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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Remembering Chris


I have known Chris for over 12 years, we met shortly after Chris's landlady died in a car accident.  It was Chris who showed up on my doorstep to tell me this sad news, as she knew I was friendly with her landlady.

Chris then sat down on the porch and cried.  As did I. That death brought us together.

After that, Chris was a frequent visitor on our front porch.  Back then, Bob and I didn't own a television and every night, after work, we would sit on the front porch and talk.  We always called this our "porch sitting time".  Chris was there so frequently I remember Bob, once, tired after a long day, complaining "she's always here!" and wanting some "alone time" with just me.

Chris was unlike any friend I've ever had.  She grew up poor in Maryland, had a 6th grade education, was part-Cherokee and swore like sailor.  She wore a ring on every finger, even her thumbs, and had a ton of tattoos (before this was the fashionable thing to do) -- the one her calf in the image of Snoopy lying atop his doghouse with a think bubble stating "F--- YOU!"

She had, as she would say, "a wild time" when she was young, and spent some years in prison where she gave birth to, first, her daughter who she gave up, and then a son, (now deceased), who she also gave up for adoption. During that time, she was cited as the alleged ringer leader in a jailbreak.

She left Maryland with her third child, a baby boy, and a cat (in a carrier) and everything she owned on her back.  She stuck out her thumb on the side of the highway and was picked up by a truck driver.  When the driver asked her where she was headed, she said "I don't know. Where you headed?" He told her that he was taking his load to St. Petersburg, Florida and she said, "sounds good to me."  That truck driver dropped her off on a corner in St. Pete and she stayed here for 40 some years working as an upholsterer in a downtown shop.

She was feisty and a loyal friend.  But you would not want to cross her.

I remember the time, when another tenant in her apartment building complained to the landlord about Chris's dog.  That tenant had a potted plant next to her door with a sign on it "Do Not Touch!" so Chris poisoned that plant with muriatic acid, then left burning black candles, strange herbs, chicken bones and a Death card from the tarot deck on her doorstep.  I remember "helping" her plot  this revenge on the front porch, and the two of us cackling like witches --- I honestly didn't think she'd go through with it! The tenant moved shortly afterwards.

I don't know how I would have survived without her for all those caregiving years as she always was happy to sit with Bob so I could run errands even when it took her a two hour long bus trip to make it to our house after she moved.

And I don't know how I would have made it through Bob's death, cremation, and all that without her by my side.
Chris & Bob at an estate sale.

Chris loved thrift shops, yard sales, she collected cows.  She loved her dogs, slasher movies, bingo and religiously played the Cash 3.  She was "lucky in cards" but not in love.  On her 65th birthday, she had a tattoo put on her arm, a heart with the name Eddie, her long lost love --- the one who got away.  She said, "I guess I should have never punched him in the nose."

She always told me that my only fault was "you're too nice."

Wheelchair Race!

I'll never forget the day that a representative from the Florida Labrador Retriever Rescue was here at our house doing the "home check". We had been sitting in the living room and the women was telling me the "awful conditions" under which Kona and her siblings were living, including "they feed those dogs people food!" and "they smoke cigarettes!"  And the next I know, here comes Chris, knocking at my door and when she wheels into the kitchen on her "wheelie" (which was the name of her power chair) the first thing out of her mouth is "I didn't have time to cook, so I bought Boomer some rotisserie chicken!" and I am think-screaming Chris, shut up! and the second thing out of her mouth was "OH! I forgot to buy cigarettes!  Can I borrow a pack?" I"m thinking Oh no! And I could've killed her right then as I was sure the whole home check was blown in that minute, but fortunately the "glowing reference" from Dr. Hillary pulled it through.

The last time I actually talked with her was Christmas Eve before she fell into a coma.  She told me then she knew she was going to die and she was willing me her "cow collection" (believe me, she has a lot of cow stuff) and I told her to "shut up" and "I didn't want her freaking cow collection".  She then told the nurse that I was "one of only three" people she loved.

