These pictures represent reflections of my sister in law who passed away this past week.
I’m here in France spending time with family, remembering my dear girl.
It has been a crazy year for me. This past week was no exception. I was working crazy hours finishing a job for delivery. Getting only 4 hours of sleep the night before, and working until 3:00 a.m., I was beat. But, the carrot at the end of the stick was my long awaited massage!
Upon arriving home from a 3 1/2 hour road trip, I went straight to bed! Couldn’t sleep though so when the phone rang, I got up but no message was left. Hmmmm..I thought, stange because I didn’t recognize the number. An hour later, the same number called again, this time I got to it in time only to hear my brother in law’s voice on the other end telling me my sister in law died suddenly. She was his and my husband’s sister, mine too.
He said he would call the next day to give us more information because they knew nothing at the moment. My head was spinning! I was exhausted and I had this overwhelming urge to scream and scream……and then cry and cry.
Fatigue, death and hunger are not good combinations.
And so the mechanics of taking care of business began. Setting my emotions aside for the moment, I cancelled my massage, booked the trip to Philadelphia-Paris-Brest and the rental car. Lined up the housesitter to care for the cats and incoming deliveries while away, and called all my clients and designers. I have the best clients I must say. All were very understanding and while couture window fashions is certainly important in my life, they have their place too. Not before family in a situation as this.
I had to get my client files in order before I left in case something grave might happen to me while away. I noted at what stage I was at with each of my 12 clients so there would be no confusion. As a sole business owner, I have made plans in advance so that should something happen to me, the person I have assigned to come in and clean up will know exactly what to do.
If you are a business owner, what do you do in preparation for a trip?
We departed for France and the flight was delayed due to the fact that it was snowing in Paris. That meant we would miss our connecting flight in Paris the next morning. Got a later flight and we made it to our destination safely.
The weather the day of the service was cold and raw: aptly describing my emotions. I was ok until I saw the picture of my sister. And then I lost it. Something in me unleashed and I could not control my emotions. I did not care that I was on display for all to see. We had many good times together. We laughed, we cried, we danced, we drank, we ate, we shared, and we loved and we lived.
At least until Thursday’s phone call.
She chose to be cremated and unlike the crematoriums in America, in France, after the service, you are given the opportunity to watch as the coffin is placed in the fire. At first, I thought, how horrible! This was a decision based on ignorance! As we gathered in the small room and watched as her coffin was placed on the conveyor belt, it was comforting to know it was really her and her wishes were being fulfilled.
I heard the fire being started up, the door raised, the lighted button turned green and then pushed. Her coffin was automatically pushed into the fire and the door lowered. And that was it. Very mechanical. Simple. Not as gross as I thought it would be. And then we parted to have a meal together, as it should be, remembering my crazy sister in law, warmed by the memories we had of her.
I loved her taste in jewelry!
Now we are with family and trying to make the best of a bad situation. We have traveled to Concarneau where she lived and worked in La Ville Close, an ancient fortified city surrounded by water. A tourist trap! But a must see if you ever get to this side of France.
Then on to Pont Aven, know for Paul Gaugin the famous artist, and where we used to stay with my mother in law.
And, where we are staying in touch with the living.
The cafe in the center of Pont Aven where we had our coffee.
No, we were not expecting the phone call. But is anybody expecting it?