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

Slightly Familiar & Fourth

 

Sometimes, if I move a certain way, it recalls the exact physical feeling; the act of turning away, turning my back on Jeff and the eerie finality of walking out our bedroom door.

I got as far as the dining room when the phone I amazingly still had in my grip, rang.

911 was calling me.

Apparently, I was supposed to stay on the line until it could be confirmed help had arrived. Until I was securely handed off to the next step.

I opened the door to find a man already standing in place, ready to move in, so I stepped back.

I registered the familiar face and was bit stupefied by that.

That and the fact that the situation had changed into something; moving, forward, fast.

With the screen door behind him and one foot inside our home, he said something official-sounding announcing he was who he was.

I don’t think I moved.

He told me his partner so-and-so had gone back to the ambulance for more equipment, then bent to grab what was already piled up on the porch.

I don’t think I said anything.

Which may have accounted for the curious look he glanced my way while straightening up.

When his focused eyes took me in, he actually sort-of smiled.

“I thought I recognized this address…” he said.

 

I couldn’t blame him for the almost grin. Jeff was a memorable rider, always joking. Even with acute pancreatitis.

Even the night that Nannee blew her airhorn. There was a lot of laughter that night. From everyone – Jeff, me, the crew of two. Nannee, as well.

This would be his fourth trip to our home.

 

“Yes.” I agreed with his observation.

A full beat passed before I added, “I can’t wake him up.”

“Where is he?”

“In bed.”

He glanced around.

I realized he was waiting for direction, so I led the way.

 

Quote for the Week: 2019 10 29 Adding a slightly familiar element to an unexpected jakorte