4 years since Franco passed away. I can’t believe that so much has happened and how much has changed in my life.
I went home to help for the holiday and so I could see his mom for the anniversary.
We caught up and she mentioned that Frank’s sister was in the hospital with pneumonia and she had been taking care of her granddaughter while she was there. I didn’t think much of it and thought everything would turn out fine. I hugged her, thinking I wouldn’t see her again till I came back in June for a wedding. I was wrong.
I got a message a few days after I got home that Barbara had taken a turn for the worse and her kidneys were starting to fail. I asked Susan if she needed to me to come back and she said no but to keep them in my prayers.
The next morning she messaged me that Barbara had passed away early that morning. I had my flight booked immediately, packed and left early the next morning.
I arrived in the afternoon and went right to the house and gave her a big hug. She held it together but she was upset. She told me that I didn’t have to come but I looked right at her and said “Family is forever.”
After Frank passed, I promised myself that I would look out for her and make sure she knew that she had support anytime she needed it.
We used the same funeral home that had been used for Frank’s father and for Frank.
It was hard answering the questions that the funeral director had about what to put in the obituary. Her boyfriend was supposed to meet us there to help with the planning but he never showed up so we did the best we could. I didn’t really know her so we were all at a loss for words.
I decided that it would be best if I took some of the burden off Susan by taking the granddaughter to run errands and back to the house she lived at with her mom Barbara and John.
I told her that I was gonna make sure that she had everything she needed and we needed to grab a outfit for her mom to wear. When we got there, John was there and had chosen an outfit for Barbara to wear.
I felt really bad for John. He was just lost and I knew exactly how he was feeling. The loss, the over whelming emotions, all the unanswered questions.
It’s even worse for Barbara’s daughter. She lost her mom and she had lost her dad about 8 years before that. Since Barbara died without a will, she is to be a ward of family court until the permanently assign guardianship.
I took her to lunch and got her to talk to me about normal things and it was nice to get to know her. After a few hours together, she felt comfortable enough to start asking questions about the service and who she was going to live with. I spoke honestly with her since she’s old enough to make decisions and to know the truth of things.
A lot of the things she asked, I told her that I would tell Susan and they could talk it over together. She doesn’t have anymore immediate family. There are aunts and uncles on the Father’s side but no one who had said anything about taking care of her, yet.
I asked her for her favorite pictures of her mom and she texted me them so that I could print them out and put into frames for a small picture memorial for the service.
She told me Barbara’s favorite colors and I had my work make the casket spray and a basket for John to take home.
When we got to the funeral home for the service, we set up the picture display and had to wait awhile before they had the viewing room ready. Susan and Katelyn went into together and I went in later alone.
They did a pretty good job with her makeup but made her too dark. We weren’t sure if they were going to be able to do an open casket since the doctors told us that her skin tone was different colors at the hospital.
People started showing up and paying their respects. I stayed in the background, just making sure everything was running smoothly and answering questions with the director.
John showed up alone and I went out to meet him. I hugged him and asked him if he wanted me to go with him into the viewing room or if he wanted to be alone. He asked me to go with him so I escorted him and just stood silently.
He sat down at a pew and asked if he was in the obituary. I said yes and grabbed one of the cards for him. He read it and just shook his head and said “Special Friend”……
I told him that is the term that is used for people like us. People who were in long term relationships but not married. I was upset at the term too. It doesn’t show how complex a relationship was or the love that was there.
The service went pretty quickly and at the end the extended family circled the casket and held hands and sang a song. I didn’t know it so I just stayed silent.
After the service, I took Katelyn to a gathering where some of her family was and stayed for a few hours. They were all really nice to me. I enjoyed the food and conversation.
I stopped by Susan’s before I left to go home and hugged her tight. I hate that she has gone through so much loss and pain. It’s too much for one person to have to go through.
Just a lifetime of loss.
It put even more emphasis on living for today.
Life is too short not to love hard. To play and laugh and do what makes me happy.
We never know when we will lose someone. Have to make each day count.