The next morning was the most painful yet. I was tired and the reality of what had happened was all around me. We got ready for the day and started calling people who needed to know what had happened, mainly Troy's friends. Toni and Troy are just a little more than a year apart in age so Toni knew all his friends very well and the benefit of living in a small town is everyone keeps track of everyone else. You only think you leave the small town you are from but they have a way of holding on to you no matter how far away you roam.
We made calls and cried and then it was time to go out to the hotel. Again Dave sprang into action and had the car warmed up and ready to go by the time we shuffled out the door. It hurt to move.
It was a bright, white, cold winter day. It felt so odd to be there, I had just left. Now I was back and it seemed so strange that people were going on with their days and living their lives when everything was different. Why didn't they know that everything was different? I don't know what I expected from them but it seemed like the world should somehow adjust to the incorporation of this new information and yet for everyone else, it was just Wednesday, Jan 2nd. It was my stepfather Larry's birthday, something that I don't think even one of us thought about or considered in any way and for that, I am very sorry.
Dave pulled up to the hotel and let us off at the door. We walked into the lobby and there is a breakfast room right off the front desk area. That is where we were all gathering to plan the funeral. It was already known and decided that he would be creamated, that was his wish (and would be mine as well) but a service of some sort needed to be planned.
I was first to walk into the room and my father was standing right there. I lost it. Totally lost it. No longer was I an adult living a whole grown up life. I was 5 years old and I wanted my Daddy to make it all better. My Dad is a big guy and when he hugged and held me it felt like I was stepping into a warm,cozy room. There is just something magical about hugs from daddies. But this hug didn't make it all better and when I looked at my Dad I was very worried. He looked 20 years older. He looked weak and pale and lost and you could just see pain, physical as well as emotional. I don't know how long I hugged my Dad but at some point I saw my stepmom Pat there as well. She was crying and trying to be both supportive of us and hold it together for herself. I took off my teddy bear coat (my winter jacket is a big fluffy,furry camel colored coat that makes me look like, well a big stuffed teddy bear) and saw a few other faces. My aunt and uncle (my dad's brother) were there as were Debbie's parents. I don't recall if my Mom and Larry were there already or when they arrived. I don't remember when Cory and Jess showed up either but I think they all came together and got there a bit later.
We milled around the room with the same "what do we do now" look in our eyes. Debbie had been on the phone making calls and planning. God, I give her so much credit for taking charge of what needed to be done. I have no idea what all she had to go through and how much information and research she had to do in those first few days and weeks. All I knew was we were there to plan because Debbie very much wanted everyone's input whish we all appreciated. She specifically wanted both my parents to be resposible for a few decisions so they were totally involved.
The pastor Debbie had chosen came. Her name is Carla and she was very nice. She has a very kind face and had obviously dealt with this situation before, she was the only one of us who knew what to do at that point I think. We sat around the table...as I recall it went: Carla at the head of the table and going clockwise it was Nolan, Debbie, Holli, me, Sierra, Cory, Jess, Dad, Pat, Larry, Mom, Dave and Toni and in the background was Earl (my uncle) and Linda (my aunt). I don't think Debbie's family was there for this bit. I see that table in my head constantly and think of this day and time often. After being so alone and feeling "out of it" it was comforting to have so many people there, together all talking to each other (which does not happen often in my family).
I sat there and held onto Holli. She had dyed her hair jet black with the front section hot pink. She was in sweats and a ponytail. We talked about how we wanted to handle talking about how he died and we all agreed that we didn't want to hide the fact that he killed himself. Depression is a big issue, especially in my family so we thought it would be a good thing to bring it to the light and deal with it head on. Carla encouraged us to tell some stories about Troy and so we talked about who he was....using the past tense for the first time. Father, hunter, artist, how funny he was, some of his bigger adventures from when he was younger and more recent moments. We talked about how at xmas he greeted everyone he met with a picture of his anal polpys that he named "Polly" (yes, I said pictures- ewww). He wanted to make them into xmas cards that would read "Have a Holly, Polly Xmas." We talked about Gary the Snail and his girlfriend Mary. (**complete story to follow- Gary deserves his own entry).
Carla took notes and some of what we talked about she used in her eulogy. She asked if any of us wanted to speak and that was a big no from everyone. We had some good conversation and I felt like maybe this was a chance to heal some very old wounds. It was a huge event that would force us to talk about some things that had been locked away for a very long time. My parents, who divorced 28 years before were talking and being very kind to each other and everyone was trying very hard to just understand. We did air some things that were very important and I had a spark of hope that this was the meaning behind losing Troy, that by his death we could learn and be a better family for having gone through this.
We sat there and talked for a very long time, I have no clue how long it actually lasted but it felt like forever. It was the first time I saw Cory cry. I don't know what we were talking about but something hit Nolan and when he started to break down Cory went right with him. I was very relieved to see him release some emotion... both of them actually. I kept stroking Holli's hair and hugging her.
We wrapped up and made what plans we could. The service would be on Saturday and we would have a family only viewing the next day, Thursday, before he was creamated.
After that we went into the conference room and set up long tables and chairs. It was a free for all of hanging out and just talking. I think Mom, Larry. Cory and Jess left and I just lost track of who was where. I just remember feeling like I had no where to go. I didn't have any shreds of my life that I could escape to. I was in this haze and had no where to go and nothing to do but be there.
I think it was this day, once we were around some more people- mostly friends of Debbie and the kids (already leaving Troy out of the equation) that "The Bubble" solidified. There was this sheild, a force field, all around us- a bubble. We were "the ones" who needed taken care of and people were going above and beyond to get us anything we needed. I recall sitting and staring off into space and thinking I was thirsty and a bottle of water literally appeared out of nowhere in front of me. That was the power of the bubble, we had only to think about it or ask for it and it was there. I think it was the first inside joke we had and would laugh about from this whole bizarre situation. It was nice to be taken care of as we concentrated on those at the center of the bubble and the ones who needed us all the most- Debbie and most of all Holli and Nolan. Holli was 19 and Nolan was 15 and now they had no father.
The day passed and food appeared when we were hungry, people I didn't know but who seemed known to others (thereby family by proxy) showed up. As it got later someone brought some games and we played as the kids played Guitar Hero on the TV in the room. At some point we went back to my sisters house (and by we I mean Toni, Dave, Sierra and I) and then Dave took me over to my Dad's so I could sleep in "my room" at his house and not on the floor.
Tomorrow- the viewing.