Sunday, 28 March 2010

In Loving Memory

Tomorrow is the funeral of my cousin’s young son. It is to be a time to remember him, to celebrate his life. Life is about creating special memories. Tomorrow is going to be a very emotional day for so many reasons.

His close family have asked for the funeral to be very formal, everyone attending has to wear black. This was requested by R and for a very informal fun loving guy with lots of young friends was something of a surprise.

Sadly our small family only ever seem to meet up at funerals in recent years. None of us are going to find the day easy but for my Cousin and her Mum it is going to be particularly hard. No Grandma expects to out live their Grandchildren. My Auntie the Grandma I refer to also has dementia. Her memories of long ago are often very sharp but those of the immediate recent times are often very confused. Any change is very unsettling for her. Her constant daily phone calls are heartbreaking to listen to. One time in tears, the next temporarily oblivious to the loss of her beloved Grandson. My cousin was at breaking point a month ago before the tragedy, trying to decide how best to care for her Mum.

When we informed my cousin two years ago about my need to transition she was very supportive but had asked us not to try to explain it to my Auntie. She was concerned it would only make her worse or possibly lead to her being abusive towards us. My parents were against this and I was not happy but understood my cousin’s feelings. This caused difficulties between my Dad and his sister which was the last thing I wanted. Some very cruel comments had been exchanged. I have been asked by my cousin never to appear as myself in front of my Auntie. It seems such a simple price to pay for family unity and peace but having to compromise myself now seems terribly unsettling which in turn makes me feel selfish. It made me feel quite ill having to comply with this at the previous Christmas but the funeral is far harder. We used to have much larger family gatherings, of which we have many happy memories of these times. Sadly our family are now nearly all gone.

For the funeral tomorrow I have to try to dress up androgynously and be referred to as Bob so as not to upset my poor Auntie. My heart goes out to my cousin and her Mum. Tomorrow is for my cousin's son "R" and for them; our feelings are very much secondary. My Mum and I find loss very very hard to cope with. She feels sorry for me having to compromise but she should not have to. I have never been a man but I know what it will feel like to put that mask back on, and it feels a million times worse having lived truthfully to myself for over two years.

We are all going to be emotional tomorrow, all our thoughts will be for my cousin's son "R". I know we are going to cry our eyes out. My Mum has gently reminded me to remove all traces of mascara, which seems so superficial yet….We must get through this together, as a family. I want to pay my respects to "R" and support our family, without letting anyone down or being a source for any family disharmony on such an occasion.

Since I last posted here so much has happened. My Mum has been very ill again but thankfully she has been stable for a few days now. I had to rush her to the doctors after she came off the tablets which had been causing her to wheeze. They did lots of tests but she just could not get her breath properly. They concluded it must have been a major panic attack as most of her readings appeared fine.

One test result was very worrying. An ECG revealed that unknowingly to any of us my Mum had actually suffered a heart attack at some point since her last test four years ago. My biggest fear was that the strain I had caused in needing to transition would harm her health in any way. The guilt of hurting those we love is for me far more painful than any of the physical challenges of the surgical changes we may feel we need to make.

Last Friday I had to rush home from my voluntary work at the hospital as my Dad had fallen over in the shower. He was bruised and a bit shaken but nothing more. Today he kicked every ball watching his favourite team play in a cup final on the television, which he shared with his daughter, while Mum slept peacefully with our corgi curled up on her lap. A treasured memory.

I am not sure quite how all our family are ever going to get through tomorrow but I have to keep my faith that we will.

May tomorrow be kind to you.



NickyB (aka the CFG) said...

A hard time for you all Debbie.
But, as it pains me to say, you *must* put yourself first.
Sending you some strength & hugs xxx

Lucy Melford said...

May it go with dignity and with all the focus on that poor young man. Funerals CAN be occasions that bring members of a family together. I hope that is the lasting outcome for this one.

A pity that you have to go slightly in disguise, Debbie, but it's easy to see why. If my Mum and Dad were still around, and wanted to attend a funeral, I'd need to go with them, and then I'd be in the same position.


Debbie K said...

Thank you for your kind words Nicky

You are right but sometimes we have to compromise.
For too long I did not put myself first and it felt like I had sacrificed my life for my loved ones but some things we should not sacrifice and that is where this all gets very distressing and unsettling.
Debbie xx

Debbie K said...

Thank you for your very poigniant kind words Lucy.
Debbie x

Anji said...

I'm sorry that you have to go through this. I'll be thinking of you today.

It was nice to read that you've started your voluntary work again!

Jo said...

Debbie darling - a hard hard time for you...sending you strength and hugs. I guess you won't read this now till the funeral is done...

Things like funerals are very very tough at the best of times (does that phrase even have any meaning when applied to funerals?), but when you knew and loved the person who died, and when the coming together of the family reopens unresolved pains as you have described re your Auntie, then it must be so much worse.

I think the instinctive thing to say is that you owe it yourself to be there as you. But that completely ignores the situation, your desire to be compassionate (which you are, very), and the fact that the funeral must be about your cousin's son's life, and not confused by any other issues. (I faced a miniature version of this at my Mum's funeral...I had split from my ex three days previously (though my children didn't know), I was in a terrible state, I knew I was going to transition - but the day - obviously - had to be about the memory of my Mum).

I'm not sure what I would do really...but I can see why you are doing as you are (did?) , and I send you big hugs for that. You are 'you' of course - the clothes you are wearing have absolutely nothing to do with it at its heart.

I hope the funeral was bearable, that you got through, and that some love and healing happened.

Re your Mum, darling, once again, I read you implying that you are somehow reponsible for your Mum's ill health. You're not . Your Mum and Dad are elderly and frail...surely the fact of their age is the primary issue really? What you have given your Mum and Dad is tons of love and care - way way beyond what many daughters would do.

Karen said...

I hope your family and yourself get through today ok.
Thinking of you
Karen x

Calie said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. Like you, my family generally only sees each other at funerals. Sad, isn't it?

I do hope your Mum and Dad will be OK, Debbie.

Take care.

Calie xxx

Anonymous said...

I love readding, and thanks for your artical.........................................

Anonymous said...

Sorry I am a bit late reading this. I have just got back from a trip.
I just wanted to send you some love at a difficult time.

Debbie K said...

Dear Anji, Jo, Karen Callie, Lisa and the friend whose name I am afraid I cannot translate, thank you so much for your kind thoughts.

Dear Lucy
The day was thankfully very dignified.

Dear Jo
I really appreciated your very thoughtful comment. My cousins son incredible spirit and attitude to life caused me to re evaluate so many aspects of my life. I could only ever attend this day appearing as "me". I owed that to myself and to his memory.