Wednesday, March 30, 2011

where I'm coming from...

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. 


Carolyn Lackey said...

This isn't "sick." It's grief. After my sister, Kathy, died, there were days when I woke up in the morning trying to remember if that really happened. Was she really not at the other end of the phone line? If not, why was I still automatically dialing her number when I needed to talk to her. Here's a blog I wrote about a dream I had:

I think of you often and lift you up in prayer.

Judy said...

Thank you. Grief is tricky when it keeps popping up in different forms.

Skippy said...

Thanks for your posts. Didn't read the one from 28th until today. Needed both this evening. I know it likely helps you, but it also helps others of us that can't put grief of life events into words.

Judy said...

Thanks, Skippy. I'm glad to know that it's helping others too. :)

Kate said...

I think that I told you once that my dad was killed in a hit and run accident when his car broke down on the side of the road in the wee hours of the morning. My mom was 7 months pregnant with me and had my 8 year old brother. I recently asked her who identified my dad's body. She'd never talked about it that I could recall...and I know someone had to do it. Long story short, one of his friends did it for mom but she went into a brief story of having a police officer come to her door and tell her that there'd been an accident. She said that the officer knew it was going to take her some time to get ready, find someone to watch my brother, and so he said something like "ma'am, I'm not supposed to give you any information but 'there's no hurry' if you get what I'm saying". Now don't gasp those were NOT his actual words but my mom's reaction to the officer who just told her that her husband was dead said "praise God".

Honestly my heart sank. I now know where she was coming from - my dad had finally become a Christian after many years of her being one and he was not at all interested - but yet, my husband is a Christian and I know that if he suddenly died, I would not say "Praise God."

Even now my mom laughs and says "I'm sure that officer thought I was crazy or that I'd planned to off my husband or something".

All of this to say that I'm with you. I always think of how I would react if what happened to my mom happened to me and that "standard" of how I would have to deal with it. The right way, the wrong way. She's just so matter of fact about his death now but I still mourn the man I never got to know. I know I'll meet him some day and I am so incredibly grateful to God that He choose my dad to be in His Book of Life, but if I found out that his body was somewhere here on this earth, frozen, just there...I'd want to go see him too.

Judy said...

Kate, I had no idea. I knew your dad died before you were born but I didn't know the details. Thank you for sharing and letting me know that you get what I'm saying. It makes me feel like less of a freak. :) xoxox

Tammy said...

Those precious bodies are the ones that hugged us, loved us and winked at us as well as sang to us. Their spirits may not be there, but those precious bodies are the ones that we so dearly loved and still would love to touch. Until we get to see them in their new bodies, I would give anything just to see my dad's body just one more time, even in a frozen state.

You are not at all in the least freaky...if you are, then you are in good company.

Tammy Pearson