The removal of the hospital bed. Another step. Another inch of ground gained by the New Normal.
Our good friends Andy and Lisa brought us the bed when Mark needed it, so badly. He rested easier in it, there in my office, staring at my clothes in the closet, while I rested down the hall, in our bed, staring at his clothes in the bedroom closet. The bed and its givers are and were a Godsend. A hospital bed was a precious saving grace for Mark, who could not lie flat without gagging and choking on sinus secretions. It was also a signpost, a symbol of the approaching separation.
After Mark’s death, Carole and Willy, two more God-sent friends, arranged for the bed to be donated to CitySquare, a local charity. The bed-movers also hauled away boxes of leftover medical supplies, including the high-calorie nutritional formula that Mark relied on for sustenance when he could no longer take food by mouth. CitySquare was excited to get it, and promised it would go to some very needy people. I hope so, as this would make Mark very, very happy.
Oh, but there is a ton of information that my brain wants to spill onto this page. Everything feels so IMPORTANT, so imperative, as if there is so much that you must know, and you must know it all right now.
Is this feeling coming from just me, or is he here too, compelling, urging, pleading “please pay attention, here’s what’s important” – is Mark somewhere just ahead of us, trying to get through? Or is this feeling the yearning, the terrible yearning for contact with the Man Mountain?
(Aside to Mark: Please send irrefutable proof of your love and abiding presence. Burning bush would be nice. Just not inside the house, okay?)
Whatever might be causing this sensation, it will take some real work at concentrating to get the ideas, stories, etcetera down coherently when my brain is firing off all over the place, like a hyperactive dog chasing a housefly. Gentle readers, you’ve been warned.
Last night, as I was putting away and straightening up — and please to God, why does a death in the family generate so much STUFF — I picked up the two little boxes of Mark’s ashes that will eventually go to the boys, should they ever decide they want them. (Right now “Would you like to keep some of your dad’s ashes?” elicits the same facial expression as would “Care for some turnip-raisin salad?”) The funeral home provided certificates of authenticity affirming that the enclosed “cremains” are from the body formerly known as Mark. I’d glanced at the paper, but hadn’t read it until last night. It says at the bottom, “Date of Cremation: March 28, 2012.” I briefly wondered what I’d been doing that day, then went to bed and forgot about it. It was very late, and I was up way past my expiration date.
Fast-forward to this morning. Stumbled out of bed too early because why? Because I reached down to scratch my leg and realized there was a TICK buried in behind my knee. A deer tick. The kind that gives you Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. And Lyme Disease. How the hell did I miss this thing? It had to have been there since Sunday! I’ve showered! I’ve done my tick checks! What the hell?!
Let me tell you, as a new widow, something you don’t want to become fixated on is your own death and the possible orphanization of your children. Another possibility you don’t want to dwell on – possible ticks lurking in your bed. And the thing that you really, really do not want to be faced with after less than five hours of sleep is the sight of your ample, dimpled flesh reflected in a magnifying mirror as you scan for further tickage. And then comes the flash of realization that the one who loved your body no matter what (or who kindly lied and said that he did) really is gone.
Sorrow? No! Don’t think about that! The Monkey Mind quickly jumps back to the possiblity of serious illness, chanting: Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease.
I went to Facebook for distraction. I scrolled back to March 22nd, the day Mark died, and began to read, comment on, and “like” the words my friends and family had posted on my page. It was akin to making a cyber-gratitude list, and it worked to help take my mind off of my mind.
The coffee kicked in, and I remembered the cremation certificate and scrolled to March 28th, and then sat back, stunned, amazed. March 28th. Mark’s memorial service. How could I not have remembered? March 28th. The same day that 400 people were in congregation together to celebrate and raise the spirit, the poor body, so ravaged and wasted, was being offered up to the flame. There is a visual, playing through my head over and over, a profound series of moving images, sounds muffled and muted, interweaving pictures of the celebration and of the cleansing by fire, and the reunion of the body/mind.
Or, as my sister put it, “Theater people have perfect timing.”
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Romans 12:2 KJB