Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Viewing

I have always hated the idea of a viewing. I hate funerals for that specific reason. It feels very disrespectful to be looking at someone's body, especially when they aren't in it anymore. It's just a shell and what made that person who they were is gone. Why then do we feel the need to put that shell on display for the whole world to see? It seems wrong to me and I hate it.

But that is what we were going to do....go and see my brother's body.

My parents (both sets) were going over earlier than the rest of us along with Debbie to have their own viewing first. This was part of what was decided during our table chat the day before. Dave came over and picked me up, we got into quite a routine of him being my personal driver shuffling me back and forth. Part of the bubble power I had.

We set out and drove to Madrid. I just had a feeling of utter dread because as much as I hated it and did not want to look I was going to have to make a choice. Would I look at my brother one last time or not? The majority of my family has some kind of medical related occupation so I knew none of them had any qualms what so ever about viewing him. But I had no idea what I was going to do.

We pulled up and walked towards the funeral home. Toni grabbed my hand and I broke down. We were both melting down and we hadn't even hit the first step yet. We walked up the stairs hand in hand to look at our dead brother. It was the strangest feeling I have ever had.

We opened the door and Debbie was right there. I clung to her and she whispered to me that I shouldn't look, that it wasn't him. I guess the fact that he had died of carbon monoxide inhalation had discolored his skin and he was a grayish color. Debbie knew I was on the fence about looking so she was giving me permission to not look. Carla, the pastor was there to provide support and answer any questions.

Then I saw my Mom. She was wearing all white and had on the necklace I had gotten her for Christmas just a week before. I hugged her and sobbed all I could do was burst out an apology for having been the one who told her that her son was dead. I said I was sorry over and over again. I don't know how long I cried in my Mom's arms but I could not let go or stop saying I'm sorry. I'm so so sorry and I still am sorry.

My Dad was sitting down around the corner looking tired and weak. My aunt and uncle were there and so was my stepsister Laura and her husband Brett. My cousin Amy was there as well. At some point the kids showed up and we all just hung out, mostly getting comfortable with being in this new place. There was no rush, no schedule and everyone took their time and slowly wandered over to where Troy was laid out and had their moment to do whatever they needed to do.

Holli did not want to look either. I sat with her and we looked at these necklaces they make from the actual thumbprint of your loved one. Toni and Holli both got one, I still plan on getting one at some point. Troy has a scar on his thunb that makes his very unique.

I told her I didn't want to look either and we could just sit there together. No one pressured us, we just sat.

The time passed and I began to think about closure and how we would never get this moment back. What if I looked back and regretted not having that one last look. Carla explained they had set it up so we could peak around the corner and not have to get a full on view if we didn't want to, we could just take a glance if that's all we wanted. I asked Holli if that is what she wanted to do. I told her I felt the same way but I didn't want to regret not having that moment to say goodbye. I told her I would do it if she would.

She nodded yes.

We got up and I told everyone to back off. After making a big deal out of not wanting to look the last thing I wanted was a big audience when I did. I held Holli's hand on one side and felt her shaking. Debbie held her hand on the other side. We walked into this room which was decorated all Victorian like. Why do funeral homes always look like they are from another century? We walked and at some point Holli let go of my hand and her mother held her up. I took a few more steps. My sister and aunt were standing right next to him talking. I could never do that, I could never just have a normal conversation next to any body, let alone my brother's body.

He was lying on a hospital stretcher and covered with sheets. Someone had brought his Bubba Gump red hat and put it on him.

From when Cory was little he called Troy Bubba and it stuck.When I lived in Chicago Debbie came out to visit me and we went to Navy Pier where they have a Bubba Gump restaurant and that is where we bought him the hat. We gave it to him for Christmas that year along with an autographed copy of the "Duct Tape" book (101 uses). I have a picture of him wearing the hat and reading the book sitting by the fireplace at my Mom's house. That is the picture I have framed and sitting on my table and how I always picture him.

As I looked I hear Holli crying and her mother comforting her. I have no idea who was standing next to me but as I looked at Troy's blond hair and his red hat all I wanted was Cory. I needed my other brother because I was never gonna be able to hug Troy again. I turned around and grabbed Cory and cried into his shoulder. I didn't stay there long. I was very uncomfortable and didn't even want to be in the building anymore.

We walked back into the other room and milled around a bit more. We talked about getting together some pictures of Troy. I guess part of the package the funeral home had was to put pictures together with your choice of music on a dvd which we would play at the funeral. The kids would chose the music and everyone else was going to meet back at the hotel and look through and pick out pictures.

We left the funeral home and headed back to Boone.

That was the last time I ever saw my brother.

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