leaving home

Another snippet, someone asked me what they could do for me – maybe straighten up? “The kitchen is a mess,” I conceded, referring to the shambled breakfast I’d abandoned hours ago. “… and I wasn’t expecting company…” I sheepishly admitted.

Suddenly, there were dishwashers and a floor mopper, a dog walker and then the sound of someone vacuuming. And the suggestion that I should leave.

They were about to take Jeff out. The other ambulance that had arrived was solely for the purpose of extra hands to heft. They debated which door to use.

My feisty Oklahoma friend authoritatively spoke up. “She doesn’t need to be here for this.”

Then, to me, “You don’t need to see them taking him out, hon.”

There was a question about whether or not I had eaten that day. I hadn’t.

Someone herded me out to a car. I can picture myself in the back seat. There were two women in the front seat. I can’t say for certain, who those could have been. The people I knew best were still bustling around my home.

Another remembered oddity, the car I got into had been backed into our driveway. I think maybe the wife of the neighbor across the street was the driver, that would make sense. She’d have just backed across the street. Perhaps the other person was the slight neighbor acquaintance, one house past my next-door neighbor.

That one seems more solid because I remember taking the family cookies as a thank you. I don’t recall exactly what I was thanking them for. I think she was a bit touched and a bit appalled. “You made us cookies?” she asked. “Oh, my goodness, no! I should be making you cookies! But here you are…”

I know that in those few minutes it had taken me to get into the car, they hadn’t actually begun to take him. I also know I didn’t look back. In a way, we were both leaving home, in a similar time frame. Jeff going one way; me, another.

I was supposed to decide where to eat. I didn’t want to be gone too long, so I said McDonald’s. I didn’t want to eat, really, but went along with the insistence that it was the plan to feed me. I requested a Filet o’Fish sandwich. When asked if I wanted fries, I said, “No. I want to go home.”

“I think we still have to wait a bit…” was the reply.

“Ok,” I said, as I felt myself deflating. Of course, we’d all be going back, but I would never be going home, again.

Quote for the Week: 2020 01 21 home is where the heart is jakorte 01 21 2020

 

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

 

The Ripple Began Then

 

Over the years, in my tragicomedy approach to healing, I sometimes emphasized the on-the-verge-of-inappropriate, near-comedic aspect of that moment.

Other times, I’ve grumbled outwardly about the monkey-wrench that almost reset the officer’s overdose suspicion back to square one.

I think back on it now in wonder.

To pass by two ambulances, two police cars, a parade of neighbors outside and in and still have the hopeful faith that what I said wasn’t what I meant, is perhaps a gift from God. One that got her from one point to another safely, and positioned her to tell the story in a way that I could not.

I don’t know how long I sat there on the couch, on the section closest to the front door.

But, that’s where I was at the moment it became real.

The moment when the heartbreak became a ripple and the ripple was absorbed.

I don’t know how they got there. It seemed they just appeared, each hovering one step inside the door. A three-man row of grief and disbelief. I recognized the vacancy.

These were the first three people to share my grief; the first intimate ones I had faced.

The ones I knew were at least where I was, and were perhaps even deeper.

The ones who’d had him way longer than I; the catalysts of tears.

I had no words. Even if I had, speaking and crying is a complicated gift I have always lacked. Unconquerable, it’s either one or the other. Right then, it was the flow and terror.

In many ways the police and the emergency personnel were impartial. They were interested in facts.

Facts were an eerily calm surface; I dreaded the questions barely beneath. At some point, they would rise, buoyed by ripples, pushed upward as expelling gulps of grief. How could I explain why I wasn’t where I was supposed to be; where I usually was; where, for just this one time I wasn’t.

Quote for the Week: 2019 12 17 there isn’t anyway to avoid grief guilt jakorte

synonomy

He put his notebook away – closed it, really – tucked it under his arm.

 

The next thing. It’s not linear, but I’ll try to make it make sense.

The phone call to my brother-in-law answered by my sister-in-law followed an unusual path. I set in motion a game of church-telephone, similar to the childhood one, beginning with my unconscious inability to say that word. The D-word.

Without hesitation, my sil jumped into action. She tracked down her husband in church by getting hold of someone there. Third hand, my understanding is that the message morphed from my intent of ‘gone’ to ‘gone missing.’

When told his brother was missing, my bil’s response was, “Which one?” The lovely thing about this is that, in this extended family, the pre-cursor ‘step’ was never more important than the word ‘brother.’ And, there were eight possibilities, so the question was wholly legit.

Back to the beginning of this post and the end of the last post…

A milli-second after the officer’s pad pages met in closure, my sil burst through the door and near-breathlessly huffed out, “Did he leave a note?” Other rapid-fire questions followed.

I’m not sure of the accuracy of my recall. I was too busy short-circuiting, in panic mode – trying to absorb that my emphatic word had not been absorbed.

I heard Wal*Mart and scooter and a suggestion that maybe he’d gone for an early morning ride to the store down the dirt access road at the end of our street. Trying to follow along, I pictured Jeff 4-wheeling in an electric scooter on the recently rain-soaked non-road.

I glanced at the officer, who was looking questioningly at me. I shook my head from side to side trying to convey that she wasn’t asking about a suicide note. She was asking about a where did he go? note. In an almost impossible way, I managed to squeak and scream at the same time. “No! No, he didn’t leave a note!”

Honestly, I have no idea who else might have been in the room with the three of us. Bits and pieces of garbled voices and suppositions were hovering just outside of my tunneling-vision.

Time stopped long enough for me to realize this was exchange was going wrong, way too fast.

Using the same words I’d been using all morning,  I tried a little harder instinctively adding the universal double-handed hand signal signaling ‘no’.

“No. No.” I insisted, more firmly. “He’s… gone. He’s … (pointed silence)… Gone.”

The shock dropped her to her knees with a keening wail, and it occurred to me, I hadn’t done that. Surreall,y I internally questioned myself, “Why haven’t I done that?”

I don’t recall her rising from the floor, but she must have because I’ve heard the story of the revisory call.

That’s where this segment ends for me. I don’t know what my next move was, where I went or what I did. I skip through scenes.

None are cohesive, none are in real-time. It’s all a shattered photo bleeding from one puzzle piece to another. I cannot make them fit correctly.

Quote for the Week: 2019 12 10 It’s important to use the correct words jakorte

 

Repeat, Repeat …

My inquisitor and I ended up sitting almost knee-to-knee.

I was asked to recount the whole experience up until then. I tiredly, bare-bones explained the events of the night before and the morning of.  I was asked a lot of clarifying questions.

I told him about sleeping on the couch, about the bacon and about Sadie sitting perfectly still.

When asked if I thought Jeff might have decided to overdose on purpose, I said, “No.”

“Maybe accidentally?” was the next suggestion.

“Absolutely not,” I insisted.

“Was he depressed?”

My hesitant answer was yes, but that Jeff was taking medication to help with that.

We spoke for a while about how Jeff felt awful he couldn’t work. How he hated saying he was on disability. How he meticulously filled his tackle bait box to avoid any over or under medication misses.

How he was doing less of the things he enjoyed. But, also about the way he rose each morning, verbally thanking God for another day. And how he repeated the sentiments aloud each evening, saying it had been a good day to be alive.

Then, we went back to the sequence of events.

I explained again what had happened.

There were questions about what time it might have been at certain points and when Jeff last took meds.

I guesstimated on the times and had no idea about the drugs. I learned later, Jeff’s estimated time of death coincided with Sadie’s signals.

What I find odd now, is that I really don’t remember Jeff taking pills. I can’t even picture it in my mind. I obviously recall the medication box and the myriad of reminders I arranged to be sure his meds were taken. To-do lists, email, phone calls.

Insulin was occasionally out in the open. Sometimes right before going into a restaurant, sometimes at a restaurant table, but rarely at home.

I suppose Jeff may have been discreet for my sake. Likely, though, it was more for Jeff’s sake – so he didn’t have to listen to my objections about his self-administering through the leg of his jeans or through the middle of his T-shirt.

It was commented more than once, that they would be able to tell by the pill count if he might have overdosed.

I repeated, “Absolutely not.” More than once, as well.

Then, came the canned movie line. If I thought of anything else that might help, I should call the number on the card I was handed.

I took the end of the interview as a sign that it was settled; that he finally believed me.

Jeff would never do that.

Quote for the Week: 2019 11 26 There are times when it is appropriate to be thankful 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

 

Blanked

And that’s where the details end. I’m not sure if my prior detail comes from having re-lived the sequence daily or twice for 13 years straight, unable to let it go.

Or maybe the lack of it from here forward is the indicator, where my mind blanked – the result of short-circuited overload.

The bits and pieces I recall are likely to be jumbled. So many things happened at once.

I don’t recall answering the door, but I was standing in the right place to maybe have. There was an officer inside, still on the threshold, asking me if there was anyone I could call to come be in the house with me.

“No one near here,” I said. I was thinking of Jeff’s family, my family. No one could be there immediately.

“A neighbor?” he offered. I thought about the couple across the street.

I don’t remember seeing any extra people arrive. I don’t recall them in the house. They must have been there, though, because, by that time, two police cars, a sheriff’s car, an ambulance were lined up.

When the officer returned, he told me that he’d woken my neighbors up and the man of the couple had burst into tears when he heard. He continued saying that my neighbor would be over in a little bit, once he got himself together. I don’t remember him arriving, but I know he was there.

I don’t know when I started making calls. I don’t recall being prompted. I’d been standing in the living room, close to the front door. Someone suggested I might want to sit down.

I can’t tell you which order they were in, but I made two phone calls from my seat on the couch.

I called my brother-in-law, who lived closest. My sister-in-law had answered the phone. He was at church with my niece and nephew. She’d been there to pick-up because she’d stayed home not feeling well.

I explained that Jeff was gone and the police were here and I needed him to know and to come. Immediately.

I suppose it could have waited until church was over. Nothing would have changed by then, but the urgency was real to me.

I phoned my mother to tell her Jeff was gone. I asked her to call my brothers. She offered a stunning excuse for not immediately coming. The call ended with an implied you’re-on-your-own request to just let her know when the funeral was and she would be there.

Quote for the Week: 2019 11 12 reaching the point of blank jakorte