Sweet Pea: Let Me Explain….

I had the thought to nip this in the bud early this morning when it seemed that what I had sort of managed to not look at miserably, was well on its way to misinterpretation.

Birthdays, I’ve come to realize, are importantly more thankful than death days. If it weren’t for birthdays, we’d not have the pain of the other day. There has to be one before the other, and in life there will always be both.

Appreciate all the support and advice, and request you not be offended by how it made me giggle.

Of course, the cemetery would likely be safe. I’ve rarely run into another living soul, there. I’d not have to keep a 6-foot distance from the markers, although the markers are safely keeping at least a 5-foot distance from each other.

Irony. I always keep wipes in my car in case I get by to tend to Jeff and Sally and Nannee. And Poppa Vincze. Although I’d not met him, he’s the other half of Nannee’s package deal. Oddly, enough, I cart around disinfecting Lysol wipes, to be exact. They conveniently come in-bulk from Costco and can only be tolerated when not used in an enclosed, unventilated environment with no opening windows, aka outside.

So, yes, I could have. Easily. I chose not to for residuals. I’d have to get gasoline and avoid the growing temptation to shop for Sprite and chips. I’m sure that seems light to some folks.

I’ve managed to stay safe by not having a face-to-face or even remotely public experience for an official four weeks. By sheer coincidence, I haven’t marketed since March 7th.

In addition to a life-long, silent, you-can’t see-it and would never know it, non-deadly auto-immune deficiency, I’ve been additionally warring with my body for control for thirteen months now. Finally, with correct medical intervention, I’m just beginning to feel progress in that battle.

The thing is, the deficiency won’t kill me. It can, however, heartily assist the Corona Virus in  accomplishing that.

So, I wasn’t any more lonely this morning than I ever am. I was thinking deeply about being thankful for the birthday and making the responsibly right choice for me.

I’m lonelier now in a lovely eye-opening way.

Thank you all for the love.

I miss you all who feel the same, today.

I know we keep saying it, but, damn it, we’ve really got to.

I’m thinking a grave-side Joke-Fest in July. Bring your best stupid joke, awful pun, long story.

I’ll buy out Lev’s and meet you there.

2020 04 25 birthday and the day god made you mine jakorte

 

Then and Still

 

The others whom Jeff left behind supported and needed support. Each at the table had at least two dedicated decades of love; some had the full 42.

I was acutely aware I was the one with the least of his lease on life.

In my mind, then and still, the foundations of long-standing years made their loss more severe. I imagined, then and still, the burden of that type of pain surely surpassed mine.

My heart hurt, then and still, for all who had the fortune of Jeff, longer. I only had him for 8 and I was lost.  If I had had him just a moment longer, I would have hurt one more moment worse.

Somehow, some things were already settled. I wasn’t aware of anyone else’s desires, nor did I ask.

My insistence on cremation was the echo of Jeff’s desire. I didn’t want that or not want that. It was what he wanted; therefore, honor worthy.

Surrounded by an invisible buffer, pressurized, cocooned in an observationist air pocket, though not physically isolated, I felt alone. And that was not a reflection of anyone present.

In my seat, I was alone. In my specific type of grief born of my specific role, I was alone. I was just as alone as the other roles represented that morning. None of our grief was the same; couldn’t be, shouldn’t be, would never be.

When we got down to business, the first task was verbally gathering family history and personal information – the sort you need for an obituary.

I was immensely grateful my brother took over proof-reading and corrections. Multiple re-writes and edits later, I felt a bit bad for the funeral planner kid. Which isn’t a derogatory statement. He was young; 20’s-ish.

Whenever asked a decision-required question, Jeff’s father would, in turn, ask it of me. Though deferred to, my choices considered heritage.

Like purposefully choosing the funeral pamphlet featuring a semi-silhouetted blue-hued barn, silo, and field. There couldn’t have been any other choice worth considering.

Quote for the Week: 2020 02 18 Unless we allow others the opportunity to prove 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

Arranged Around

 

When my brother and sister-in-law arrived, it was confusing and surreal. They lived an hour and a half away. We hadn’t talked about them coming. They’d just seen Jeff the day before, yet, there they were, and I was grateful.

