Saturday, October 16, 2010

Renee's Funeral Post

From kj: Renee's Book of Love is starting to take shape. It will include our love letters AND many of Renee's posts, her family's favorites, and art & illustrations she loved or were gifts to her from her many blog friends.
I am going to include some of Renee's posts here so I can keep track of the ones that should be included in her book and keep them safely stored through the courtesy of Blogger.
I wonder how many of us have gone back to read Renee speaking as Renee? I find it so bittersweet. I haven't yet been able to reread her comments to myself and others, but I know when I do I will hear her voice and feel her presence as if she is right here right now.
from Renee: Nathan is watching me climb out of a town car limousine at 1:00 on a Friday afternoon. He says ‘Who the heck dropped you off Mom?’ I tell him Lynette from Desjardins (the funeral home). He laughs and says ‘Oh God.’

Anyway, Friday afternoon I spent at Desjardins Funeral Home. I am always fine-tuning my funeral arrangements so that it will be less work for my family when the time comes.

This is my third time going as I went in May last year. I plan on making this an annual event just to fine-tune and also to get use to the place. The first year I went I felt choked, the second year it felt more like business and this year it felt like I was just renegotiating what I want in my living room with an interior decorator.

Although it is Nadalene who originally wanted me to set up my funeral, I really feel now that everyone should do it and honestly it is just something that needs to be done.

The funny thing is that the more I go and the more I know, the more I realize I can more or less do what I want. I also feel that at the time of my death Lynette will see me as a person not just a body.

I will share with you what went down this year.

Lynette and I go over all the details of what I want and switch up a few little things here and there. I tell her that I have bought a cemetery plot at St. Boniface Catholic Cemetery on Archibald and give her all the details. Tell her that I have also prepaid for the opening and closing of the plot.

We talk a little more about the urns and I tell her I want to check out the new ones they have this year as I am looking more for a box type.

We go down to the casket room again and I honestly don’t know why they have the caskets so crowded in that room. They are jam-packed with their quilted lining that gives me the creeps. I ask her if they have samples of the cardboard box that I want for cremation and she says no, just the wooden one for $740. The one I want is $15 and she tells me that it just is really a long cardboard box that looks similar to what a fridge would come in. I ask her if it has Kenmore stamped on the side and we both laugh.

The first year I thought I would want a niche in the wall and was told I couldn’t have a wooden urn because they dissolve and the cemetery doesn’t allow that. Last year I thought I would want a bio-degradable urn, but this year I decided against the bio-degradable as it looks like a white cotton cardboard box that you would take leftovers in from a restaurant and I don’t want that sitting in the church. It looks cheap when really it is more expensive than the wooden urns. I did like one wooden urn but am thinking I want to talk to the cemetery place and see if I just can’t have a nice wooden box that isn’t $500. I prefer what Karin made for her companion Zach.

I really like the idea of dust to dust; ashes to ashes.

I am only there for about an hour.

Costs of a funeral:

Arrangements: $840 (2007); $940 (2008 and 2009)

Transfer of body from hospital: $215 (2007); $265 (2008 and 2009)

Staff (four people): $495 (2007, 2008, and 2009)

Preparation for identification: $220 (2007 and 2008); $395 (2009). I ask why such a big hike and the answer was so lame that I don’t even remember it.

Basic facility: $295 (2007); $195 (2008 and 2009)

Cremation fee: $460 (2007); $485 (2008); $495 (2009)

Lead car (for priest, flowers, urn, etc): $125 (2007, 2008, 2009)

Limousine for family: $225 (2007, 2008, 2009)

Casket for cremation: $760 pressed board (2007); $15 for cardboard (2008 and 2009)

Urn: $760 for pewter (2007); $435 for bio-degradable (2008); $415 for wooden urn (2009)

*Memorial cards: $1.75 per card (2007 and 2008); $2.00 per card (2009) $600

Guest book, 50 thank you cards, and crucifix: $195 now no longer want from Desjardins and will buy on our own.

Luncheon sandwiches: $10 per person ($3,000) now no longer want from Desjardins, Mickey will get from that place in Steinbach.

Luncheon tea and coffee: $1.50 per person then $1.75 per person ($425) now no longer want from Desjardins, Mickey will get from that place in Steinbach.

Two hostesses: $250 now no longer want from Desjardins, Mickey will get from that place in Steinbach.

*Based on 300 people.

The funeral based on around 300 people attending would be about $4,165. Not including taxes, church costs, priest, death certificates, food and catering, other papers needed or cemetery costs.

