!?
He sighed and shook his head. ?Yeah, well. That was her choice, not ours. I think that night was the first time she actually looked me in the eye and called me by my name.?
Thoughts of that night came flooding back. The Phone Call. Hearing panic in my mothers voice. ?His blood count has dropped too low. He?s not going to make it.? Our 22 mile drive to the hospital. The call from my sister when we were just 10min from the hospital. ?He died.? The elders and other JW?s close to my mom all there in the waiting room. The No Blood sign taped on the glass window of my brothers intensive care room. One of the elders had given my husband a What hope for Dead Loved Ones tract. He threw it in the garbage.
I snapped back to reality. ?Sorry, I was just thinking of that night. It was so surreal.?
J got up and hugged me. ? I know darling. You did the best you could to talk to your brother, and you got to spend some time with him before he went to the hospital. That?s what counts.?
Three days later it?s Friday night and we make the trip downtown to the bus station to pick up my sister and her kids. We had the house spic and span for the next day. I had taken all my ?questionable? material upstairs. There were no Christmas lights. No Christmas tree. My mom had called the day before and hesitatingly asked if we had any Christmas decorations and if we did could we take them down. I simply said, ?Its taken care of mom.? I just wanted the whole thing to be over with. I did however leave this photo hanging in my living room.
We get back home from the bus station and get all the kids in bed. I didn?t sleep one wink that night.
I got up early to help J with the last few preparations. We drive to the rental place to rent a few folding chairs and some other items. J and I love to entertain, whether its an apostafest or a funeral, we always put our heart and soul in the food. We had made enough food and appetizers to easily feed 30 people, and I also was pretty sure others would be bring things as well. I had warned J ahead to be prepared in case anyone decided to preach to him. He was ready, although he did wonder why anyone would have the gall to bring preach to him during a funeral service. I reminded him that JW?s have gone to funeral homes in hopes of placing magazines to vunerable people who?s relative had recently passed. In their mind, I said, it makes perfect sense.
We finally arrive at the funeral home. It was raining and traffic was horrific. J and I took separate cars so we could fit everyone. My sleepless night had started to catch up with me. The funeral home is packed and we make our way to the front and sit down next to my sister,her family, and my brothers fiancé. My parents are across the aisle. As soon as my daughter sees my brother lying in the casket she bursts into tears. I hold her while she cries and my mom gets up to read a poem my sister had wrote. After that Brother Elder gets up to give the funeral sermon. I swallow hard. Here we go. He starts with who he?s survived by, how old he was, jobs he had. He reads a few bible verses ( I don?t remember what they were). Then he says that my brother was faithful to the very end, meaning he didn?t accept blood and he quoted the scripture in Acts. At that I start to feel flushed. I close my eyes and try to calm down. Take a few deep breaths, breath in, breath out. In? out?. Ok.
I open my eyes and hear Brother Elder say ?aren?t we glad to be Jehovah?s People? And aren?t we glad we have the hope of everlasting life on a paradise earth? We feel sorry for those that don?t have the truth don?t we? They are living in darkness, no hope. Too bad for them.?
I swallow, and think that I shouldn?t have eaten breakfast because I could feel it start to come back up. He reads Revelation 21: 3, 4 then asks everyone to sing ?Life without end at last. I hadn?t brought a song book or a bible. My brothers fiancé brought hers and shares with me. I just stare at the book and don?t sing. Instead I listen to everyone else. I couldn?t help but think what a terribly long song this was. Four verses.
?Caaann you Seeee?. With your Minsd eyyyyee??
I glance around. I recognize nearly everyone. Sister Hand Me Down is still wearing the same green felt coat she wore since 1973.
?Iiiiin thooose daaaaays, oooold will growww young?..?
Brother Comb Over still has the few wisps of hair desperately trying to cover his bald head.
?Maaaaan in Beeeeast, liiiiving in peeeeeace??
I face forward again? finally the last verse? I listen and notice those in the back are about one measure behind the front. I smirk.
?Live for the daaaaaaay when you?ll saaaaay, Life without eeeend at laaaast?
(in the back)
?Liiive for the daaaaay when you?ll saaaaay life withoueeend at laaaast?
Brother Elder steps up to say the closing prayer, and then the service is over. People line up to to exit out the front and stop on the way out to shake our hand or give us hugs. Brother Elder hands out maps to our house. I glance at the map and suddenly realize that I meant to put driving directions on there too. My parents ask to follow us because they had never been to our house before.
We get in the car to make the trip back home. I can?t wait to get home and pour myself a glass of wine.
(this is getting a bit longer then I intended so I will break this into two parts)
Up Next- Part II- The Reception
Thanks for reading, this was harder for me to write about than I thought...
Reading this makes my heart ache... thanks for sharing the story and I look forward to part two!
Really good, V. I can feel your angst.
I read through this twice.
I feel for you
sorry doodle- i truly am. but i felt pain and sorrow when you described this. maybe it was funny to you, i guess it could be, but i felt pain. i lost my sister she was fourty years old last year. she was eight months pregnant and her child was removed from her in attempts to save it. her funeral memorial was at a khall but coffin remained at funeral parlor. this song was sung there and just brings tears to my eyes everytime its sung. i also feel pain for your suffering-instead of your grieving for your relative you have been hurt by the truth so much that your true ability to understand the need for grieving and dealing with the pain has been distorted. may Jehovah help you become the person you should be. love elvis
open my eyes and hear Brother Elder say ?aren?t we glad to be Jehovah?s People? And aren?t we glad we have the hope of everlasting life on a paradise earth? We feel sorry for those that don?t have the truth don?t we? They are living in darkness, no hope. Too bad for them.?
Trust them to turn it into an occasion to preach and have a dig at you.
Love the pic, btw!!!
Having also lost a family member within the past year, I am amazed at your courage in writing about this even now. Sometimes those we love can be so uncaring (and strange!). I hope you are comforted by the fact that your brother now knows that "The Truth" ain't the truth, and that you and your husband behaved respectfully and lovingly despite your deep grief.
I could only image going through this and then writing about it...
Thank you for the kind words guys.
maybe it was funny to you, i guess it could be, but i felt pain.
I still feel horrible horrible pain. Every single day. Not one day goes by that I dont think about my poor brother. Reliving a traumatic experience by writing about it, for me is painful as well. Part of me feels that if I had just tried to talk to him more, maybe I could have convinced him to accept the treatment he really needed. I dont know. The dogma in the JW religon and how scriptures are distorted and peoples lives are ruined because of it is nauseating. Even recounting an experience such as this, I find little bits of humor along the way because for me it makes it easier to cope. That is just how I am and always have been. I'm so sorry for your loss it must have been awful. I know the pain never goes away but I hope you've found a way to cope under the circumstances.