I don’t know what the inside situation looked like to them. (I’ve never thought to ask.) We went outside to get some air and talk and my brother asked questions I hadn’t even thought about. Did I know which funeral parlor? When was the funeral planning meeting? Who was writing the obituary?

I don’t know how or whom I got that information from, how the arrangements were made or by whom. I don’t even know who told my brother – it might have been me and it might have been the next day or the day after. It must have been Jeff’s dad, Roger, who had to do the arranging. I still vacillate between thankfulness and guilt for the protection.

Everything was arranged more quickly than I expected, which seems silly because I didn’t actually know what to expect. I wasn’t part of the planning for Sally or Nannee’s funerals. My father did not have a funeral – his choice. So, I had no idea how any of that happened, either.

The mandatory autopsy added a day.  Mandatory, because he was under 45 and died at home. Part of that investigative thing.

The medical examiner called me directly with the results. Nothing nefarious was found. The final determination was cardio-myopathy; not unusual in diabetics, and genetically-predisposed persons.

Par for the course of Jeff’s life, the call took an unusually common turn. I listened as the examiner offered personal condolences. He told me, he’d known my husband. As a previous pediatric patient, and fondly described him as a very sweet boy.

I came across this gem on Instagram. For anyone who’s looking, glitterandgrief is a lovely place to land.

Screenshot_20200108-175252_Instagram

I do wish social media had been more advanced than it was in 2006. There are so many grief-related groups out there for encouragement and support.

There were a few, back then. Specialized clusters of military support, specific sites for the loss of children, and for parents who now found themselves single. In straight-up widow groups, the relative ages of me versus them seemed an enormous gap. Of course, there are countless circles for young widows, now. Only, I’ve aged out of that group now, too.

Quote for the Week: 2020 01 14 Protection is always gift, except when it jakorte

 

Bits and Pieces

The first question wasn’t what I expected.

The first question was whether or not I had told Jeff’s dad.

I had not called Jeff’s father. Nor had I called Jeff’s sister.

Partial cowardice, partial propriety. I couldn’t.

I could not do that. Tell him. Tell her. Not on the telephone

I don’t know if my explanation was taken as a request or if it was realized that none of them would be able to make those particular calls, either. The news was delivered to each by the trio, in-person.

I can’t put a time on how long they hovered, statued in their spots. Where the entryway linoleum met the carpet, loomed a gap none of us would breach. I maintained my seat, way more than arm’s length away. As if being in closer proximity might alter the containment each of us were fighting for.

If any conversation of action took place with or without my participation, I have no recall.

In exactly the same way they appeared, the three men were gone.

The next bit, I recall standing outside of our bedroom telling Jeff’s sister, “No.”

“I want to see him,” she’d said.

But he was near-naked and undignified, and I unexplainably felt strongly compelled to stop her. It flashed through my mind so quickly, I’m not sure the thought was my own.  He does not want her to see him that way; to have that final picture stuck in her mind.

Much in the same way, I don’t remember anything else about her being there; her coming or going, who came with her or anything.

The next piece, I see myself sitting on the other end of the couch nearby Jeff’s Aunt on an out-of-place chair and a cousin sitting on the floor. I don’t remember them coming or going, either – just that snapshot.

Sadie was doing her best to make people happy, eagerly seeking out the sad and dropping her ball for distraction.

Quote for the Week: 2020 01 07 bits and pieces can be jakorte

 

 

My Favorite, Noel.

I decorate for Christmas.  

Some years, not a single soul sees it. Some years, maybe one or two or three tops.

But, that’s because I travel, and it really doesn’t matter. I do it for me.

I refrained for many years. I could only see painful reminders. I suppose if there was such a thing, I’d say my grief has matured.

One year, I decided I’d at least try. I went through the box and struggled through each memory. Then, I went to World Market and Target and Meijer and struggled through buying new non-traditional décor in fuschia pink and winter blue and brilliant 80’s lime-ish green.

I couldn’t bring myself to put up the unique partial tree that Jeff and I had marveled over. Imagine a fake three-foot fir in a wicker basket – neatly sliced in verticle half to allow for wall hanging.

