My sister and I went to St. Thomas for spring break. We had a really great time and it was a trip I needed to take. See, this was one of the last vacations Keith and I took together and when the opportunity presented itself for Jessica and me to go, I really wanted to make it happen. We stayed at the same place and ended up doing a lot of the same things that Keith and I did a few years before. This was difficult at first because it was as if I saw Keith everywhere I looked. The house we stayed in overlooks a golf course. As I looked out toward the water, my mind saw Keith with his friends hitting golf balls. As Jessica and I went to different beaches I saw Keith sitting in the sand smiling at me. Winking at me. Loving me. This was both hard and healing.
Once I was back my dad received a letter regarding my grandmother, the one who passed away in February. Her body was donated to science, as was Keith's, and the letter was asking for direction on where to send her remains. It stated that if they do not hear back within forty-five days then her ashes will be spread in their memorial garden.
My brain froze. Did I get a letter like this? I didn't think so. But maybe I did? What if it was when I was so overloaded with paperwork that I didn't open it or never saw it to begin with? Is Keith in their garden? This made me sick to my stomach and I didn't know how to proceed. After a day-long funk I realized I had to call and see what the status was. I thought other phone calls I made were tough, but this was one of the worst.
I called the medical center and told them I needed to the know the status of someone who was brought there. I mean, really, how do you word this? She looked it up and told me that Keith had not been cremated. I responded by saying, "What does that mean?" Obviously I know what that means, but I was at such a loss as to how to ask what I wanted to know: Where is he and what condition is he in? I don't know for certain, but her guess was that due to Keith's age and maybe his condition, he would be used in some sort of military course to help with those types of injuries. He will remain frozen until this course becomes available.
I hate thinking about this. It's like as soon as I feel like I'm making real progress and moving on I find out something like this. I really hate my initial reaction: If his body is still here, then maybe I can go see him. Who thinks this? And if I'm really honest, I hate my reaction to my reaction as I try to justify why it's not a sick thought to have: It's pretty much like how he was for over a year, except frozen, and I really want to see him. It's totally sick and I hate that my thoughts even go there. Because it's sick. Of course I don't want to see Keith like that. I want to burn those images into my brain of him sitting on the beaches of St. Thomas and St. John smiling at me. Winking at me. Loving me.
That's what I want to remember and that's what I'll never forget.