Mentally and physically, I am so tired. I have attended two funerals in one week for two people close to me. Last week my best friend’s mom. Yesterday my cousin’s. I did not see it coming. I am so exhausted of thinking about death and what it means and what it leaves behind. I’m afraid to say too much, because last week when I said things were looking up someone else died.
Last Thursday I got a call from my sister, and then my mom, that my 27-year-old cousin had committed suicide. Today we’re not sure that’s the case, but whether he meant to or not, what I was told is that the consensus is that he did in fact kill himself. I don’t know who in my family reads this blog, so I’m not going to go into anymore detail here.
Joe was two years younger than me, two years older than my middle sister Katie. Sarah, Joe’s sister, is my age. Their dad, Phil, is my mom’s brother. My mom has four older brothers and one younger sister, but she and Phil were the closest. Phil and Donna and my parents were great friends when they were younger. Sarah, Joe, Katie and I grew up together. We were all close. Sarah and I remain close to this day.
The initial plan was that I would drive up to Chicago (the funeral was in Northwest Indiana–my aunt, uncle and cousin/s live/d in Indiana about an hour east of Chicago) for the funeral on Saturday and drive back Tuesday, as the funeral was Monday. I took off early Saturday morning and got about 60 miles south of Indianapolis when I saw the sign: I-65 North closed due to flooding. Indianapolis and its surrounding areas had been declared a state of emergency earlier that day. My sister had checked the weather before I left, but didn’t see anything about that. Just that it was going to be rainy.
After several calls to Ian and my sister, it was clear I was stuck on 65 until the next exit, which was about six miles away. It took me about an hour and a half to get there. Consulting my atlas, my cousin, and with Katie and Junnhi on Mapquest, we found an alternate route that would take me down state and U.S. highways and into Terra Haute, up to Danville, and then onto I-57 in Illinois and up to Chicago through Illinois. It would add an additional six hours onto my trip–I was already on the road for six. But I really wanted to be there for the funeral, so I was going to attempt it. Since I was already pulled off at a truck stop, I decided to go and check with the locals to make sure the side roads were open. An emergency worker told me U.S. 50 was fine, but a lot of the other roads west of there were flooded, and I’d be chancing running into standing water.
I went into the truck stop and saw on CNN just how bad Indianapolis was. A man next to me commented on how horrible it was, and I told him my planned route. He laughed. He and his brother were truckers, and his brother had been trying to get to Terra Haute–where I would be headed–except it was totally flooded. The interstate there was closed, too. There was no way to get to Illinois except to go back to Kentucky and pick up 57 there. Well, I wasn’t going to drive five hours backward just to have another 10 hours ahead of me, making my total drive time–in one day–21 hours. He told me pretty much the fastest way to get to Chicago by car that weekend would be to drive to Cincinnati, Ohio, then up to Fort Wayne, then along the Michigan border to South Bend, then over to Chicago. When I got back to the car and called Katie, that would have added another nine hours to my already six-hour-long trip. At a minimum. That’s not counting the extra traffic that would be on the road. And who knows how I would get home.
I called my cousin and aunt and told them I didn’t think I could make it. They were sympathetic, and couldn’t believe I’d already driven as much as I had. But I broke down. I wanted to be there so bad. It was the second unexpected death in exactly one week. And this one was for my cousin, for christ’s sake. I was so angry. So disappointed in myself. And in Indiana. FUCK THAT STATE. The last THREE times I’ve tried to drive to Chicago there has been some kind of fucking natural disaster. FUCK YOU, I-65 in Indiana.
As I drove back home on 65 South, I lost it. I cried hard and stupid and snot ran down my face. I’m sure to the people around me I looked like a hazard. A sobbing, red-faced, crazy road hazard.
But my sister called my parents and told them about a flight she found me for $300, and they agreed to fly me in. And I am so grateful.
After 11 hours of driving around fucking Indiana and Kenfucky, I made it back to Murfreesboro by 9 p.m., ate something, repacked my suitcase to make it airline friendly, and went to bed. I had to get up at 4 a.m. to fly out Sunday morning.
Sunday I spent with my immediate family and my grandma, and Monday was the visitation and funeral. I don’t really know how to describe it. The casket was open, and there was Joe, laying there, with his fishing pole and cooler by the base, like he was going to wake up any second and head for the lake. It’s so surreal. I don’t really know what to say.
The last time I was in Hobart, Ind., was for Joe and Erica’s wedding in 2004. Now I was there for his funeral.
I don’t know what to say about that. I don’t think I can say anything. Nothing will make it better. Time won’t make it better. It will get easier to think about, but it won’t bring him back. There is nothing anyone can do.
I kept wanting to say how bad life sucks this weekend. I saw all the hurt and sorrow and pure, unbridled grief, and wanted to scream. But I realize that I wasn’t feeling this way because life is so shitty. It’s because life is sweet. And Joe will miss out on so much. And that is what is such a fucking shame.
They told you life is long
Be thankful when it’s done
Don’t ask for more, be grateful
But I tell you life is short
Be thankful, because before you know it
It will be over
Because life is sweet
Life is all so very short
Life is sweet