There are moments in time that seem like they stood still just before and after Andrew died. It is as if I am watching the movie of my life. I can see myself picking out the casket, standing in line consoling people at the viewing, being at the funeral, in the limo with my hilarious boys, having conversations with certain people, and so on. It’s as if someone else was there in my place, and now I am watching it to know what happened. I am thinking that I should write these movie excerpts down before I forget them and I can no longer rent the movie. They may be random memories, but I don’t want these memories to be gone forever.
I remember standing in the front yard. It seems as though the earth was rotating right around me. Neighbors seeing and hearing the commotion, coming to see what is going on. As they walked up with questioning eyes, I utter the words…”Andrew is dead.” The looks of horror on their faces, when they hear the unbelievable news. None of this seems real. Jessica and Dallin are inside. I walk in the front door. They are sitting huddled together on the edge of the white couch facing the front door. Jessica’s arm is actually around Dallin’s shoulders. I can see in their eyes that they know something is terribly wrong, but their thoughts never go to something so unthinkable. I am looking at them. How do you tell them their brother is dead? It can’t be the same way you tell the neighbors. I just tell them to come outside and that we need to talk to them. We don’t even get down the walk and Greg tells them. They fall into Greg’s arms. Jessica is inconsolable. I put my arms around her. Hugging her tight, I tell her, “It will be ok.” She says, “It’s not ok.” She and Andrew argued yesterday and she told him to never come into her room. I said it again.” It’s ok.” The bishop goes to get Warner and Garrett from the skate park. When they arrive, it is as if they are looking for confirmation. As if the words the bishop told them on the way home weren’t true. But they look, and they know. Somewhere in the middle of all of this, my dearest friend Chrystal shows up. I tell her about Andrew, and in the same breath tell her that I want her to make the “Funeral Potatoes.” She makes the best funeral potatoes. I am not sure if this is an attempt at humor, or to show my strength, or to be taking care of the details. I mean what could possibly be more fitting at a funeral than funeral potatoes? For whatever reason, I think that this is absolutely ridiculous. Requesting funeral potatoes? Seriously?
I don’t know how long we have all been in the front yard, but it has been a long time. It is as if we were out there opening our lives to show the entire world our suffering. Why did we stay outside? At some point, we went into the house. There are so many people that we don’t all fit on the 4 couches that surround the room. We kneel and say a family prayer. Family members say that Andrew was there. Other family members shouldn’t be able to feel him if I can’t. That just isn’t fair. But then again is any of this fair?
As the news spreads, as it does in a tight knit LDS community, more and more people show up to pay their respects. The room is getting smaller and smaller. The walls are caving in. People are sobbing. I am hugging them and telling them “It’ll be ok.” If I could really rewind the movie and count how many times I said that phrase over the course of a week, I am sure it would be in the thousands.
I can’t handle the display any more. I feel like we are on stage and everyone is watching the show. So I start pushing to get out of there. We start to get ready to go, and then something derails the train. So I steer us back in, and then derailed. I am sure this happened 10 times over the course of a few hours. But finally, we land at Greg’s mom’s house.
Our family, now smaller by one, climbs the stairs to a bedroom. There are other places we could sleep throughout the house, but we can’t stand to be broken up. We lay down blankets and the 4 children sleep on the floor. They are all tucked in the nest. When I know they are asleep, that is when it all becomes real, just for a little while. I cried and thrashed. It was as you see in the movies; when a person is in the hospital bed and people have to hold them down to give them a sedative. I rolled from side to side, as if I was in immense physical pain. I was in pain. I couldn’t catch my breath. Greg held me. I was no longer a spectator to what was happening. I was directly in the middle of it, and needed to figure out how to get out. Exhausted, I fell asleep.