Another week has gone by and I am getting nowhere with my grief. I think I've forgotten how to deal with it and it seems out of control. Memories flood my waking hours and my tears have yet to wash them clean and put them someplace safe. They hover around me, sometimes buffeting me with their softness - sometimes treading on me with harsh footsteps.
I tried to participate in the Candle Ceremony at the Rainbow Bridge on Monday. I lit my candles and followed along and dissolved like the wax into a little puddle. It felt too much like saying goodbye and I just can't do that yet. I hope Dolly and Deeb saw my candle burning for them - my love shining through the night to reach out to them. Can you see how it hurts?
My two craft shows loom ever nearer. We begin our odyssey on the 26th when my brother and I set up our booth for the first 4 day show and we finish on the 7th of December after another 4 day show. I don't know how I will do it but I will know on the 8th if I will ever do it again.
We go to see Sarah Brightman on the 8th of December. I know I will cry throughout her performance as she always brings back memories of Cid battling his way through the crowds when he took me to see her for the first time. He died two months later - one of the best now gone.
The Man has surprised me with a holiday. I don't know about his timing but he put in for his accumulated overtime and we leave on the 9th of December for 5 weeks. We are towing our little 13 foot trailer and heading to the Big Easy. New Orleans!
So let me see. I finish my last show on the 7th of December. That means probably getting home around 1am after tearing down a booth and packing it up and driving for 2 hours. Fall into bed and hopefully sleep. Get up and unpack and put away anything from the show then pack for a 5 week holiday. Then get ready to drive an hour and half and go to a concert. Right. Get back home again around 1am and fall back into bed and then get up and hook up the trailer and leave. Unbelievable timing on The Man's part. Exhaustion sounds like a good word to put in here.
I have to say though that he has promised to get the trailer packed and get the house ready. All I have to do is get myself packed. He has also planned the whole trip this time and already has tickets to two basketball games. The New Orleans Hornets versus the Lakers and the Spurs! (gulp - more crowds)He's also signed us up for an art tour while we are there and we are hoping to arrive in time for a tour of 7 houses in the Garden District. Something is happening every day in New Orleans during the month of December. It will be fun and exciting - I know it! (and hopefully there won't be any snow)
For those of you who have followed this blog for some time - you will know that all of the above is going to bring me almost to my knees with anxiety and stress. I don't do crowds very well - nor can I leave my house very well. However. The shows are being done with my brother - another port in the storm of my life - and we are taking our little house behind us and I am going with The Man - my biggest safety net in the whole world. I'm going to be in tears leaving the barn behind and my everyday memories of Dolly. But perhaps it will help in the long run. I think I'll probably spend the drive sleeping and trying to recuperate from the two shows - all the knitting I've done - and life.
If I don't get any posts done before the shows and before I leave - I'll see you some time in January. The Man Tales will continue when I return.
For those of you who have asked about the concert and our week away. Here is the story.
We arrived at the concert at BC Place in Vancouver and I was overwhelmed by the masses of people. I don’t do crowds well at all, but The Man had his arm around me and held me close as we wove our way through the people rubbernecking and oohing and aahing over the t-shirts and memorabilia on display near the entrance.
First of all – our tickets cost $225.00 for the two of us and they were in the nosebleed section. Never having been to the BC Place – The Man decided to ask at information where our seats were. The man behind the counter took our tickets – looked at them and then turned around and picked up some others and handed them to us. He said – these are right over there – enjoy.
He had traded our seats in the nosebleeds for seats that were 20 rows away from center stage! They cost $225.00 each! We were astounded!
As we sat in our seats stunned by our sudden fortune – a mother and daughter team came along and sat beside us. Their conversation went along the lines of what great seats they were. It turned out that the daughter had gone to the information desk and asked if they could trade in their tickets on an upgrade! And the same man had given them the seats right next to us. So someone had upgraded their tickets and the four of us got lucky!
The concert started soon after that and a man named Gordie Brown came on stage for the warmup. He was funny and great and we all got into the spirit of the thing. He was an impressionist who sang like other performers and he did it all with such humour he had us all laughing and clapping along with him.
While he performed – two girls came in and sat directly behind The Man and myself. The one girl was on her cellphone and yelling into it that she was at the concert and held it out for whomever to listen! I thought – okay – she’s all excited – I’ll let it go.
Then Celine came on stage and the crowd went insane! She started by singing ‘I drove all night’ and the girl behind The Man sang along at the top of her voice! I could feel the tension in my back and in my mind building and I was gripping the arm of the seat. I always seem to sit in front of someone who talks through everything! When Celine launched into her second song and the girl behind started to sing along again – well I had had it! I turned around with a huge smile on my face and tapped her on the knee and she leaned forward – singing at the top of her voice.
“I paid to listen to Celine Dion” I said with a sweet smile on my face.
“So did I!” she yelled in between singing – she didn’t even take a breath to say it!
“Yes!” I said – the smile leaving my face. “Not to you.”
And that was it. She shut up and never said another word.
People around leaned forward and flashed me grateful smiles. I told the girl sitting beside me what I had said and she laughed with delight and told her mother who also burst out laughing!
We didn’t have our camera with us, but my new-found friend next to me did. (and no - unfortunately Andrea Bocelli was not actually singing along with her in person - but it looked great!)
“Make sure you get a picture of her shoes,” I said very quietly as she snapped away. “You’re right! They’re fantastic aren’t they?”
Then she asked for my email address during a ‘scene change’ and I handed it over! She sent me 41 pictures of the concert and I have a new found friend!
So – here are some of the pics she sent me. The show was incredible! Celine’s voice was incredible! And I only cried right at the end when she sang the Titanic song. I couldn’t help it! I didn’t know until we got back to the trailer that I had smudged my mascara onto my cheek – but I didn’t care.
Thank you Kris for sending me these and thank you for not talking or singing all through the performance.
I really believe that if you pay to see a movie or listen to a performer – then that is what you should get. If that girl behind us could sing like Celine – well then I would have been happy to pay to listen to her perform. But believe me – she couldn’t. And when it comes to telling people to be quiet at something like this – then I’ll do it! It’s my right to get what I paid for.
I just want to say thank you - again - to everyone for all their kind words and thoughts.
Grief and memory are such personal things, yet I have opened my heart here and in turn I’ve received so many wonderful words of support from everyone.
Here it is now 2 weeks since my beloved Dolly died and I have to admit I am no farther ahead in getting over her death than I was two weeks ago. I know that it is all part and parcel of my breakdown and the fragility of my mind since then. I became a different person after my breakdown – a nicer person I think – but still a different person. And her death has affected me like a sledgehammer to the head.
Dolly meant so much to me as we shared our days together. Before The Man - there was Dolly. Now I hate the mornings as Dolly and I had a routine. She would get me up and I would feed her. She was very talkative in the morning and much fun. She made me smile every day and often made me laugh out loud. As I spend nearly all of my time at home – alone while The Man works – I spent most of that time talking to Dolly and playing with her as I worked around the house. Now that is gone and what fill those times are tears.
Still more time is needed for me. As with Cid my grief does go on and on. He died 7 years ago and I can mourn like it was yesterday.
I missed last week’s Candle Ceremony at the Rainbow Bridge as my brother was here to pick up his cats. Tonight I will not miss it. Sharing with others who feel the same way has to be rewarding and helpful. I look forward to it.
I wrote the following this past week. It's not finished, I feel that in my heart - but it's a start.
Memory Dance There’s a dance that we dance, alone in our heads, our arms extended and our eyes closed.
There’s a dance we swing to, sway to, sashay to.
There’s a dance we sing to, hum along to, play to.
It’s called the dance of memory, of misery, of angst. It’s hidden inside each of us, deep down, and fearful.
It comes without calling, sliding and moaning. It comes at our bidding, skipping and shouting. It comes and it takes us, back and beyond. It comes and it makes us sometimes sadder sometimes gladder.
It comes from life. From experiences. From love. It comes and it dances inside of our heads.
It’s the dance of memory, and it plays with my head.
I just wanted to thank everyone for their kind comments and emails. All of them have touched me deeply and I am grateful for the kindness of all of you.
Tonight I am joining in the candle ceremony at the Rainbow Bridge. I have my three candles prepared and I have put Dolly’s name on the Bridgelist. I know that Dolly and Deeb are going to be waiting for The Man and myself when we can finally join them.
