Eight years gone

My dearest Squish;

Eight fucking years. Hell, baby, I thought I wasn’t going to get to 8 hours, 8 days, 8 weeks without you. I know you come around sometimes. Thanks.  It does keep me going at times, when I need that little reminder that it wasn’t all in my head, and what we had was real.

There are days when people tell me stories that I have to shake myself and go “damn, I was there”. There are other days where every little detail comes flooding in, and if I’m not in a situation that calls for calm (and sometimes when I am) will burst into delighted laughter of a remembrance, or tears that you are not there to share things with.

There are the purely wild “Jaymerizms”:

  • Tea tastes better served in fine china, made by someone else. With cream.
  • Its 7pm. Kayvyn is late.
  • Pretty, pretty, pretty
  • What was that song by that guy?  Let’s call Beeberly
  • I could even out your bangs
  • It’s my favorite size…huge
  • Well FUUUCK that SHIIIIT
  • NEXT!
  • Oh my god, I broke my husband…again
  • Get in the chair
  • Where’s my hitter?
  • I love you so much my earlobes stink

There are lessons that you taught me that I do my best to have learned, some days better than others:

  • Everybody calls when they get home from the party
  • Give people a chance, and then FUUUCK them
  • A stranger is just a friend you haven’t…met….yet
  • If you fuck up dinner, pour another bottle of wine, slap the shit on a fancy plate and sprinkle herbs on it, another bottle after dinner and they’ll all be happy.
  • Blood doesn’t make family. Family are the people in your lives who’d do anything to help you, and you would do anything for.

There are moments in these past 8 years I wished I could’ve shared with you; there are people I would have loved you to meet; there was music to play (even new Stevie and Fleetwood!) and times that I could’ve have used that ultra-confident FUUUCK that to cheer me up and boost my confidence.

See, the biggest thing that you taught me was that life can be enjoyed on your own terms quite happily. That’s the trick of not being a “sheeple”… march to your own drum, off-beat, singing quietly and off-tune or loudly and on; listen to people who need listening to; give love to people who need a little love, but if they don’t give it back, don’t let them suck you dry; go outside with flare, because in a world of caterpillars it takes balls to be a butterfly; if people think you’re just a moth and not a butterfly, fuck it, you still have wings.

And those of us in the know, well, we all have a little piece of you inside of us. When we are together, we laugh a little harder and love a little fiercer, because we know that every moment we have with each other could be the last, so at least for that moment we live out loud.

I miss you, babe.  You had the stinkiest earlobes…

Love,

Your Smoochie

As always, the 3rd is for hate

I hear you there in the dark spaces, screaming of what you would do if let out of the carefully compartmentalized corners I have placed you in. You raged loose at the world threatening that if you could not have all things beautiful than no one could, oh the hateful things I have heard you whisper for hours upon  days as l forced you away from those that you might hurt with your bile and fury and self-immolation the anti-phoenix consuming yourself in a thing of horror; perpetual death.

Every year, the hate/grief surges forward. Logic and culture dictate that you should be resolved, completed, distastefully acknowledged and then swept away.  “Move on, just move on”, is the well-intentioned mantra. “Forgive and Forget.”

Forget? If I could but disentangle all the living horror wrapped around the pure memories of love/grief I would. I would swallow bottles of pills and undergo surgery if I could forget.

Forgive? FORGIVE? Forgive the self-centric and narcissistic? Forgive the incompetent and idiots? The blind-siding hatemongers?

