Six years can seem like an eternity…or the blink of an eye. It depends on the viewpoint and the depth of feelings regarding the time period.
It has been six years since my last blog and though that time period seemed interminable, now that it’s gone…it’s gone… and I keep the fragments I choose to keep in my life’s mosaic. The rest of the colors are painting in the past.
And what a past it was. I said goodbye to my best friend, my soul partner, my harmonic counterpoint, my husband of 42 years. It was a long goodbye. Dementia and Parkinsons have a way of elongating the process of loss. It takes away a little bit at a time, until the person has basically moved on with the personality and memory gone as well. The only way to make it through is to keep friends and family close, if not physically, at least in heart, because the caregiving is an extensive toll on the self. God bless those friends, neighbors, and caregivers who swooped in like angels to help, especially in the last days.
I learned a lot about myself, about love, and the extreme power of divine direction when I went through the process of preparing for a death. Fortunately, I had a close friend by my side when making all the funeral arrangements a year in advance. We actually enjoyed the experience together. I think we were one of the more memorable meetings for the funeral director. I kept the cremation as simple as possible. I choose a handsome cherry wood box for the cremains with our favorite quote from Le Petit Prince, when the fox says goodbye and shares his secret. I picked out my own funereal things as well. I know someday I shall need them. Death is unavoidable, but the transition process can be beautiful and strangely joyful if done right.
I had made a promise to Bob that I would keep him at home until the very end. It was a promise I kept although not easily as I went through major surgery for a dialysis port, which got severely infected and failed. The second procedure failed as well. I just had to get better and stronger, so I did.
Meanwhile as the time for saying goodbye grew nearer I made sure that Bob could see all the people he loved under the best and happiest conditions. I decorated the house for Christmas in July that year, 2019. It’s always been our special time filled with parties and family, the tons of artistic and handmade decorations, the spreads of food fit for a Dickens Christmas Carol feast. We got to enjoy wonderful, loving connections with family and friends.
I knew that Bob would also be gone for his September birthday (sometimes I just see things in advance) so I made sure he opened happy birthday presents as well as traditionally wrapped Christmas gifts in August.
Our parish priest came to give final absolution and blessings while Bob was still able to speak. And we lit up the room with candles, a string of Christmas lights, and there was a soft pink glow to the room while we prayed that didn’t come from any physical source. I think it came from love.
It’s too painful still to write about the final moments of the last three days when we went from palliative care to in- home hospice. I basically became a nurse, a doula, a priestess, besides being a wife and longtime companion. It was a blessing to have a caregiver sit with me the last night and her nursing student daughter to assist me the final morning. I’d envisioned Bob and I would be singing when he passed, or at least me singing to him, but he slipped out when I looked away, telling my helper the story of my near death experience. I think it gave him the green light to let go.
And I had to let go, too…………….
That took longer. The small, informal rosary was in the rose garden of our backyard in Los Osos. The funeral and celebration of life party followed a month later, a major event in the town of Idyllwild. Although the weather and road closures kept many from making it up the hill, our Queen of Angels church was packed. I’d sent the memo for no black clothing, no sad eulogies, and we sang no sad songs. I performed with band friends including the only song Bob and I ever cowrote, God Is With Me Right Now. That presence was definitely felt. Part of the congregation who knew it by heart, sang along with the band, as well as some “non corporeal visitors.”
Since the family home in Idyllwild hadn’t sold yet, I was able to have the party there, even though all the contents were gone. Church friends and the town provided everything necessary. No tears were shed that day, just smiles and hugs for remembrance of a life well lived.
The following day, the offer came in for the house. It sold the day after on what would have been Bob’s 70th birthday. If that isn’t proof of divine timing, then I don’t know what is. So I said said goodbye to our house and let go of our home as well.
While this closed a chapter (or rather a volume) of my life, I had to find a way to keep on writing my story. It had been so long since I had been a solo main character, I wasn’t really sure how to begin. I’m still figuring that out. And the gestation period of my new life maneuvered quietly through the lonely confines of Covid until I was ripe for a catalyst to produce an emergence.
My life story has definitely turned into an extremely dynamic one lately, with adventurous plot lines I never foresaw, colorful characters I never dreamed I would include, and more like a renaissance than a rebirth of things that I love: music, dance, poetry, art, and an amazing connection with new faces, new places, and traveling again both physically and spiritually to realms that I thought were gone from my access.
They’re all back with the promise of so much to offer and share with you all. And I AM BACK although not the same. I have crossed the Rubicon and my life will never be the same again.