Only Imperative

This evening is sadly more unscripted than usual.

I meant to move forward, but there’s another story to tell tonight.

There’s no reason to relive that grief, when other’s are so…

… fresh, isn’t really the word I want to use, but it gets the point across, and tonight, I’m tired of searching for perfection.

There’s one thing I’ve learned about this business of living and dying.

Even if you know, it’s still a surprise.

There’s no way to prepare, but we try to do it, anyway.

We tell ourselves “If this happens, I’ll do that.”

“When that happens, I’ll do this.”

“I’ll be….”

Strong. Sad. Brave. Devastated. Lost.

Reasonable. Relieved. Reassured.

Alone or in groups: family, friends, acquaintances.

You will be: all of them, at once, in a moment, breath by breath.

Whether you’ve been through this before or not, the emotional war is never won.

Because, there’s nothing to win in the face of loss.

There’s giving what you can and taking what you need. Relying on each other.

And my only imperative:

May Your Happiest Memories Stay with You Through This Time

and Forever into the Future.

I had the strangest reaction today. I thought, “I should call Mom.” And, I realized it’s been 18 years since I broke down in CVS trying to find the best last Father’s Day Card. Even if there was a direct line to heaven, there’d never be a data plan big enough to cover it.

Service, Support

What I walked in blindly to was service planning and a sort of support group. How long did the gathering go? I wasn’t really aware of time. I don’t think it was very long, but I remember my mother was anxious to leave once all the details had been vaguely recorded.

During the course of the evening, the sealed-in fate of the 70’s forbidden magazine story re-surfaced.

Learning I wasn’t the only one Jeff’d told that story to, brought on another not-quite-so-strangled smile. The fact that he told me and his best friend created a kindred connection for me. Amusing, but odd, and oddly comforting, as well.

Jeff must have thought it was important enough to make sure that more than one someone would know. What I can’t figure is why he felt that tidbit would have been so important.

I get goosebumps thinking about the fore-telling quality of that particular narrative. The unbelievable comedic timing heralded divine intervention, yet, dragged suspicion behind it.

Did he know something I didn’t? Maybe, he didn’t consciously know anything, but his subconscious was like, “Hey! Tell that story. It’ll for sure live on. They’ll laugh about it after you’re gone.” Is that too much to believe?

The service hymns were and weren’t easy. There was the pressure of appropriate funeral hymns, but I outspokenly chose the ones Jeff was most enthusiastic about. The ones he always enjoyed singing were the ones I imagined he’d want to hear if he was there. The ones he knew the longest, felt the deepest, exalted his simplified belief, sweetly tinged with childlike acceptance.

I had no preference for passages. Jeff’s father did and I was glad for that.

I wrote my portion of the eulogy that night. The Reverends thought I might have something to say, or want to say something. I was assured if the time came and I could not speak or if I just didn’t want to say it myself, they would read my thoughts aloud for me.

I don’t know how I came up with the words. It’s not at all unusual for me to return to musings past, just to be astonished at my own thoughts. This time, I obviously imagined something, but I’m still a little confused about who I thought I was going to be speaking to.

Quote for the Week:

Further In. (The Danger of Dying in October.)

Just a few steps into the building, I happened to glance up.

The peculiar idiom, “stopping dead in your tracks,” came to life.

As I scanned the wrap-around floating shelves above the lobby, I barked out a laugh.

My mother was still moving toward the meeting room so I grabbed her arm.

“Oh, my God, Mom!” I croaked. “Look!”

What I thought was amusing, my mother thought was appalling.

It was October. Either, the 4th or 5th. Michigan’s got quite a thing for Halloween.

Tightly packed above my head were skeletons, ghosts and some extra-large Styrofoam tombstones emblazoned with “R.I.P.”

I stood there a few moments longer smiling and crying, and then scooted down the left hall to save the office manager from my mother’s indignation. “You should have taken that down!” she announced.

“It’s fine,” I told her over Mom’s shoulder. “I think it’s kinda funny, myself.”

The room was pretty full. I think my first choice of seat was the fireplace ledge, but that was vetoed by just about everybody. Someone came up with a folding chair.

Who was there? The neighbor couple from across the street, Jeff’s father, my mother, my mother’s husband, Jeff’s family and friends, and surprisingly two clergy.

Another unimagined oh-no moment. Jeff’s father was Lutheran. Jeff and I were Methodist. I expected our Methodist pastor would officiate since we were Methodist. Jeff’s father craved the comfort of his own Lutheran traditions. At some point, before gathering with the group, this had been discussed and the two Reverends had agreed to work together.

The result was Jeff had double Reverends. Odd, but not.

Following his larger-than-life life momentum, going big and large into the afterlife seemed appropriate.

Quote for the Week:

October-ish

October-ish. That’s how I’d describe the last few days here in Michigan. Of course, those few days were sandwiched between an oppressive humidity wave and today’s June like warmth and afternoon winds.

Anyway, the weather is what’s put me back on track. It was October and Jeff had died and things were moving along around me; absolutely progressing without me.

After the funeral planning, the funeral pants and the arrival of my mother, came more things I’d never thought of. More situations I’d never imagined.

Again, I have no idea how this happened, but there was to be another pre-funeral sort of planning thing. I couldn’t figure out what could possibly be left to plan. I walked into this one blindly.

Somehow, I learned that there would be light refreshments. I couldn’t fathom arriving empty-handed so I bundled up a beautiful, fruit bouquet. In my usual fruitlessness, I’ve searched the web for the name of the company. There are a lot of those companies, now.

After a dozen absolutely wrong search engine responses, I finally deleted: fruit, basket, flower, bouquet. Rethinking my approach, I entered ‘edible.’ Ah, yes. Edible Arrangements!

You wouldn’t think that mattered so much, but I used them for a few years after because they had been so absolutely accommodating.

The order had been placed by a friend in New Jersey, with specific instructions to not include any pineapple. Pineapple pretty much makes up most of the flowers. My arrangement had none, but was still gorgeous and generous.

I haven’t a clue what other refreshments were offered. Or who made them. Or bought them. But, I definitely do remember a necessary cup of Sprite in my possession.

Because, before I’d even made it from the front door through the lobby, I choked on simultaneous laughter and tears.

Quote for the Week:

laps

I’ve come to respect my constant gentle oceanic laps of memory.

I’ve come to accept the ebb and flow of universal reminders; receiving laps sent to calm the fearfulness that I will somehow simply forget.

I’ve come to appreciate the awkward rhythms, just a tad off perfect timing.

I’ve come to expect the swell and crash when seasons change; when calendar markings recall.

I’ve come to regard myself part of the shoreline, evolving, as it does.

I’ve come to weather lapse as nothing more than uncontrollable retreat and resurgence, wearing away lines I’ve drawn and re-drawn until the shape of my existence has changed so unsuddenly, I am startled to find myself where I am.

Always missing the ocean.

Quote for the Week: 2020 05 19 The difference between gentle laps of memories and jakorte