Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Boogy Man Rule

I selected only one item to pack away with Uncle John-his favorite glasses, with little plastic case and the veteran's admin label on it.  It didn't seem to matter that the prescription was wrong because I'm sure it will all work out in the afterlife.  John actually didn't want any of his possessions from his apartment (or so he said) and I was never sure if that is someone who is trying to let go or has really let go.  But it was probably something of both.

I wanted to leave something of me too, but I didn't want to be an eternal tag along, so I finally just said a few words into the glasses case and shut the case.  It seemed a very nice way of balancing my need for symbolism and his need for simplicity.

I showed up early Monday morning with his glasses-he was still on his cot in the room where he was waiting for his casket, so I sat outside in the lobby and drank some coffee.  It was important to me to not be late for this final task.  

I finally agreed not to go to the cemetery because Mom wouldn't agree to let me go alone and I didn't want her out in the below zero wind chill.  So I delivered the glasses, made a final ID, and was the only family member who ever saw the casket or Uncle John in it.  This last part was by design-he didn't want to be remembered as he was in the past few weeks.  

I will work out how to incorporate what I saw in such a way as to express it without betraying his privacy or trust, but that is for another time.  I've never so closely shared an extended illness or death before-and that experience is now a cherished part of me. 

Sometimes I get a little scared or frustrated at how my life is changing yet again, but I would not, if I could, go back and change my decision to walk this walk with my Uncle.  I think I am more of a human being than I have ever been because of the past few years.

I want to finish this post on a positive note because while the sadness is still with me, I know, beyond any doubt, the good outweighs the bad.  Don't be afraid of old age or illness or death-the boogy man in our minds is so much bigger than the reality of it.  The boogy man part is truly insignificant compared to the total experience, which follows the boogy man rule in general.

As I sit now, trying to decide on a new future, I am going to try and remember that boogy man rule.


studio lolo said...

I love the vision of you saying a few words into his glasses case. I can picture the breathy steam settling on the lenses like a farewell kiss.
One of the many gifts Uncle John left you is choosing you as the one to walk the walk with him. I don't think you need to be frightened of what lies ahead, because now he's going to walk the walk with you in the form of courage. And as long as you continue to share your journey, we, your friends will be right beside you.

Debra Kay said...

Lolo-I feel his love and your love all around me and I am not afraid. I have low spots, but I've really always felt like what I am doing is what I should be doing....now I just have to figure out what to do next.

soulbrush said...

red hearts and glasses, both touch me. why a new path, does this mean moving again? i think you've dealt with this all iun a marvellous way. hugs to you and farewell to john.

Mim said...

It is a lovely vision - spoken words and visions. John would appreciate it.
You'll figure it all out my dear - you will. Just take it slow and let your mind and body tell you what to do next.

word verification - mileful. Hmmmm

Debra Kay said...

Not moving-but I need to get back to the original vision-starting a life here. John went downhill before I could start a business or even much of a social life, so I need to get back to deciding what I want to do with the rest of my life.

I did go through a period a few months ago where I was blaming myself for not 'working harder" at it, but I kept my energy where it was needed most at the time and I can't even work up a twinge of guilt or regret.

In hindsight I see that I put far too much pressure on myself, worrying about things I had no control over, but there just isn't a manual out there for how to deal with a dying loved one and still have an active and fulfilling life....and maybe that's because there is no way to do that. Each thing happens in its own time.

kj said...

debra kay, you sound at peace today. and wise as you often are. i want 2009 to be your year. i really do.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Debra Kay, you are an inspiration to those who are going through this situation. I hope to remember your sound, well thought out examples on how to deal with difficult death. I wish you peace.