Some of you might say – all this over a pet?
I say – No. It’s just not a pet.
It’s the loss of an unconditional love that I had for 16 years.
Anyone who has loved a pet knows what I am talking about. The love you get back from an animal is unconditional. They don’t have to love us. They could just be animals. But if they do – then you are blessed.
And I was blessed. Believe me.
After years of abuse and illness – to have this kind of love was a gift to my heart.
Today my brother arrives to take home his 3 cats that I have been babysitting. I know that tomorrow the silence will stretch out and hammer home the emptiness of this house and of my heart. In a way I am looking forward to it. Then I can perhaps deal with this loss. Maybe not.
Every night I have gone to bed and looked for Dolly. I’ve caught myself listening for her footsteps and I’ve had to stop myself from getting out of bed and going to get her. I have a small clump of her fur that I hold in my hand when I go to sleep. I often wake up still holding it or it is under my pillow. It gives me a tiny bit of peace as I stare into the darkness.
So what is grief?
Grief is what I see when I look in the mirror - green eyes awash in watery seas of sadness. Grief are the lines on my face and the way my mouth droops at the corners. Grief is my heart – aching – yet still beating - reminding me every second of loss. Grief is being suicidal and then stepping back from the abyss – but remembering the aching to take that step and have the grief go away. Grief is realizing that forever is just the doorstep to eternity. Grief is tomorrow. Grief is me.
Why does love make your heart cleave in half and fall apart? What do you do with that huge hole that is left?
Why does love strangle your brain with emotions that should never occur to anyone?
Who decided that this was love? Who decided that we are just marionettes in some master game? Who decided to taunt us with fleeting happiness? Who thought life should be something that is built up – then smashed when it is going good – then taunted with the hope of something in the future?
Why do I just want to lie down and give up one last breath and let go?
Why do I lie awake all night and stare through the dark at nothing?
Why are tears endless?
Why does everything I love get taken away when I have had so little in my life?
Am I a bad person? Did I do something to deserve this kind of hell on earth?
Why and who am I angry with or at? Me? God? Is there a God? If there is – why is he so cruel? Why is life so unfair?
Why put these angels here on earth only to take them away so quickly and so cruelly?
Why give us hearts at all if they are only toys to break at a whim?
Why do we do this?
What is death? Do we go somewhere afterwards? Do we wait somewhere on the other side of that horizon? Do we all get together afterwards and get to be happy forever? Is happy a true feeling? Is love?
WHY? DAMN IT! WHY?
Why does love hurt so much? Will the pain really ever go away?
Is this some kind of insane grieving or just some kind of insanity? (at this point I really don't know) And do I really want to know the answer?
The Man and I have not had a holiday for two years. He is burnt out from a very stressful job and I am burnt out from watching him get into this state and from Dolly's condition.
I believe it was 6 months ago that The Man handed me 2 tickets to see Celine Dion in Vancouver. He had tried to get tickets for Edmonton which is only a 2 hour drive from here - but they were sold out. So he opted for Vancouver. At the time we didn't know any of this would be going on or those tickets wouldn't have been purchased.
Some of you may ask why we would want to see Celine Dion. The Man goes to watch my face and to see how happy a concert like this makes me. As for me? I admire Ms. Dion greatly. I remember when she was a young girl and they played her first release (in French) on the radio. They said to watch this girl as she was going to go places. I have admired her dedication to her craft and to her husband and now her son. She has gone for what she wanted and she has more than excelled at it. Being Canadian adds to my admiration for we don't have a ton of people in this country who have gone out and shone like Ms. Dion. Then of course there is her ability to sing. She has an incredible set of pipes on her.
We went to see her show in Vegas at Ceasar's Palace and we were both blown away. It was incredible! We didn't know what to expect when we sat down in that unbelievable theater, but I sat there with tears streaming down my face for half of the performance and my mouth open in wonder at the other half. I know she sometimes seems like a hick who is overdoing the emotions - but to watch her face at the end of the show and see how touched she was by our admiration - well.... I believed the tears she had in her eyes were real. Those are hard to fake.
So now that she is touring again we thought it would be neat to see what kind of show she puts on out on the road. We'll be finding out on Tuesday night at the BC Place in Vancouver.
As it works out, my brother is leaving for his two-week holiday on the same day we are leaving for Vancouver. He has 3 cats. Two of them are beautiful Himalayans and of course his cats are his children as well.
So his three cats arrived on Thursday and they will remain here while we go away. My dear friend who lives right down the street and who was my roommate on the hall is going to look after my brother's cats while we take Dolly with us. Bless her soul for her generosity. My friend has such a huge heart and I know she will look after these precious angels like they were her own. Friends like that are hard to find. I remember very well the doctors telling us that making friends with a fellow nutcase is the worst thing in the world to do. We have proved them wrong on so many counts.
As for taking Dolly with us? There is no way I could leave her behind - even with the best of care. I would fall apart being away from her and not knowing how she is doing. Dolly has slept with her head on my pillow and her little furry body spooned into my chest - every single night for 16 years. We both think it's the best part of the day.
I actually got up the nerve to take her to the vet myself on Wednesday. Her problem at the moment is constipation and she is on enough laxatives to clean out a horse. On top of that she needs to be hydrated to give her enough fluids to help move things along and of course it makes her nauseous. I am unable to do something like that. My nerves just won't let me. So The Man went over and got a lesson on how to do it and he has been giving her fluids twice a day and will continue to do so until she poops regularly. Injecting fluids under the skin just makes me nauseous myself.
I was shaking so hard when I took her into the vets and of course it made her shake as well. Even with the xanax that the doctor prescibed for me - well - I'm just getting by.
I've got multiple whammies to deal with concerning this trip. I am terrified of leaving the barn for extended periods of time. I can go out and come back in as long as it is someplace familiar that I am going. If not then I get all panicky and nauseous. So that is one. Dolly's health and the fact that she has never travelled anywhere except to the vets is two. The third is the fact that I won't be able to keep up my production knitting while we travel and that the date of the huge craft shows looms closer by the second.
The only thing that keeps me sort of safe is the fact that we are towing our little house behind us and we can stop at any time and I can go and sit in it. Our little 13 foot trailer is going to be right behind our car and The Man is going to be sitting right beside me and Dolly is going to be on my lap.
Now if all this sounds a bit muddled it's because I didn't sleep last night with the anxiety of it all. Today I have to pack the trailer and prepare food and somehow fit some knitting into my day. I will be taking yarn to work on bears while we drive. We will be picking up my 90 yr. old aunt who lives in Vancouver and taking her over to Vancouver Island and dropping her off at her 79 yr. old brother's. They are the only 2 children left out of 5. We will visit with them both then until Tuesday morning and then we will catch the ferry back to Vancouver and go to the concert. Providing Dolly's health remains stable, we will spend Wednesday just shopping on Robson Street and Granville Island. Then we'll wander back home. It's a minimum 11 hour drive as the crow flies - we'll be taking much longer than that.
All of that sounds lovely doesn't it? You can't imagine how stressed I am over it. Fortunately The Man recognizes that in me and he wraps his arms around me and holds me tight - trying to relieve my anxiety. If I had my druthers - I'd have Ms. Dion give a concert in the barn and I'd be a happy gal.
So all of this to tell you I will be away from blogging for a week.
Plus - I want to thank all of you for your lovely comments and your thoughts about Dolly. I wish I could put into words how much every single comment means to me. Thank you.
She is about 16 years old and I have had her since she was a kitten.
We lost her brother last year just before Christmas because of renal failure.
Now Dolly has been diagnosed with it.
She isn't feeling very well these days and has lost a lot of weight. Medications that the doctors had her on have killed her appetite and I am struggling with my anxiety over this. Struggling so much that I have broken down and asked my own doctor for something for anxiety as I am having trouble coping. Part of this is due to my past mental breakdown. I always knew there would be something that might trigger it again and Dolly's illness is it.
She doesn't seem to be in any pain and I won't go through what we did with Deeb last year. It is just not fair.
At the moment I am doing everything I can for Dolly and I don't feel much like blogging. When the mood strikes and perhaps while Dolly is napping - I'll get on with the story. Until then - pray for Dolly and for me too.
