by Peter Marus

Ever had the feeling of a weight taken off you, and despite the relief of it being taken off, you have a ton of thoughts to deal with? That’s about where I am right now.

Today was the funeral of my aunt. It was the culmination of several days of wakes. Wakes, as much as I understand the need for them on various levels, are absolutely brutal events. Then again, how often do you hear the words “wake” and “yay” in the same sentence? By that I mean outside of a funeral director. Damn ghouls!!!

I did my usual thing that I’m good at-being the rock and stable one for everyone to vent, cry, talk to-and as much as I find comfort doing that, it is a role that is taxing. I was at al but one of the wake viewing sessions, and over several days of it, it was just an emotional test for me.

See, This aunt was one of the best ones I could ever ask for. And seeing how she was with her children, grand children, and great-grandchildren, I’m sure they would all agree with me as far as how much of a wonderful person she was. For 19 years she had to deal with the crushing disease that is Parkinson's disease, and to see her slowly be broken down by this disease was painful for me, I couldn’t imagine how it was for those who were around her everyday. It may sound weird, but she was one of the the “nicer” one of my dad’s generation in the family. All my other aunts and dad were tough people who as generous as they were, they would destroy you if you messed with them or their family. This aunt could get like that if she was really pushed, but she had a higher tolerance than the rest of them. Personally I’m more on the tolerance of the others, but sometimes wish I was more like her in that respect-maybe I wouldn’t have gotten into some situations. Hell, I may be worse than them as far as that tolerance, but at the same time, I need to be pushed into that place to get that way. My cousin said it best the other night “The Mob forgives more than you.”

Anyway just seeing the pain my cousins and relatives were feeling was tough. I did all I could to be there, as I have anytime this family needed me. I felt at the bare minimum I owed it to them after all these people did for me when I was a kid. They told me we were even back when my uncle passed away and all I did for them before he passed and after, but I still feel I need to do all that I do. I not only owed it to them, but my Aunt, my Dad, my Grandfather.

One big thing that helped me get through the couple days, and especially today was seeing my Godaughter. Just seeing her looking around in wonderment about the situation, her inquisitiveness of what was going on seeing people sad but not understanding, and just her being a baby making noises to communicate put a smile on my face and helped out. If you’re down and can’t feel a little happiness seeing a baby like that, you are psychotic.

So I the funeral was nice, as nice as a funeral can be anyway. After we all get back to the funeral Parlor to get back to our cars, I drove my mom and sister home, changed, and felt a need to go see my Dad and another Aunt’s site. I felt like I had to after today. I drove up to the Bronx to the site, and stood there for ten minutes and prayed. I also sat there thinking about how their generation is almost gone, and that I have to step up now as far as the family goes. The biggest thought in my head was “Is everything I am doing the right thing? I am doing what I can with what I got, but is it really the right thing?” Ever since he died, I’ve had the feeling I had his shadow around me and I had to live up to his standard. At the same time I’ve tried to fight that and lived my life as Pete. I guess this is something most sons have to go through.

After that moment with my Dad, I drove home here and laid down. I was so exhausted after the past couple days, and it felt good to lay down. Along with tis I was having an email conversation that brought a smile to my face. It sort of started with an email I got on my phone after the funeral just giving some words of encouragement. It later started up again when I got home and was going on for a while. It was nice to talk about something else than all that was going on, and was a relief.

So now as I write this, I still have some thoughts in my head. First is that I seem to relish in the role of being the rock, and just automatically go into that role in times of strife. I had an ex tell me that it sort of bothered her when I did this. She told me “I don’t need you to be a rock for me, I don’t need you in that role. I need you to be Pete, nothing more nothing less.” that to me is hard to just “be me” in a situation where I see someone in trouble. On the other hand, me being this rock and making others feel betting in the situation they are in is a good feeling to me. One thing about that is lately I’ve been that role, and not totally getting full enjoyment out of it. I feel like I should be a little selfish and try to “get mine” as they say as well. I can’t describe it, but it’s like a conflict I can’t seem to resolve.

The other big thing that I have in my head is the whole “Am I doing all I can to be the best for me and the family?” As I said, I do what I thank is the right thing and I do everything I can with what I got....at least I think I do. I sometimes think maybe I should ask others in my family sometimes, but I don’t. I don’t because I”m always one who don’t want to intrude on other’s lives. My attitude is that they have enough to do, why ask to help me out and take them from their things? Stupid I know, but it goes along with that selfish/generous conflict I got. After all this thinking I should at least try to be more assertive and selfish and se what happens. I would say be more asshole-ish, but that doesn’t sound as nice as what I just wrote.

To those who read this and get what I’m saying: Now the time of sadness and grief is over. The pain and sorrow you feel may linger a little bit, but remember that there are a lot of happy memories that are more important. Remember them, and remember part of them lives in you on the genetic level and spiritual level. One book has closed, and now another is open for you to write.