Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dressing Wendy

I slept with the door to the patio open all night. The cold air felt SO good. Lisa, on the other hand, froze all night. We all hoped she wasn't getting sick.

Today was a very special day.  Auntie Tia, Auntie Sigie, Shelly, Sheri, Shirley, Debbie, Katie, Tiffany, Jessica, Cindy, Lisa, Julie, and I all met at a mortuary to dress Wendy in her burial clothes.  Lisa, Cindy, and I had a freaky crazy experience on the way there that Cindy does a great job telling about (far better than I could) on her blog.

Because we are LDS and Wendy is an endowed member of the church, she was to be buried in her temple clothes.  Only other endowed members are able to perform this special task and it was very sad that Wendy's very own sisters were unable to do this for her.  I, being an endowed member was able to help, but I have a very bad phobia, of sorts, about touching dead people.  I don't know why...I just can't.  I can't touch them on the hand, I can't touch their face, and I most certainly cannot kiss them on the cheek.  I always want to (touch them, not kiss them), but I just can't.  I think it stems from when my grandpa Earl died and my dad made me kiss him goodbye at the viewing before they closed the casket.  It just creeped me out enough that it has scarred me for life.  When my mom died 4 years ago, I couldn't do it - as much as I loved her - I still couldn't do it.  I barely could touch her hand for just one or two seconds...that is until I literally threw myself on top of her casket and almost flipped it over because of my fattiness.

Oh yeah, that would have helped my phobia...a casket dropping to the ground, me getting pinned under it, and my mom's cold, dead body flipping out of it and landing on top of me! 


So, I sat off to the side and watched the scene unfold.  I watched her sisters.  I watched her mom.  I watched and wondered what they were all thinking and feeling.  I watched the sweet cousins and aunt and sisters-in-law that were there to help perform this sacred task for her and I wondered what they thought and felt.  And, I sat there, in the chair taking it all in with an empty chair next to me that didn't feel quite so empty.  There was one point...and I wish I'd been able to capture this on film but I didn't out of respect...that Sheri was putting makeup on Wendy and she was sweetly talking to her - not as if she was gone from us, but as if she were right there, alive.  It was the sweetest, most tender thing.  Sheri then said something to Wendy about fussing over her makeup or such and that she wouldn't want all the attention and I suddenly felt a presence next to me in the chair.  I couldn't see anyone there, although I could definitely feel Wendy's presence and felt her saying, "You're right, girls, I wouldn't want all this fussing, but I do like it!"  I was feeling a little low at that moment because I was jealous that I couldn't bring myself to get up there and help, but I felt a feeling as if a hand quietly slipped over from that chair and landed on my hand in comfort.  It was such a sweet feeling.

Once we were all done dressing her, putting her makeup on, and putting her flippy-do wig on, I asked Auntie Tia if she'd like some pictures taken.  She agreed and so these are some of the ones I felt turned out best.

Her sisters, mom, sisters-in-law, and nieces.

Julie, Lisa, Cindy, Wendy's visiting teacher, Auntie Sigie, Sheri, Katie, Jessica, Auntie Tia, Shelly, Shirley, Jessica, Me, Debbie

All the first cousins that could attend: Julie, Shelly, Lisa, Cindy, Sheri, Me. We really missed the others that couldn't be there. Jennifer was unable to attend even though she dearly wanted to be there but couldn't because of her recent surgery. Denise, Leslie, and Suzanne weren't able to make it either. It would have been so wonderful if we all could have been together.

After we were done, Cindy gave a beautiful thought that she shared with everyone in the room.  It was that "the tragedy and tears is not in her passing from this life to the next. The real tragedy and tears will be if each one of us do not live our lives in such a way that we will be able to all be together for eternity."  I really thought about that all day.  It is so true.  I know Cindy was impressed by the Holy Ghost to say that. 

After finishing there, we all went to Sizzler for lunch.  I didn't know that it was one of Wendell's favorite places until I read it on Cindy's blog.  We all sat and talked and laughed. 

I got to know Jessica and Tiffany a little better since I haven't seen them since Tiffany was about 4 years old and she's a 20-something now and married. They are both beautiful.

Just as I took my first bite of garlic cheese toast, I felt something weird happen in my mouth.  I ran my tongue over my back left bottom molar.  Yep, great...I'd broken my tooth - on bread.  Wonderful.  Apparently, the cavity I had in that tooth was just so bad, that it had finally eaten away enough of the tooth that part of it just fell off.  I could barely eat the rest of my food.

