I try not to think about it too much.
The first person in my family that died was my aunt Veronica, when I was 6. I didn’t know her that well. I can remember being at her house for Christmas, and I can see her sitting in a corner, maybe in the kitchen. This may be a false memory from old video tapes though. She had long blonde hair, and I feel like her hair was rather stereotypically ’80s. I can remember going to see her at Henderson Hospital. I remember walking along a ledge out on the street. I think I asked my mom some questions, probably about why she was sick. My cousins came to stay with us sometime; I’m not sure if it was while she was sick or after she died. I think I sort of understood that she died, and I felt sorry for them, but I didn’t realize that that was their mom that died, and how devastated I would be if it happened to me.
The second person in my family who died was my Nana, when I was 9 years old. She had been sick for a long time. She was in and out of the hospital. I remember visiting her and bringing her “get well soon” cards. I think I thought she just had a cold or something, but since she lived alone, she had to go to the hospital to get better. I didn’t realize you go to the hospital for serious things, so it didn’t really worry me.
The day she died, I got up early, maybe six or seven o’clock, because I heard my mom and dad up. I think I heard my mom crying, actually, and I’m getting a little upset thinking about this. I must have heard her crying, because I would have kept sleeping otherwise. I don’t really remember what happened after that. I assume my dad must have told me that Nana died. I wrote in my diary that I was really sad for my mom because both her parents were dead. I guess I started to understand then a little more about how shitty that is.
I had to get nice black clothes for the funeral, because I didn’t already have any. I’m pretty sure I got a black dress shirt with embroidered flowers on the front. I probably wore a skirt and stockings, but I can’t picture them. People don’t usually bring cameras to funerals, do they? I understand why, but it seems a little strange, since you photograph all other important events. I just feel like it’s something you would want to document. Anyway, I’m pretty sure the black dress shoes I have now were bought for the funeral as well. They’ve really lasted me ten years?
Anyway, I can remember there being a viewing room. I don’t think I wanted to go up to see Nana, but part of me also wanted to. I think I mostly stayed downstairs with the other kids. Either my dad was there with us, or he left and I really wanted him to be there, because I didn’t want to be alone (well, with my brother and the other kids of course, but still). I can remember sitting in, I guess, some pews. I think I was near the front on the right (looking from the back). I wonder now how many people were there and who they were? My mom’s family and her two brother’s family, but I wonder if Nana’s siblings or friends were there? I don’t really know.
I cried a lot. I think I had a box of Kleenex beside me. I can remember my cousin Mallory saying that she didn’t cry at all, and I thought that wasn’t really something to be proud of. But of course, I couldn’t possibly understand how she felt, since she’d already been through this with her mother.
Then we drove to the cemetery. I think us grandkids rode in the hearse. I think I did not very much like that. I don’t remember much at the cemetery. I guess it was pretty standard, putting flowers on the coffin and lowering it into the ground.
I don’t really know what happened after. The next day, did I just go back to playing Pokemon without another thought?
I remember my uncles’ families coming to my house to divide up Nana’s things. There was a knickknack of two bears swinging on tree swings that my brother and I had given to her for her birthday or something years ago, and I wanted those. They’re still in my room. She had a few pictures of doll-like girls, and I got those. I made my parents go back to Nana’s apartment because there was one picture left there that I wanted. I don’t remember ever seeing them in Nana’s house when she was alive. I also got her bedroom dresser and mirror, since I guess I needed a new one. It was very nice, but I think I didn’t want it. I think I thought it was a little creepy. I don’t think I’d even want my living grandma’s bedroom dresser, you know? It’s kind of a personal piece of furniture, especially the mirror.
The next person in my family who died was my Uncle Steve, when I was 19 years old. I knew him much better than Aunt Veronica because I was much older now. He and my Aunt Peggy were like the only other people my parents would hang out with. It was hard on everyone, I think.
I was up in my room, and my parents were out. The phone rang, and it was my grandma, so I didn’t answer. That sounds extremely rude, doesn’t it? At the time, I never usually answered the phone, whoever it was, unless I was expecting a call. Plus, I didn’t think she was calling for me, so I let the answering machine get it. I left my door open and listened to the message. I heard something about “Steve” and some other word like “hospital” or “heart” maybe. I thought something was wrong, but I didn’t hear the entire message, so I just went back to my room. I thought maybe I should call my parents just in case, but I didn’t. I’ve always felt guilty about that, even though there was nothing they or I could have done.
My parents came home and heard the message or got another call and went to the hospital. I don’t really remember what else happened that day; I think my mom may have come back because there was nothing she could do. I think he was still alive when they got there, but I’m not sure. I guess eventually someone told us he had died. My mom had to call my grandma and tell her. There must have been some back and forth time where we didn’t know if he was going to be okay or not. My mom and brother and I cried in the living room; I think my dad was still at the hospital with his sister. We tried watching TV to take our minds off of it, but everything seemed to remind us of death. I think we watched old SNL episodes and 101 Dalmatians.
I had to go back to university that Sunday. I wasn’t at home for the funeral or viewing, and my classes didn’t work out on those days so that I could come down for a few hours. I was glad that I didn’t have to go, but part of me wanted to go, for closure or something I guess. My floormate Natalie came by and asked how my Christmas break was. I lied and said it was good. Part of me wanted to sarcastically answer, “Oh yeah, it was fine; my uncle died yesterday”. I wasn’t really close enough with any of the people at school to want to talk about it with them. I cried at night and just didn’t know what to do.
So one of my not-really-friends Facebook friend posted a status update saying “RIP” and a girl’s name. I checked out this girl’s Facebook page, which is totally public, and there are pages and pages of people saying “omggggg i cant believe it” and “rip xxx”. From what I can gather, this girl had a brain aneurysm earlier this week and died this morning.
I’ve thought about this before. I’ve seen Facebook groups for dead friends, pictures of kids who were killed on the news. If I died tomorrow, would they put my silly Facebook picture on the news? I hope not. I’d rather it be a school picture, but those aren’t very recent. And my last school picture sucked.
I see how many people join these Facebook groups, and I think there’s no way I would have a thousand people or even a few hundred people on my death group. And what would they say about me? All of them would say, “I haven’t talked to you in years”, except with bad spelling and no punctuation.
And then there’s all the people saying, “At least she’s in a better place now”. For one, if there is a “better place”, I don’t think most people are going there. I’m certainly not, because I don’t believe in it. I’d like to say, “No one say anything about me going to ‘a better place'”, but then I realize, well, I’ll be dead. If that’s what they want to believe, and it makes them feel better, let them say it.
I want to say let my family or whoever do whatever they want. I don’t really care if they have a sombre funeral or a big party for me, because I’m not going to be there. I want the people who are grieving to do whatever makes them feel better. Part of me wants to go, “Eww, don’t do that!”, but it really doesn’t matter, does it?
It’s absolutely terrifying to think about death the way that I understand it. The nothingness. The blackness. I wish I could believe in a better place or reincarnation or an afterlife not on the island, but I don’t. I think it’s good that people do believe, because if everybody thought like me, it would be shitty. Or we would just be sitting here thinking “ohmygodivegottodosomethingmeaningfulwithmylifebutwhatismeaningfulinthefirstplace?”.
Whenever I hear someone’s Facebook friend or a kid from my school died, I’m always curious about how they died, but it’s usually very difficult to find out. When I die, it’s okay for people to talk about how it happened. Raise awareness for whatever it was that killed me so that it doesn’t kill other people, you know?