Yesterday was an exhausting day. Scott, Robby and I piled back into our car to travel four hours to a small town in northern Pennsylvania, but this was not a happy excursion: I was going to a funeral.
My stepbrother Christopher was born with cystic fibrosis. He was a tough kid, having survived numerous lung infections and more hospitalizations than anybody can imagine. Our prayers were answered when he received a double lung transplant. He continued to enjoy several active and happy years after his transplant so we were all shocked when he passed away in 2004.
Due to the circumstances around his sudden death, his brain was not buried with his remains during the original funeral. The organ was just released by the forensics experts. Yesterday I attended my first brain funeral.
I didn't know what to expect, and I was apprehensive about attending. I am ashamed to admit that I had a difficult time sleeping the night before the service for fear of an "open jar" viewing. I also knew that attending was the right thing to do, and I felt compelled to be there to honor Christopher and to support my dad and his wife.
The drive to the funeral was uneventful with the exception of the three times we had to stop by the side of the road because Robby had to go. Apparently urinating on the side of the Pennsylvania turnpike is a lot of fun. By the time we arrived at the funeral home, I was frazzled and exhausted.
I was relieved when I realized that his brain was sealed in a closed box. The service was touching and wonderfully appropriate. I put the hydrangea flowers that Robby picked for the occasion on top of the crypt and thanked Christopher for being our guardian angel.
After picking up Robby and Scott at the park (they did not attend the service) we went for a quick lunch. Then we piled back into the car and drove home. Despite being tired and stiff from the trip, I am glad that I attended. I hope that this service has provided a sense of peace for my dad and his wife. Their pain remains so raw, even after nearly seven years.
In the last ten days I have driven more than fifteen hundred miles. Today I can be found lounging poolside with Robby. I will sit in a car only if the trip is less than five miles and involves ice cream!