Always A Funeral…

If I tallied up all the funerals I have been to, it would be a percentage of over 99%. How many weddings have I been to? Three. Please don’t invite me to anything you don’t truly want me to attend.

Let me clarify that my own family has chosen to exclude me from every wedding, even my first cousins managed to exclude me. If ever I choose to get married, I can do so with less than ten people in attendance. My list currently stands at under ninety people, most of whom are friends of five years or longer; the kind you feel will happily stand up for you and those you will hopefully have for the remainder of your life. The person who stands by your side is ultimately far more important than the numbers, believe me.

Last Monday was a somber affair. I’d never attended a Catholic funeral before. I found is colder and unfeeling, but I suspect part of my newfound emotional detachment had a lot to do with how I viewed it. It’s not about religion, so much as it is about the state of a funeral while we are still actively dealing with Covid.

I know a Jewish funeral backward and forward. I can probably recite it by rote. If you have a good Rabbi, there is a very emotional, spiritual feeling in the air. Even my non-religious/spiritual friends have told me they feel like Jewish funerals are more involved/in touch. In essence, it makes sense I’d feel more connected there.

I remember my father’s funeral very clearly because I gave the eulogy. We are incredibly lucky to have an amazing Rabbi who deeply cares for our family, so even now, over a decade later, speaking to him is heartwarming. He will always leave you with a piece of wisdom, and I never forget his sparks or good deeds. He’s an innately good person. Prior to meeting him, I had never been able to connect with any man/woman of G-d. I found all of them so clinical and uncaring. He is the exception, not the rule.

Funerals are something I’m used to. I shouldn’t be, but I am. I get invited to more of them than any other thing in this world. While that is a strange thing to be invited to, I don’t feel like paying your respects is something you get invited to, or not. It’s something you do. Hopefully for the right reasons.

As the funeral was winding down, the “host” gave me a hug and told me I was a good person. I was taken aback by that statement. I wish more people said positive things through their pain, as opposed to those who shut everyone out. Yet, I did not feel the need to thank anyone who came to my father’s funeral or my mother’s. For me, showing up (if you are able) is a sign of respect. It is not your good deed.

Perhaps I am alone in these thoughts. Perhaps not. But unlike many, I try to show up and be present. I actually try harder than most. Even if it means being the only person who speaks and is fully present.

copyright ©2021 by Lisa Marino and Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

I Know For Certain…

“I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories.” —Leo Buscaglia

It seems like yesterday. I blinked and the day was here. It has heartbreakingly been ten years since my Uncle died, and I miss him fiercely.

I remember the morning my brother said, “Um, I have something to tell you. You’re going to be upset.” I saw the look on his face and catalogued all of the important people left in my life, and then he said your name. I fell down half a flight of stairs to my feet, and crumbled in disbelief. My brother later admitted he was afraid to tell me at all, but knew if I heard it from anyone else, it would be wrong. He was cringing as he watched my reaction and told me how it happened. I would later hear more, but in the immediate moment, I was numb beyond words.

I miss having a completely devoted family member who always had my back. He always looked out for me, in both large and small ways. Because we looked so much alike, people always thought I was his daughter. Even passing strangers would immediately see us as father and daughter.

He gave me an extremely expensive education (Three separate degrees.); which is something he was not obligated to do in any way, shape, or form. He wanted me to follow my dreams with ZERO debt in the end, and he encouraged me to use my voice and make a difference. He believed in me. The gesture came from a sense of love and honor; he NEVER threw anything in my face or abused our relationship.

He was a friend, a confidant, a partner-in-crime, and he taught me so much about life and how to navigate it by learning from his mistakes. He was enigmatic, loyal, full of wisdom, and always sought to help others. He generously gave his time, attention, and would listen to people talk for hours without saying a word. “It costs nothing to listen to someone and be kind.” He genuinely heard them.

My Grandfather and Uncle were the finest men to ever exist. I’m eternally grateful for his role in my life. Te amo, Zio. I will see you on the other side.

Tracking The Time

The loss of my mother haunts me. How could it not?

I know not everyone has a deep bond with either parent, and others have different scenarios of their family dynamic, which I understand, but my mother was my best friend. I was never embarrassed of her or ashamed of her. I took care of her. I helped her with anything and everything. I paid her bills and kept everything up-to-date. I cooked. I took her to doctor’s appointments. I dropped her off at work, walking her to her desk, and repeated the process at the end of each day. Sometimes, my brother was the one doing that, when he was available. We often dreaded it, but we did not complain. Two failed back surgeries left my mother partially paralyzed, so the extra assistance was necessary. Her biggest fear was falling and being wheelchair bound. 😦

I always question what I could have done to save her. I would have given her the heart out of my own chest. Ultimately, her life was in her own hands and she refused invasive medical treatment. Medical treatment my brother would later receive, and still receives. She gave up and her heart did, too. I don’t think she realized how much heartache and pain she would leave behind. Nor do I think she cared. She was too far gone to care anymore. While I understand that, it’s the polar opposite of how she expected me to be. It’s hard to reconcile the fact that she always wanted me to fight, but wouldn’t do it for herself.

So today, on what would have been her 74th birthday, I tried to do normal things. I’m wearing one of her favorite colors of nail polish in homage to her. I do it every year; I try to find a shade of purple that honors her life and what she left behind. But ultimately, as the day comes to a mental close, I am deeply saddened and feel the loss in every part of my life and heart.

If your parents are still alive and you have a good relationship with them, please realize how blessed you are. Some of us aren’t so lucky.

May you seek sweet Serenity, madre. May time heal, even though right now, it still tracks.

Dirge Without Music

“I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,—
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.”
―Edna St. Vincent Millay