Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's done...

Life in his earthly body as well as the ceremony of burial, are over for Joey. The wake, the funeral, the interment…all done with. Now, for Karen and the kids, begins the time of “the firsts”. You know what I mean… the first Halloween without him, the first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas, the first New Years…so many firsts to get through. My heart breaks for Joey’s young family. I know they’ll be okay, really I do know it. But there will be many, many hard moments ahead and there’s nothing any of us, least of all me, can do to help them get past those. My memories of Joey and Karen’s memories of Joey are completely different and separate. She knows Joey as a man. Almost all of my memories are of Joey as a boy. As I’ve said before, our family kind of went their separate ways. This happened just about the time Joey became a man. I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen him in almost two decades. I saw him at Grandma’s funeral back in 1998 and I saw him last year when I was visiting his mom (my Aunt Ginger). Joey, Karen and the boys came over to Aunt Ginger’s and we sat around on the porch for awhile then went to dinner. That night was a lot of fun for me (although I seem to remember that I drank one too many margaritas. I also seem to recall that Joey, who had a drink or two himself, was encouraging my liquor consumption – he always was a funny guy. Worse than that, he always was a funny guy who didn’t mind watching his cousin make an ass out of herself – which I have a tendency to do with those darn margaritas in my system). Anyway, I can’t even share with Karen moments of “remember when?” about Joey because she and I don’t have the same memories of Joey. I wasn’t around the last 18 years of Joey’s life. I moved away and, the family situation being what it was, I opted not to pursue relationships with my family members. I think Joey may have done the same thing. Actually, I think just about all of us stopped being family because it became too damn complicated. And because we stopped being involved in each other’s lives, I missed out on Joey’s family, his children, his wife…I missed it all. I’m somewhat shocked at the depth of my grief now. I feel like a fraud for shedding tears. I have no right to be this sad over Joey’s passing. I didn’t keep up with him in life, how dare I mourn him this fervently in death. I guess my grief is magnified by knowing how much time I wasted, how many moments I let slip away, how little effort I put into loving my family. That guilt, that shame, that melancholy is a terrible thing to bear, let me tell you. I’m sorry beyond words that I wasn’t a part of Joey’s adult life. There was always going to be time, or so I thought. But let’s face it. We aren’t born with an expiration date stamped on our butts. You just don’t know when your time, or that of your loved one, is up. So, unless you just like living with regret, I say you should make the most of the time you have NOW. It may be the only time you’ll get.

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  1. You should NOT feel bad about mourning your cousin Joey...we all deal with death differently and in our own time. You do have the right to mourn Joey...for a lot of reasons...you can mourn the "boy" you knew growing up and all the things you did or didn't do...you can grieve him as the man he became and for the loss of a father and husband to a lovely family...and Kari...you can grieve the time lost...b/c no matter how many years you had or had not seen Joey in the last 20+ years...you would still be feeling some quilt...it's what happens when we loose someone we love...even though we haven't touched them or been a part of their lives for a period of time. I did not know Joey personally...but I grieve his death...for many reasons...and one of them is b/c I care about you and Aunt Sandi...I know you are both in pain...and I can't do anything to help you either...just know...grief takes time...and there is no wrong way for you to get through this.

    We love ya...girl...we want you to know you are too loving of a person not to be affected by this...and that no matter what you do or say...you deserve your moment in time of your memories of Joey!

    Love to you...

  2. We all make the mistake of thinking "I'll take care of that tomorrow" because for all of us we just know tomorrow is around the corner when today may be all we have. No need for guilt here honey, we're all human after all. We don't expect the unexpected (could be why they call it unexpected, huh? Well duhh on me). The last conversation I had with my mother rewinds in my head all the time. I keep thinking of things I should have said, but didn't say. I say it now, hoping she hears me. I'm sure she does. Joey will be with Karen and all his children, in spirit, I'm sure. A guardian Angel.

  3. Kari, this was so beautifuly written. Straight from your heart. A lot of your pain and grief must be coming from "what might have been" and "if only". Thank you for the reminder that each day is a gift. The grudges we hold we may have to live with for a lifetime.

  4. Kari

    Oh Girl, I've been thinking about you and praying for you along with all of Joey's family and friends. What you're feeling is so normal. I think after every death, there is regret mixed in with the grief. Your post is touching and beautifully written. We all need to hug those we love and let them know how much we do, for tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

    Lots of hugs for you sweet friend,

  5. Oh Kari, My heart breaks for you... for Karen... for her children.... for your entire family. What an awful tragic thing to have happened.

    My prayers are with you and your family right now. Don't be too hard on yourself for not spending more time with Joey and his family over the past couple of years. The important thing now is to be there for Karen and her children. You can be a great comfort to them.

  6. Kari,

    I am so sorry you are hurting so bad but I think everyone has these kind of regrets with family members. I'm sure it was not all one sided, it never is, and don't be so hard on yourself.I think of you as a loving and kind person. Take care

  7. I can not begin to put myself in your place or tell you how you should or should not be feeling about anything! There are no rules...every one of us is different and how we celebrate life or grieve a loss is unique unto ourselves. All I will say is...
    Welcome home Kari, welcome home...

