Today arrived. I guess it finally had to but I had hoped it wouldn’t and that rather, I would wake from a terrible dream.
The morning was beautiful, with cool Fall air and clear Idaho skies. I showered up and Bernadine, Mommy and I got ready together, then Mommy, Emma, Becky and I drove over to the cemetery to put flowers on Daddy’s grave before heading to the church. For the record, going to the cemetery before the funeral is not a good idea.
Seeing an empty hole that I knew my brother’s body would soon fill, sent me in to a panic and painful devastation. Mommy felt the same thing and we held each other and sobbed. She cried out, yelling to the sky, the mountains and fields, that this could not be. He was not dead and would not, could not, go in that cold empty hole. She started to lose ability to breathe and I calmed her quietly through my aching, just to feel her once again shake and cry out again. My sweet beautiful Mother, you have been through more agony than seems fair…but who am I to judge and determine that. What about those that have lost entire families in war and sickness and natural disasters. At least we held Jan, took care of his needs and kissed him as he slipped away. We have a body to bury, which is more than many have.
Walking in to the church where Nalder funeral home had his casket, took my breathe away. There lay my brother. My partner in crime, my play mate and best friend. He didn’t greet me with a hug or kiss or sarcastic comment. He just lay there. (Come to think of it, if he had greeted me with a hug or kiss at that point I would have pee’d myself!)
Mommy held her baby boy, hugged him and kissed his handsome face. Steffan, Jan’s oldest son, hung a Harley bell from the casket. Jan’s face was so beautiful and peaceful, and a slight mischievous smile seemed to cross his lips. I half expected him to do something to play a trick on us today. Danny gave a beautiful family prayer.
The services went well, Steffan did a beautiful job reading the life sketch, Bernadine’s words filled with memories of her 47 years with her little brother were so tender ans sweet and filled with love, all the creatures sang beautifully, and I was able to give my talk without falling apart. I looked to Trisha, our hospice nurse, several time throughout the day for strength. Her presence there was what i needed.
Jan’s friends who I have come to love so much and see as my brothers too now, and 3 of his children, carried his casket to his Last Ride, where Harley’s lined, powerful and ready to escort him.
Danny rode Daddy’s bike with Braydon on the back, Steffan rode our bike with his sweet wife on the back, Jared rode on the back of the trike pulling the Last Ride hearse and I jumped on with someone I’d never met, but who lovingly invited me. Lauren rode with someone, as did a couple of the creatures. As one big Harley family, we rode the same route we took Daddy on, less than two months ago, while riders revved their booming engines and I could feel Jan watch with pride and gratitude.
Gary dedicated the grave and after laying flowers on his casket, Ezra, our sweet friend from Hawaii sang in Hawaiian and those of us that knew the words, sang along too. We then watched as Jan’s body was lowered down to its final resting place, and in my mind I told him how much I have loved and continue to love him, and from somewhere far in the distance, or perhaps from deep within, I heard that familiar voice return the words, ‘I love you too Sis.’
“Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there; I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on snow. i am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn rain. When you awaken in the morning’s hush, I am the swift uplifting rush, Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there; I did not die.” (Mary Elizabeth Frye)