After the meeting I ask Lynette to use the phone and she asks me if I am phoning to be picked up. When I tell her yes, she tells me she is going right by my place and can drop me off.

Just before exiting she tells me how great it is to see me again and how she is happy when she sees me. I tell her that I like to see her too, but hopefully if I see her before next year it will be socially and not business.

Some things I still know for sure:

Do not want to die at home.
Cremation cardboard box of $15 (do not upgrade this).
No public viewing.
Full Catholic Mass at Holy Family Church (incense and holy water).

I wrote this a week before Sheldon died; little did I know that I would be seeing Lynette again nine days later with Ben and Jennifer.

Monday, October 4, 2010

From Ribbon (Robyn)

Renee had the wonderful ability to make you laugh and cry all in the same moment.
I found her wisdom and wit irresistible. I don't believe that you could meet Renee and not love her.
I had no knowledge of the depth of relationships possible via a blog prior to meeting Renee's community. Renee offered the trust and kindness found in true friendships to everyone she met, which was admirable and pioneered the way for many friendships to come.
I miss Renee, and I will never forget her.
much love

Thursday, September 30, 2010

From Yoborobo (Pam Smallcomb)

The funny thing is, I don’t remember how I found Renee’s blog, but I did. I like to think that perhaps a Higher Power directed me there. Some force in the Universe knew I needed to meet this special person, and to read her words. And so, luckily, find her I did. I remember reading her current post at the time, and then I found myself reading over her old posts. In no time at all I fell in love with this smart and funny person. How could you not fall in love with her?
And so I followed her blog, and every time she posted, I scurried over to see what she had to say. Finally, after lurking for a good long while, I summoned up my courage and posted a comment.

.Renee visited my blog and commented, and a friendship was born. I once emailed to Renee that it was strange that I could miss her so much, seeing as how I had never actually met her. She told me that maybe we had never met in person before, but our hearts had. I love that. It is something I think about now that Renee has left us. Those who have loved her have joined hearts with her, and it will always be so.
I wrote this on my blog to Renee at Christmas:
“There is one friend who has, without a doubt, changed me forever. If I could bottle up the essence of Renee, it would have to include these things: unfailing courage, kindness beyond measure, a wicked sense of humor, intelligence, and above all things, a love of family and friends.
Because of Renee, I have remembered to hold these things high in my heart, and to forget the other million things I obsess over (my weight being one :). Because of Renee, I have met other amazing people who have renewed my faith in humanity.
So thank you, dear Renee. I wish you a Merry Christmas (free from any bats). I wish you a day surrounded by your loving family: good smells wafting in from the kitchen, old songs and memories floating on the air, happy chatter filling the rooms, your family near and your grandkids underfoot. Thank you so much for the gift of your friendship.”

Renee wrote:
“You darling friend. How I love you. What can I say, I am the one who is blessed, I am the one that found you.
Thank you dear friend.”

That was Renee. You got back two-fold from her, always. You knew you were a part of her heart. You could feel it, just like you can reach down and feel your arm or your leg. That in and of itself is amazing – but somehow, she managed to make all of her friends feel that way. She kept up with all of us: commented on our blogs, sent us emails that made us laugh, sympathized with us when our days were bad, genuinely worried over our problems, and well, loved us. Loved us.
There are not enough words to say how lucky I am to have known her. How lucky I am that our hearts met.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

From Linda Shepherd

Circling Her Head
Through the mysterious connections that are the Internet, I came to know a woman who was dying from cancer and determined that this should be a public journey. One that would be both a cautionary tale and a journal of hope for those who were on their own paths. This unassuming wife and mother, surrounded by death and dying, wrote how she had to live her life with "birds circling her head". There would be an end she knew, and soon. But while she was here, she reached out to the world and wrote unforgettable pieces of prose that became pure poetry of the soul.
Her name was Renee.
She shared happy moments, hilarious stories, insightful comments, tender memories and unselfish, ever abiding love for her family. People from all over the world responded to her simple honestly as she faced down the cancer every day with incredible courage, sometimes with humor, sometimes with rage and tears. We became a family.
The excruciating pain was unremitting. It's reality brought toxic drug cocktails and sleepless nights. She talked about the retching and compared stomach upsets to "bats beating to get out". Her writing was as real as it gets. And then, after a really hard night, she would post beautiful images and speak about the beauty that still surrounded her. We started a private correspondence. "What can I say to get your mind off this ugly cancer for a while", I asked. "Fuck cancer", she said. "Tell me a story."
And so it began.
Renee, do you remember that movie with Robin Williams, "What Dreams May Come"?
Wasn't that about suicide?
Sure, but it was more about life, I think. He became part of the color of the living world.
I remember he was trying to get to the tree his wife was painting before she died.
She painted her own future and her husband walked into it. That's what you do. You paint possibilities with images and your words. And we walk into them.
Renee's Room was a story about the journals of the mind. A place of beauty and wonder that can be accessed in the imagination, where the mind dwells in loveliness and scent. Renee could travel to these places in the way that all old souls do.
Renee could fly.

