saturday was quite the mixed bag of emotions.
my mom ended up bowing out of tea with us, since the memorial service was scheduled for later that day. so the teen and i decided to make it a date for just the two of us - a rare occurrence these days. we left the bean giggling happily with the hub and headed to san dimas for our first visit to the enchanted rose tea parlour.
it was cute, with lots of hats and tiaras and boas to choose from.
i explained to the hostess that the third person in our party had had to cancel last-minute, and that we had gotten a sitter for the bean. i totally gave her the side eye when she said "oh, good, thank you for that." um, okay. i mean, i know that babies can be disruptive, but geez. it wasn't exactly silent in there, with a couple of large parties having a grand old time - loudly. heh.
we picked out tiaras and then made our way to our table. i love the excitement on the teen's face.
we enjoyed our time together, and grubbed down on the yummy eats. i was so hungry, i didn't bat an eye at the big ass whole blueberries in my scone. i just smothered it in lemon curd and devonshire cream and munched away. but the fruit cup and chocolate-covered strawberry were handed right over to the teen. yup.
i was bummed to find regular old sugar (albeit packaged in cute little paper tubes), and our tea was weak as hell. but it was a cool day, so it was nice to drink tea and not sweat my ass off, like i normally do.
the teen proclaimed herself too full to eat dessert, but i picked around the chunks of berries and enjoyed mine. and she found room in her tummy for my pink rose (which was simply pink-tinted white chocolate, poured into a rose shaped mold).
and then it was time to leave.
we had just enough time to head home, change, and get to the memorial service. thankfully, it was only about ten minutes away.
as i'd hoped, we managed to slip in quietly, sign the book, and sit in the back, right next to one of my cousins. i noticed that we were actually sitting on the other side of the church from the rest of our family, and silently lamented the fact that i probably wouldn't be able to see or talk to a lot of them. i spied my cousin mel, who i haven't seen since her wedding, and is now pregnant with their first baby.
and then the family entered the church, taking their places in the front pews. i saw my aunt, looking grief-stricken, and then her son - M's husband - followed by their two boys. the teen caught my eye and made a sad face, and i knew her heart was saddened for their loss, just as mine was. i didn't notice *that* man with the family, but i figured i'd just not seen him and focused my attention on the program i hadn't yet looked at.
M was only 44 - a mere seven years older than me. she'd just celebrated a birthday a couple of weeks ago, and i teared up as i imagined how bittersweet that day must have been for her and her loved ones.
but then, behind me, i heard *his* voice. i half-turned and saw him walk into the church through the same entrance i had used, with a woman i'd never seen before. he was casually dressed, in a polo and dark pants, which i found odd. i heard her say "why don't you go up front and sit with the family?" and he said "no, i'll just sit right here."
right. behind. me.
i felt my entire body stiffen with anger. the teen, who had also seen him and was sitting close to me, glanced worriedly at my tight, tense face and took my hand. i squeezed it gratefully, thankful for her presence and attempt to comfort me, and forced myself to focus on the reason we were there. after all, that afternoon was NOT about him, nor was it about me. we were there for M - to pay tribute to her life, and as i thought about my interactions with her through the years, the tension ebbed away and i relaxed.
we managed to get through most of the service dry-eyed. but then a CD was played of a song that M used to sing to her beloved sons, and we both lost it. the teen told me later that as the song played, she saw M's husband put an arm around one of the boys, and that she'd been touched at witnessing such a sad and loving gesture.
when it was over, we slipped out through the front door with my cousin while the rest of the attendees made their way to the reception, located elsewhere on the campus. a few minutes later, we were joined by my mom, stepdad, and my brother and O. M's SIL, who i've known since high school, came out briefly to thank us for attending, and then left to join her family. i'd heard that she was also pregnant, and congratulated her quietly as i haven't seen her since the molestation drama. i felt weird as i said it, but i've been cut off from that side of the family and didn't really have another chance for it. oh, well.
although i wasn't particularly close to M, and because of the recent division of the family was not able to see her in the final months of her life, i haven't been able to stop thinking about her and wondering how her family is coping. i wonder if the boys are going to school. i hope if they are, that the staff is aware that they're dealing with their loss, and that the other kids are treating them as they always do. i'm heartbroken for her husband, who's loved her for so many years, and will now face life without her by his side. and i'm sad for my aunt, who worried so much about her as she battled her dreadful disease.
thanksgiving came early for me this year as my appreciation for my health, my family, and my life was renewed. nothing is more precious or important. thank you for that, M. i'm glad you're in a better place, free from pain and suffering.