Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Three weeks

I wrote this on Sunday, en route from Duluth to the airport in St. Paul: scattered thoughts jotted down in the back seat of the car.

It's been three weeks and a day. Counting time this way reminds me of counting Clark's age; at first each day and week that passes is significant. Later, years and half-years suffice. Scott died 22 days ago, but it feels like it's been months. It does not feel immediate. Duluth was physically distant, and my time there was filled with winter activities and Christmas preparations and celebrations that crowded out thoughts of San Francisco and hospice and nasal cannulas and morphine and Scott's skeletal thinness. I'm returning to the place where he died, but the medical equipment is gone, most of his clothing is gone, and he's gone. I don't know how acute his absence will be.

It's been three weeks and a day. On Christmas morning I realized that if he'd lived just two and a half weeks longer, he would have been with us for Christmas. But he would have been so sick, so tired. It would have been an additional 18 days of suffering for him (and, to some extent, for us). I couldn't imagine him with us for Christmas this year healthy and whole. That's in an alternate universe. My path split from that one a long time ago. Moments on Christmas Eve and Christmas were hard, and I missed him. But for the most part I was in the moment, in large part thanks to Clark. One evening after Christmas I glanced at the bottle of wine on the table and noticed it was a pinot noir, Scott's favorite and the only kind we ever bought. It hadn't hurt the previous night when we'd toasted him - I'd even commented how appropriate it was that our glasses were filled with pinot - but for some reason the next night I got very nearly teary. I didn't want to talk about it with my family just then (sorry guys), so I swallowed it. The lump in my throat surprised me, and I was glad for a taste of the sadness.

I've dreamt about him twice. The first time was a nightmare: I was in an old house, and I couldn't find Clark, and Scott realized that he needed to start using oxygen. The second time, I was stranded in downtown Duluth and needed a ride home. I called Scott but it went straight to voicemail. I realized I'd turned his phone off when we thought he was dying. Now that he was recovered, I dreamt, we needed to turn his phone back on.

His memorial service is three weeks from today. I still don't know what I'm going to say, or even how to start. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, but how strange that the last time this conglomeration of people from different parts of our lives occurred was at our wedding.


marian said...

Libby, you express the whole spectrum of emotion with such beauty and elegance. It's an honor to read it. Thank you. Sending love.

marian said...

One more comment. Your second dream. In a way, Scot *has* recovered now. The phone line... the line of communication between you... can be gently and gradually turned back on so that he can help you find your way.

Claudia said...

There are definitely odd triggers for the waves of sadness. My mom had to be walked away from the meat counter of the grocery store (she saw Taylor Ham, my dad's favorite) and I had to leave the snacks aisle because I saw Kettle-Cooked BBQ chips. I think it's because it's the little things that make up the construction of person we knew and loved in our minds, like a super complicated stack of Legos. We just don't quite realize all the pieces until they're gone. And then, these are the tangible connections we have.

I admire your clarity in thought and your willingness to share. Much love to both you and Clark.

-Claudia P.