The funeral was very short, very simple - the drive to and from the cemetery was way, way longer than the brief and simple graveside service. It wasn't really a graveside service, either - at Florida National Cemetery there are small pavilions for ceremony. The actual burial happens behind the scenes and with no ceremony, but the pavilions are quite nice. It's a very green, pastoral setting. The deacon sent from a nearby parish led a few prayers, and that was all.
Boychild drove down from Asheville last night just to be here. He rolled in extremely late after working all day and a nine hour drive, slept, got up, grabbed coffee and a bagel, drove his own car behind us to the cemetery, then took off from there back to Asheville, because he starts a new job tomorrow. Girl and I went to dinner. And that was that.
The drive to the cemetery was not without humor. The hearse was being driven by a frustrated NASCAR driver, the nice old man driving the limo apparently was a retired Hollywood stunt driver, and Boy, whose normal cruising speed is Bat Outta Hell, was struggling to keep up with these old guys, as we careened around corners and did 70 in a 45 mph zone, not to mention 85 on the Turnpike. I'm sure my mother would have appreciated the slapstick aspect of her grandson driving like a maniac to follow the hearse and limo hauling ass through Outer Redneckistan. At one point a FHP car pulled in behind the hearse and I thought we were going to get pulled over, which struck us as absolutely hilarious. The state trooper thought better of it and we screamed on up the highway.
Girlchild said later that she thinks we are always a letdown for the funeral director, because we are so not emotionally engaged in the funeral itself. It's just how we are. Grief hits in small ways, sad ways and funny ways, and for a long time, but the sobbing at the grave scene isn't our style. So we were dry-eyed, laughed some, got it over with, and went to dinner.
There's estate stuff to address, of course, a lot of it. Sunday, Girl and I will go to the house and hold a massive throwing-out party, and bring back more stuff she can use, or that Boy wanted. An estate sale company must be engaged, the house must be emptied, then a property manager must be engaged, because we need to get a tenant in there to offset the holding cost of the house. In this market it could sit for a year, but I think we could get a tenant in there in a couple of months, so it is by far the better path right now.
But that's all just Stuff. It struck me this morning that for the first time in my entire adult life, I am now only responsible for myself. And for the first time in 7 years, I don't need to carry my cell phone everywhere I go, obsessively, because I'm the responsible person for a seriously ill family member.
In the last 7 years, I rocketed from my husband's diagnosis in 2001 through his death in 2003, then through my father's increasingly serious heart disease, followed by his death in 2006. Then I took a bit of a time out last year for my own almost fatal aneurysm thing, then my mother was my responsibility.
It's like waking up the day after being laid off from a job - but this job was Carrying Weight of the World (or at least our world). I feel lost, but also, strangely free. I don't need to jump when the phone rings, I don't have to be afraid to answer, I don't have to be on constant standby for the next crisis. My kids are responsible, functional adults, I don't have to stay awake nights worrying about them. So I am 50 years old, and for the first time in my entire adult life, I am responsible only for myself. Wow.
This is such a strange, surreal feeling. I will miss my mother very much; challenging as she was to deal with, she really did love us all. But I'd be lying if I said I'm not feeling like my load has lightened a bit. And it's a strange, strange feeling to be 50 years old and finally feeling free of being the Responsible Party. I'm now only responsible for me (and the Bossy One, and the damn cats). This is such a strange concept, it will take some time to wrap my brain around it. I suspect it will take some time to really relax and accept it. In the meantime, I will have to remind myself that other people live like this all the time, and it really is okay to relax.
Going to start practicing relaxation by going to bed early. Thanks for all of the kind words and good wishes and prayers. These Internets really are an awesome source of emotional support.