A year ago today, we had the memorial service to say good bye to Phil. It wasn’t the first time for good bye. We had said good bye over and over again in his hospice room. We had said good bye in the mortuary and we would continue to say good bye all year. Each good bye seemed to pull a thread from the fabric of my heart which has been left frayed around the edges. I dealt with this loss the way I deal with everything: get busy and get stuff done. I crocheted numerous afghans. I patched tile. I gardened. I cleaned and cleaned again.
Then the pandemic hit. I would get angry every time I would hear the pitiful slogan, “alone together.” I was alone alone. Poor Jennie. So, I made more afghans. I baked. I got a cat (I DO love my cat). I did what little I could to help my friend Mela within the COVID constraints, before a very sad and painful good bye. Sometimes a quiet voice would whisper in my ear, “Listen,” but the constant chattering in my mind and busy work muffled the message. Drat, I bet it was a good one. Sometimes the images in my mind of the present were sepia tinged, just like those accompanying my memories of the past.
My constant companion, GUILT, has hung with me. I feel guilty when I finish a task happily unencumbered by a, “Why did you do it that way?” comment from Phil, or when I start a project that Phil had previously vetoed. Where am I going? Sadly, Phil’s not here to ask or answer that question either. Sometimes when Phil was angry with me he would say, “Nothing makes you happy.” He’s probably still saying that. I’ve had a year to realize, no thing makes me happy. I have to make myself happy. I am truly blessed with family and friends who help me to do so. Memories can make me happy and sad. Life is good, but it is complicated. A year ago today, we were memorializing Phil. A year later, I’m STILL memorializing Phil. The following is from a year ago:
Phillip Wayne Taylor passed away November 2, 2019 at the age of 72. So began Phil’s obituary. On October 29th, Phil decided that he had had enough of potentially successful treatment at the expense of his life (you know the ol’ story – the doctor tells the patient’s family, “the treatment was a success, but I’m afraid the patient died”) and he chose to enter hospice. He had two days of comfort, and positive interaction with friends and family, before slipping into unconsciousness, and passing away on the morning of November 2nd. I, along with our children, and his best friend were with him.
He had been ill for more than half of our 42 years of marriage. Death had hunted him and he had eluded it, time and time again. He, and we, thought that he was invincible. Of course, he wasn’t, and neither are any of us.
Family and friends gathered to say goodbye. The love of my friends and family sustains me. The love we had for Phil (faults and all), sustains his memory. And so, life is good, but death isn’t all bad. When we’ve been suffering, it provides relief. When we’re tired, it provides rest. When we’re apart, it brings us together. It provides an opportunity to remember good times and the best of people who’ve passed. It casts a shadow that softens difficult memories, while encouraging forgiveness. It reminds us to tell the people we love, that we love them, while they can hear us. The gift of death, is the same as the gift of life: love.
“In my life, I’ve loved them all.”