I don't know what I'd have done without her all these years. And I am somewhat at lost without her.

I also now have a lot of cows....


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Chris is gone...

My dear friend, Chris, passed away this morning.

I guess it's better than "pulling the plug" -- she did it on her own. And now I don't have to make that decision of whether to be there or not...

I did visit her on Sunday, she was unresponsive, but I sat and talked to her, told her I loved her, thanked her for her friendship, cried, and said goodbye, again.

I am heartbroken. Still can't believe this happening  --- though logically I knew it was coming.

I had oral surgery today and it was just awful. A real nightmare.  And have to go back for "part 2" of the surgery on Thursday, not looking forward to that. This time they are going to give a sedation.  I got home from that ordeal to get the phone call about Chris. I cried so hard, but my nose was so numb from the oral surgery, I couldn't blow my nose.

I'm a mess --- and wondering why everyone seems to be dying around me? And don't know how much more of this I can take.... Feels like I'm cursed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Today

Survived the storm, with just a few branches etc to pick up -- but scary going through it alone.  A lot folks lost power, but we didn't.

Today, I received calls from both the daughter and son of Chris.  The decision has been made to take her off life support --- pull the plug, so to speak.

Even though I know this is the best thing for Chris, even though I was hoping they would do this -- I find myself heartbroken and crying buckets of tears.

The event will happen next week (paperwork, scheduling) and I am invited to be there at her side with her family --- and not sure if I can do it/should do it or if I would be able to handle it...... still making up my mind. Part of me wants to be there for her --- part of me is scared shitless

Meanwhile, the AC started leaking again through the dining room ceiling --- so AC guy is coming tomorrow and hopefully fix this problem which has happened several times before.

And life goes on....

Monday, June 6, 2016

Storm

Today we are being hit by Tropical Storm Colin, the outer bands of rain has started but, according to the forecast, the worst is yet to come.  Expecting 4-5 inches of rainfall, flooding, strong winds, possible tornado activity to hit this afternoon into the evening.  I moved the patio furniture into the garage, put some sandbags in front of the garage apartment door as it is level with the ground.

It is the first named storm without Bob by my side.

I feel lonely, isolated and a bit scared.  Hunkered down inside with Kona and Ripley. Hoping the power will stay on.

In other news:

This weekend, I stopped to visit Chris, who looks even worse, could only open one eye, not even moving her mouth as she did last time I saw her. I pray her kids come to the right conclusion soon....


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Floating

The widow floats on her back, arms extended, feet together, as if crucified.

The widow floats over the dazzling blue water
sprinkled with droplets of diamond sunlight. 
She drifts with the tide.

The widow crucified stares up at the too blue sky
 hoping to see a glimpse of something.

A glimpse of him.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Tonight

Tonight, the sun will slowly sink behind the live oaks, dripping with spanish moss, behind the palm fronds, the neighbor's roofs, slowly sink out of my sight and the shadows will fall.

The shadows will fall around the oaks and the palms and around the neighbors and this house and back porch where I will sit, drink in hand, and watch the end of this day.

A day like any other day, except that last year, tonight, Bob was here with me when the shadows fell and in the morning he was gone.  Having slipped away into that shadowland, without a word, without a sound, without a warning ---- just silently slipped away.

I have had a very hard time this week, this month. Every morning I would get up and my first thought would be "Bob was alive, this day, last year, this very minute, he was alive."  I did not think about this is April.  I did not think this in March.  Only now, in May, as "Death Day" draws near.  Death Day is officially tomorrow, as that's what the death certificate says --- but I think it really is "Death Night" tonight....

For tomorrow, Bob was not with me last year.

I never knew how grief creeps and settles into every single pore of your skin, every organ of your body, every piece of your mind, heart and soul.  And the tears never stop.

It doesn't seem a year has gone by.  Yet it seems a million years ago. And yet, it seems only yesterday.

I wanted to post something profound, honoring Bob's memory and can not think of a single profound word to say....

Except I love you, Bob, and will love you forever. And I miss you so very much. And I still don't know how to live without you....