Sunday, September 1, 2013

Mourning in Long Beach

Siena and I flew to Long Beach over the weekend for Jim's funeral (he passed away from mesothelioma). Jim is the dad of my best friend, Julie. Every time I visit Julie and Shane, I feel like I'm home. And this weekend was incredible. I just needed to be with my second family during this time. At the airport on our way out, we ran in to my former mother in law, Peggy. It was quite surprising to see her in the line of security. We grabbed a burger together and chatted for just a few minutes. After we said goodbye to her, Siena was really bummed that she couldn't see Daddy, too. It brought up a lot of questions from her, like when she can see him again, why she can't talk to him, why he doesn't see her anymore. It broke my heart. When I told Morgan that we ran into Grandma Peggy, she was really sad. Peggy is a nice woman. I like her a lot. With my ex husband, the apple fell very, very far from the tree. Like miles and miles away.

Our weekend couldn't have been better. Siena and I never do one-on-one trips and this was nice and bonding. I wish Morgan could have joined us but she had a big soccer tournament all weekend and couldn't miss three games so she stayed at home. It was really fun spending Mommy-Siena time together and we got to be fun and silly, at times I felt like I didn't have a care in the world. That feeling doesn't come often enough.

The funeral was touching-- a real celebration of Jim's life. An avid hunter and fisherman, the guys in the family spray painted his casket in camo. The girls wore camo dresses or skirts, and the boys were in camo bowties.

At the family viewing and prayer just prior to the closing of the casket, I couldn't stop crying. I know I'll see him on the other side and he is free from the pain he was suffering in the final weeks of his life. But I felt such love around these people and I am so grateful that he raised such a great daughter and had such a strong, amazing family. I have benefitted immensely from it. Looking at a body without its spirit renews my faith in life after death. I know that his spirit is gone and that his body is just an empty shell. I wondered what he was doing at that moment. Who was he visiting with? Was he watching us?

Julie and her brother, Jeff, and sister, Vicki, all spoke. I've never seen Julie speak in public and she did a fabulous job. So did Jeff and Vicki, I might add. Then two of Julie's children, Jake and Kate, read letters that they wrote to Jim. Oh my gosh-- they were so sweet, their grief so real and tangible, and yet so hopeful that they'll see him again (though we hope not soon!). The positive impact that Jim had on the lives of so many is something I hope to replicate. Our relationships and those we love are the only things that matter, after all. And it's safe to say that Jim led a purposeful life. The lives of those around him were far better because he was in it. We should all be so lucky.

The weekend flew by and I didn't want to leave. We went to the beach, Knotts, and went swimming. Overall, my health held up except I got so tired during the lunch that followed the funeral, I thought I was going to pass out. I took a nap that afternoon. I've determined that most days, I just need a short catnap. Thirty minutes probably will suffice so I'm just going to schedule it in.
Photo: The girls having fun at knotts
Vicki, me, Sherry and Julie


We'll be back in Long Beach next month and it can't come soon enough.