I was kind of horrified and in a hurry this morning and didn't do the back-linking I'd promised I try to. I've been trying not to be as graphic as my first entry, but depression and suicide are likely to come up for all of these. From here on out, I'd like to save the warnings for things that get particularly specific/graphic and just keep calling these "Grief Entries." If that's not okay with anyone, comment to let me know and we'll work something out that doesn't make me feel like I'm just typing the same opening paragraph every time. This isn't just my space to post what I'm feeling and I want to be careful to respect that, because it's part of what makes this a wonderful community to participate in.

For those that missed my late entry last night.

And for those that would prefer to begin at the beginning of this mess. This one is really graphic, because I went to where it happened, and that deserves this double warning.

My sister and I headed to the mall pretty much as soon as I hit post this morning. As we were pulling in to the parking lot, my (non-relation) aunt called from Florida to tell us how sorry she was. She reminded us that she'd lost her brother to depression as well.

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I wish when we'd spoken to her sister yesterday that her sister had mentioned that instead of dragging up the stupid family in-fighting (that has NOTHING to do with me or my sister. It's all shit we weren't there for and frankly, cannot possibly speak on). If one person brings up anything like this on the wake, so help me. If I hear one nasty bit of side-gossip, I am going to call them all on their bullshit. My brother's death is a soapbox that belongs to me and my sister, and we'd like to use it to talk frankly about our brother and his underlying issues.

Please don't take that to mean that I haven't appreciated every comment and story about people coping with their own grief. (And please know I've been reading all of them, even the ones I haven't starred or responded to, and I look forward to rereading them all when this is over and I don't have anything to keep me busy and distracted from what's missing in my life now.)I just meant that this is not a time for saying you hope your father goes to jail.

So, clothes shopping, right? We had originally talked about doing something blue, because our brother always looked great in blue. But when we got there, there were so many shades of blue, and then my sister found this red tie, and there was this lovely charcoal gray shirt. We couldn't find a jacket at that store, though, so we agreed to go elsewhere and come back for it.

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At the next store, we picked out the softest pajama pants we could find. They poked themselves out at my estranged uncle (he's kindly footing the bill on this part of things. And also the casket spray. I so appreciate that. I'm lucky if I have my phone when I leave the house lately, forget about having money on hand for shit.) and we agreed he'd have loved them. And gray plaid would match the gray shirt and tie in a way that my sister and I liked.

Picking out the jacket came down to wanting to have enough pockets to stuff things into and there being only one that looked good with pockets. I like the jacket a lot.

Remember how I said we were in a mood to pick fights? From there we went to another store to look for underwear. We stopped in their little snack court to get a drink, and the clerk is halfway through making our iced tea when some dude (he looked like he was very full of drugs. If I had to guess it's heroin.He had that sleepy face and tiny pupils. Without getting into it, I've been around a few different kinds of addicts before.) came up and started yelling about can he exchange his bottled beverage for another. The clerk asked if he bought it there and he said, "Yeah." And the clerk asked him to wait a minute until he finished our transaction. But the dude came around going, well, I'm just gonna take it and go. And my sister is just like, "Don't do that. He's gotta put it through the system." And the dude admits he hadn't gotten it from there and then gets all up in her face about, "Who asked you?" And I'm like, "You interrupted our transaction because you couldn't wait. You're messing up his inventory, and technically shoplifting." After both of us yelled at him, he backed down with a mumble about a stupid ugly ho.

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Victory! People only say shit like that when they've lost an argument.

He asked her if she felt better for arguing with him. Actually, yes, I did.

Sorry we fucked up your stolen Frappacino scam, dude.

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So, that store didn't have anything but that argument in stock. And at this point, we'd been shopping for two hours. The whole thing was so grueling, constantly talking about what he'd have liked. Not being able to get the thought out of my head that this is the last time we'll ever pick out clothes or see him in a suit. Or see him.

We went to another store and found socks. They have little aliens on them. At that point, after all the crying and ten thousand decisions, I think my sister needed a little break. She excused herself for a bit, and the estranged uncle and I went back to the first store for the shirt and tie, which were fortunately exactly where I left them when we'd picked them out. I noticed that the shirt was "slim fit," and as I had so many times during his life, went back to get the next size up. We picked out slippers. It was important to us for some reason that we get the kind that have non-slipper soles. They look like fuzzy loafers, you guys.

We picked out the readings— this whole next part is a little weird. If you'd asked me a year ago if when I had to do this, if I thought we'd do a funeral mass and I might have laughed as I said, "Oh, hell no." The other half of it is that, since this is a church that my father's side of the family has been involved in for years, it's very easy for them to participate in this portion. Remember my BAMF opera singing cousin? We talked to her today and she's going to meet with the music director tomorrow and basically handle all of that for me, which is the shit, you guys. It's awesome. I thought about mass music two days ago and felt my eyes bulge out of my head a little. So, I'm clearly not equipped to do that myself.

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We made a few decisions that I think will set an appropriate tone to celebrate my little brother and comfort the grieving with. Nothing that sounds like doom and gloom for the parts of mass, we should use the melodic ones. Piano instead of organ. I gave her the readings (which are Wisdom 3:1-9, John 3:14-16, and Matthew 5:1-12a) and she said that would give the music director a lot of ideas. The only real request for hymns I had was that we try to avoid anything with the sentiment, "Everything is good 'cause they're in heaven now," and could we focus on peace instead? I don't find that very comforting to begin with, and when you factor in the history of the whole Catholic Church, they don't have a lot nice to say about people who commit suicide. It's really only pretty recently (in historical terms) that you can even have a funeral mass for a suicide.

We haven't given much thought to who will do the readings. I was hoping that someone from my dad's side of the family would just want to, so I asked my cousin to ask her parents and kind of put that out there to that side of the family.

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Before I try and veg out or maybe go see some friends, I'd like to leave you with the best story about my brother anyone has told me since he died. Like so many of today's good things, it also comes from my cousin:

"Your brother caught the garter at my wedding. The girl who caught the bouquet, however, was a 12 year old piano student of mine. Since it was wildly inappropriate for him to put it on her, he insisted that SHE put it on HIM."