Monday, August 13, 2012

Remembering Carole

My father-in-law asks for a little help- Can I please look in Carole's purse and find her lipstick for the funeral home?  I will of course do whatever I can to help.  But its such a private act, an intimate representation of her, and I fight the feelings that I don't belong looking through her things.  Everything has changed.

My sister-in-law and I rummage through jewelry, clothes, make up.  We know how she'd want to look. At least we hope we are getting it right.  We ask that they put pink socks on her feet, because she never likes to have her feet bare.  And I find one of my gold rings to fit on her hand, not wanting her fingers to lie bare either.  Its for her our comfort as its the last things we feel we can do for her.

I go to put extra water in the coffee maker and just stop myself before dumping it in... I always make a little extra when Carole is staying with us.  There is no more need for extra.  The normal amount of water in the coffee maker now looks stark, and extremely inadequate.  Our cups feel so barren, so empty.

When we struggle with the spelling of her mother's name it seems we should just turn around and ask her... but we can't.  We eventually figure it out.  But the reminders of her not being here with us come at us faster than we can absorb sometimes.

Plus, how can it really be that she is gone?


Our house floods with food, family, friends, tears and laughter.  Everyone wants to know, "How can this be?  What happened?" We shake our heads from side to side, no words adequate to express what we simply don't know.  She was with us one day and gone the next.  And what remains is forever without her and trying to find ourselves again as the waves continue to crash over us.



These are a selection of the photos we used at the memorial service and I thought I'd share for the ones not able to attend the services.





Jim and Carole with Rick and Missy... the birth of Matt would follow a few years later.


Gunnar, Missy's son was the first grandchild. 




Carole with Gunnar and Hunter.  Hunter passed away at the age of 4 months in 2001.  


Carole with Nolan


Carole with Nolan and Colton


Carole with Matt's oldest, Mackenzie.


Jim and Carole with Matt and Julie, Mackenzie and Ethan.







****************************************************************************



On a complete whim, the week before last, I walked into a salon and asked for all of my chemo-curls to be taken off. I feel naked and free all at the same time.




My mother to your left and her two sisters on the outside.  When I was growing up they so often were told they looked like Carol Burnett.  At the visitation, with my newly shorn hair, someone told me I looked like Carol Burnett...  hmmmm... I'll have to practice my ear tug perhaps? 



When we discovered where Carole was going to be buried it was a full circle moment for us.  She was laid to rest next to her grandson Hunter.  And just a few yards away?  Is my Dad, and both my grandparents.  







This heart-on-his-sleeve boy of mine wears his sadness.  As we prepared to leave the visitation Thursday night, he went to Carole with his Grandpa.  He walked away, alone, with huge crocodile tears sliding down his cheeks.  I asked if he was okay and he nodded... 


"Just saying goodbye," he said. I broke wide open right there. 


45 comments:

  1. Oh my, the last line made me break! I'm so sorry for your loss. I can tell she will be terribly missed. I can tell from the pictures she had a wonderful family and a beautiful life. I love the care you describe in making sure she had on socks and a gold ring, how precious!
    Thank you for sharing this with us.
    And YOU look adorable! :)

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    1. Thank you Kristin- yes, she is missed already so much...

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  2. Oh my sweetheart.

    The last words make me crying.

    I can see so much love and harmony in the pictures and I think I can feel your loss. Anyway I cant feel it because i dont know your mother in law but I can see in her eyes so much love an happiness.

    It must be a great gap the she is going to the heavenly father. The only thing that be every time a little consolation for me, there will be a wonderfull, warm person who wait for every person on her family if the time is coming.

    I hope you understand what I want to say (you know, my english is not every time the best).

    I am thinking about you, big hugs for you, for Rick and your lovely sons.

    Bussals
    Mimi

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    1. Mimi, I understand you perfectly- I completely feel the love and compassion behind your words- thank you sweet friend- Bussals

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  3. Vicky, once I'm so sorry for your loss. She was such a great person and she will be missed everywhere including SGR. Knowing your boys from school and through your blog makes me hurt for their loss so much more. Those boys are so incredible and pray for God to give them the strength to get thru the difficult days ahead. Gods blessings on u all.

