Down for the Count Up, 2

2 YEARS, OCTOBER 1, 2008

Evenin’.

Is it just me or do Wednesdays seem to come around faster now?

I’m off again at the end of the week for Louisiana. We’ll be returning to Slidell, where there is still work to be done. Can you believe it is three years after Hurricane Katrina and there are still roofs that need repair? Homes that need drywall? People who need help and healing?

Can you believe that tomorrow will be two years since Jeff has been gone? As many of you know, I am not happy about the situation. But I am peaceful now, in ways that cannot readily be described in a few words or a million words. I know how he suffered, I know how he loved, and I know that he did not want any of us to see him weaken. He wanted us all to have the brilliant memory of his laugh, his quick and frequent smile, and the knowledge that his heart was big enough to hold everyone, and still does.

Much love.

PS. You might get a newsletter next week from Louisiana, but then again…. you might not.

Guess we’ll both be surprised to see how that turns out.

Down for the Count Up, 12

A COLDER OCTOBER, OCTOBER 16, 2018

I don’t remember a colder October.

Nature’s real lessons – love and loss and longing – echoing yearly. Simple trees and simple leaves. Temporary slumbers; predictable, patterned, withdraw with a promise of likelihood. Coming back, coming back stronger, maybe reaching a little higher.

Occasionally, that’s not the case. Of course, majestics don’t worry about that. Perhaps affording optimism in squirrels and birds and other creatures. Although seeing fit to plan, return rote expecting rejuvenation. Coming from another season’s slumber, they lumber; sometimes dumbfounded when the memory is bare or barely there.

Much like those times you thought you were growing straight, turned twisted in time, searching for the sun. Vital pieces fall away, hacked, splintered, struck by lightning. How it happens; endless possibilities, all still no less of a shock.  

So, I welcome the colors, and I welcome the lack. It’s part of the process.

Lightly suffering through another falling season. It only seems ok because I’ve been here before. Somehow now it’s easier to see. There are no perfect trees.

I don’t remember a colder October, or colors that faded so fast.

Quote for the Week:

2018 10 16 there are no perfect trees a colder october jakorte

Down for the Count Up, 13

THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY OF THE END, OCTOBER 1, 2019

13 years ago today, I think I knew before I knew.

It was the strangest feeling.

It still is.

.

I took a 20-mile detour on the way home from Lansing this past weekend.

Accidentally, really. Not even on auto-pilot, since it’d been so long since I went that way.

Just a missed turn while I was thinking about the rain and Frosty Boy and my Brookside destination.

Odd to travel that same path so close to the same days. The thing is, the story goes on.

And, again, a warning.

It’s only the beginning of the story of the end.

The reality that followed wasn’t pleasant. It was shocking, bizarre, surreal and sadly, in a glass-half-empty way, expected.

February’d found us listening to a rundown how things might go. How Jeff’s disease and complications would likely progress.

The order was correct: first, he’d be alive, and then, he wouldn’t be.

The timing, though, was fundamentally far-off, greatly misjudged, significantly skewed.

Even when you know what to expect, it’s still unexpected. Quite unbelievable, and unbelievingly challenging for the mind to process.

It’s the sort of thing the heart is much quicker to recognize.

In the same way that Sadie was waiting for me to figure it out, my certain heart was forced to wait for my uncertain mind to follow.

I picked up the phone and dialed 911.

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: