Many Times Over

On the verge of a migraine, day 2.

I’ve been more than tempted to just say, “Not this week…”  Staring off into space thinking about where we’ll go next, my blurred vision focused on a book shelf. Clearing on a black binding, I suddenly realized the season.

I drew it from its spot, wedged firmly between other versions of the same book in different formats and different languages. Flipping open the cover, I remembered why I had this treasure. The volume that caught my attention, didn’t originally belong to me. It does now, by default.

I’ll stress this up front. My love gave me gifts. The gift of acceptance, the gift of care; gifts of hope and light that meant a lot to me then, but even more to me now. The greatest of all these – love – has always been there, remains and endures.

I reiterate these truths from a season past:

I don’t want to own false grief.

I’m not happy about losing Jeff. I’m not angry, either.

I’m not questioning, “Why?” I know why, and I’m thankful.

I don’t want to own false hope.

I want to have faith that where I am headed will someday make sense to me, and maybe to some others.

I don’t want to own the responsibility of false vision, knowing all that lies ahead.

I want to affirm that life’s adventure is a gift, gladly opening each day as such.

I don’t want to own a false sense of security.

I want to believe with my whole soul that, as paths change, they will continue to be clearly marked in my rear-view mirror – under the direction of the only GPS necessary: God’s Positioning System.

 Ephesians 2:6: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (NIV)

 I do believe. I do believe I’ve been gifted. I do believe I’ve been gifted, many times over.

Quote for the Week:

2018 03 27 the greatest of gifts became even greater jakorte

 

Take a Right

Before we were married, before we lived together, Jeff and I attended a work Christmas party together.

He’d had a few drinks and was tuckered out from dancing, so I offered to drive his truck home. He gave me some initial directions and then sat back for the ride. When, I’d reached the end of the first leg, I asked for the next set of directions. I had to wake him up, but he answered quite coherently. I followed his advice until I sort of knew where I was. As we neared Roger’s Highway, I wanted to be sure I didn’t miss his mom’s house, so I asked for guidance, again.

He was momentarily confused when I woke him up for that. But, after assessing our surroundings, told me to turn left onto Roger’s. I already knew that. “How far I should go?” I asked. Jeff said he’d let me know.

When it seemed I’d be driving longer than I expected, I looked over to see that he was asleep, again. So, I nudged him awake, again.

“Oh,” he said. “Where are we?” I read him the street sign we were passing. “Ok,” he said. “Take the next right.” So, I did. Another minute went by and nothing looked familiar, so I asked. “Jeff, where do I go next.”

“Oh,” he said. “Take the next right.”  I drove along on a dark country road for another few minutes. When I came to a set of railroad tracks, I had a feeling something had gone wrong. I came to a stop, pulled on his sleeve, and said, “Jeff, I don’t think this is right…”

Suddenly, he sat up straighter in his seat, turned to me and in all seriousness asked, “Where are we?!”

“What do you mean ‘Where are we?! I’ve been following your directions!”

“Oh,” he said. “I was sleeping!” I was startled into silence, while Jeff craned his neck around to try and get his bearings.

“Well, I’m not sure…” he started. Interrupted by clanging bells, flashing lights and the lowering of the railroad gate, he seemed even more stunned. “You must have missed mom’s,” he mused. I reminded him I’d been following his directions. Jeff reminded me that he’d been asleep.

“Are you awake now?” I asked. “Yeah, I’m awake now,” he affirmed, gesturing grandly toward the train rumbling by us.

“That’s great,” I nodded. Shivering and lost, I told Jeff to get out of the truck and change seats with me. “But… we’re almost home!,” he countered. Halfway out of the driver’s door, I half-laughed and full-on snorted “uh, huh.… and you’re going to stay awake and get us there!”

Another time, on the way back from a casino run to Mt. Pleasant, late at night, almost early in the morning, I was once again the designated driver. This time Jeff hadn’t had anything to drink, but he was super sleepy. So, I took the reins and drove the three of us back to my apartment. With Jeff in the passenger seat and my out-of-town friend in the back seat, we’d been on the nearly empty highway for about 30 minutes. She and I were keeping each other awake and talking and laughing, when suddenly Jeff flung his arm across in front of me, pointed and screamed, “Deer!!!!”