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    1. Thank you Amy- we appreciate your care and concern so much- she loved her involvement with SGR- and we are always so honored to have a place amongst the SGR family. Blessings to you!

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  5. i was the one tasked with taking my grandmother's things to the funeral home at the beginning of last month. my mom was so concerned that her personal items be in a special bag, and she carried her comb and hairbrush to the place we were having the visitation so that her sister, who has styled her own wig for at least 30 years, could fix her mother's hair if the undertaker hadn't done it to their satisfaction. i love the way you demonstrated your love, honor, and respect for Carole by the things you did.

    the grandchildren are all old enough to have wonderful memories of her, so perhaps it would be helpful in their grieving (and good to have for later) if you could coax them to reminisce and write down what they say about their memories of her. it helped me to do that.

    i agree about the carol burnett look, and now we could be twinsies! short hair is freeing! you look great!

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    1. Jenn- we could so be twinsies- I have always loved the look of your short style. Its such a great idea to see if the boys would write some memories- I will have to work on that- thanks for the suggestion.

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  6. My heart is with all of you at this unexpected loss. You've shared this so beautifully. I remember doing the same for my mother, and it feels such a personal thing.

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    1. Susan- thank you. She truly was like a mother to me and I was honored to share in those personal touches.

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  7. Such a beautiful post, Vicky. It brought both tears and smiles. Again, I feel for both you and your family. When we lose someone so dear to us, so unexpectedly, it seems so much harder to accept. But, being that she was such a great presence in your lives, your memories will carry you through this very hard time. Love and hugs my friend.

    Yes! You do resemble Carol Burnett! I remember that ear wiggle so well. I love how your new hairstyle compliments your pretty face.

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    1. Eileen, thank you for your sweet and kind words. The memories are all so dear to us and she was extraordinary in helping us create and make those memories to sustain us for a lifetime.

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  8. This post brought a lump in my throat and tears to my eyes. When I first started reading, the lipstick got me, and tugged at my heart. I am just so very sorry for your loss.
    PS--love your hair! I used to ♥ watching Carol Burnett, wish it was still on!

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    1. Jen- yes- me too, I would love to see The Carol Burnett show... oh the laughs. Thank you sweet friend for your kind words.

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  9. Now I have tears, too. :) Amazing, the power of words written through a raw, thoughtful heart.

    But I have to say, I really, really like your hair. It's adorable. You could never not be beautiful, Vicky.

    Hugs...

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    1. Roxane- thank you. I have to admit I struggle with how I look sometimes- barely recognizing myself- so what you said really meant a lot to me- thank you.

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  10. I am so sorry for your loss. I know she must have been a great Mother and Granmother. Your boys are so sweet. I know just what you mean though about trying to do the last thing and DO IT RIGHT. I did the same thing when my Mom passed away, I even made them paint her nails cause she ALWAYS had her nails done. I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers. I LOOOOOVE you haircut! It looks adorable! XO, Pinky

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    1. Pinky- thank you for your gracious words- and your prayers. Carole had beautiful nails as well- and they asked if she wanted polish too... I love the attention to detail.

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  11. I am so lousy at saying good bye too.
    I just can't do it.
    As I grow older I don't even want to go to funerals because of this.
    Too many people leaving and leaving us alone to carry the burden, the haul because now it's out turn.
    We are the bad guys who have to rein in the horse and say no.
    We are the guys who have to set up balances, we have to do the teaching,we have to carry on where they left off and now others depend on us as we depended on others. Times sure change. So we look to the heavens and ask for their guidance.
    In a dream my Dad called me on the phone and said Hi!
    The phone went dead and I woke up .
    He, being his bratty self, found a way to let me know all was well.
    One simple sound of his voice when he said Hi!Made me feel soo much better.
    I don't like touching dead peoples things unless they tell me I should.
    When I see others doing it and doing it before the person even dies, packing things up, before someone else comes in to do it, it really turns my stomach. I try very hard to get that person well to bring him/her home so they see what's being done to their things and by whom. So not nice.
    Poor litle guy having to say good bye to his grandmother.

