On Jan. 11, my husband, my other half for nearly 42 years, passed away. Now, I tell you that not for you to be sad for me, although I’m sad enough for me, you, and anyone else you can see, hear or think of. But to rejoice in the knowledge he’s now in what I feel is such a wonderful place. And since over the years “Is This You?” has typically been a giggle fest, you probably already know I will keep this light, even though it deals with the death of my loved one.
When someone is gone forever from your life, it’s referred to as a loss. But it’s not like the loss of that one sock somewhere in the washing machine, one lost-sock twilight zone. I’ve thought of this for the past week. He isn’t lost, I know exactly where he is and I rejoice in knowing that. But, I figure it’s called a loss because there really is no other word for it. I mean, if you check out a thesaurus under “loss” you can find alternatives. But you wouldn’t say, “Sorry for your deficit,” or, “Sorry for your defeat.” I think at this time I should like to think I’m just sorry to be alone.
So as irreverent as you may see it, here are some “tales out of school” that have happened in the past few days I’ve used to keep my sanity and to keep the faces of those around me from looking at me with such fear they’ll say the wrong thing — because as I see it there’s no “wrong” thing to say when you’re trying to comfort a soul who’s now alone.
First thing I think of is this moment ... At the same time we entered the hospital, and found it was a real possibility I’d be living alone, my other half had a good friend of 60-plus years in another hospital fighting for his life. We talked about how strange it was the two of them had gone through so much together over the years. Their biggest thing was building cars and when they were young they drove fast and raced those cars — a lot. So in my special way to keep things light I asked my other half what he thought he was doing being sick — were he and his friend racing to the grave? He laughed. His friend isn’t out of the woods, but he’s still fighting the good fight. So, ta-da! Look at who won this race!
At one point there were some hallucinations going on with my other half. He was looking out the window and said to me to turn around and look at the Eskimos outside on the roof! It lasted for just a few seconds, then the confusion was gone and he knew there were no Eskimos outside on the roof! So I asked him if he knew where the Eskimos went. He knew what was coming, laughed and shook his head and told me this little poem I made up about squirrels we used over the years. But he put in Eskimos instead of squirrels. (Trust me, this is in no way meant as disrespect to Eskimos who are a grand people).
“The Eskimos were in their little Eskimo houses in their little Eskimo beds and had pulled their little Eskimo blankets up over their little Eskimo heads.” So even though we kinda knew we, well, he was fighting what we Christians call the last fight, he still was a funny guy and he was using my line doing it!
Now a last one. We talked several times over the years and we decided we would both be cremated at the end of our time on Mother Earth. Offhandedly you say you will be cremated and it slides off your shoulder like melting butter. But in my mind, and maybe yours, too, you get to wondering: What if there’s just a hint of life in me when the oven goes “whoosh?” So at the mortuary, after all was said and done, I was talking to the gentleman who helped me through this last door of the whole process. I looked him in the eye and said without flinching, “Now, you be sure he is really gone before you light that torch, OK?” Oh, my. You could’ve heard a coffin drop! I know, really, really know I heard my other half laugh. It was at that moment even though I have, am and will forever be a bit lost, my other half has found glory, home and peace. Oh, and he’s fishing all the time! What else could I want for him?
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka, Nevada. Share with her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Really!