There is a beautiful dark green bedroom in the barn that is called ‘Cid’s Room’. It is filled with furniture that belonged to my beloved friend. Cid’s large bed is covered with his own bedspread and the matching curtains hover beside a view that Cid loved. This was his room when he came to stay for 3 months as his health slipped from his grasp. Now it held his ‘lawyer’s library’ – a beautiful piece of furniture with glass doors. All his books are neatly on the shelves and his wallet and shaving brush and other paraphernalia are displayed. His favourite hats are perched up against his collection of vases and the hats look like they are waiting for him to snatch one of them up and pop it onto his silvery hair.
Another of Cid’s cupboards holds more of his personal treasures like his shaving kit and binoculars. Warm pictures of Italy hang on the walls and there’s a dreamy picture of two kids fishing off a dock. It hangs over the bed – a reminder to me of Cid’s dreams.
It’s Cid’s room. That’s all there is to it. And it was here that we tried to make Cid’s two beloved cats feel at home. I had hoped that Cid’s smell would calm them and remind them of the man who had taken them everywhere he went. If only they could hear his voice on the three phone messages I had unknowingly saved. And even though I listened to those messages over and over – they couldn’t hear the voice that they longed for.
What we didn’t know was that both of his cats would feel the same way I did. His male cat – Rigel – pined away for Cid. He grew thinner by the day and hardly ate at all. Within 3 months D had to take him to the vet and have him put to sleep. I thought at the time that I should go with Rigel and asked to be put to sleep so I could be with Cid as well. I rocked precariously on the boundary of insanity with the pain of losing Cid.
His female cat – Sarah – was the meanest cat I have ever come across. She would rather claw your eyes out than have you look at her. It was so obvious how much she missed Cid but her claws and temper kept her isolated and there was no way to console her. Six months later she was gone too and I felt like such a failure. I felt I had let Cid down.
Once more my mother came to the rescue. She got me out of the house and away from the endless crying and back into the family business. She didn’t care if I sat in the backroom and cried my eyes out – just as long as I wasn’t doing it at home by myself. I started to take an interest again in the retail part of the business and managing the staff. I even started to go out on the sales floor and sell a few coats. I tried to save my tears for Cid’s room where I could go and smell him and feel him around me. So many times D came and joined me and we sat with our arms around each other and missed our friend.
Eventually we were able to talk about him once more. The memories started to come out and every time we saw a hawk we said it was Cid. He had loved them so much because they were big enough for him to be able to see with his poor eyesight. I thought that now he glided on the wind and saw the world through hawk’s eyes and reveled in it. When they flew over the car I waved and said ‘Hi Cid’. It is now just something we do. Back in Cid’s room a hawk sits on one of the cupboards. If you squeeze it just right you hear that high cry they give and I can envision Cid – flying over the mountains and coulees – and grinning from ear to ear.
Some loves just never end. Those true, great, loves that neither death, nor time, nor circumstance can put out. Where the pain neither fades nor subsides with the passage of time. Where time is only a way to get to the next phase – the one where you will be together again.
Sure your life changes and you adjust to the next event in your life and bittersweet is something you’d rather have in a chocolate than in a memory. Sure you learn to laugh and even to love again. But it’s never in the same way again. Never.
There are always those times when you turn a corner and think – oh! is that him? Or you’re in a crowd and you think you hear his voice. Your mind trips on a word and remembers a phrase. The phone rings and you think that when you pick it up he’s going to say – Oh hi Aims. It’s Cid.
Tonight I watched a movie called ‘P.S. I Love You'. A story about a woman who loses her husband to a brain tumour and how he writes her letters before he dies and he sends them to her for a year afterwards. At the end of the movie she says she can’t feel him anymore and I thought – how could you not? How can a great love just vanish from your life because a year has passed? How can you forget the feel of him or the taste of him or the sound of his voice?
It has been almost 8 years since Cid died and I remember everything about him. Even the smell of his clothes. Some days – most days – are like he just was here and has just died. I see him all the time in people. I hear his voice in my head whenever I need to and often just out of the blue. That man has his lips, that other one his eyes. Here’s his smile – and the trees echo his voice as he whispers my name.
The tears are forever too. My eyes give way to my memories and someone would think the funeral was just last week perhaps if they didn’t know me. And movies such as this one will bring it out again and I will go to bed weeping. Tomorrow I will wake and look in the mirror at the sadness that has become a permanent part of my face and I’ll go and stand and look at his picture for a while - remembering yesterdays like they are todays.
Hearing those words from Cid’s uncle turned my heart into stone. Cid had asked me to ‘be there’ for his mother once he was gone. He was afraid she was going to be lonely and he hoped we could spend time together in the future.
But hearing those words and looking at their faces made me shrug and walk away. I packed my bags and left and never looked back and never went back to visit with his mother. All I had done for all of that time was look after a man I loved and try to do the things he had wanted. Relaying his wishes had gotten me this and I had had enough.
I drove up to Cid’s condo the following day and began the long job of packing up his life. For everyone who has ever done this after a loved one’s death – you know how hard this is. Every single item is held and you try to get a feeling of the person you loved through an inanimate object. You smell and you feel and you press it to your face – and you cry. And you cry. And you cry.
My discovery that his mother had helped herself to the best of what Cid had only helped to drive home my feelings of disgust with his family. I had thought that I would help clean the condo as I packed so it would help with selling it. When I found that they had taken the vacuum cleaner – well those thoughts of helping flew out of the window – and not on pleasant wings.
I worked steadily for three days with the knowledge that my brother and cousin were coming with D and a rented truck on the weekend. Cid’s life was going to be packed into it and moved 200kms where it would become part of my life – again. Despair and loneliness and just plain missing Cid, mixed with my anger as I sorted and packed his meager belongings. I laughed when I found the storeroom that held treasures his mother would have loved to get her hands on. It was obvious they hadn’t known about it. I am not mean-hearted, but I had been pushed too far. Even with my mental condition I knew it and I responded as I pitched stuff into the garbage bin.
I could have taken what I wanted and left his mother and uncle to clean up the mess, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it to Cid. And to me that is what mattered. I felt I had to do what was right. What other people did was their choice. Not mine.
I thought of these things as I climbed up onto the kitchen counter and reached for the articles Cid had placed on top of the cupboards. And I thought of nothing much as I lost my balance and fell backwards onto the kitchen floor, landing on my left shoulder. However – over the next five years of physiotherapy and pain I have replayed those thoughts many times. That fall damaged muscles and tissue in my shoulder. I will never be able to sleep on my left side again, so pain is always mixed with my lasting love of that wonderful man.
I was useless when it came time to load the truck. I couldn’t use my left arm at the time as I held it against my chest and passed things using my right hand. All that was left at the end was Cid’s old beaten up couch that we didn’t know what to do with.
As I was taking one last look around, a real estate agent let a young woman into the condo. The three of us stood looking at one another – shock and embarrassment plastered on all of our faces. The agent mumbled something about wanting to get the condo shown as quickly as possible. It only took me a second to realize that his mother and uncle had struck again, and struck early. I shrugged my shoulders and walked out without another look back. I climbed into my car and followed the truck out of the city. D sat beside me and held my hand while I cried.
I woke in the strangeness of a room that was not my own and felt my loss hit me. I knew that after today Cid would be gone – forever. Somehow I had convinced myself that he was still here because he had not been buried, and the horror of that thought swept through my mind, and all I wanted to do was pull the blankets over my head and stay there. Opening the curtains, I could see the day was bright and hard and cold. I felt it was probably portentous and it made me want to run as far away as I could from the looming experience I was about to fall into.
In the kitchen, Cid’s mother and uncle were talking in Italian. A silence like a lid fell on the room when I entered and tried out a weak smile on them both. His mother turned to me and handed me a piece of paper and tried to make a small speech. Cid had stated that he wanted to give me $1000 for looking after him and to cover my expenses during that time. His mother now told me she had added more money to that to thank me for everything I had done for her son. I looked down at the paper and saw that I was holding a cheque for $3000. I stared at it blankly and thought – It’s not going to bring him back. Is it?
