Brutal. Adj. Punishingly hard or uncomfortable.
Last weekend we buried Danny's ashes. It was brutal. I mean that in every sense of its definition.
We didn't have the help of a funeral home. He was buried at a small cemetery in a family plot. Laid to rest next to his twin sister.
I had no expectations of what the day would hold and I think that's why I ended up being so struck by all of the events. I hadn't thought through the options, what may happen. I was emotionally unprepared.
Chris placed his dad's ashes in the grave himself. He kissed the box before he got on his knees and lowered what was left of his dad into the ground. He placed the heavy, circular concrete lid on the box and twisted it closed. He and our two oldest boys picked up roses from the pile we had laid out, kissed them and placed them gently in the hole. Chris asked anyone who wanted to to also place roses in, they would be buried along with his dad. Everyone's last gift to him.
As family filed through, saying their last goodbyes and Hallelujah played on a small speaker, Chris knelt behind the headstone taking photos. Honestly, the fact that so many people took photos that morning caught me off guard. I had left my phone in the car. It never occurred to me to bring it. Chris and I cope and manage our emotions completely differently. He will look back on those photos to keep his memories alive and fresh whereas I prefer to let the harsh ones fade away from my mind with no visible proof they existed.
Once all the roses were placed and goodbyes were said, Chris picked up the shovel and placed the first bit of dirt in the ground. His brother next. Then an uncle and another uncle and another, each placing shovels of dirt. His uncle Dwight kept shoveling when it was his turn and at one point was the sole person standing in the circle. Burying his brother with his own hands. As a few moments passed more brothers joined him and they finished the burial.
This moment, watching his brothers that he loved so much, bury him themselves, was the most difficult part of the whole day for me. Usually at a funeral we leave and someone else comes behind us to handle the messiest pieces. Someone places the dirt for you, you don't watch it and certainly don't do it yourself. I wasn't emotionally ready for it. I guess I just assumed someone was coming to tidy up after us, because that's what I've known. Some sweet soul was coming to remove a little of the pain, to shield us from it. But, there wasn't anyone. It was just us.
Chris's uncle snapped this photo of him and Chris showed it to me later. Do you know what he said? Sorry. Sorry for not being near me when I was emotionally struggling. I never thought one time that he should've been with me that morning. I was doing my duty, taking care of the baby, trying to keep him quiet and calm so Chris could do his duty. I was supporting him by taking care of the distractions, so he could lead our family in one of the most difficult days we've had yet. And yet afterword, he worried that he didn't do a good enough job of being a husband.
In the worst moments imaginable our marriage has become fortified and infinitely stronger. After the hard stuff, when we come back together to reflect, I'm always proud of us and the way we love each other.
Always take a moment to be grateful in the hard times. Theres's something beautiful there if you look.