These days, I’m living in three time zones. I find myself moving back and forth in dizzying motions, trying to keep a firm footing.
The Present. I am living with my husband, the love of my life, my absolute soul mate who loves me so much I can hardly stand it. He tells me at least hourly how much I mean to him. He recounts the good times we’ve had and are having right now.
We are feeling our way through retirement, an unfamiliar land. This morning, I drove to the local place to get some coffee and a newspaper. It was about 7:45. Everybody else in the shop was dressed for work, make-up on, hair arranged, ties tied. It was as though I was watching them on television, a show called Working People.
Right now, Mike’s sitting across from me, thumping out some blues melody on his guitar. We just had a great breakfast (he cooks) and some random laundry is tumbling in the dryer.
In the present, we are going about our day with a bit more relish. Life is normal and would be almost mundane. But there’s that whisper that THIS might be the LAST time we DO whatever together.
I want to live in the present. My husband is here, he’s smiling at me, he’s reading to me from books, he’s laughing at my jokes. He even likes my current writing topics. We are not giving audience to regrets. We will not even talk about them. We savor the now.
The not-too-distant future. God made us planners. We can’t turn that off so I’m planning a funeral. Few get the chance to think and plan and it probably doesn’t matter in the end. But I see I have an opportunity to do this in a way that would please my husband and the family and the community of faith.
I spent some thoughtful time collecting photographs that represent Mike’s life. Few were digital so a friend scanned them and saved them to a CD. I delivered the CD to another friend, a man with great talent, who is preparing a slide show that will be played some day. And I will get copies for those who want one.
I’ve prepared a framed memento for family members that they will receive at Mike’s exit from this life.
I’ve visited our local newspaper and got the OBIT form, just for a starting point. I’m writing my husband’s obituary. Whether or not we use my composition, it gives me a strange peace to work on this.
I began visiting this time zone shortly after our diagnosis. In recent weeks, I’ve told Mike about my activities. At first, he was unsettled about my writing his obit. But his interest began to grow and now he stands over my shoulder, adding, correcting and editing. He may want to see the slide show.
He’s fueled this time zone by picking out his burial suit. He went to the community cemetery and remembered that there are places by his dad so he’s picked his spot.
We hold brief, almost comical discussions. We still have his stuffed animal from babyhood. It’s named Dogger although time has rendered it into a more generic shape. “Shall we tuck that in at the end?” Come and see.
The more-distant-future. The life I will lead alone….yes I know, I won’t be alone. But he will not be with me. How will I ever get used to that? Friends have swooped in, some with questions. “Will you move away? Will you go back to teaching? What will you do with your house? What will you do with the cottage? What will you do with blah blah blah blah blah?”
I don’t know. Right now, I don’t care. Right now, I want to go back to the present, thank you.
But again, as planners, we can’t just leave the future in a vague black hole when we’ve been given some time. So again, my dear husband has been busy, doing what he can to cushion the future for me. He has corralled trusted friends with specific skills to help me. I have people I can call upon for spiritual, financial, emotional, physical, and legal help.
Mike will occasionally say something about what he’d like to happen and then will quickly add, “But I don’t really care. I won’t be here.”
True in some ways. But he will always be here, in my heart and mind and memory until those faculties fail.
So let me get back to the present. What a beautiful spring day!