As I mentioned in my previous entry, my family suffered a tragedy during the time that my blog was offline. During the early afternoon of December 31, 2006, my Aunt Betty and Uncle Fred were killed in an automobile accident just a few miles from their home in Virginia. The Washington Post has an article which describes the details of the accident fairly well. Since the article was written, I believe that the two surviving victims of the collision (the driver of the van and her 5 year old daughter) have been released from the hospital. The woman, however, did lose a leg.
The whole experience was indescribable. My family first found out about the accident that afternoon when my father’s sister, Jennifer, called from York. Apparently, Uncle Fred’s daughter, Faith, called her. When Aunt Jennifer got through, she was hysterical. In fact, my mother had to ask her a couple of times who was calling because she couldn’t recognize Aunt Jennifer’s voice. During that call, we found out that Aunt Betty had died, but Uncle Fred’s status was still unknown. Aunt Jennifer called back about an hour later with the rest of the bad news.
Much of the rest of the night was spent relaying details to other members in my father’s family, as well as fielding calls from concerned friends who wanted to offer their condolences. we did manage to keep our standard New Year’s Eve tradition of getting friends and family together to play cards and eat snacks. And a good time was had by all, even with the underlying sadness and frequent phone interruptions.
One of the things that really struck me was how various people in my family chose to deal with the grieving process. Most notable was my aunt, Marlene, who went into overdrive in her role as the unofficial family historian. She spent much of Sunday and Monday trying to get as much information about Uncle Fred and Aunt Betty and their lives (including the details of Uncle Fred’s military service) and writing it all down. You’d have sworn that if she didn’t get it all in order right then, the information would be lost forever. But it kept her busy and allowed her to keep them alive in her heart and honor them in her own way.
To be honest, I’m not sure how I’ve dealt with this loss. I think that writing this blog entry is my way of grieving, in many ways. After all, the best way I can honor my aunt and uncle is to share them with the rest of the world. I just wish I had more memories to share.
One thing that I found surprising is how much it bothered me to not be able to attend the funeral services. Due to being out of work so much, I felt I couldn’t afford to give up the hours I was scheduled to work last week. And as the funeral was down in Virginia, I would’ve had to called off the entire week. And while my boss certainly would have understood if I chose to do so, I doubt my debtors would’ve been so understanding when I had no money to pay them.
Normally, I don’t think much of funeral services. I think they’re horribly long and dreadfully dull. And I certainly don’t think I get a lot out of them, personally. I’d rather take care of my own grieving and even my own goodbyes (as when I visited my grandfather’s grave the weekend after his funeral) more privately. But I realize now that the one thing I do like about attending funerals of loved ones is the communal aspect. While it may not be how I express my grief best, I do like being with my loved ones as they grieve, too.
Uncle Fred and Aunt Betty, you will be missed. May your souls find peace and comfort until they return to this world anew.