The funeral was set for 1pm and my stomach was clenched so hard it made me feel sick. I needed to get away from these people and the house that Cid had lived in, so I took the cheque and went looking for the bank it was written on. I didn’t know what else to do. When I returned with the cash in my pocket, his mother was beside herself and screamed at me that they thought I was going to miss the funeral. I stared at them, unable to comprehend why they would ever think that. Shaking my head I went and dressed.
The black limousine took three silent people to the Catholic Church where Cid’s body lay beneath the lid of the coffin. As we walked down the aisle, my eyes were focused on the coffin as it drew closer and closer. Sitting in the front row I stared at the gleaming wood and heard words that drifted past my ears like the murmuring of a brook. I stared at the flowers and listened to the music until a sudden recollection hit me and everything stopped.
“He wanted yellow,” I said.
His mother gasped and looked at me in astonishment. The priest hesitated briefly as my words reached him, but I barely noticed.
“He wanted yellow flowers. Cid told me – let there be yellow flowers Aims – and there’s not even one here!”
His mother shushing me made me suddenly realize that we were in the middle of the service and I hung my head and cried. Another memory surfaced and I realized that they weren’t playing the music he had wanted either. I had failed him. Even though they had made the arrangements for the funeral without me – I felt I had failed him.
Sitting once more in the black limo, I stared numbly as the pallbearers brought the casket out and slid it into the back of the hearse. My breath stuck in my throat and I could feel the ball of pain sitting there before it came out of me in huge croaking sobs. Turning my tear-streaked face away from his family, I watched the strangers who milled outside the church as we sat ensconced in the luxury of the limousine – each of us trapped in our misery. A small sigh escaped my lips when I recognized my family who had come to say good-bye to this wonderful man. They were like an island in my sea of agony. I knew I would be safe with them if only I could reach them.
We followed the hearse to the cemetery and I gave my arm to his mother as we walked behind the coffin. We stood beside the open mouth of the earth and I looked around. We had been here before to visit his father’s grave. Cid had stood next to me as he told me that he wanted to be buried on the hill overlooking the coulee. Instead, his mother had chosen a site opposite his father. It wasn’t on the hill where the sun shone and the coulee stretched away for miles. It was here, in this nondescript place. Not what Cid had wanted at all. I guess the dead have no choices. My heart felt like a stone and again I felt like a failure.
When the priest finished, I placed my hand on the top of the coffin and my tears dulled some of the gleam of the wood. “I love you Cid. I always will”. When I turned away I looked away over the hill and across the coulee. I hoped he heard me.
I was grateful that they didn’t lower the coffin into the ground as I stood there. I might have done the dramatic scene that we saw at the movies and thrown myself on top of the coffin as it sank into the earth. Instead, I found myself at the ‘head table’ with his mother and his uncle as everyone gathered for cake and tea. I could see my mother and brother with D and my cousin as they sat among the strangers and watched me. I had barely spoken to them and because Cid had asked me to help his mother, I stayed glued to my seat.
His mother sat with her shoulder turned away from me and when I tried to speak to her she tightened her lips and turned her head. When I laid my hand on her arm she pulled it away. If someone spoke to her, she barely nodded. I couldn’t understand why his family kept themselves so withdrawn from the people who had come to say good-bye to Cid. Their aloofness was so obvious that it made everyone in the room uncomfortable. People toyed with their cake and washed it down their dry throats with lukewarm tea. They spoke quietly among themselves as they eyed the three of us sitting behind our invisible wall. I remembered that Cid had said his family had come over from Italy and built themselves a place here all by themselves. They had never needed anyone, and even in their pain they weren’t going to let the barriers down.
Out of all of those people, one man came up to me and told me he had been Cid’s teacher at one time and he was one of the pallbearers. I didn’t realize at the time that I knew this man and his son. The son had worked for my brother as a guide and we had dated for a year and a half. The man’s name meant nothing to me that day and I didn’t realize who he was until three years later.
Then it was all over with and I had hugged my family and thanked them for coming and told them I would see them when I got home. My mother looked at me closely and asked me if I was all right. D hugged me hard, and he did it again. I could see that he had been crying and I leaned up against his chest and I could feel how warm his arms were as they wrapped around me once more. This man understood more than anyone else and how I wanted to stay inside that circle of his arms and give way to my grief.
When the limousine dropped us back at his mother’s house, I felt like my feet were made of lead. Inside the house his mother went directly to the couch and sat on it with her feet tight together and her lips matching. His uncle took the easy chair and said my name.
“We thank you for everything you have done for Cid. However, we want you to leave immediately. We are tired of you bossing us around and telling us what to do.”
I know everyone is waiting for the story to continue - and so am I.
I have started writing it many times only to end up hitting the delete button and walking away.
I've dreamed about it in my sleep - I've thought about it while knitting. But it's not happening. I just can't get the words to come out the way I want them to. Not yet. And he deserves the best that I can do. Nothing less.
So I wait - right along with you. I know it will come and I know you are all going to say don't rush it - write it when you can. I know that. I also know there is a need to write it deep inside me. But I'm afraid - again.
I was only home a day when I received the call that the funeral arrangements had been made. Cid’s body had been transported to Lethbridge and his uncle and mother had made all the arrangements. Now his uncle was asking me to come down before the funeral and stay at the mother’s house.
The sun sparkled off the snowy fields and I was reminded of how cold the earth was in February. Cid had made this drive countless times and I tried to see the landscape as he had. The fields stretched off to the west – vast expanses of white. Their sheer vastness butted up against the magnificence of the snow covered Rocky Mountains that stood up stark and hard against the blue bowl of the prairie skies. I tried to see this beauty through Cid’s eyes. I tried to experience the wonder of southern Alberta as he might have as a child; fresh from Italy and afraid. But it was hard to see through my tears.
My stomach was a cold hard knot and it clenched as I walked up to the front door of his mother’s house. The uncle opened the door and Cid’s mother gave me a stiff hug before turning away. I often wonder if there is any pain greater than a mother’s when she loses a child.
After I was settled, I met them both again in the kitchen and we tried to eat a little something before we had to go for the viewing at the funeral home. It was difficult to keep up some pretense of a conversation as we watched the minute hand inspect all the points on the clock. When Cid’s mother went to lie down, I found a quiet spot in the recreation room and wrapped myself in a blanket – and cried. I felt like Catherine from Wuthering Heights as I called and called for Cid in my mind – but like Heathcliff - he never came.
The three of us dressed and as one we walked silently to the car and drove to the funeral home. I didn’t think it was possible, but that cold hard fist in my stomach tightened even further as we walked towards the front door, and I suddenly realized I was afraid. The funeral director met us and shook our hands and ushered us towards the room that held Cid’s body.
My knees started to shake and I thought I was going to faint as we walked up that long aisle towards the casket. The cloying scent of flowers almost made me swoon but all I was aware of was the casket with the lid propped open – and Cid. Taking a deep breath, I forced myself to keep walking until I stood beside him and looked at that face that I loved so much. I couldn’t stop the tears and I reached out and laid my hand on his cheek and whispered, “Oh Cid”.
I don’t know how much time had passed before I noticed that I was standing at the casket by myself. I turned and looked behind me and saw Cid’s mother leaning heavily on the arm of her brother, watching me. I felt horrible and didn’t know if I had committed a faux pas, and I put a weak smile on my face and motioned for them to join me. I could see that his mother was close to collapsing and I took her other arm and helped her to stand as we stood beside the casket. I don’t know who loved him the most, but the three of us stood there and wept.
I kept telling myself that he wasn’t here anymore, but he looked like he was. Just asleep. I kept telling myself that he was with me - but there was that space between again. I kept telling myself that my heart was still in one piece – it really was – but it felt ragged and torn and I thought it was weeping too. I felt like my whole life lay there with Cid and I dreaded the next day.
We sat in the front row and watched as friends came and looked down at Cid’s body before they came and whispered to his mother. I almost held my breath when Cid’s ex-fiancée brought her 2 children and stood beside the coffin. I knew how much she had hurt him. I knew she had been cruel and uncaring towards him – even when she knew he had cancer and was in pain. I remembered when he offered me the diamond ring she had worn and I had told him to give it back to her. She had told him it wasn’t the same without him attached to it, but she took it. Something to remember him by. She wouldn’t look at me when she came to whisper to his mother and all I could do was shrug my shoulders. Wasn’t it time to give this nonsense up?
