Spent a solid week frantically cleaning so I would have at least a civilized space to greet the incoming horde of friends and family. They had all made their own housing arrangements, except for one aunt who took S up on her offer, so I didn't have to worry about them.
In that week I went into a minor meltdown - so scared I would 'lose it' when they all started offering sympathy. But ultimately it went better than I possibly could have hoped. Some of it was a bit of a blur, as I failed to take the detailed notes I had during those final days at the hospital, but that's OK.
The next day we all had breakfast together, then lunch, then my brother turned up at his motel so I allowed myself to be dropped off and spent the rest of the day with him. We all had dinner together, then 'home' to dress.
The memorial was highly irregular, but went very well, with just about everybody contributing some story and lots more laughter than tears, just as I had hoped. The digital frame I ordered worked perfectly, showing a good selection of the pictures I had chosen. There were also about 6 or 7 framed prints scattered about, but I kept it simple. When it ended the funeral director commented that, based on the stories he'd just heard he wished he could have gotten to know him too.
Since my car had gone into the shop the Saturday before the Wednesday memorial I got rides everywhere with family or friends, but toward the end mostly with my brother.
Oh it was so good to catch up with him! It didn't take long at all for us to fall into something close to the old comfortable relationship, even after so long apart. He stayed on almost a week, only leaving when, he did because he had to set his business on track, as he had to prepare for jury duty. We made the most of the time we had - talking, going to a movie, eating out, spotting stars at the Woodstock film festival, eating in, going to the drumming circle in Woodstock. Finally, on his last full day, Monday we did the zip-line tour at Hunter Mountain, along with my best friend. Great fun, and my only regret was that hubby wasn't there in person, as he had wanted to do it, but he was there in my mind and heart.
After he left on Tuesday morning I firmly set myself to following my 'new life resolutions' starting with delivering an overdue bill to the plumber in person - walking the mile each way - thus both getting past procrastinating on important stuff and starting my new exercise regimen.
Then I read a beautiful letter from another recently bereaved lady and cried - and it eased the nagging lower back pain I'd been dealing with for weeks. Apparently I'd been holding everything in so hard I nearly crippled myself!
Been doing a bit too much drinking in the evening to help me get to sleep, which backfires when it wakes me up at 3AM. So Thursday night/Friday morning I decided to put in a DVD since I couldn't sleep anyway, and my brother had performed the miracle of hooking it up so it actually works. Part way into the movie I suddenly remembered how it - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - ends, but I couldn't stop it, and after that it was like a slow motion train wreck.
I cried. I wailed. I howled. I nearly suffocated because my nasal passages got so inflamed from the force of my grief I couldn't breathe through my nose. It went on for what seemed an eternity, but was probably about 15 minutes. The longest and hardest I've ever cried in my life. It was savage, totally uncivilized, scary, and probably not for the last time. I still feel twinges in my chest. When the storm finally passed I turned off the alarm clocks, put on my sleep mask and went to sleep. Didn't wake up until 11:30AM and felt positively hung over - and not from the cocktails - just the force of that storm of grief.
So I have started cleaning house, giving away a lot of his cold weather clothes to T, as most of his old clothes are positively ragged, and some to S just so she has something for the cold weather that is coming. He would approve - stuff is only of use if it is of use, not kept as a memorial. Whatever I don't get rd of now will wait until Spring when his summer wardrobe can be distributed to thrift stores or what-have-you. Bit by bit I'm getting rid of unnecessary stuff and organizing what is going to be kept.I know it will not be easy sometimes, but several years of planning for this - widowhood - has prepared me as well as can be expected. I will survive, and hopefully even thrive in time