Thank you so so much for the kind comments, emails, suggestions, cards, texts and comfort in response to all the sadness and sorrow I feel after my life partner's unexpected death a week ago. I will do my best to get in touch with you all when some time has passed and I'm not engulfed in practicalities.
A good friend said the other day that sorrow is striped. And that is such a simple and yet mindblowing description of all these feelings that keep on coming and going, from the inside out and outside in.
Since we didn't share address or lived 100% under the same roof (because that's how we both wanted it) I'm well aware that my legal status is zero (and no we didn't have a written agreement or a will) and that his elderly parents will inherit everything. I do hope I'll be able to get some of the things I've given him, things he bought on our trips, photos and other memories. Other than that I now have very little hope this will be a fair and decent aftermath.
Because even though we spent nearly 27 years together - which is a scary thing to admit since that makes me feel quite quite old, but there you have it. He was 9 years my senior and we met in 1989 through a friend I studied law with - I'm clearly the one person who
Instead his parents saw it appropriate that they should be mentioned first - for a grown man in a long-term relationship - followed by the brother and sister-in-law (whom we spent time with about twice a year) and me last. My status is clearly that of a dog. Or possibly a grandchild.
When I got home from the 2,5 hours long, grueling meeting at the undertaker yesterday I was devastated. I don't think an obituary as such is a very important thing, but if they wanted to have one that was of course fine. And if so, just as natural was that the long-term partner should be mentioned first. Instead they diminished me and our years together into a parenthesis.
I talked with my brother-in-law and his wife about my feelings and they understood, however M's parents refuse to change the order, they adamantly see it fit they should be first - no matter how disrespectful that is to not least to their son - so now I'm second instead. One step up from dog status.
In no way am I trying to diminish their sorrow and loss, it must be horrific to lose a child, even if he's long since a grown-up with his own life (and it was his father who found M dead). But the way they act as if I'm some peripheral female M spent time with now and then, perhaps during weekends and the odd holiday, over all these years, that really puts things in perspective. And put some extra hurt into the striped pain.
I have decided I will now put my own obituary in the newspaper in a week or two. And frame it as I like. And as M would have enjoyed.
To make matters worse, the parents and brother thought it was appropriate to after the open funeral service only invite the immediate family (to which they count aunts, uncles and cousins who he/we've perhaps met once or twice a year throughout our time together) to the memorial after. But what about our friends and his friends (of which I haven't met everyone, we both have/had friends the other one didn't know a lot about)? And his collegues? Why should those people he spend much more time with than his relatives be seen as people less deserving of being invited to the memorial, less mourning?
If I could I would much rather not attend the funeral but hold a separate and private one to which I invited the people I know mattered in his/our life. That's of course not feasible, but still I like the notion of it.
The funeral ceremony (civil of course) will be held on April 20. The day in between what would have been his birthday and my mother's birthday. Not ideal at all, but there it is.
We had planned most of the funeral already before the above took place, I'm sure it will be beautiful. But the meeting with the officiant is still left. After all this happened I will not attend the meeting with the rest of the family next week, but instead meet with him on my own. Ideally before they do.
Who knew that these last couple of weeks would be so full of situations where I had to be true to myself and stand up for that? And him.