Toward the end of lunch, Lisa and I announced that we had little gifts for everyone.  She had purchased some really cute recyclable pink shopping bags for everyone.

I made these little pink pearl necklaces for everyone. I explained that pink was to remember Wendy and her fight with breast cancer, round because it goes on for eternity just like we know life does, and the simple little silver beads because she would have liked it that way. However, they got all tangled up and it took me a good 45 minutes to get them undone. I was so sad. It totally ruined the moment. Oh well, what could I do about it? I just took to fixing them and soon they were all distributed and we were on our way to Wrightwood.

As we were on our way up, I was riding with Debbie, Shirley, her girls, and Julie.  We were driving up Cajon Pass and I looked out the window and saw this:

I thought it was just beautiful.  I wish I could have gotten it without any movement in it, no jersey blocks, or the reflection of the van window because this picture would have been spectacular.  I still think it turned out well enough though that I put my little logo on it to prevent someone from stealing it and calling it their own.

We soon got off the freeway and headed up the 138.  I knew we were heading into fire territory and I wondered what, if anything, we would see by way of fire or char.  This is all we saw....

And honestly, it was quite alright with me that this is about all we saw that related to the fires.  Of course, we saw some closed roads, some forest service trucks, etc., but no flames or anything.  Thank goodness.  Soon, we saw this sign...

I think it's been about 15 years since I've seen that sign.  It felt like coming home.  Plus, I knew my honey was at the end of that 5 miles waiting for me.  He'd just driven in today from AZ and I was ready to see him.  It felt so good.  I couldn't wait to get there.

We drove up to Auntie Tia's house and although she'd had a big pergola built over the front deck and made a few other changes, it still felt like the same ol' place I remembered as a kid.  It still felt like home.  It still felt like love.  It still felt like peace - even though there were soon 2 million people there.  Russell and David's families were all mostly there.  Neil, Shelly's husband, and his friend Chuck, were there.  Kurt and Kevin and their families, along with Dad and Uncle Rodney and Marci soon arrived too.  It was a tiny little house full of a ton of love and people. 

Anyone who knows me knows that since I don't have kids and all of my family lives far away, that if I get around more than about 6 or 8 people at a time, I close up and become very quiet.  Well, after dinner that night, it happened.  I ended up having to go outside alone for a bit.  As I was out there, I took a look around at all the "stuff" that I remembered from years past that have always reminded me of Auntie Tia's house.

I always remembered the bell on the back of the door and how it would ring as someone walked in. We kids used to love to just sit there and hold the door and shake it to make the bell ring. I wondered why the bell was sitting outside on a table on the front patio...maybe her grandkids did that too and it finally just fell off....

I always loved the colored glass in the front door. Even today, it's so beautiful and welcoming. What a truly cool door.

Okay, windchimes. Is there a spot that there isn't one? I think this is where I developed my love for windchimes. Auntie's always had them around her home - as long as I can remember, anyway.

A birdhouse. I don't recall for sure, but I think Auntie has always had cute little birdhouses hanging around the yard. I remember that she used to have to hang the bird feeders a special way so the raccoons wouldn't get into them and knock all the food out!

So, as I was sitting there reminiscing, I realized that it would always feel like home and no matter what, I'd always be welcome there.  Uncle Bob didn't remember who I was, but that's okay.  He's still cute as ever and gladly hugged me hello and goodbye.  What great times. 

We soon headed out...Melon Man and I in the big red truck, Jules in her rental car, Kev, Jodi, and Peanut with Grandpa in their car, Kurt and Ang and Dolly, Dilly, Scooter, and baby Holly in their van, and Uncle Rodney and Marci in the line up too.  We all headed about 17 miles away to Hesperia to stay in our hotels that Miss Jodi had gotten for us for smokin' rates...just $59 a night.  Julie slept in our room on our sofa bed and we spent the next couple hours talking, ironing, getting settled, and making a few more necklaces.  Melon Man slept away.

Tomorrow's the big day....Wendy will finally be laid to rest.  It's going to be a good day....


Cindy said...

Great post, cousin! It was a wonderful experience. I think you did very well!

Katie said...

Kristen! I showed my mom your blog tonight. We would like to Thank You for posting the very beautiful pictures. We enjoyed looking at them. Thank you sooo much!
Love You, Katie and Sheri.

coltonjdavis said...

I think all your brothers and sisters have the same problem touching dead people. I have never got that. I know Kevin and my mom do. I certainly have no problem with it.