Sunday, December 19, 2010

Friends , Funerals, and Finding the Path



As I sit down to write this I am in my father’s 220 year old farm house. My feet are up on a green chest that used to hold all our winter gear when we lived on the Mortland farm in Searsport. The wood stove from that farm is here as well and it is just as adept at cranking out heat as it was on cold winter nights in Maine. These small things are reminders that life is cyclical and from whence we came so too do we return in some form or another. There are always differences in these scenes, obviously I am in Vermont and not in Maine, My wife is sitting next to me, one of my good friends is up here with us, and I am 25 and creating the life that I want to lead. If you have been reading my blog you can refer to the previous post to get a sense of what is going on. The other difference, the one that is painful and natural is that my Mother is no longer in this world. She passed away two weeks ago with her family around her.

This post is not about that moment, or really about her, it is about the days leading up to it, the days after, and learning once and for all which of your friends will be the steadfast loyal ones that you thought you grew up with. It is about transitions and it Is also about me driving a big ass truck.

Some of you might know that hanging out in hospitals is a miserable experience and there are very few things that can make it tolerable. One of the few things that can make it even remotely bearable is having a place to go that is close by and in no way reminds you of the immense craziness of life. I am fortunate to have amazing friends that went out of their way to help me, and my family out. It is hard to put into words the bonds that are forged between some people as they grow, platitudes and clich├ęs just don’t cut it. Ian put me up in his home, made sure I was fed, had a place to sleep and injected some semblance of normality into an otherwise insane situation. He managed to do this and talk about what was going on as if it was a normal part of life (which it is) without making a big deal out of it, or constantly asking “how I was doing”. Being at Ian and Jim’s was key to my mental wellbeing throughout Mom’s last hospital stay.

There is a saying: “You are the sum of your five closest friends”, if this is the case then I am one intensely amazing human being, If I am the sum of my ten closest friends then I am the most blessed man on the face of the earth, and it turns out that that may just well be the case. Every single one of my friends, I mean the ones that I truly give a shit about, made sure that I was Ok, checked in at some point and offered their help if me or my family needed it. I was overwhelmed by this outpouring of support and solidarity. The friends that I have surrounded myself with are amazing people and I am humbled beyond belief to have such a strong bound with so many truly good people.

Anna and I decided that it was best if we transport all of our big stuff to Vermont for storage, we realized that it is best to minimize future complications by dealing with things immediately. There are always items that fall to the family to care for and carry with them for the rest of their days. In my case there are antiques, chests, a handmade (by Mom) all wood table, and a giant cast iron wood stove. Anna and I reserved a 16ft truck with Penske, when we went to pick it up all that they had was a 26ft truck, guess who got to drive that to Vermont! We drove down in driving rain and snow, my buddy Justin drove our car and helped us load and unload the truck. Why should these little things matter you ask? It is a transition, a rite of passage and a cathartic experience.

After the death of a loved one there are considerably different and conflicting emotions vying for supremacy; Sadness, relief, confusion, anger, acceptance, loss, and determination. When we packed up the items of mom’s that are now my responsibility and transported them to Vermont I felt a sense of cleansing and of closing. I had done my job beyond reproach and now I am able to sit down and ask myself “Where do I go from here”. I am pleased with my answer and I think that you will be as well.