Renee, it sounds like a really bad couple of days. I know you have the drug cocktails. Can you get marijuana in Canada?
Oh yes, we get marijuana here.
No shit? I'll be right up!

Renee, have you ever heard of Joseph Campbell?
No, I don't think so.
You may have and not have known who the author was. Sometimes you say things that remind me of him. He was a teacher too, of all the interconnections in the human story.
I love when you talk about what you think is out there.
I want to believe, and I do, but I want to believe more.
How are your mom and Jacquie doing this week?
Everyone is okay, so far.
This is a huge thing that is happening in your family. Three women, one the patriarch, all dying together. Do you ever talk about that? About what that means to who is left behind and what that legacy is?
We do talk about it. Sometimes we laugh or cry. But it's all real. We have no time for relationships that are not real. We mostly love each other.
I believe that energy is neither created, nor destroyed. YOU will continue. As Joseph said, you are identified with the energy that is the soul, not the vehicle which is the body.
Like finds like. We have known each other many times before this.
The Bushman's Tale was a story about the effortless time travel of old souls who exist in a place where time ceases to have meaning. Only fear prevents us from seeing all there is. They show us the way.
Renee was a Pathfinder.
Renee, what's wrong?! Your new blog picture has such a brooding unrest, like a vague threat lurking in the background. And it's so red.
My mom is dying. All I can do is give her my undivided love and attention. I want to remember everything. I want to be with her all the time, but I can't.
What else is there that matters besides your love and devotion? Do you have a little memento from her to focus on? Like a lock of her hair? A favorite photo?

I hold her had when I can and tell her I love her.
This was so like Renee. She was in such pain. It was truly intolerable. Yet, she was the last person she worried about. All that mattered was her mother and her beloved family. Her writing became less frequent and she began to speak mostly in images. Some were unbelievably powerful pictures of her journey, of angels and fairies. Light and color and love appeared more and more often.
Circling Her Head was a story that spoke to the flight of the soul into dimensions we can only imagine. Her birds became the eagle that soared with her to where stars are born. She was entering a state of transition. She became Changing Woman.
"Remember to always walk in the pollen path of peace and blessing. Be still within yourself and know that the trail is beautiful."
Lose your fear. This is the knowledge we have all forgotten, that we are all one being.
We are Stardust. We are Golden.
We are billion years old carbon.
And we need to get ourselves back to the garden.
(Joni Mitchell)
Golden Stardust. I like that.
I am happy that our hearts have met.
I am happy that we both care.
I wish you lived next door.
I love you.

Renee died shortly after this last letter.
Whenever I need an example of courage and grace under fire, I will say the name Renee.
Whenever I need an example of selflessness and pure love, I will say the name Renee.
When I need to say goodbye. I will say "no".
I'll just say fuck cancer! And then I'll say...
See you later alligator!

A laughing little wisp of wind will lift m.y hair and I'll hear...
After while, crocodile!
I love you too and I'll hold you in my heart until we meet again.
xoxo right back at you
Love, Linda

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

From Marie Segal

I first met Renee when I got the “Renee Award”. My friend Cindy from Oops desperate blogger gave it to me. I went and I read about Renee at “Circling my Head”. I cried and sobbed and cried some more. This brought up things that I was not ready to deal with yet.

Let me explain, I had lost too many people to this disease called cancer, my family, my friends, my sister in law and my Mom was diagnosed with it. My mom made though, I am so relieved. I was mad really mad.

I wrestled with how I would tell Cindy that I did not want this award. Thanks anyway!!

I decided to go back and read the blog again. I saw the light that is Renee through my anger. I even commented and at that time I considered myself the unknown blogger. I did not want to become involved.

Renee I believe felt this. She comforted, she cajoled, she came, and visited, she wrote from her heart, and she loved, she played, she talked, she asked questions, she shared, she lived with a passion that I had not seen displayed so openly and freely.

