I'm a fan of Luann.

Recently, her friend Bernice found out she has a brother that was given up for adoption. This week they met for the first time. The strips have been pretty poignant. This last frame really struck me on Thursday:

Been there, done that. Awkward.

From my Blogger blog. I wrote this April 24, 2005:

Ern's Urn

This is one of those posts I'm going to just start writing and see where the flow takes me. I'm home. I miss my puppy. Cory is happy to be an only child today. Even though she's acting pretty pissy. I was tired when we got home, so I took a nap.

It's really hard to explain how I feel. There's no guide book to grief. Ernie was my half-brother. I met him 18-years-ago. I guesstimate it's been 10 years since I've seen him. I can probably count on two hands the number of times I saw him during that short period.

But he's my brother and he died.

I am so grateful now that none of us were matches to be his donor. I don't know how any one of us would've handled being the donor and then watching him die.

If you know me well, you'll know what it says about my state of mind when I say I got lost four times this weekend. I never get lost. I have a perfect sense of direction and if I've been there once I can find my way back anytime. I got lost four times.

When we got to the funeral home, there was a line of people to get in. I walked up to a young man at the door. Is this Ernie's funeral? "Yes," he said. I'm Susan. "I'm Ernie Jr." We hugged. I was especially sad that we didn't know each other.

Then the woman came over and I recognized that she was his wife Candi from pictures. We talked for a minute before she told me how guilty she was feeling that she had discouraged me from coming. I literally grabbed her by the shoulders and jutted my head around to force eye contact. No, no. Don't you even think twice about that. "Thank you. Thank you."

She was only trying to protect her husband, but in the end she protected me. From seeing Ernie in that state. The other siblings were visibly distraught at the memory of him in the hospital. I reassured her that I am grateful not to have that picture of him in my memory.

The funeral parlor was packed. Packed. As we walked in, my sister stood there waiting to sign the book. She said my name when she saw me and embraced me in a hug. I'm so sorry for your loss. "Me too." For me, in seeing Karen, the worst was over. And it didn't go badly.

Mom and I sat in the third to last row, in a pew filled to capacity. The woman in front of me cried throughout the service. I wanted to ask her how she knew Ernie, acknowledge her grief as his sister. But I didn't.

Mom encouraged me to move up with the family, "You should be up there too," she said. Didn't matter. I knew I was there. Candi and Ernie Jr knew I was there and the other siblings would soon.

The service was about 20 minutes long. It had absolutely nothing to do with my brother. There were no Ernie memories. No one stood to speak about him. Not even some type of "here's what he did in his short 59 years." It was about death and heaven, but not about Ernie. I was gravely disappointed.

Afterwards, we remained in the back of the chapel to allow others to move forward, view the pictures of Ernie and greet the family. My sister-in-law Sandra saw me first and came with big hugs. Then my brother Chuck came. We hugged hard for a long time. He cried. I consoled. Then his daughter came and I didn't recognize her. I could tell she was very disappointed, especially since she "recognized me the minute you walked in."

Then my brother Jerry came. He cried. I consoled. The two boys were so glad to see my mom. Especially Jerry since he lived with her for a while in his teen years.

Eventually we moved up front. I was reintroduced to nieces and nephews. My sister-in-law Dot worked her way over to greet us and then my brother Jack. He is so devastated by this. You can see he is just broken.

Afterwards, everyone was invited to Candi and Ernie's for early dinner. I'd thought we would go to, but when Jack said he wasn't going, my heart fell. I just didn't want to go without him. So we didn't.

It was great to see so many pictures of Ernie. There was only one picture of him sick. Extremely thin and without hair. His son kneeling beside him. It struck me profoundly how much Ernie Jr had aged in just one year.

I don't know how to explain what it feels like to be at siblings' funeral and feel like you could be sitting in any funeral home with a group of complete strangers. I hate that it was my brother's funeral and I was there to mourn a stranger. The woman who sat in front of me was more upset than I was. I didn't shed a tear. But I did get lost four times.

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