The Last Decision

I heard from the cemetery guy this week. He picked out a “nice” spot, near a new walking bridge, close to the river, on the side of the cemetery closest to campus. “You can walk to Saint Joe’s from there,” he told me. I’m sure it’s a lovely spot.

We even settled on the date to lay Mike’s ashes to rest – August 17.

In my mind, I envision this as a very private moment for the kids and me. Maybe one of the college priests. And my mom, of course. In a way, I just want the closure. Just want it to be done. The bigger a deal is made of this, the harder I think it will be for Ethan, and that won’t be good. And, I really don’t think Mike would have wanted this to be a spectacle.


I’ve thought a lot about if I want to involve Mike’s parents. They ignored me at the showing and the funeral mass. They haven’t reached out to me or the kids (other than sending the kids each very impersonal card for birthdays). There’s no relationship between me and them or them and the kids. Hell, Mike didn’t even like them and made sure I knew it every time I talked to him.

Honestly, his parents were always assholes. There was a deep-rooted, one-way hatred toward my dad. (And my dad was the most laid back, likeable person you could EVER imagine.) It made my dad laugh, when Mike’s dad would start something with him. The laughter and trying to blow off the situation only infuriated Mike’s dad more. Which just continued the cycle of my dad irritating him and laughing. Over and over.

Things didn’t warm up with Mike’s “condition.”  They refused to come to St. Louis when I called them during Mike’s last binge. The blaming that started with the phone call telling me Mike died. The way they acted toward me, the kids and my family at the funeral. The planning of the post-mass lunch against my direct orders to NOT have a lunch.

I’m sure there’s NOTHING harder than losing a child, especially one who refused to get help. One you watched waste away, knowing there was nothing you can do to stop it, to change it. And I can’t imagine talking to my child, then finding him dead in the morning. That has to be the most difficult, awful thing imaginable.

Have I reached out to them? No. We didn’t talk when Mike was alive. They would call his cell phone – not the house phone – to make sure they didn’t have to talk to me. (Sidenote: when I say Mike hated them, this is a good example. He would let their calls go to voicemail every time. He would have to work up the strength to call them because he knew it was such an ordeal to have a conversation with those people. He usually wouldn’t return the call for two or three days, and when he did, Mike was a grouch in the hours before he placed the call and for hours afterward.)

I have no reason to reach out to the former in-laws – I am the mother of their only grandchildren. I am the keeper of the ashes. I hold the cards. And, I don’t have anything nice to say to them.


The question remains: should they be invited to the, what should I call it?, the ceremony (seems too great for what I’m planning), the event (again, too lofty), the burial (um, maybe). Involving them would only make a difficult day more awkward and painful than it needs to be. Ethan and Lauren really don’t know these people, and involving them would be weird. I don’t know how they would react to being there and part of it, so I can’t prepare the kids for what would be an amazingly dramatic performance, I’m sure.

Besides, after the mass luncheon fiasco, I can’t trust they would honor my request to keep this a very small, private, intimate affair. I imagine they would invite all sorts of random relatives who would like to spend a Friday afternoon at a rural cemetery ignoring me.

On the other hand, is it wrong to NOT notify them? Can I send a letter after the fact with the location of his remains? Am I stooping to their level of asshole-ishness if I don’t “invite” them? Does it matter? What if I sent a nice note with a map to the cemetery afterward?

I have a few weeks to decide what I’m going to do…

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