As time goes on I know that I’ll have lots of new ‘first withouts’ in my life… today and yesterday consisted of the first viewing and first funeral without John.
Larry McMichael was killed in a car accident Monday. Part of me wanted to have no part in attending, but another part of me felt that I should be there for my friends. I knew both of his daughters (Krissy & Stephany) from riding at Hopewell Training Center and 4-H. I had seen his wife (Brenda) in the grocery store just last week.
I went to the viewing and funeral alone, but luckily found friends and didn’t have to be alone. It was hard and brought back lots of memories. It also breaks my heart to think of what his wife and daughters are going through. Listening to the funeral was hard too… everything now has a personal meaning to me. I kept everything pretty well together… just a few tears.
Some of the things said were things that I had heard too. “At least he’s not suffering anymore.” John was so strong emotionally and mentally during his illness. He hated that his body was failing him, but he rarely complained and had an “it is what it is” attitude. John never quit fighting and he never wanted to quit living. I’m sure he had more pain than he ever let on to, but he said that his morphine pump controlled it. What really defines suffering? I don’t know… did he suffer?
Larry’s friend who spoke at the funeral said that he used to be afraid of dying, but he isn’t anymore. That also hit home. I used to get knots in my stomach when I thought of death. After holding John’s hand while he died my fear is gone. It’s not anything I want to have happen anytime soon, but I’m no longer scared on anxious about dying. I feel that there is something out there… more than this life on Earth… and that my beloved John will be there waiting for me.
The funeral was at Foards and he was buried in Oxford, PA. So, the funeral procession had a fairly long drive. Unfortunately, that gave me a lot of time to think and reflect and I missed that I wasn’t in the passenger seat with John driving. I never would have went to a funeral alone when he was alive. I started missing him more and more and getting sadder and sadder.
The funeral procession slowed and I glanced over to the side of the road. A mourning dove landed on the guardrail. I stared at it… was I imagining some nondescript bird to be a mourning dove. No. It clearly was a mourning dove. At that point I just started bawling.
After a few minutes, I regained my composure. Only to lose it a few minutes later. At the graveyard my friends and former riding instructors, Cathy & Mary Areta, met me. They asked how I was holding up and said that I was very brave. They couldn’t go to funerals for a long time after their father died. Of course, I then lost it. Cathy gave me a big hug and I just cried for a few minutes. Everything was still very fresh. Very tough. And there still is such emptiness and loneliness that hits me at times.
I purposely stood back at the graveside service. Cathy stayed with me which I really appreciated.
As we went to get in the cars again, Cathy volunteered to ride with me. I took her up on the offer. I just needed to not be alone. We had a nice chat and reminisced over the ‘ol days- all of the lesson horses of my youth are long gone. Somehow, I don’t think that John is spending any time with them… lol… although maybe he would have given my first horse, PC, a pat for me.
Before we went to the firehouse for the meal, we stopped by Brookview and paid our respects to John, Missy, & Melissa. Missy and Melissa both used to ride at Hopewell back in the day.
My heart goes out to Brenda, Stephany, & Krissy. They are in shoes that I don’t wish for anybody to be in.