I, immediately, (unfamiliar with recommended and unrecommended deer avoidance actions) slammed on the brakes. My friend found her front half and one wildly waving arm over the center console, accidentally jabbing Jeff as she tumbled. In full-on panic, Jeff grabbed for the dash board. His head shot toward me as he bellowed, “Huh? What? Whoa! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?”

“What do you mean ‘What am I doing?’” I shouted back. “You said there was a deer!”

“I didn’t see any deer!” he yelled. “I WAS SLEEPING!”

“You pointed at it!” My friend and I almost simultaneously shouted back.

Jeff never truly believed that I had been following his direction to his mom’s house. I’m not sure he believed me about the deer, either. At least this time, I had a witness. A slightly bruised, but very gracious witness. She and I still laugh about that. 

Quote for the Week: 

2018 03 20 some memories anchor jakorte

 

Sleep Talking

Pancreatitis was the beginning of the avalanche. Up until then, we had both believed that Jeff’s health would improve. A little weight loss, a bit of exercise, a healthier eating plan should have, could have, might have worked. But, we never got around to it.

And, I do mean ‘we.’ I nagged occasionally, but I enjoyed the wonderful meals Jeff created. I enjoyed going out to dinner, and breakfast and lunch on the weekends. We’d get on track, get off track, restart. All the while, my weight was going up, too.

After Pancreatitis, everything changed. Because, at that point, the trouble Jeff was in became permanent. I nagged a lot more, about everything. Medications, money, meals, sales and purchases for the store. But I didn’t take my own advice, either.  

Pancreatitis takes the body on a downward journey. Everything you do can help, and everything you do could just not matter, either. Jeff never gave up hope. He simply accepted his new reality and went on with his life. I didn’t fare so well in that department. I’d had hope, then was left with nothing to cling to.

The pain and balancing pain medications were a losing battle, as well. Some caused auditory hallucinations – not creepy voices, but the continual sound of a low playing radio just outside your reach. They occasionally caused situational hallucinations.

Following one particular subsequent pain-related hospital stay, the doctors added two more medications to his regime. Methadone and morphine were prescribed for continual long-term use. As I’ve mentioned earlier, Jeff could fall asleep anywhere. So, the added drugs only increased that possibility.

Even pre-opiates, though, Jeff and I had some interesting conversations, some serious confusion and one horribly harrowing incident which led me to always double check if I was speaking with an awake or sleeping-talking Jeff.

Quote for the Week:

2018 03 13 just because you can see through the snow jakorte 

Fair Warning

I guess this is the part where I have to decide. Well, I’ve actually decided.

I guess this is the part where you need to decide.

It’s easily discernable I’ve been sharing in past tense. Equally, I’m sure you’ve figured out ‘A Year of Memories’ leads to an obvious end.

The thing is, if talking about death makes you nervous, you might want to jump off here.

If you think finding humor in death is disrespectful, you’ll not want to continue on.

Just know, I plan to be honest. I won’t be irreverent. I certainly don’t want you to be upset or drive you away.

I can tell you that most of what’s coming has been shared with Jeff’s father, and he was able to laugh along with me. If Jeff was alive, I am certain he’d laugh with me, too.

Still, understand, there are some heartbreaking things I did not get to share. If Roger was still alive, I might have eventually shared those, too. Then, again, maybe not.

So, let me say, thanks for hanging in there, so far. I’d like you to stay. I’ll understand if you don’t.

Of course, I’m hoping if I can cry a little and still laugh about his life, our life, my life, that maybe you’ll stay, cry a little and laugh with me, too.

I’m thinking it’s only fair to give you a little time to think about it.

Until next Tuesday. After 8:00 PM (or so.)

Quote for the Week:

2018 03 06 some things remain just as beautiful when shattered jakorte