Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Battling ghosts

We interrupt the regularly scheduled juvenile humor and poker posts for something a bit more introspective...

Some readers might remember my posts about going to New York over Christmas, and my sister's battle with inflammatory breast cancer that ended the day after Christmas while we were there.

Obviously, it's been very difficulty for family members all around, most especially the immediate family members, her husband and two kids.

I found out last week that my nephew, who also pledged APO this past term, will not be returning to college for at least one term. I don't know yet if it will be longer or not.

I also found out last week that they are moving out of the house where they have lived for almost 25 years. They will be moving to Brewster, closer to other family members (another sister, my brother-in-law's family, and my stepmother) into a house which used to belong to my brother-in-law's parents but was passed on to him last year.

Over the next few weeks, the current house will probably be cleared out and renovated, sold, rented...I'm not sure if a course of action has been decided.

Herein lies the ghost part of the story.

Fifteen years ago, shortly after I started at Emory, my father got seriously ill and moved to Arizona to be with my uncle to take care of him. The remaining family members - including my sister who passed in December - and I helped clear out our old apartment of all our stuff so that it could be rented out. Since I had only completed one year of college and was not ready to return to New York yet, my sister took many of the items to keep at storage at her house.

Included in these items was an urn. My mother had passed shortly before, and was cremated. We had kept the ashes at home, as quite a few families choose to do. This was one of the items that went upstate.

I jumped around for the next three years, with the idea that I would return to New York eventually to live and move the items out. Long Island, New Jersey, Brooklyn, or elsewhere in Manahttan - winter breaks, summer, holidays, etc. Aside from one summer in Atlanta, working for BellSouth as an intern, I returned to New York for almost every break until it was almost time to graduate.

Up until the beginning through my senior year, that was the plan, when I started seriously thinking about staying in Atlanta.

Flash forward to the present - many items are still there, most notably my mother's ashes.

I found out Friday that the move was now definite. Knowing that we didn't have the certificates needed, I started making calls to get the needed paperwork so that, when I go up to New York (which will now probably happen in a couple of weeks) I will have what I need to bring the ashes back.

I've got a whole bunch of mixed emotions about this endeavor. My sister's kids are going through a very difficult time, with school uncertainty combined with moving and the other aftereffects of this loss. It's been difficult for them, and also difficult for the rest of us to see the pain they are going through.

For me, as well, it's dealing with some memories that I honestly haven't had to deal with in a while - not to mention the possibility of finally having to Do Something regarding my leftover life from New York from so long ago. I've spoken with some family members about the ashes, and hopefully we'll soon decide what is the best thing to do with them - bury, keep, scatter (and where?) - but it's not a decision that I feel should be made only by me. Miraculously, I was able to get the paperwork for the ashes in only a week and a half (thank you NYC DOH) so I can bring them back.

When I go to New York next month, I'll be trying to reconcile myself with more than one ghost and finish up some business which should have been done long ago.

No comments: