Too Much Death In The Air

I haven’t written. I know. I’m down. Way down. I admit it. The scent of death lurking in the air. Gail, John’s wife is dead. John has an inoperable brain tumor, everyone wishes he would die, especially him. He only has days to live, Gail died yesterday. These people were like part of my family. They loved our dog, once they had their own dog. It brought back memories for them. Sweet memories.

Waiting. In tears, or on the verge of, always. Like now, all the time. Writing it down doesn’t make it easier or harder, there is no solution. Nothing can resolve this miserable situation, not a funeral, not two funerals.

Only, if they were buried together, if he died too, in the next two days, then, I could somehow see something positive because they were meant to be together always, married together, buried together. Everyone would feel better. When you tell a terminally ill brain tumor patient that his wife has passed and he says “Thank God” what does that mean?

Her suffering was more important to him than his own. I can’t seem to get over this very personal story, this couple, extended family, invited to every birthday party of my children, every summer barbecue for years.

When my father was alive they were my parents’ best friends, very best friends. When my dad died, they “adopted” my mother, were so wonderful to her, every day. When the wife coveted a certain kind of brownie I would buy it for because she loved nothing more than chocolate, except her husband, always her husband.

Somewhere, this must be bringing up my father’s funeral inside me, it has to be, I am sobbing in that way, down deep place that there is no control over. Of course it would bring up his death. I am really slow. My mother, who would never acknowledge this about herself has lost her two closest friends, while she may not relate this to her husband’s death, deep down she will feel it unconsciously.

I feel helpless and I acknowledge I am helpless. I am oversensitive and needy. I ask friends for reassurance, while direct, is not necessary. Because once asked, does it really mean the same thing? I regret asking now.

Taking a short break from social media where some people are cruel with their words, there is no room in my life for cruelty of any kind.  I want to be moving and doing and yet, I remain huddled in bed. Last night I crashed at 8:30 pm and I am still in bed at 11:00 am with no motivation to move.

Everyone wants them to be buried together at the same time. It would give the story some meaning, a tiny bit of meaning.

I cry, I dry my eyes, I cry again.

 

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Haiku Heights – Death

Abdominal surgery, HUEH - General Hospital, Haiti

Abdominal surgery, HUEH – General Hospital, Haiti (Photo credit: scottmontreal)

Raw bone, blood spurting

gloved hands probe, beep beep, the song

fury, silence, still.

********

Black claw, scoops, flings, screams

private hell, waits for no one

A devil’s arcade.

********

Finger the hard dirt

shovel, rusty, old, tired

Devil

Devil (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

has seen a long day.

********

Shrieking hell, stop, go

pain twirls like madness, manic

Crimson blood, wrist, cut.

Fighting Seems Like Death Sometimes

Death Valley Sunrise: DSC_02851

Image by krakovsky via Flickr

I wear no make-up, my hair is dirty and uncombed, no pink lipstick to brighten my face or the empty feeling in my soul. The clothes I wear today are shapeless, I am invisible, but you can still see me.  There are no smiles or light flirtations slipping from my lips, no gurgling sounds of interest and empathy. There are no words, not one single syllable. I am inside myself.

There are no idioms to soothe me, there are no thoughts to brighten me, I am falling slowly from the top of a cliff. I am not skydiving with dazzling energy and lightness, seeking thrills. It’s a slow death, seeing the images that have haunted me as if I was watching a silent movie. There is no black and there is no white, only dark gray. Those who thought I had it all, I have nothing today. Am I loved for who I am unconditionally? That is how I love you.

You and I are so much alike that when it is good it feels like bursting happiness and beaming sunshine and when we fight, it is the bottom of a dark and painful hell. If I could have it any other way, I would. We are forever bound with love and we share a heart. I feel myself falling into murky waters of unknown depths and destiny. What would you say at my funeral if it was today?  Would you say a prayer, read a poem, talk from your heart? Would you try to be stoic and fight back the tears or would you openly weep as I would for you? I would throw myself into the musky dirt to lie beside you if something happened to you; I would not want to live.

You have no idea how much you hurt me and yet even if I try to explain it to you, you deny it vehemently. Like two fighters in a ring, no one listening, both talking, fighting, an emotional blow to you, to me. There is no winner, everybody loses when they fight, all you get from fighting is pain. Will you learn later on that staying and talking through things are better than running away? Time will have to teach you that because I have tried and failed.

At the same time, do you not know that I love you with a special love reserved for no one else? You have always occupied that place in my heart, I love you more than I love my own life;  I would leave the world and disappear if you could guarantee me that I would never again see that sad, woeful expression on your face again. I would do that for you; I would do that for me too. In my heart and soul, I know that before I saved myself, I would save you first.

Because Love Has No Religion

Roses

Image via Wikipedia

I am slowly, very slowly and intensely taking off pink nail polish from my finger nails as if it was the most important task in the world. I feel like a surgeon scrubbing in to make him/herself totally antiseptic. It feels like that to me but I don’t know why exactly. I don’t know the codes or rules for going to a wake but I know, for myself, I have to wipe away every sign of sunshine from my hands because that feels right. My hands look plain, wrinkled, weather-beaten and bare. I’ve stripped off every clue to color because my friend Dawn is dead and the world feels color-less and grim.

I didn’t know what to expect at the wake; I had only been to one wake before in my life and that was thirty-five years ago. We arrived before the official hours and already the room was packed. I saw her husband, John first, and I hugged him, then their oldest daughter who hugged me as if to comfort me. Her middle son  sat tall and straight next to his friends and did not move, his eyes riveted to his mom’s casket. The youngest child was the most heartbreaking of all, he belonged to no one in that room. He was in his own world, going to the casket, returning to his seat, going to the casket and returning to his seat, his eyes on no one, alone in his private world. He sat neither with family or friends, he was in his own fragile bubble, looking younger than his years.

I thought in death, Dawn would look more like herself than she did in the last stages of her life. I somehow expected to feel comforted that I would see my friend as I had remembered her. I went slowly  up to the coffin although I was terrified; I knew it was something I had to do. But, inside my head, like an unrestrained child, inside my head I was screaming with disbelief and anger “this is not OUR Dawn” I thought, “THIS IS NOT OUR DAWN.”  In the coffin lay a woman I didn’t know, an old woman, with too much makeup. They had prayer cards with a picture of Dawn at her finest: natural, loving, with one of her great big smiles and that is what many people said they wanted to remember her by. Even though I felt the same way, the images for the next three nights when I tried to sleep were of Dawn in the open casket, someone I didn’t know, a stranger.

There were flower arrangements everywhere. A huge arrangement made from roses, dark, crimson roses that formed into a heart; it must have stood six feet tall. There were many other flowers, yellow, white, pink, every color you can imagine and as tall as one can dream.

Her husband John, then came over and put his arm around me to show me something. “I hope you don’t mind” he said but we used your letter to Dawn as our prayer.” In front of me, I saw a piece of paper with the words I had written FOR Dawn, many months before she died. It was called “Praying For Dawn” and somehow after writing it, I thought I would take a chance to drop it off at their house. It was meant for Dawn and her family, and yet here at the wake hundreds of people clutched the piece of paper that I had written.

Her family members wanted to meet me, they said they had all read it many times, I had no idea. I do remember that after I dropped it off I got a voice message in the back of my answering machine from Dawn, thanking me and telling me she loved it. I could barely make out her words but I never erased that message.  I gave my condolences to Dawn’s mom and she said “Oh, do you like that prayer, one of her friends wrote that!!!”  Somehow through my trembling lips and tears I managed to say that ‘I was that friend.’ I swear her eyes lit up and she thanked me and told me how often the family loved reading it. She asked ME if she could introduce me to Dawn’s father who had wanted to meet the friend that had written that poem. After the introduction, he hugged me, and then took my face in his hands and said “God Bless You”  “Thank you for writing that about Dawn, you captured her the way she really was. ” He told me he had wanted to meet the person who wrote it and knew I was a neighbor but didn’t want to walk into the wrong house and be embarrassed.”  I told him where I lived and told him that he and his wife were welcome to visit me at any time.

The emotional intensity for me was overwhelming. I was honored that they used my piece of writing at the same time I was in total emotional shock. People were complimenting me on something that I forgot about since I have written many pieces about Dawn in my blog. I looked at many of my earlier blog posts and I practically have a whole book about Dawn.

My husband practically had to drag me out of the door since we needed to get our daughter to her afternoon class. I saw an old dear friend that I hadn’t seen in a long time and we wrapped our arms around each other crying. “I feel so lost” she said, “I just feel lost.” We all felt that way, I think. Lost without a piece of sunshine in our lives, deprived forever more of this gift of a person who brought enjoyment to everyone she met. Dawn was our fighter, never giving up yet she still lost the fight to this horrendous disease. Dawn was our light, she was our strength, there was no one she didn’t like…..well, with the exception of a little dog in the neighborhood….We all laughed remembering that and it felt good.

Two days later I arrived at the church forty-five minutes before the service and again, there were many people inside. The church was beautiful, I had never been there before. The stained glass windows shone from the morning sun, the polished wood seemed inviting and homey. There were many new flowers, everywhere. So many people from our little community were there, every religion was represented, people from all parts of Dawn’s life were there to show their respect: sports teams, education, friends, family, neighbors, some of  the neighborhood kids, friends and their parents for all three children and the middle school Principal. Our community sometimes gets a really bad reputation but when something happens to one of our own, we come together as one. Our little town becomes so protective and so loving of one of its own; it’s happened before. Many years ago when a young boy had cancer, the town rallied together as well.

Both Dawn’s daughter and husband spoke at the funeral. Her daughter is a young woman with the most grace and poise I have ever seen. This young woman will be famous one day, I guarantee it. Everyone was either wiping their eyes or just letting the tears stream down their faces like leaks out of a rusty, old faucet. After the service the pallbearers brought the coffin out to the hearse. I saw a random pink flower on the ground that escaped and as much as I wanted to pick it up and touch it I couldn’t. It didn’t seem like the thing to do, it belonged to Dawn.

One thing I did not know was the tradition of the hearse and all the cars attending the cemetery making a final good-bye to the house where Dawn lived with her family. We drove around the loop as well and all I could think of was Dawn’s enormous Christmas wreath that she was always so proud of, hanging still around the front door. It seemed to me so heart-wrenching to do that, to watch her family ride in the car passing their house where their mother would never again live. Maybe it’s for closure too, I can only guess.

After that, we all went to our individual homes, sighing, looking at the ground, crying, solemn and gloomy and still, feeling that we were in a different world, a new reality. I don’t know how long it takes before the death of someone really hits you and takes its toll but I do know that it does take a while. After the company, the distractions, the food and the flowers, the only thing that matters is that there will be an empty chair at their kitchen table that no one can ever replace. And, at all her children’s’ games, their mom will not be there to encourage them and support them. Whatever condition Dawn was in, good or bad, in a wheelchair or not, Dawn was always there for her children, rooting for them, happy for them until the very last breath she took to say a peaceful “good-bye.”