We held Eddie's funeral and burial in Columbus, which had been our home for 25 years. As far as I was concerned there was never any question that it should be anywhere else. Eddie wasn't originally from Columbus though. He grew up in Hinesville, Georgia and still had family and friends there. Hinesville was his home, too. All of his immediate family and many friends traveled to Columbus for the funeral, but there were people who weren't able to come. They wanted a chance to say good-bye also, so Eddie's family planned a memorial service for him there. I completely understood their reasons for wanting to do this. I supported their decision 100 percent. They had every right to hold a service in his memory in the place he grew up. There was just one problem ... I knew I couldn't attend.
The service was planned for May 16, exactly two months from the date of Eddie's death. It was being held in the church in the small community of Fleming where he grew up. I had been there with him many times over the years. I had been to services in that church, and had attended the funerals of two of his grandparents there. I loved the area and knew the community and the people well. But there was no way I could go back at that time. The memorial service was going to be too much like the funeral. I gave his family the same pictures I had used for the video. Many of the same hymns were going to be sung. They wanted me to read the poem and Trey the letter that we read at the funeral. There was no way I could go through that again so soon. I hadn't made much progress since Eddie's death, but I knew what little I had made would be gone if I went. Starting the grieving over from the beginning just wasn't something I could do.
I talked to my counselor and the preacher about how I felt. They both agreed with me - I shouldn't go. I talked to my family and my close friends. They agreed with me too. I hated to tell Eddie's family that I wasn't coming though. After all, they had traveled to Columbus and attended what I had planned. I didn't see how they could possibly understand my reasons for not attending the service they planned. The decision was made for me when I talked to Trey about it. He said, "I don't know if I can go through that again this soon." That was all it took for me to make up my mind. I would have managed somehow if he had wanted to go, but there was no way I was going to put him through it if he didn't want to go. So the weekend of the memorial service Trey and I went in the opposite direction.
I got tickets to the Georgia Aquarium and a Braves game, and we headed to Atlanta. We left on Saturday morning and went to the aquarium that afternoon. That was my first trip there, and under different circumstances I'm sure I would have thoroughly enjoyed it. As it was it was just a relief to get away from home. We went out to dinner that evening, then went to a motel near the stadium because our tickets were for Sunday's game. I know we could have shared a motel room, but Trey was almost 25 years old. I didn't think he would really want to stay in the same room with his mother, so I got separate rooms. He stayed with me for awhile, watching TV and talking then went across the hall to his room. When he first closed the door, I started to panic. I had never spent the night alone in a motel room in my whole life. I know he would have come back if I had called him, but this was something I had to do on my own. I knew I would be doing a lot of things alone in the future, so I had to start somewhere. I made it through the night, and though I can't say I was happy the next morning, I was pleased - I had survived. This was one small step towards moving forward with my life.
Sunday morning we went to breakfast then to the stadium. Unfortunately, it was raining by the time we got there. We waited around for a couple of hours before they cancelled the game. I was disappointed, not so much about not getting to see the game, but because I didn't want to go home. I realized that being away, even for a short time, had been a relief. I hadn't forgotten what was going on while we were gone, but the pressure of everything had seemed a little less intense. The closer we got to home the more I felt it returning. I also knew that whether I wanted to or not, I would have to call Eddie's family and ask how the memorial service had gone ... and that wasn't something I wanted to hear about.
"Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again." Psalm 71:20-21