  • student doctors, so proud that they can rhyme off 9 possible reasons why there are white smudges on the xrays, but can’t look at a medication chart to properly adjust a bowel management program;
  • screaming nurse yelling at a heavily sedated dying man, that he can’t talk to her like that, because she called his husband a fag;
  • ‘friends’ who shopped for a suitable knick-knack, while visiting both before and after death, claiming that they had given it to him, so they should get it back, including gifts that he and I had given each other;
  • RBC – the bank from hell that drained as much as they could from his account before I finally needed a lawyer to pit the CRA against them to do what should have been done in the first place.  Not to mention that the money in the account was actually mine, since that was the account we paid bill out of so I just topped it up.  That didn’t piss me off as much as keeping from being able to mourn properly with everyone else at the same time, so I could close off the estate;
  • Ashes. His brother screaming for the ashes before the cremation has taken place. Nagging, hounding, even after I said not until spring, and then bitching about his lost work time that he was holding. Telling me how I was hurting his father.  What a rotten person I was. Then when I send the overflow ashes to his dad, AS PER HIS REQUEST, it still wasn’t good enough, because he wanted it planned so he could be thered.
  • The sister-in-law who spent most of her last visit with us bitching about being a PSW and how she hated working with sick people. We were talking about the bad PSW we had in to help Jaymz, and had to get rid off. Then she hugged him tight, after we told them to barely touch him, as the cancer was in his bones and in the back. He started to cry from the pain, and she thought it grief, so she squeezed him harder and rubbed his back until I yelled at her.  But I was the asshole.
  • Shamma. Mother of his godson and did not even call for almost a year, after he told his godson he couldn’t cut hair anymore. Then she tries to come down the day I was forced to place him. Then she played nice-nice at a luncheon, until he went to the bathroom, and tried to read my beads for keeping her from him, as this was “her time” to spend with her son’s godfather.  Then she tried to show up the day he died and put pictures of her and her child up in my house.
  • Susie mother-fucking Goulding.  You righteous bitch. Bursting into tears at your last haircut, not being able to take the pain of knowing Jaymz had cancer.  Carrying on to the point that I simply had to leave as it was easier for he and I. Arriving at the palliative ward, demanding entrance.  I asked her kindly to wait so I could get an update from the doctor, see how Jaymz was, and then maybe have her up.  (She had driven in after being told not to come until she had spoken with me, but she called from her car when she was almost in the city.)She was already calling up to the room to speak to the doctor, as I was riding up the elevator. With all the commotion, I missed speaking to the doctor myself that last night. Knowing his wishes that if he was ever unconcious that he didn’t want people to see him, I went down and tried gently to say “no, he’s in a coma. No, don’t go up.”  Then so angered I could deny her access to her BEST FRIEND, she handed me the receipts for all the gifts she had brought.  And I didn’t punch her out when I handed it back and said “get yourself a refund”.  Then still not respecting anything, called for an update, found out he was dead, and called and left a cheery message that she would give us her staff discount at her flower shop for funeral arrangements.  Sweetie, darling… all his friends knew there was no funeral.  None of them had heard of you before.  You were a client. Your only redeeming feature was that you had a baby, and he wanted to hold a baby before he died.  The sound of your name still brings me to full rage.
  • I hated the consoling nurse who tried to shush me as I wailed hanging on to his cooling hand, as I tried to feel any sign of life beneath the crisp linen.
  • I hated the funeral home for neatly combing his hair into a part, and for lying him in the chapel with comforting music.

And cancer.  I fucking hate cancer.  I hate that I did my best and it simply wasn’t good enough; I hate there was no miracle drug or standard treatment worth taking; I hated that it took my love away quicker than I had found him.

 

Denouement

They lie you know, when they say time heals all.

Time can make it a bit easier, but some wounds are always like an abscess of the soul that can never be properly drained and cleaned and healed.  There are days where things are a blur I don’t bother to focus on.  But the sounds of Sept 4, 2009 still echoes ugly at the strangest time.

I remember the call, only minutes after cousin Wanda’s morning report of “he slept well.” Jenn the nurse, briskly and efficiently taking the phone away from Wanda’s second call.  “He’s going now.  You don’t have to hurry, he’ll be gone before you get here and I’ll have him cleaned up for you.”  Time of call 10:15.  Time of death 10:20.  A quiet exit stage left while no one was looking.  So odd for someone who had tethered the spotlight to always follow him.

I remember leaving the office, flying down the subway stairs and looking at TTC driver’s face as he was closing the door to the train…and reopened them.  I remember the train ride being the most silent ever, as people entering the train hushed in radiating waves.

Quiet murmurs of pity were seeing – yet pretending not to – slow tears and snot leaking across my face, lost as I was in the mantra in my mind “don’t die yet. Wait. Don’t die yet.”

I’m stalking towards the hospital, cigarette casually flicked at human obstacles and  snarling at anything human or vehicular that dared clog my path.  I hit the security door of the hospital as it was closing, with enough force to make it boom, making security jump.  Two elevators, one on service and the other not descending.  The cleaner on the elevator turns with a smile of apology that vanishes into realization. “Oh I’m so sorry.”

“Where are the stairs, please?” Don’t say you’re sorry. No.

“End of the hall,” says a voice behind me.  Howard: palliative ward day nurse.  “Unlock the door,” he orders security.

“Thank you, Howard.” I can hear myself saying.  So damn polite.  The end of the world ends so damn politely.

Security doors are buzzed open.  My knees shriek protest as I rip up six floors’ worth stairs, two sets of stairs for each floor.  I don’t care.  I nearly crash into the single nurse on the floor who I despise, the homophobic bitch who made the mistake of yelling at me in front of my sedated mate three days prior.  (He had raised his fist at her, profanity spewing uncontrolled, and her trying to argue she doesn’t have to put up with that.  Another nurse had to take her aside and read her beads: “That’s his husband.  Also his father and brother are watching.  So you are a fucking idiot that you tell someone that they can’t disturb a sedated patient and try to argue with that sedated patient!”)