We used it in the townhouse, much to Miss Fred’s annoyance. She’d sit near the wall and balefully mewl. I suspect she was either trying to convince the tree to come down and play or she believed her caterwauling would spur us into action and bring all the shiny things down to her level.

It seems every year, I’ve managed to find the baby-steps, bits and pieces strength to add another sentimental piece. At least that’s what my lighted, miniature, fake burlap sack ensconced pine tree is telling me.

These are a few of my favorite things:

The purple and gold swirl paint bulb Jeff made.

The beaded snowman pin that Jeff also made

A tiny box with a big message from my mother-in-law, Sally

The tree topper is a handmade ornament from Nannee Vincze

The paper folded pinecone is a purchase I made at a craft show from a couple who reminded me so much of us.

The glass chili pepper is part of a set of six I bought for Jeff the Christmas after our store opened.

The Frankincense, Gold, and Myrrh were a beautifully authentic biblical present to myself, and to others one year.

The Hershey kiss angel, by my best guesstimate, is somewhere between 20-25 years old – the result of a crafting episode with my sister-in-law.

The illuminated pine bottle was a gift this year from a friend who likes to call me ‘sis’.

The miniature Hannukah lamp was a gift from my mother that year we took her to Bronner’s. That is a story unto itself.

The nativity was my first, acquired the same year I purchased my condo.

The tatted cross is a gift that is a story unto itself, as well. A heritage heirloom I was astonished and honored to receive from a family that wasn’t mine to start with, but now completely is.

The Christmas Loon comes from the same family. No one has ever able to explain why, and the only thing I’ve found on the internet is a reference to the Loon being the state bird of Minnesota.

And I have no idea where the super shiny sparkly pine cone came from or how it landed in my Christmas storage tote, but… I like it.

All of this sits on the top of my living room hutch. There’s a lot of love crammed onto the four-foot-long top, which is conveniently completely Blu proof. He’s got jumping issues.

Happy Christmas from me. Repeating an adored adopted phrase, I’m the one who wants you to know – God loves you, and so do I. Noel.

Picture for the Week: 2019 12 24 Merry Christmas Noel jakorte

For The Count

 

Someone in some official capacity let me know that they were going to be in our bedroom for a quite while because they had to count all of Jeff’s pills.

You know… the major medications we’d finally got on track to fill at once, instead of making multiple trips to Schmidt’s Pharmacy per week. Yes, the multiple prescriptions that had just been filled a few days ago.

Somehow, our across-the-street neighbor got pulled into that and spent time counting along with I don’t know how many others. If I had to estimate, I’d say it’d probably taken an hour and some. But, then again, my reality clock wasn’t wholly functioning.

I did learn an interesting bit recently. I’m still not sure of the order of things, though.

Our next-door neighbor told me this.

She’d seen the line-up and flashing lights from her kitchen window and dropped everything to come over and see what was going on.

Shortly after she arrived, an officer came to find me. I was asked to return to our bedroom. My friend followed and was told she could not enter. Her response had been, “Where she goes, I go. I’m not leaving her alone.”

When asked who she was, she answered, “I’m a friend and I’m staying by her side. She’s not going anywhere without me.”

Pulled aside, it was explained to her. They wanted to see my reaction to my dead husband. Because she is a fiercely protective and feisty  Oklahoman, she set them straight. She pretty much told them they were crazy because everybody who knew us knew we were deeply in love. She stood her ground and stayed.

For all the irrational panicked murder-mystery thoughts I had, it never occurred to me they actually investigated our home as a crime scene and me as a suspect. It was quite a shock to me when I learned this 2 weeks ago.

I vaguely remember. I think it may have been the EMT, who’d told me that there had to be an investigation anytime anyone Jeff’s age died at home. I didn’t think that meant what it meant. I thought it was more like a “yeah, sorry, procedure” thing.

This part I remember on my own:

Walking toward the living room, I noticed there was one chair sitting in the middle of our living room. I stood in the dining room watching as an officer dragged a second seat away from the dining room table.

He asked me to sit. Seeing a notebook in his hand, I suggested we could just sit at the table.  He pointed to the chairs and said we could sit there.

So, I sat.

Quote for the Week: 2019 11 19 there are many good reasons schedule jakorte