Still – we sat there. Mostly in silence. For what seemed like an eternity. I could barely tear my eyes away from his face knowing that once they closed that lid he would be gone forever.
But finally it ended and we drove back to the mother’s house in silence. Later, Cid’s uncle said there was a van sitting out front of the house and he went outside to investigate. He came back in and told us the ex-fiancée was outside but wouldn’t come in because I was there. I threw my hands in the air and got in my car and went for a drive.
Here I go again. Stuck up against the brick wall of trying to write a post that tears at my heart. And I can't. I have to wait until my heart will let me.
So I just wanted to let you know that there is (at the moment) a post a day coming out at Big Blue Barn Knits!
I have been working at posting the bears on my Etsy site and when I do that I have also done a post to match on Big Blue Barn Knits. I have used the wonderful post option feature that blogger now allows and so the bears come out on a daily basis.
Right at the moment I have 12 bears sitting beside my desk waiting to go up on my Etsy site - but they are going to have to wait.
For those of you who don't know - my brother and I are doing two - very large craft shows at the end of November and early December. One is the Festival of Crafts in Calgary and the other is called Butterdome - in Edmonton. They are both 4 days long and the cost of the booths is something I don't even want to think about. My brother does - or is - Otter Pottery and of course I do the knitting. At the moment I have 49 hand knit bears and I don't know if I have enough. I am also making a pair of thrummed slippers a day and filling orders I am getting on the side. I don't know when I'll get around to making the thrummed mittens (this is a pic of the kits but the mittens look the same - well sort of). These can all be seen over on Etsy if you are interested or wondering what they look like.
So at the moment - knitting is my life and I don't get a ton of time to blog.
However - I want to thank those people who have given me awards. They are flying by on my sidebar even as I write.
Then there are the wonderful blogging friends who have bestowed on me some incredible gifts. So let's have a look.
As you can see - Melanie - over at Jellybeanangel sent me some lavender! We thought we might be caught for smuggling - but we got away with it! She put it in those white and blue bags over on the upper left hand side of the picture. It sits in my knitting room at the moment, warding off wool moths. My room smells incredible! I love going up to the top floor of the barn and having that wonderful smell wash over me. Sigh! She also included the tea towel, the yarn, the beads for the bath...am I forgetting something here Melanie? Yikes! I have a great memory for the past - but for the present my mind is like a sieve!
Then Daryl over at Out and About in New York City sent me a lovely orange fridge magnet with the symbol of the flur de lis on it because she knows how much I adore New Orleans.
Joy over at A Spot of T gave me that wonderful Wood Wicks candle (and some other wonderful stuff) on the day we went out and had a picnic in the snow.
And Dawn over at Colours of Dawn - well - I asked her to order me an Empowerment Bracelet. For me it symbolizes the years of abuse I endured and how I have overcome that. She sent me 2! bracelets and included a number of Avon items in my package - all as a wonderful gift!
And lastly - it wasn't a gift because I ordered it online - but! from authorblog I got David McMahon's book Vegemite Vindaloo and it feels like a gift to me! Now if it had only been signed! Sigh....perhaps next time you're in Canada David?
Thanks to all of you for bringing these rays of sunshine into my life. You all are so special to me! If I missed something - please let me know - I'd feel so bad but you know my sieve brain!
I promise - after all of this - and when my heart allows - I will get back to the story and tell you about Cid's funeral. Believe me when I say that it is going to be very hard writng.
Enough years have gone by in my life, enough experiences – good and bad, that I should have learned that ‘expecting’ should be the last choice you make. And Cid should have known that as well. He knew his mother and his uncle. He should have known. Perhaps he had chosen ‘hope’ over ‘expect’ – but he had made the wrong choice. Let me explain.
As I gathered my belongings that had accumulated over the last six weeks, his uncle approached me and asked if Cid’s mother could have a few things. She wanted a couple of his suits to keep for herself and I couldn’t see why not. Cid had been very specific about what suit he wanted to be buried in and I explained that to them. His mother glared at me while I did so and shut her eyes to block me out. I was adamant that I go by Cid’s wishes and that he be buried in the suit he had selected. I left them to it.
When I came into the bedroom much later to collect the last of my belongings, I found Cid’s mother frantically searching all of his suits for his gold cuff links. She wanted those gold cuff links and I helped her search for them but we couldn’t find them. In the end I just shrugged my shoulders and finished packing my bag.
Before I left I gave them my phone number so they could inform me of the day and time of the funeral. They were leaving to make arrangements to transport Cid’s body to Lethbridge and then following it. I spoke with the neighbours as I exited the building and they informed me they were arranging for a memorial in Edmonton and would let me know of the time and date.
When I finally arrived home, I threw myself into D’s arms and we both sobbed until we were cried out. I just couldn’t imagine our lives without Cid in them and the pain was almost too much to bear. But there was D – waiting patiently for me and sharing my pain – easing the burden. When I told him about the horrors that occurred in the seconds following Cid’s last breath – he said “They must have been hurting so much”. I leaned my head on his huge chest and closed my eyes – only to have that scene replay itself over and over. It certainly hadn’t been what I expected.
I attended the memorial service in Edmonton by myself and it was lovely. The service was quiet and the priest spoke so wonderfully about Cid. Many strangers came up to me and hugged me once the service was over. Afterwards I returned to Cid’s condo and let myself in with the key I still had. I discovered that his mother had ‘helped’ herself to most of Cid’s best items – even though he had said (right in front of her) that I was to get all his belongings. He had even told her that she didn’t need anything of his – she had enough. My first reaction was fury which gave way to resignation. I wasn’t going to fight her for her son’s belongings. But I did question Cid’s expectations once more.
The space between those two heartbeats – where my heart tried to follow Cid’s – were broken – no shattered – by a sudden wailing that filled the room. I lifted my head off Cid’s hand to discover his mother’s mouth wide open and a keening noise blasting out of it.
My astonishment at this noise was interrupted by Cid’s uncle who pushed me aside with one hand as he grasped the intravenous lines with another and yanked them out of Cid’s arm and then his wrist. He then grabbed Cid under the armpits and began shaking him up and down – as if he could shake him back to life.
My hands flew to my mouth and I watched in horror as his uncle flung Cid about and his mother began to beat on herself. Recovering from the shove his uncle had given me, I backed against the wall to keep myself out of the uncle’s way in case his insanity swept him completely away and I got sucked in to the vortex. I also wanted to put as much distance between myself and the noise coming from his mother. It was loud enough to hurt my ears. I was torn between covering my mouth in shock or plugging my eardrums.
Fluid pumped from the intravenous lines and started forming puddles and I watched helplessly as his uncle slipped on the floor as he tried to bring Cid back to life. The IV machines rocked dangerously on their wheeled bases as he jostled them in his macabre dance with Cid. It truly was a comedy of horrors.
The noise from his mother eventually brought the nurse and she burst into the room and came to an abrupt halt while she tried to understand what was occurring. Rushing forward, she wrestled with the uncle in an attempt to free Cid from his grasp and she had to yell into his face to get him to stop. With one hand restraining the uncle, she turned to the mother and tried to calm her as well.
I still stood against the wall, my mind unwilling to take in what these two were doing in their grief. Every time the nurse let go of the uncle, he would grab at Cid again and begin to shake him once more. Once she got through to him, he turned his grief against himself and turning his back, he began pulling at his hair. His mother still wailed and the nurse spent the next couple of minutes trying to get her to take a breath and to quiet down so as not to disturb other patients.
It was some time before they were both composed enough to gather themselves so we could leave the hospital. His mother wept on her brother’s shoulder as we walked through the doors of the hospital and I was surprised to see that another day had dawned. Behind me I knew that Cid lay under a sheet somewhere in the bowels of the hospital. In front of me lay the upcoming funeral and I didn’t know what to expect.
Arriving back at Cid’s condo, I placed a call to my mother to tell her the news. Then I called D. His soft voice broke and I listened to his quiet sobs when I told him that our dearest friend was gone. Both Mom and D told me the same thing. Come home.
Cid’s mother left me alone and looked at me differently that next day. I felt differently inside – more powerful – more secure – and I know it was because Cid had made a stand for me and I had made my stand for him. But in the end I was too busy and worried to pay too much attention to her.
