So last Wednesday, I left after work to come home and help finish packing for a funeral we were having. It was down in Texas, which is roughly a straight 24-hour drive, including pit stops and such. My aunt had died the day before and it was decided that evening that we were going, so I packed all I could in the dorm and waited until Wednesday afternoon to come home.
My aunt Terry had cancer. We were very close to her. I had last seen her over the summer, heckling the waitresses in Simonson’s while we ate lunch.
Wednesday evening and all Thursday was spent primarily in the truck with mom, my brother, and my mother’s boyfriend Jo. His brother’s girlfriend could not attend due to medical school exams. Mom and bro crashed during the evening while Jo drove and I stayed up on hot chocolate to keep him company. It was cold but I did it. I spent a good bit of time playing Yokai Watch and Digimon World Dawn.
Thursday evening, we reached my aunt’s house. My mother’s cousin was there to let us in. We actually drove one house down by accident due to address mistakes. Thankfully, he saw us and waved us back. It was hard to get the RV through the gate but we did it, got it positioned, and met up with family that I barely remembered and that mom had grown up with. I hadn’t seen any of these people, if at all, since I was last in Texas nearly ten years ago for my great-grandpa’s funeral. They worked on a slideshow that my uncle planned to play at the funeral, boxes of photos littering all the tables.
Friday was spent helping out around the house. It had changed so much since I was last there. It was spooky. My brother had fun with our cousins, both military like him. I was the odd one out, which was no big deal to me. I’m used to that.
That evening, we went to the viewing at the funeral home. Aunt Terry had changed so much since I’d last seen her. She looked older. My mom just started bawling when she saw the coffin. My mom is not a crier, that’s my job, so it was terrifying to see her break down like that. We retreated to the back pews and stayed the whole two hours out of respect for her. We watched our younger cousins compete to see who could keep their fingers against the desk light bulb the longest.
Kids can be so stupid and funny sometimes…
After the viewing, we headed to Walmart to get extendable mirrors for the truck. We lost one on the drive down and Jo accidentally hit the other the evening we reached the house. I purchased Yokai Watch 2 (both games, of course, lol) because I had planned to before we found out Aunt Terry had died. We went to get Chicken Express after that. It tasted so good, though the macaroni and cheese tasted a bit bland.
The funeral was the next morning. There was a lunch first. We were all dressed up nice, despite the fact that none of us had showered due to water issues in the RV and at uncle’s house. Mom and brother didn’t really eat while Jo and I did. Then we sat through a long-winded farewell speech by the pastor and a few members of our family that I had never met.
The slideshow that my uncle had been working on when we arrived played in the background. In it was a video clip taken three days before my aunt died. She was riding on a four wheeler with my younger cousin, having the time of her life. Aunt Terry became bedridden the next day. She died after that. It was terrifying to see how healthy and happy she had been before then. Just three days…
After the speech was complete, we formed a long procession and followed the hearse to the cemetery nearly an hour away where Aunt Terry’s husband was buried. We were escorted by three police motorcyclists who stopped traffic and cleared the way for us. We had to go through a construction zone along the way. People on both sides of the road pulled to the side for us. A lot of people took off their hats and bowed their heads. At the front gates of the cemetery, an army veteran who was among our escorts stood at attention and saluted as we went by.
We circled around the grave for final goodbyes. None of us left after that, waiting to see Aunt Terry’s coffin be lowered. Three Mexicans were working the machinery to lower the coffin.
There was a malfunction. Instead of lowering it slowly into the grave, it dropped straight down.
We all gasped. Grandma screamed. My mother burst out in tears and had to walk away. The guy who had been operating the machine walked away. Jo said he was crying.
After a little bit, they came back and the coffin was carefully pulled back up. The bottom was dented but beyond that, all was well. The second attempt to lower it was more successful. My uncle put roses and lilies atop the coffin. Then dirt was piled by the grave. Three of my uncles and one of my cousins covered her themselves. Then her grave was fixed up and decorated with all the flower wreaths and vases that had been at her funeral in the church.
My brother found a tiny metal cross back in the church, above a water fountain. He put it on her tombstone. I think Aunt Terry would’ve liked it.
My grandma met with my mother afterward. They don’t get along. My grandma cried. She’s not much of a crier either. She was glad we came down for the funeral. We wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
We went back to the house after that and helped my uncles clean up. Then we packed up and got ready to leave. At roughly 8:30PM, we took off for home.
The day was just so long that we couldn’t do a straight 24-hour drive back home. We stopped at about 3AM at a gas station that hosted spots for trucks and RVs to park for the night. We all crashed in the RV for about three hours. Then we got up and drove some more. It felt like a much longer drive than it did when we were coming down.
We returned home at about 10PM. Bro got dropped off at his home and I got dropped off at the dorm. Then mom and Jo took the RV home. I crashed at about 11:30PM because I was too tired to stay up much past a shower.
I had class the next morning at 9AM.