A View to Goodbye

The laughter was a much needed segway that softened what I needed to hear next.

In my attempt to stay on-path with Jeff’s wishes, I completely failed to recognize some somber facts. When Roger told me that he’d asked the funeral home to prepare Jeff because he wanted to see him, I was shocked.

How could it never have crossed my mind that his parent would want to see him one last time. Or that his sister was still waiting to see him. Or that his brother needed to say goodbye, as well as everyone else there.

It certainly wasn’t an intentional blockage of family or selfishness. I was honestly disconnected, from everything and everyone. Disengaged, I guess, until I found myself raising my hand.

Jeff’s father explained that I didn’t have to go in to see Jeff if I did not want to. That I could go into the room but not approach if I did not want to. Or I could, if I wanted to.

Roger held my hand and we stood in the back of the room, as others made their way upfront. I expected a casket. I don’t know why.

Instead, though, the man I thought I would never see again, lay on a well-disguised table. Jeff, tucked beneath a lovely quilt, looked just like himself, asleep.

We moved closer and stood in front of the few seats that had been assembled.

Jeff’s dad asked me softly if I wanted to say goodbye. I didn’t. I didn’t want to say goodbye and hadn’t expected I’d have to. If would have been much less painful to not.

But gently lead, I did. I touched Jeff’s shoulder, his brow, told him I loved him. I cradled his face, kissed his cheek and took the hardest walk of my life, away.

It may seem odd to explain it this way, but Roger’s arrangements were a most compassionate gift. I understand it was something he needed. I understand it wasn’t intended to serve only me.

So, while the image of Jeff, deceased in our bedroom, remains vivid, I also have that last time; peaceful, unexpected, important, comforting, real. All, that I didn’t know I needed.

Quote for the Week:

2020 03 10 There is no shame in self-focused grief jakorte

familiar purrs and sleepy snorts

I am thankful I wasn’t there.

I don’t think I could have stood to see the indignities required.

Not that my imagination didn’t go there.

Still, I imagine it is best as an unsupported vision.

The real vision would have surely been far worse.

 

At the end of the day, or at least my end of the day with other people, I politely passed on so many sincere offers.

No, I don’t want to stay somewhere else tonight.

No, I don’t want anyone to stay with me, either.

No, I don’t want Sadie to go home with you.

No, I want Sadie here with me and Miss Fred.

No, thank you, I’m not hungry.

No, please do not order me food, even if you were going to order for yourself, anyway.

No, I don’t think I need anything.

No, no need to call me later.

No, I don’t want to call you later, either.

Ok, yes, I will call you if I need anything, but, no, I won’t need anything tonight.

I’ve lost the time between the fish sandwich and the goodbye questions; and the time between the goodbye questions and turning down the bed covers. I slept in our bed, on my usual side with Sadie and Fred.

Freddie took up her usual awkward spot on my knees. Sadie lay by my side as if she was still happily sandwiched in her regular space between Jeff and me.

“I know you won’t understand this,” I told them, scratching simultaneous circles on their heads. “But, it’s just us girls now.” Fred blinked, said something in her scraggly voice, took a turn and snuggled in. Sadie rolled over closer and uncharacteristically licked my chin.

I fell asleep surrounded by the warmth of beating hearts and the comforting rhythm of familiar purrs and soft sleepy snorts.

Quote for the Week: 2020 01 28 animals are acutely aware jakorte

The Missing Third

(Ok, ugh. Out of order. Somehow  I managed to skip this post between Around the Corner and Murky. It’s a big important emotional chunk, too. So a restart – to bring us back to that point.)

I blew the car horn three times, in quick succession, then, let one long loud one linger.

That sort of worked.

Jeff didn’t wake with his usual start. He opened his eyes slowly and stared straight ahead.

“Do you see it?” I asked

“See what?”

I considered Jeff’s sleep-talking history and noticed that he didn’t seem to be blinking.

“Hey!” I solidly smacked his arm. “Are you awake?”

He shrugged away from me like I was a loon. “Yeah, I’m awake. A car horn woke me up.”

“That was me! I wanted you to see! Look!” I pointed.

“Look at what?” Jeff searched the distance. “You used the horn?”

“Yes! To wake you up.”

“Why didn’t you just wake me up?” He puzzled.

‘Ugh!” I threw my hands up, pointing again. “Look at the rainbows! There are three of them!”

Jeff squinted and swiveled. “I only see two.”

“There are three!” I directed him to tree-top landmarks; to guide his eye up to the faintest of the triple arches.

“I don’t see it.” He repeated.

Realizing my vision might be clearer because of my colored lenses, I whipped off my sunglasses. “Look through these!” I demanded.

“These are way too small.” Jeff laughed, pinwheeling them.

Overcome with urgency, I shouted “I don’t care! Just put them on, before it’s too late!”

“Ok,” he agreed, but furthered his logical reluctance.

“You know they’re gonna get stretched out and won’t fit your pea-head, anymore.” Said, the man with a head the approximate exaggerated  size of an early-season pumpkin and the scale-confirmed weight of a bowling ball, to the woman who buys her ballcaps and sunglasses in the youth sections of stores.)

I watch Jeff bob his head up and down, peering through them.

“Nope,” he re-concluded. “Don’t see it.”

By then, the third had almost faded away. An unsettling sadness rolled through my heart into my eyes. Jeff stared at me, shocked. “Why are you crying?”

“I really wanted you to see it,” I whispered, to avoid sobbing. “It’s very… comforting.”

“Comforting?” Jeff repeated, his expression equally confused and concerned. “Why is it comforting?”

“I don’t know… it just…  is.” I was just as baffled by my reaction as he was.

I was so truly disappointed for him. In those few moments, it had felt like such an important thing; significant.

I’d never seen a triple rainbow before, and Jeff still hadn’t.

Quote for the Week: 2019 09 10 delicate things jakorte

(about this photo, i was sitting at a sunny high top table taking a little rest during a warmish march traverse city wine tour earlier this year. i looked over at this nook, and thought, “i should take a picture.” then, i thought, “why?” then, i thought, “well, those are some interesting angles.” then, i thought, “i’m gonna look like a loon.” but, it kept drawing my attention, so i got up and took a short burst series. back on the bus, i scrolled through some of the day’s photos while waiting for the rest of the riders to board. brought tears to my eyes.  i can’t always see exactly what i’m shooting in sun glares. happens a lot on weekend morning strolls. especially with spider webs and rainbows.)