I spent the day worrying about Cid’s oxygen levels. I could see by the little monitor that I attached to his finger that his blood oxygen levels were very low. I tried everything I could to raise them but by the evening I was worried enough to call into the hospital help line. After explaining the situation and giving the nurse the reading I was getting on the monitor – she sent an ambulance.
Cid was almost embarrassed when the paramedics arrived and loaded him onto the gurney and he tried to make a joke about it all, but he could hardly breathe and talking was getting to be a major effort. His mother was off in the corner of the living room wailing into her brother’s shoulder as I smiled and stood beside Cid and tried to give him some of my strength. I kissed him hard before they wheeled him out the front door, then grabbed my keys and followed the ambulance.
They took Cid into emergency and I sat on a chair while the medical staff did their thing. I tried to stay out of the way so they wouldn’t trip over me, but I also wanted to be as close to Cid as I could. He lay on that gurney and I could see the resignation on his face and I wanted to scream – fight! fight! fight! I did inside – over and over.
As the evening wore on, the medical staff bustled about less hurriedly and the room almost became quiet. I pulled up my chair and laid my head against Cid and he stroked my hair and the back of my neck like he had always done. I told him I loved him and he told me the same thing. And we waited.
I waited for a miracle. I couldn’t give up hope that Cid would somehow beat this. I couldn’t.
As night came around I was afraid that if I didn’t take my medication that I might go into withdrawals and then I wouldn’t be any help at all. Once I had taken it though I became drowsy and I nodded off and on as I lay with my head on Cid’s chest. A doctor came in and asked me to move my chair so he could have a look at Cid and I was forced to move back against the wall. It was cold and lonely there and I was so sleepy. Through the fog in my head I heard the doctor talking to Cid.
“Mr. Marchesich? You know you’re dying don’t you? There is nothing we can do for you. I’m sorry.”
I can’t forget those words. They haunt me. Always.
After the doctor left they moved Cid to a private room and someone called his mother and uncle. I walked beside the gurney as they wheeled him off to that room and held his hand and smiled at him. I tried so hard not to cry, but I knew I was going to miss him for the rest of my life.
His mother and uncle arrived and I refused to give up my spot on Cid’s right side. His uncle stood beside me and his mother was on the other side of the gurney. Cid’s breathing was harsh and painful and it filled the room. I kept a watch on the oxygen monitor until a nurse came in and saw what I was doing. She unclipped it off his finger and wrapped the cord around the little machine and took it away. She avoided the panicked look in my eyes as I watched her, knowing I had to see how he was doing – trying to spare me that moment.
Cid had acknowledged his mother and uncle when they came into the room, but he had then focused on taking each laboured breath after that. I held his hand and thrilled at each little weak squeeze he gave me. I was so scared but I didn’t want him to know it and I would lean over and whisper in his ear and tell him I loved him. He would squeeze my hand – again.
I was watching his face when he took his last breath. He seemed to hold it. Then he let it go.
In the quiet that echoed around the room, I laid my head down on his hand and felt the warmth go out of it and out of my heart. Between one beat and the next, I heard my heart break and I could feel the shattered pieces flying off into the four corners of the universe in search of Cid's heart as it winged it's way to a place of peace with mine not wanting to be left behind. Left alone to face the future forever without him. Without his hand in mine, without the words of love on his lips, or shining from his soft brown eyes. With only the little gold hearts touching each other and pressing up against my breast. Forever. Like now – I sobbed.
Cid’s mother never stopped with the constant – and I can’t even say ‘chattering’ here – in Italian. I guess it was more like ‘nagging’ – but I can’t say for sure because it was in another language. All I can say is that Cid seemed to succumb to whatever she was saying and I watched helplessly as he slumped further and further down and looked ‘beaten’. I bit my lip and kept an eye on his oxygen meters – trying to let his mother have her say and her time with her son. I could see Cid giving up under the barrage and it was nonstop on her part.
When Cid tried to lie down on the couch his oxygen meter dropped to a scary low and he started to gasp for breath. I made him sit up and pushed as many pillows as I could behind his back, but it was obvious he was uncomfortable and had a hard time sitting like that. There was no easy chair in the condo and I pointed out that this is what he needed – a chair that he could relax in yet still be able to sit up and allow him to breathe. I even asked Cid if any of his neighbours might lend him a chair for a bit. My speaking made his mother purse her lips and glare at me, but I was more concerned about Cid’s breathing and his comfort.
I was taken by surprise when Cid’s uncle grasped my upper arm and pulled me to the front door and shoved my coat in my hands.
“We’re going to go look for a chair,” he said and steered me out the door.
Both of us were unfamiliar with Edmonton and we just drove around until we came across a furniture store. His uncle humoured me as I searched earnestly for a suitable chair and I could feel my anxiety levels skyrocketing and bursting out of the top of my head. I just couldn’t understand why they weren’t trying to make Cid more comfortable – even if it was only for a couple of days. To me the cost would have been well worth it.
Sometime during that aimless driving I realized that his uncle was just getting me out of the condo so the mother could be alone with Cid. He had never intended to make Cid more comfortable – it was all for the mother. This realization hit me like a ton of bricks in the face and I could feel that weight settling on my shoulders and bringing me down. I turned my face to the window and quit talking. When we got to the next furniture store I told him to go in himself – and he realised the game was up. I could see he was suddenly feeling just like me – and I didn’t care. He drove as slowly as he could back to the condo and almost dragged his feet as we approached the elevator. When we entered, I caught him shrugging his shoulders when Cid’s mother glared at us. I didn’t give a damn and went and made up Cid’s nebulizer and gave it to him. The look in Cid’s eyes told me everything.
That night as we prepared for bed, Cid asked me to sleep up with him instead of curled on the foot of the bed. I had been so afraid of bothering him while he slept that I had never thought of climbing in beside him. The effort of getting into bed had exhausted him and he lay with his eyes closed. Not wanting to disturb him, I curled up on the far side of the bed and tried to breathe as quietly as possible.
"What are you doing way over there?" His voice was raspy in the dark - almost overpowered by the hiss of the oxygen. It was his next words that crashed through my barriers and tugged at my heart. "Please come over here."
When he put his arm around me and pulled me tight up against him, I sighed. However, in a minute I sat up again and yanked off my nightgown before getting under the covers again and snuggling as tightly to him as I could. When the alarm went off to signal his nebulizer treatment, I found that I had wrapped my arms around his neck and had my head tucked under his chin. When I drew away to prepare his treatment, he smiled and said,
“All these years I’ve wanted to do this Aims. Thank you.”
When his mother opened the bedroom door in the morning and saw our naked bodies, Cid said, “Close the door Mother.” In English
When the sun rose the next morning I woke Cid for his nebulizer treatment. With the rosy hues of the rising sun against the morning mist shining on his face, it struck me how angelic he looked. I tried to turn my mind from that thought as much as I could, but it kept wandering back to it again and again. I smiled at him wearily and he smiled back as best as he could with the mask up against his mouth and nose.
As soon as Cid appeared out of the bedroom, his mother started up a constant stream of shrill chatter in Italian. Just before he entered the bathroom, he turned his head and looked at me – and rolled his eyes. I could barely hear him clanking around the oxygen tank in there as his mother stood right outside the door and didn’t let up. I could tell by the sound of the spoken words that it wasn’t that pleasant either. I closed the bedroom door and lay out on the bed and stared at the ceiling.
She kept up that chatter throughout breakfast and on into the morning. At one point Cid motioned me into the bedroom and we sat in there on the bed as I gave him another treatment. Afterwards he whispered to me that his mother was angry about all the noise that went on during the night. I couldn’t understand what she was referring to until I realized that I had to use the bathroom throughout the night to wash the mask and rinse out other pieces of equipment. I was just doing the nursing duties that were required – but it was waking her up. I thought that she should try being in my shoes. I hadn’t had more than a few minutes sleep here and there for at least three days and I could feel my chest hurting with the fatigue. Cid wrapped his arms around me and asked me to try to ignore her.
