⁣Dear Jared,

Shit sister alert! I haven’t been writing to you. I’ll be honest, my guy, I’m not coping. Like, not even close. My boss described me as “like a functioning addict”. I’m getting things done, but it’s obvious that I’m not really present.

I’ve been doing minimal days and times at work and so much of my time outside of work has been taken up with funeral arrangements and trying to just basically survive. We picked a cemetery plot for you yesterday. On the way to do it, I said to Dad that we really wanted one in the shade, and he said, “Is this for Jared or is this for us?” I told him, “No, this is absolutely for us. We’re the ones who are going to visit, not him!”

Unsurprisingly, all the plots in the shade near the benches were taken, but we found two plots on the end of the row that were in the shade and we figured we can take our own chairs. Numbers 444 and 445. Naturally, I gave you number 445 and took the cooler number of 444 for myself. One of my Facebook friends told me that it’s super unlucky in Chinese culture and literally translates to “death death death”, but…you know…it’s my grave so I kind of feel that’s appropriate!

Maybe it’s weird to buy yourself a cemetery plot and I even joked before we went about getting a plot near you, but I didn’t know how important it was for me until we found them. We’re having the twins’ ashes moved from Karrakatta to under your headstone, so all of my brothers will be in the same plot. Considering you literally named your son after them, it feels really appropriate for them to be with you. God, I fucking hate that you’re gone.

When I die, I’m going to be buried as well. I want to have the option to come back as a zombie, naturally. When he dies, Dad’s ashes are also going to be placed under your headstone so you can talk about footy in the afterlife. When Mum dies, her ashes are going to go under my headstone so we can talk books. When D dies, his ashes will go under my headstone. Imz isn’t sure if she wants to be buried here or in New Zealand, but they can intern three bodies in a grave and they’ve done as many as eight sets of ashes, apparently!

So, ultimately, we’ll all be in the same two cemetery plots which are lovely and shady. It’ll make it a lot easier for people when they want to visit us. I also like that when strangers visit and see the headstones, they’ll get all confused and have to try to figure out who exactly was who in the family. Even in death, I’ll be making trouble!

I had to resist the urge to get plots next to us for the boys, too. I reminded myself that hopefully they will be old and grey with families of their own when they die and they might not even be living in the country at that point, let alone in this specific area! I still kind of want to do it, though, I’m not gonna lie.

I know it’s probably morbid, but I feel a lot better knowing that this is sorted. Particularly Mum and Dad, because I’m very aware that the funeral arrangements for at least one of them will fall entirely on me, now. They’re going to talk to the funeral home about pre-paying and arranging their funeral. I also like that we’ll all be together in the end. Especially the twins, because it’s always been weird having to go all the way to Karrakatta to see them. They’ll get visited a lot more often now.

Anyway, the biggest thing that’s happened other than that is that I saw you today. It’s been interesting following someone else’s traditions and customs. Normally, we’d see you for a half hour, maybe, the day of the funeral and that would be that. Tokelauan tradition, though, is for the family to dress the body. Imz made it 100% clear to us that we didn’t need to do it, but that she would be doing it. There was no question of us leaving her to do that solo with only her brothers for company.

I’m not gonna lie, I was shitting bricks on the way there. I’m so glad that we did it, though. I absolutely lost my shit when I saw you, and I wouldn’t have wanted to have that reaction in front of people next week. At first, I was scared to touch you. Mum and Imz both kissed you, but I was too scared to do it.

The mortician was amazing and she gave us plenty of time to just sit with you and we laughed and cried and told stories. Then, it was time to dress you. You already had underwear on which I was glad about, because (no offense) I didn’t want to see your junk! You also had a singlet on and socks. They’d bandaged your legs, too, which I was worried about. The right one was bandaged basically to the thigh, and the left one to the knee.

Remember I said that I was scared to touch you? Uh, yeah…I had to get over that shit real fast. You didn’t help us dress you at all, you bastard! We had to pull your arms through your shirt and jacket, rolling you back and forth repeatedly to get your clothes on. By the time it was done, I was used to it. I ended up hugging you for ages while crying and Imz took a picture which was beautiful and sad.

I also posed your hand flipping the bird and got a picture of that. I hated you doing that basically every time I took a fucking picture of you when you were alive, but now you can’t do it and I hate that more. It did make us all laugh.

You’re being buried in the shirt and pants you bought to go to one of Imz’s family weddings. Apparently, you never got a suit jacket for it, so her brothers went and bought one for you. We left the tag on your jacket but tucked it in. The mortician went to get scissors to cut the tag off it and I joked that if we didn’t take the tag off, I could make up a story in my head that you were wearing it and going to return it for the refund after the event. We laughed and laughed at the idea of taking it off you after the funeral and returning it, and we wondered if a dead person wearing clothes would void the return policy. Ultimately, we decided it was simply too difficult to get it off you, anyway…what a shame. 😝

When it was done, I got a few moments alone with you. I pulled up a chair and sat next to you and cried. Mum joined me and we cried together, then she sat with you. At one point, she lost it and just sobbed, “My baby boy. My baby boy.” over and over while Dad held her. We all miss you, and I don’t think any of us is even close to coping right now.

In a lot of ways, I’m glad we’re following Imz’s traditions, because they’re a lot more personal than ours. Today is something that I wouldn’t have gotten, otherwise. I think that also with your death being so sudden, we didn’t get any time to prepare emotionally for it to happen. So doing things like this at least gets us more used to it in the lead up to the funeral.

Because at the end of the day, everything is so wrong right now. It’s still bizarre to me that this all happening. At the beginning of the month, you were alive. How is that even possible? Your funeral is going to be on the 30th. So, in the space of a month, you will have died and been buried. This is the most ridiculous, awful, terrible, I hate it thing in the entire world.

Oh, Imz told us that T took his first steps yesterday. It kills me (and her, no doubt) that you didn’t get to see it. He’s so fucking beautiful. Your three babies are all that we have left of you. It’s not goddamn fair.

How am I even sitting here writing this? I don’t want this reality. I want the one where you didn’t go away for Easter and end up dead. Being an only child sucks.


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