    With special love,

  8. Kari, we all know you are a wonderful person. You can't help all that went on with your family. Do not feel guilty. As for mourning that is ok. Just following what you and his wife wrote I felt like I knew them. My heart hurt so bad when I got home and found her update.
    My husband works in that area and I had told him when we get back from moms I would like to go to the hosital.Guess what my time ran out too.
    I do agree with the now part.That is one thing I deal with is busy life takes its hold on us. I gate that!
    Love you, Brenda

  9. Kari
    Don't know what to say but am still thinking and praying for you all Mary

  10. Oh Kari, honey. Your feelings are completely normal. Most of us didn't know Joey at ALL but still, we watched and waited and prayed and we grieved with you when he was called home. Hold close to your heart the Joey you knew and loved. Whether you choose to remember and honor him from your memories of him as a child or your relish in your recent visit with him as a man this past year - it doesn't really matter. A part of you, is now missing. And it's perfectly normal to grieve. And in fact, if you didn't I would be a little concerned. We're all still praying for you Kari. Hang in there honey.


  11. You spoke straight from your heart. You cannot beat yourself up over what ifs. As you said none of us know how much time we have with each other. You loved him and the love is there in the way you are caring about his family.I wiil continue to pray for you and Joey's family. By the way Joey was my brothers name and he died when he was 33 and left behind a wife and 7 year old daughter. My the Lord bestow his riches Blessings upon you and Joey's sweet family Mary

  12. Be comforted, Kari. Such wonderful words of support from your family and friends. There are 16 cousins in my family...the grandchildren of Vic and Lily. I don't know them all well, but I would grieve. It's okay to grieve.

  13. yep we all need to live each moment to the fullest!!!and treat each other w/ the respect they deserve and we will fall short, but we apologize quickly and go on to do better, and we would not be human if we did not mourn for the loss of one who held a place in our memory whe ther now or before and we do loose track of people but not love for them.

  14. Hey Kari,
    I've been thinking about you and praying for the family. I'm so sorry that Joey's life here on earth has come to an end so early. There is so much sadness and tragedy in this world... a world that satan has tried to claim for himself. I remain focused on Jesus and His love, most importantly the eternal life I have. Thank you for the reminder, you are so right.
    ♥ ya.

  15. Kari, I'm so sorry that this is hitting you so hard. It's totally understandable, but please try not to blame yourself for not keeping in better touch. Because of my hubby's job, we've lived away from "home" for 19 years now, and it's hard to keep in touch. Heck, with our busy lifestyle of work kids' activities, I'm not sure how much time we would have to get together with family even if we lived closer. I think it's just a sign of today's times.

    I'm still praying for you and your family every day that you can get some sort of comfort and relief from your grief. It's obvious what a caring person you are.

  16. Kari,
    Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Today I'm going to call my sister because of your post. God bless and comfort you during this time in your life

  17. This is all totally understandable~ and I'm sure that on some level you know it's ok for you to mourn Joey as hard as you're doing, now. He was family, you formed ties early on, and you enjoyed him~ that's the part that counts. The heart doesn't care about all that other guilt-inducing etiquette-y, entitlement stuff.

  18. You are well within your rights as a human being to mourn the loss of your cousin. Heck, I was mourning him and I didn't even know him! Your memories are sacred, whether or not they are the same as the families. One day your little second cousins are going to want to know what their dad was like as a boy and there you'll be, ready to step in with a story or two.

    Sometimes I wonder if God uses moments like this to help us see what we need to be doing, what we should be doing right now. Maybe this is His hand stretched out to you to contact others in your family.

    You are a good person, remember that and thanks for the good advice about NOW. I plan to take advantage of it today!

  19. This is so wonderfully written Kari. Your feelings are completely normal. I'm keeping you in my prayers.


  20. Welcome Back kari. Thanks for sharing, this is so moving and thought provoking.

  21. Welcome back Kari--I have missed you!!

    Don't you feel badly about grieving for Joey--no matter what time & space disconnected you, you still loved him. That is evident in your words. With or without a "family situation" we loose track of family, friends, etc., and it doesn't matter the reason, we still love. And we hurt when they are gone from our presence. Just continue to love him.

  22. I was just waiting ti know you were home..I want to send you something just so you know I have been thinking about you. You have been in my heart...please do not be so hard on yourself. Things happen...you are not to blame for everything. Please do not beat yourself about time going by...we all do this at one time or another with one person or another.
    I do love what you are saying though...we all need to remember this.
    I send you hugs and love,

    I am glad you are safely back home.

  23. oh Kari I can't imagine how difficult this was for you, and the rest of your family, to say goodbye to Joey. I'm still saddened by your loss. My prayers continue to be with you and yours as you all adjust to life without Joey in it. Hugs.


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