We had talked over the years many times about his parents. His father had died of a heart attack just before I met Cid and he had felt responsible for his mother’s happiness since then. What had been strange about it all was that his father had received a phone call in the early hours of the morning, and a voice had told him the person was calling from the airport and he was here to kill him. No one ever found out who made the call, but they think his father had the heart attack because of the stress of it all. He had been a bricklayer all his life and had brought his small family from Trieste, Italy to settle in the tiny town of Taber, Alberta. They had been a self-contained unit, the three of them – staying to themselves even when they moved to the large city of Lethbridge.
When Cid was applying for postsecondary education, he applied to a journalism school and law school. He didn’t care which one he got in to, he just made sure that both of them were far enough away from his parents that it wouldn’t be easy for them to make a daily visit. He had his fingers crossed for journalism school, but it was the law school he heard from first. He packed his bags and fled.
From what he told me, those years away from his parents had been the best of his life. When he graduated, he also decided to work a long distance from them as well and chose Edmonton – a seven-hour drive. Of course he had always been a good son, and they never knew that all he wanted to do was have his own life without them hanging over his head and telling him what to do every second of the day. And his father’s death had changed that. Cid went back to the daily phone calls and long-weekend visits. He spent every visit to his mother fixing the problems in the house or looking after hers. He did it all with that wonderful smile on his face and she never knew.
When he rolled his eyes at me before shutting the bathroom door – I thought of all of this.
The rest of that day was spent monitoring Cid’s oxygen levels and sharing the space beside him with his mother. Personally I was still having trouble with my life because of the mental breakdown, and dealing with antagonism was not something I could manage - so I tried to ignore the looks and comments that were coming from his mother.
When supper-time rolled around his mother again took over the kitchen and I changed the oxygen tanks while keeping an eye on his oxygen levels. His mother asked Cid where he got his new microwave oven and Cid told her that it had been a present from D and I. She stood looking at me while she wrapped potatoes in aluminum foil before she put them all in the microwave and turned them on. When they started arcing she screamed and ran out of the kitchen and Cid’s uncle raced in and flung open the door. Her claims that she didn’t know that would happen made me realize this woman really resented me. I knew she had owned a microwave for years. I bit my lip and busied myself in the bedroom for a bit.
Cid’s condo was really small. Too small for 4 people. The kitchen overlooked the living room which held a small table where we sat and ate. The one bedroom was taken up with a huge desk and queen-size bed. There was just room enough to edge around the bed if you wanted to get in. Everything could be heard in the whole condo when you used the bathroom. To escape I would go into the bedroom and sit on the edge of the bed and look out the window. It was the only place for me to go and I would try to shut out the sound of them talking amongst themselves in Italian as I searched the view for something to quiet my mind.
I was sitting in there staring out at the streetlights when I heard Cid starting to gasp and choke. Racing into the living room I found him lying on the couch, unable to breathe.
“You have to sit up Cid,” I said as calmly as I could and I got his uncle to hoist him into a sitting position. I had a look at the oxygen tanks we had been supplied with and I somehow managed to link two of them together and I got Cid more oxygen than he had been getting. Then I gave him a nebulizer to inhale – even though it wasn’t time for one. In a few minutes his breathing returned to as normal as it could and I could see how exhausted he was from the ordeal.
“Thanks Aims. I think you just saved my life.”
I wrapped my arms around him gently and kissed his sweet lips. I wanted to tell him how much I didn’t want his life to be in my hands - and I couldn’t. I wanted to tell him that I wanted his life to go on forever and ever – far past mine – and I couldn’t. I wanted to tell him how precious his life was to me and how it had always been that way – and I couldn’t. All I could do was let a tear drop from my cheek onto his and rub it in.
That night I made Cid sit up in bed against as many pillows as we could find. I didn’t want another episode like that to happen in the middle of the night. I perched again on the foot of the bed and watched him as he slept.
We made it through that first night back at home with relative ease. I set the alarm clock every 2 hours and not wanting to wake his mother or uncle – I dozed with my hand on the clock. When it went off, I snapped off the alarm and made up Cid’s nebulizer. I would then gently wake Cid and place the mask on his face and watch while he inhaled all the good stuff until there was nothing left. Sometimes Cid slept through the treatment, sometimes I did - especially as the hands of the clock crept towards the early morning hours. Between the medications I had to take for my mental stability and just sheer nerves and exhaustion – sometimes I had to curl up on the foot of his bed – and sleep. I was afraid that snuggling up to this incredible man would hurt him in some way or I would be disturbing him – so I let him be.
In the morning Cid managed to shave and shower with a little help from me. For the first time in our relationship I saw him naked – and we both gave each other that sad ironic smile that shared our disappointment over this before he got into the shower. Of course in the end it didn’t matter – we still loved each other as much as we possibly could.
I kept checking to make sure he was all right, and he kept insisting he was. Afraid that he might slip or just give out without the oxygen, I dashed in and out of the bathroom while his mother glared at me. This astonished me as it was obvious that Cid needed a caregiver and that she was unable to do it herself. Cid knew what I was talking about as we whispered together while I helped him get dressed. He patted my shoulder and stated the obvious – his mother just couldn’t come to terms with any of it.
When he was dressed, the four of us again gathered around Cid’s little dining table and ate our breakfast. His mother loaded our plates and pushed food down her son’s throat – oblivious to his denials of wanting more.
Afterwards, Cid made a big show of stating his wishes. He told me that if he didn’t do it in front of his mother that she would deny and not believe anything that was said.
“Do you have a will Cid?” I asked. When he shook his head my mouth fell open. What was a lawyer doing without a will? Here was an obvious case of ‘it won’t happen to me’.
Turning his chair to face the room he called me to him in a loud voice so his mother would hear. As I stood inside his legs with his arms wrapped around my neck, he said “I am leaving you everything I own Aims. My mother will get the car and the money from the condo sale and my bank account – but everything else goes to you.”
“Oh Cid,” I said quietly and hung my head. From the corner of my eye I could see the daggers coming from his mother and I leaned into him and let his arms protect me from her. I gasped a bit when I felt his arms withdrawing from around me and I watched as he unclasped the gold chain from around his neck and held it out in front of him.
“I want you to have this Aims. You see these two gold hearts dangling here on this chain? This heart is mine and the other is yours. They will be together forever and when you wear it, it will lie up against your own heart and you will feel me with you – always.”
Turning me around, he draped the shining gold around my neck and did up the clasp. Looking down at the two little hearts against my chest I could feel the warmth from Cid’s body still clinging to them. As I looked up again my eye caught those of his mother’s and all I could feel was the coldness from her stare.
Summer has thrown a bit of a loop into my normal blogging schedule and I hope you can bear with me for another month anyway. During the summer I help my brother with his white water rafting business. You can see what I am doing if you click on the link on my sidebar under Fun Places. Like any business owner these days, my brother is short-staffed - and his sister comes in very handy - and very cheaply too!
I love to go out and serve the lunch on the side of the river. It's just me and nature before everyone comes up from the river - very wet and laughing their heads off. I serve them up a hot buffet lunch and listen to them talk about jumping off the cliff into the river or being thrown out of the raft. The cliff jumping happens right before the lunch stop - so that is usually the topic of conversation. My brother and the guides wait until everyone is served before they come up and hand me their bowl and give me those smiles that say they are so happy to make someone else happy. I fill their bowl with hot steaming home-made chili and share that moment with them. There was a time - long ago - when I use to be a white-water rafting guide for my brother - and I know what has been going on out there on that beautiful river!
These are pictures of the lunchsite and the lunch spread. I normally don't serve the lunch on the trailer - but I had just had a medical procedure on my back and I couldn't carry everything down the hill and set it up around the firepit - and then carry it all back up again. The only thing that gets lighter after the lunch is served is the huge cooler - and maybe me (I might have lost an ounce or two carrying all that stuff around). So I opted for spreading the lunch out on the trailer instead.
Most summers I have lived at my brother's place in our little 13' trailer. (This picture was taken on one of the Florida keys on our 2006 trip to Key West, Florida.)
Last year I told my brother that I couldn't help this summer - I wanted to stay home with The Man and swim in the pool and write and knit. But circumstances have changed all that. His full-time girl lasted a week before she went back to her fiance - and it has been cold and rainy so far this summer and I haven't been in our pool yet! My little trailer sits out at my brother's - but I have yet to spend a night in it. However - he needs me? I go. If I'm not helping out on the side of the river - I'm staying back at the building and showing off his pottery. Have a look at what my brother does during the winter months under Pretty Places. I think he is an amazing artist and I'm very proud of him. His pottery showroom is also where everyone meets to go rafting. It comes in handy.
