~ untethered ~
I slurp when I drink hot coffee or tea but you already knew that, didn't you? You were just too kind to mention it to me. That's one of the things I, already, miss most. Your kindness. Oh, don't get me wrong; you could be meaner than a two-headed snake when provoked but, ninety-nine percent of time, you were kind. In fact, I'm having trouble remembering those un-kind moments...so I won't try.
Today is the first week anniversary of your death. Will it always be thus? Counting the days, the weeks, the months, the years, the decades? Will it always hurt this much? I hope not. It's easy to see how people make really dumb mistakes when under duress. I find myself telling people things that are totally stupid, perhaps even, unintentionally, hurtful but my brain doesn't suss it out until later then I apologize only to have someone give me the gift of grace and say, “It wasn't meant that way nor did I take it that way.”
Although Melvin performed, heroically, CPR for more than half an hour, you died instantly; your great heart simply stopped. Another gift of grace; bless the name of God. Daniel and Charles heard their pagers go off and they came quickly; they helped keep the dogs calm. Melvin told me Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent parked himself at the bathroom door entrance and watched, carefully and intently, as you kneeled over Dave. Elizabeth and Mike, along with the rest of their EMT team came and they also did everything they could. It wasn't enough; God's love for you was greater than my love for you and you went Home. You were needed there more than here...how can that possibly be? God granted you those last two gifts you so desperately wanted. He spared you the agony of the worsening pain of cancer and you died at home. For some reason, He choose not to give me my request; to be at your side at the end, yet I trust Him. His ways are not my ways...still, Beloved, I am struggling.
I was preparing for Mom and Daddy's 60th wedding anniversary party when Melvin got in touch with me. Until I understood, it was chaotic but there was nothing I could do at home so I stayed to do what I was asked to do for Mom and Daddy. It was surreal though, Dave, and I felt split in two, at one and the same time, floating and wading through mire. Beloved, I am struggling.
Stephanie came home with me; we drove the truck back, loaded to the gills with furniture picked up along the way. Your Grandmother's pink, horsehair Victorian era sofa is now in our parlor just as you wanted. I'm not having it, nor the matching chair, re-covered. Perhaps, in time, I'll change my mind but now, for the immediate future, no more changes, please. No more changes. Steph and I also towed the new to me 1965 Scotty “canned ham” vintage camper. You know I'll never sell it, don't you, Dave? We bought that, sight unseen, when we were in South Carolina last month. Steph called me to say, “I found it!” and you and I bought it via e-mail, telephone and snail mail. What fun even though I knew you'd never go camping with me. You said, “We'll buy it for you because that's been a dream since I first met you but I'm not camping. The last time I camped, Uncle Sam paid me.”
Looking back, we crammed as much life into living these last few months as anyone could have done. Did you know? Did you have some sort of premonition? I didn't. I thought we'd have until spring, at least until my birthday before we'd say good-bye. His ways are not my ways...Beloved, I'm struggling.
Dave, I kept my promises to you; no open casket and no public histrionics. There were almost one hundred people at visitation on Tuesday night. The casket was re-claimed barn wood made by the Amish and draped with the first quilt I ever made. When I'd complained about my mistakes, you'd say, “It's beautiful to me” and, towards the end, you asked if I minded draping it over the casket. Now I wish I had a picture but what I do have is the rocking chair they made from the same barn wood. It's in the kitchen where you used to sit; it brings me comfort.
You remember all those photos you picked out when you found out you had cancer? Kyle was here and he made it so we could see them on a television at the visitation; I think that was the first time they'd ever had photos on television at the funeral home. Everyone love watching the photos; the funeral director did a fabulous job. Bob and Joan said, “Dave's was a life well lived!” Wasn't that nice? It was also wonderfully true.
I've always hated those little pieces of paper at funerals so Kyle and I put together a program, he had it printed and it was made available at visitation and graveside service. We used a Celtic knot border and, in each corner, the Trinity symbol. Kyle did a great job; it was lovely.
Dawn, a blogger friend, gave the surprise gift of doing Sabbath Keeping last Sunday; the first quote was by J.M.M.Barrie from Peter Pan, “To die will be an awfully big adventure.” You like that, eh? I can see you chuckling now. That was on the second page of your program; Dawn had so many wonderful quotes; they blessed me so much! So many from Tazewell and the e-community have written nice notes. Misha sent a lot of them and Timi, Jane and Lance have kept in touch via e-mail; they know you because they know me. What a wonderful gift you gave me this summer...that trip to Eastern Europe where friendships were made and forged. How you have blessed me all these years!
Graveside service at Hollywood Cemetery was, dare I say it, lovely. The day was beautiful; warmish and the overhead canopy of trees still shedding autumn leaves as sunlight flitted through almost bare branches. JW drove me, another gracious gift, and when we arrived, you were already there. There were so many people who came to show their love and respect for you. Jerome, of course, was late but only a minute or two. I loved it, such a sense of “normalcy” because he's always late. After the piper played “Going Home”, Jerome opened the service and then you would have laughed. Jerome said while he didn't know you well, he knew enough to know you were a man of strong character and will, secure in your masculinity and loved living with me on the farm. Then he said he knew these things because he knew me and it would take such a man to marry me. Everyone laughed; it's all true.
Dewey spoke next and talked of the times y'all had as stock brokers. He said, “Dave was steady and consistent, no one had to worry that the Dave they saw on Thursday was a different Dave they saw last Monday.” He said you had a moral compass that was true north. When he said that, my universe tilted, again, because I realized I was your magnet and I'd lost my bearing. God is my help meet now but I'm still tilted, still struggling, still off center and trying to find true north. Although you tried to prepare me, time and time again, the lessons didn't take as well as you'd hope. Beloved, I am struggling.
The American Legion folded and presented the American flag and thanked me, on behalf of a grateful nation, for your service. They gave you a 21-gun salute and played taps then Tom, the piper, played Amazing Grace. At the third verse, he turned and began walking away; we were left with the lingering notes of the pipes wafting across the graves. Everything, save the most important thing, was perfect. You were there but as the guest of honour, not by my side as you've been lo, these many years.
As many as wanted went to O'Tooles for sharing, caring, a meal, a beer or ice tea. I didn't want anything but then saw Carol had a dark beer; that piqued my interest so Joe ordered me one. It's called Legend by a Richmond micro-brewery; how appropriate!
So, here I am back to the first week of firsts. Daniel comes, almost every night, to check on me, yet another gracious gift. Gaynell just called to check on me, Steph calls every day and others call and send cards. People are so kind but my heart is torn. It's almost too much to bear yet I don't want them to not come by, to not call. Again, there's that feeling of being split in two, at one and the same time, floating and wading through mire. You were right, the loneliness is unbearable but I was right too. The dogs, although grieving, still need to be fed and I try, as much as possible, to help them grieve. I'm taking life slow and am hunkering down for the winter. Thistle Cove Farm will nurture and hold me close against the cold winds of winter; God will nurture and hold me close against the loss of you. Beloved, I'm struggling.
Blessings ~ Dave, a life well lived ~ people who came to visitation and graveside to show their love and respect for Dave ~ God, who holds me in His righteous right hand of mercy ~