Definitely don’t care.  She yells a protest of my running that is frozen by her colleagues’ collective stares and the duty nurse thundering down the hall to tell her to shut up, stay at that end of the hall,  and if they weren’t short staffed already, she’d be sent home.

Only when I see my cousin’s face mirroring the ill emptiness within me  can I acknowledge the presence of someone else in the world.

I can hear the other nurses whispering and weeping at the station behind me.  In our 18 days of being there, they have witnessed something not often seen.  There has always been someone here with him 24/7.  I have been  here every night after work with the puppies. I have climbed upon his hospital bed for a cuddle.  I have taken him out for a drink whenever he liked, to make his life as normal as it can be when it isn’t normal.  I let him hold me as tight as he could without touching him back hardly at all, for fear of disturbing the myriad of lumps in his back and ribs under thin flesh that send waves of pain throughout his body. There are many others here in that time who have died alone, not one person to visit. How could I not be here?  This is my love.

Over Wanda’s shoulder, I see my love’s flesh-anchor to this world, so still, so frail and so devoid of the essence of him.  I watch his chest under a crisp linen sheet, hold my breath and will to see him breathe once more until I am forced to take a breath myself, and then as I step forward, I know truth.

Love lies dead before me.

019@0

I  give into my knees’ smug demand to go down, and braced on all fours against cold sterile linoleum, forehead just touching a hand that will no longer fluff my hair, pull my ear or touch my face, I give Voice to Grief.

The first sob is a roundhouse kick into my cousin’s gut as she is stopped mid-movement from trying to touch me, and to offer comfort.  The second backs her out of the room, her own wail a keening counterpart.  The third is  a headwind that buffets the first nurse who enters the room, and then nurse Jenn comes to try and gently bully me to a quieter state for the sake of those others dying nearby, and their loved ones who are gathering for their own deathwatches.

“He wouldn’t want you to cry for him.  He’s free of all that pain. He loved you so much.” Jenn says, tugging me up and into a chair, offering to get a ginger ale.  But she doesn’t understand.  I’m not crying for him. I’m crying for me.

I cry because love is dead; my soul is now split asunder; my world is shattered.  I cry with the heaving sustained, bewildered grief of a toddler being away from his mommy for the first time ever, and not having the words to express this feeling of loss and abandonment.

The only person I know in my heart who loves me completely and unconditionally for no reason except he chooses to is gone, and suddenly realizing this is more painful than all the hate and hurt that I shielded him from this past year and 18 days.

I send that sound of loss after his spirit, because he might come back, and then and only then as that odd thought breaks through do I quell my selfishness and will myself to quiet because I do not want his beautiful spirit to come back into his tumor-laced shell that has tortured him for far too long.

And even when the volume subsides, as I bury my face against the mattress I shudder deeply, each breathe moving the wheeled hospital bed.  Because God is cruel in giving me everything I ever prayed for, then taking it away so quickly, leaving only this cooling homunculus in its place

I cry because for the first time in over year I do not have to be strong for anyone else. I only had strength while he was here needing it and now I am nothing.  Because now uncaring I can let loose all the terrible dark things crammed into me like Pandora’s box, except this time, hope takes flight first.

Hope lives only while there is life, and life is gone.

Thus emptied, I let logic take over; make calls and summon the others of The Family, the chosen kin.  There is crying, and I don’t know my role:  do I comfort? I have no comfort.  Person after person surrounding me with their presence, their touch.  I never have felt more alone than in that moment in a room full friends’ freely proffered love that cannot fill what had just fled this room.  (It comforts now, but oh, in that moment…)

A nurse suggests that the dogs should be here to know and share the grief, and Wanda runs to the apartment to get Roxie.

Nurses are wanting to offer me platitudes that I very  politely accepted.  (Love lies dead.) Thanking them  for their work. (Love lies.)

Signing the paperwork. (Lies dead.)

More paperwork. (Dead.)

A little blond powder-puff puppy arrives and is watched collectively by a room, as she slowly walks up the bed to sniff a cold face, and runs back down to jump into my arms (thus ending a question of ownership).

“Alright people, the dog knows he isn’t here, it’s time we move on too. Let’s get this room packed up, say our good byes, and let the nurses do what they need.”  Stefan, voice of reason.

We leave a cold body behind, each of us trying to put a name to the collective void.

Oh, how I wish it was that easy to leave the grief behind as we did your body, but to do that would mean to forget you, my love.  A voice to grief? No.  Only the most primal howling hymn to love, which one does not know until loss.