In the past 10-15 years-the passing of loved ones has been greater than I recall in earlier years – thinking it has something to do with the coming of age-maybe – or as youngster we were shield from something so natural as death by our parents – not wanting us to deal with the ending of life when it come to a family member or close friends of the family. I for one did not keep death from my children – informed them of a death then allowed them to chose whether they wanted to attend services or not and answer any questions they may have had.
The closest family member to me that past was a brother who was a year older than I – Joey – with regards to him as a person I will say that he was one of the happiest people anyone could run into or have the pleasure of knowing – although he did have his own trials to deal with throughout his life – it was not evident that he was dealing with anything but enjoying life.
It was the late evening in the month of May – my phone rang – a baby sister – one of 4 younger sisters – I being the eldest daughter – sobbing on the phone telling me I need to get down to the river- something was wrong – Joey went into the water and had not come back out. Speed not a factor we raced down to the river – parking the vehicle up on the ridge – not being able to see what was below except the odd glimmer of the steel bars on a swing set or the sparkle of the half moon atop the water -which was like a plate of glass that night. I rushed down the stairs to come upon Joeys’ best friend wrapped in a blanket – his wife rubbing his arms to warm him up – tears in her eyes and his as he said to me – “I tried Cynthia – I tried to reach him but the water is so cold.”- I walked to the waters edge and began to call his name – over and over again – my throat beginning to pain – but I did not quit. Other family members started to arrive- the word was out- friends from town were launching their boats in the water up the river a ways I could hear the boat motors being started then the chugging of them as they began a slow pace along the rivers edge – the fire department and police arrived – Joeys’ best friend being questioned I could see from the corner of my eye – as I sat on the cool beach sand not 20 feet from the shore- I let my eyes drift from one side of the river – up and down – but could see nothing but the shadows of the trees across the way – my eyes kept descending on a spot not 50 feet from where I sat- where a slight more movement was than the rest of the water around it- it was a current- that is where he is I thought to myself – then at the same time thinking- that bugger was probably sitting on a rock across the way getting a chuckle from what was taking place- not that he would – but I guess for me was easier to believe he was alive and laughing as he was earlier that day when I seen him.
Several hours later a police officer come to us- Joeys’ siblings who were present to say- it has now come a search and recover not a search and rescue and paid their condolences to us. – there was shock on most of the faces – when I broke the silence saying that Mom and Dad needed to be told now- before we left to go to our parents home – I was volunteered to voice what had happened that evening to our parents once we all were in their home.
Getting our parents out of bed at 5:30 am to answer the door – was not a feat- as they always opened the door readily to thier adult children over the last few years- having 11 children there always seemed to be some one in turmoil and looking for a place to sit it out for a day or 2 or just a night. They sat at the kitchen table as we stood around the kitchen – I began from the beginning- told them all that had taken place earlier and how the next day divers would be brought in to recover the body from the depths of the Sauble River.
There is no cry as hair raising or heart breaking as that of a Mother who has just been told her child had died – her repeating his name over and over almost as if she said it enough he would appear before us all.
Joeys’ funeral took place on the reservation – a 4 day rite – with a sacred fire burning 24 hours a day for 4 days – native drummers & singers coming in to chant daily over those hours-the mass of people that streamed thru the hall was astounding – I had a couple younger sisters sobbing heavily as I embraced them – I would go up to the coffin- lay my hand on his chest – say a prayer – talk to him – tell him I knew he was at peace – I seen that as his body was brought from the depths of the river the next day – denim jeans, a shirt, bare feet and his glasses still sitting atop his nose- his face not strained but at peace.
The stream of cars was for miles behind the main family cars in the procession to the graveyard the next town over – taking my fathers arm and telling him to look out the rear window at the vision of followers- he did and then sob when I said- ” you see Dad – no matter what we are – who we are – we are loved by somebody.”
9 months later – my father passed on from a massive heart attack- some of us believing he never recovered from his sons death-
My bro and father have gone home – yet I know and truly believe they are by my side always spiritually– since their death- there has been many death within my extended family at times 3 times a year-tending a funeral service.
I don’t cry for them – I know they are in a better place – when I do cry it is for myself, because I miss their touch – the human part of me – in all of us- needing touch to grow and feel love.- and to cry for them would only keep them from resting in peace – which I do not want to do – because I truly believe that at sometime we all need to have closure – allowing the departed souls to soar- back home.
Since I wrote this blog, my Mother has passed over in 2009 and joined Dad and Joey.. Rest in peace.. ❤
~The song below seemed to play over and over those 24 hours of Joeys’ drowning to the recovery of his body-something my eldest daughter pointed out to me as we drove up and down the road along side the river looking for any sign of Joey that early morning.~
I was allowed by Dad to chose the words to put on Joeys’ headstone. I chose..~Lived-Loved-Laughed~.. that is exactly how Joey lived his life on earth.