As for the writing and the knitting? The knitting is happening - the writing isn't. My book sits untouched at chapter 14. In my head I am writing it - but it isn't getting typed out. The need to write eats away at me constantly. Perhaps when things settle down.
The knitting though!
Have a look at my sidebar at Big Blue Barn Knits! The Man and I have been working on getting my teddy bears up on Etsy.com. I've got 3 bears for sale on Etsy.com now and I will be putting up more. We are also working on putting the thrummed slippers and mittens I make on Etsy.com and also the Thrummed Knitting Kits I designed for those knitters out there who want to make the slippers and mittens themselves. I wrote a pattern and built the kits with yarn and wool roving. I also designed a slipper for little girls that has heart beads around the ankle. Those kits include the beads as well as the yarn and roving.
Now - one more thing before I go and grab my knitting and sit out on the deck.
I'm sorry to do this to you - but every once in a while I am going to ask you to throw a vote my way on the Blogger's Choice Awards. You can only vote once - so once you have it done you can forget about it and move on.
I hate begging and grovelling - but I will do it here quite easily because none of you can see the red creeping up my neck and taking over my face. You can't see the cowering look in my eyes or my inability to meet yours as I ask you to vote for me.
I know the site is very hard to navigate - but if you follow the instructions in this post - you should be fine. I've heard otherwise from people who are not so techno-savvy - and my heart does go out to you if you are one of these people (I am).
That's it for my Sunday Ramblings. I'll get back to the story as soon as possible.
I never dreamed the relationship Cid and I had - and how it evolved – would ever be one of the confessions he felt he had to make before receiving the last rites. In a small way I was honoured, but my devastation overshadowed that.
After the priest left we started to arrange for Cid to go home. There was nothing more the hospital could do and we knew it and it was obvious that Cid wanted to be ‘home’ once more.
Just before we left the hospital the nurses showed me how to administer Cid’s nebulizer and to regulate his oxygen. They also let me take home a machine that measured the blood oxygen saturation levels. It attached to his finger and gave a continuous reading. After I had been through my little bit of training, one by one the nurses of the unit came to say good-bye to Cid. We knew it was going to be the last time and again I was impressed with how people reacted to Cid. He was instantly likable – no - lovable – and it was obvious they had been touched by this man while they cared for him.
His uncle had gone to Lethbridge and brought back Cid’s mother, and she waited at his condo while his uncle came to the hospital and ‘took him home’. I knew his uncle wanted to help in some way, and that being the strong masculine person who helped Cid get from the hospital into his condo was what he needed to do. It was awkward being the one on the ‘outside’ of the family – but I felt that I deserved to be alongside Cid as much as they did and I held my place firmly.
Cid walked into his condo building under his own steam while I trailed the oxygen machine along behind him. He looked around the lobby with great interest as we waited for the elevator and you could see his shoulders sag as he entered his own home once more. We had already talked about how hysterical his mother was going to be and he had visibly steeled himself to this meeting while we rode along in the car and his mother had been mentioned. I had reached across into the front seat and given him my hand and he had squeezed it and then held it almost desperately. It’s not that Cid didn’t love his mother - it was quite the opposite. They were extremely close. It was just that his mother was known for being ‘excitable’.
As he stepped through the front door, his mother launched herself at him and threw her arms around his neck and screamed his name. I could see that he wasn’t strong enough to hold her and himself up and I motioned for the uncle to help Cid and take the mother off him. From what I could gather from the Italian that flew around the room, Cid was telling her 'he was okay – he was okay'.
Eventually we had him settled on the couch as comfortably as we could and we tried to get into a routine. The condo was small – a one-bedroom with a living/dining room and a small kitchen. His mother immediately took over the kitchen and began making food. Cid looked around his condo and said “I like what you’ve done with the place Aims” and we both laughed.
That day turned into a small family reunion with his mother cooking and the three of us trying to keep up with the food that came out of the kitchen. Cid kept bringing the conversation back to English so I wouldn’t be left out and his mother would shake her head a bit and frown before carrying on. I kept an eye on the machines and regularly gave Cid his nebulizer and checked his blood oxygen levels. When evening rolled around we got Cid into his bed and I set the alarm for giving him his nebulizer. His uncle took the couch and his mother took an easy chair while I curled up at the foot of Cid’s bed so I wouldn’t have far to go and I could shut off the alarm without waking the others.
I kept the curtains open so I could study and memorize Cid’s face in every light possible and I watched his chest rise and fall - rise and fall. As I listened to the sound of his harsh breathing as it filled the bedroom and floated away in the dark, I admitted to myself how terrified I was. I was afraid he was going to stop breathing right there and then – and I felt scared and alone as I sat in the dark watching his beloved face – and shaking.
My heart broke and I heard it breaking and smashing into my chest wall and crumbling into little pieces as it fell into the pit of my stomach.
The years of our friendship flashed through my brain and I watched it in slow motion – like a mini-film - as it replayed every single experience I had been through with this man.
It slowed down to a frame by frame as it came to the priest who had held my hands and called me a special woman and I watched my feet as they walked towards the bed where this man lay – working at taking each single breath – again and again.
I watched myself lean forward and kiss him – softly – so as not to take away any of the precious air he needed – but still enough to capture the love that lay between us.
I wanted to hold that forever. That love. This man. But I knew – knew that I wouldn’t be able to. I knew that I was losing him. Forever.
When Cid’s nurse came in with his nebulizer, he asked her if he could see the priest who looked after the patients in the hospital. Looking into his eyes she patted his hand and said she would look after that right away.
I sat beside him and watched as he held his nebulizer mask up to his face and breathed deeply. When he closed his eyes you could see the dark circles and the blue veins on his eyelids. A sudden fear flashed through me as I looked at him and I recognized it for what it was. I didn’t want him to close his eyes around me because I didn’t want to imagine him with them permanently closed. Ashamed of my fear – I looked away. When I looked back he was smiling at me again and he made a silly face around the mask. I wanted to cry. I wanted to weep and wail and scream at the top of my lungs. Instead I smiled back and told him he was crazy.
I crawled back up on the bed and nestled myself once more into Cid’s shoulder and we resumed our chatting. We laced our fingers together so tightly that sometimes it hurt, but neither of us cared. But both of us were afraid.
I can’t tell you how much time passed before the priest arrived. It might have been hours, it felt like days, but suddenly he was there. A stranger with a kind face walked up to Cid’s bed and smiled at us as we lay wrapped together in our need for each other. I know I raised my eyebrows in a silent inquiry until my eyes suddenly focused on his collar. Then I knew who he was.
“Are you Cid?” His voice was soft and gentle and full of understanding.
We both nodded at the same time and he laughed a little before extending his hand. We both shook it. One after the other.
I felt like we had been transported to a bubble and the three of us were encapsulated in this glowing warm light. My chest hurt and I thought that perhaps there wasn’t enough air in that bubble and that I should step outside so I could breathe. When the priest looked at me and asked if he could be alone with Cid, I gratefully smiled and disentangled myself from Cid. Finger by finger. I could tell by the way he held on that he didn’t want me to go, and I couldn’t look at his face where I knew I would see the fear I could feel in mine.
“I’ll wait outside Cid.” I gave him the most reassuring smile I could drum up before I went and stood out in the hall and stared at a spot in the paint.
I stared at that spot for an eternity.
Eventually I checked my watch and saw the priest had been in with Cid, behind those closed curtains, for over an hour. Just before I had stepped into the hall, I had heard the priest ask Cid if he would like to make his confession and I had heard him reply with a ‘yes’.
I went back to staring at that spot until my view was interrupted once more by that same collar. He took my hands and squeezed them tightly.
“You must be a very special woman,” he said. And then he was gone. He left me staring after him with a questioning look on my face and the need to gather my strength and smile once more teasing the back of my brain.
“You must have been very bad all your life for a confession to take that long Cid.” I tried to put as much laughter into my voice as I could so he wouldn’t have to reveal to me what had occurred while my legs grew numb and I was still seeing spots.
“I had to confess to being in love with another man’s woman. It took a long time.”