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    1. Vic- too many leaving- I couldn't agree more. Thank you for sharing with me and helping me know I am not alone in how I feel...

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  12. Beautiful and heartbreaking...I can't even say more, too much grief has filled my heart this last week.
    Your hair is beautiful. You look awesome. I love it!

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    1. Thank you for your beautiful card Bonnie and heartfelt sentiment. It was nice to visit with your mom. You came back home to a community deeply entrenched in grieving... so sad for all those affected.

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  13. As you write, the love and sorrow pours out onto the written word, Vicky you are so talented. And I'm so sorry you've suffer such a great loss.. again. My thoughts are with you during this very sad time.

    You rock the short hair look, Vicky, no kidding you really do.

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    1. Thank you Karen- for your gracious words- they leave me feeling less exposed and more confident in my ability to pull it off...

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  14. Vicky,

    I am so sorry for your loss, I hadn't heard of this until today...please know that my heart goes out to all of you.

    Sending hugs and love!

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    1. Becky- thank you- sending love and hugs back to you.

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  15. All of those photos are precious, and I know they hold sweet memories. I loved the wedding pictures. What a treasure.

    And I really love your new short do. It looks fantastic!

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    1. Thanks Melissa- I saw how well you pulled off the short do and it helped me decide to go for it.

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  16. i'm so sorry for your family's loss.....so sorry.
    this is a beautiful tribute to an obviously beautiful woman who was without a doubt
    so very special. may your hearts heal a little bit faster when the memories of her wash over all of you daily.....xo

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  17. Oh, sweet Vicky--once again, I find myself in tears as I read your beautiful words. Thank you for sharing the grief journey with us. Although your words did bring me to tears, they also reminded me of this beautiful journey through life. Prayers continue...
    PS. You are absolutely stunning in your new "do!"

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    1. Thank you, Kim, for your kind and gracious words... and for all the prayers... so appreciate them...

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  18. A beautiful post about your mother-in-law Vicky. I know she is at peace and is surrounded by loved ones who passed before her. It's a comfort to know she has returned home and into the arms of Jesus. Carole will be deeply missed by your whole family and friends....bless her soul. I also send blessings to your father-in-law.

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  19. Hi Vicky

    I was sure I left a comment here but I don't see it!

    Hope you are all doing ok after the service! A loss like this is so very hard! Sweet Colton!

    Wrapping you all in a big hug!

    xoTiffany

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  20. Westra Family, I am so sorry to hear about your loss. We were out of state and I am just getting around to catching up with you all. Thanks for sharing the pictures, they are all wonderful and seem to capture the love that is felt. Love and thoughts, Missy

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    1. Hey Missy- I hope you enjoyed some time out of state- thanks for the kind words- xoxo

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  21. Beautiful tribute.

    And a beautiful new you! Love it.

    Susan

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  22. This is beautiful, but everything you write is just that. Thank you for sharing this with all of us.
    Praying for you guys and getting through these tough moments of missing her.
    xo,
    Michelle
    PS ILOVE your hair! We match! :) It looks great...

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  23. Hello, I came over from Karen's blog ..This Old house. I am so sorry to read of your mother-in-laws passing...it is so so hard to lose someone you love so much...especially unexpected. Words cannot express ....sometimes I think they had it right a long time ago and people put a black wreath on the door and grieved for a year...

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  24. Don't have words for this one. Just so sad you had to lose her and so sad for the hole in each of your hearts. I broke open with you at the end. I'm so sorry you had to lose her, Vicky, EVER, but especially when you and Rick and the boys have already walked through so much. I don't understand God's timing - I just trust that He does. She was beautiful - all her days - and I thank you for sharing her here.

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  25. By the way....your hair - and you - are really and truly darling. I love it on you.

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  26. I am so sorry for your loss Vicky. A lovely post. And you, look more stunning then ever. I love your short hair - just absolutely stunning!

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