When my sister's husband, Dave, died a few weeks ago, it was such a shocking and horrific experience that I think no one knew quite how to deal with any of the "in the trenches" experiences or the aftermath of it all.
After a few tragic events in our family, Dave had proclaimed after our other sister's funeral that hers was the last funeral he would attend, including his own. So, there was no funeral for Dave and the newspaper wanted more than half a thousand dollars to print an obituary. Scandalous, in my opinion.
His remains were cremated and I'm not sure whether it's happened or yet to happen that my sister and the "boys" send his ashes adrift out over the mountains close to where they are now living in Colorado.
I feel remiss that there has been no traditional marking of his passing, as if I should somehow not let it just have happened without commenting or writing or something, but it is just such a personal experience that I didn't want to put it out on facebook, although I know the people I'm friends with on FB are mostly really my friends...or at least friendly towards me...and not just strangers. But if it was a personal experience to me, it's all the more personal for my sister and their sons and she is so much more private a person than I am.
I know that they are still reeling from the experience and loss and my heart is quite heavy in their behalf which does nothing to alleviate their sorrow and that's one thing that makes grief so immeasurably frustrating...the painful inability to help those you love the most,--in this case, my family--in their most agonizing time of need.
When someone dies, we have a tendency to start remembering the distant past of their lives, the time when we first started to know them. So of course, I have a story about Dave to tell about the early days of our getting to know each other.
I was a college student when I wanted a motorcycle badly enough to just get one. I didn't know anything about motorcycles, but Dave the mechanic brother-in-law did. He found a used Honda for me and I took the bus over to their house for him to teach me how to drive it. We went to the parking lot at the school and I learned to ride my very own motorcycle. He showed me how to start it, how to brake and steady it, and I gave it a few turns around the parking lot. It was getting late, time to quit for the day and I got on the bike to take it home. Dave was surprised when he was usually unflappable, and told me I needed more lessons/practice. He didn't think I knew enough to keep myself safe on the road, and he didn't know me well enough at the time to have expected that from me.
But I insisted. I had that finally-materialized dream already in my hands. I couldn't let go of it. So he went home and told my sister, who hustled their children into the van with them and they followed me from their house in Layton to my apartment in Ogden, a distance of about 10 exhilarating miles! My sister said she laughed at me the whole way because she thought I looked funny on the motorcycle as I was laughing at them for being such fussy mother hens following me all the way to my door!
Dave, did you ever know how getting me started with those first ten miles propelled me through some of the best times of my college days? In and out of the canyon, on sunny summer days, on less than ideal road conditions, to school, to my sisters' homes to give rides to their little boys, to my folks' house a town or two away, to classmates' riverside cabins for "literary" gatherings, on weekend break-aways on the open road...wherever my heart led me, Baby, I just rode! Baby, I just rode.