Renee seemed to know when I was not right (she said she was psychic, I thought she was kidding) and she would ask pointed questions. I would tell her everything. I was not embarrassed to tell her things. It was like she kept my feelings in her hands gently and with large, large amounts of respect.

Something inside me shifted deep inside by meeting and knowing Renee, I will never be the same because of her friendship.

The more I thought about her and met people that were close to her the more I knew she did this with everyone she met.

She would weave us together and we are still together today, I love that. It was very real and very exciting and very scary all at the same time. I loved being able to trust someone so much! To know that she cared for me as much as she said she did and it was real. The year that I knew Renee has changed my life forever and I will never be the same ever again and I am so glad!!

Renee I love you so much. I talk to you every day. I know you hear me cause sometimes you answer ;-D

Fly Dear one, fly!

Marie Segal

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

From Babs

Dear Family, Friends and Readers of Renee,

I am truly honored to be included in a group that Renee called her friends.

I first discovered Renee through reading her comments on KJ's blog. She was so cleverly funny, sincerely kind, and genuine sounding in her appreciation and love of others, that I immediately wanted to know her myself. I clicked on her name to get to her blog and was blown away to discover that she was sick. Very sick. I couldn't believe it, as I'd never have known it by reading her comments to others. Renee was all about others, and not herself.

I was a little dismayed to see she had so many followers, but left a comment anyway, never dreaming she would have the time or interest to visit one more blog. But visit she did. It was never a 'generic' comment she left on my blog, but one that made me know she was actually reading, and knowing me,,,,me personally. I am including a favorite conversation I had with Renee. It's a comment I made on her blog, and her reply to it. It was a post about a fun group forming a virtual "Gypsy Caravan" to travel the world, spreading good cheer. I wanted so badly to join in and be a part of the fun, but didn't feel like I should jump into someone else's dream, uninvited. Maybe I could just follow along from the sidelines and enjoy watching the tour.

My comment:

"On the road again
like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
we're the best of friends, insisting that the world keep turning our way,,,,,"

oh,,,'scuse me, I got caught up in the moment.Willie says he and I can sit in, do a few sets in your Caravan Show if you're needin any more entertainers.

January 27, 2010 11:43 PM

And Renee's reply:

Oh darling you must join and you are gypsy 24. You and Willie can sing even that same song everyday if you both don't know any others.

Love you darling Babs.

Renee xoxo

January 28, 2010 6:24 AM

To me, this is the essence of Renee. To include all in her circle of love. To love when she didn't feel like it. To have fun and be witty while in such pain. To attend to others needs. Her grace and strength always shining.

I am so proud to be able to say that I know Renee, and I am her friend. I think of her daily and watch for her in all things beautiful in this world. Till we meet again Dear Renee,,,I will quote you: "Thanks for the priviledge".


Oklahoma, USA

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

From nollyposh


It has taken me a long time to write these words about our Dearest Renee...
Because her passing touched me in a place so deep within,
that it was too painful a process for my Heart..
For her passing into Spirit from my Life created a big hole...
and that was where for a time, that i fell... on my knees, deep into the darkness of loss...
Where my tears fell and my fears grew and my Heart broke and shattered like glass...
Our Dearest Renee was *gone*
And if the vibrant, the talented,
the completely Loved Renee could
Then perhaps so could i too
in the blink of an eye...
My fears shouted this to me at night and whispered to me in my daylight hours
in the days, in the Lifetime since her death...
In this place that i fell, where even the brightest Sun could not reach into the depths of my darkness...
She had cancer and so once did i, so where were the differences between us? i wondered
And if she could not find her way through the darkness...
Then were we so different to each other?
So what did my Dearest Renee, my teacher, My~self, do?
She but took me by the hand and lead me down through the tunnels of my Fears
she went knowingly with me, with her eyes wide open and armed and ready like a soldier...
And like an avenging Angel she showed me how to fight the demons of my darkest places
and she did so with such vitality and bravery that it took my breath away...
She was sliced and bruised and bled by her monsters and yet she fought on
as i helplessly watched on with only my tears as a salve for her jagged cuts...
But did she fall? Never for she made her fears, her strengths, as only an Angel can
and she knitted them into a shawl, to keep her warm, and so when the voices tried to visit her in the darkness
she simply pulled her shawl closer like a shield... For she knew the thread was strong
because it was created from the Love of her Family and Friends and her Bloggy sista's in the Worlde Beyond
My sista, my Friend, Our Renee was and still is, i Believe, an Angel
who through teaching us how to die with Dignity
taught us All how to Live in Love
For that is All there is
...and MY Renee taught me that