Feb 19, 2017

Like Comets Come

The storms of life like comets come,
They bring with them the blues
They sting you with their mysteries
the scars they leave are clues

But when a whirlwind took my love
I could not turn the page.
My brittle heart had been laid bare,
to heaven fisted rage

Proverbial seasons - I'm aware, I'm aware.
But death is a season of despair, deep despair.

With the comet came the rains
The storm intensified.
With the rain came memories
brought tears to my tired eyes.

When that angel took my love,
I begged him for relief.
He said that I must travel first
to places dark and deep.

Grief has its stages - yes I know, yes I know
But death just enrages and it grows, and it grows.

The sky will once again be free
The signs will fade from view.
But I'll look to the heavens
In hopes that I'll see you.
Yes I'll look to the heavens
In hopes that I see you.

Thirteen Weeks

Since Laura passed November 30, 2016, roughly thirteen weeks have gone by.
There have been many changes.
I am on a new anti-depressant regimen that keeps me from having anxiety and panic attacks. This is good since it was such a panic attack that brought on a near-fatal heart attack for me. Don't need to add another one of those into the mix.
I have sought counsel from my doctor, who I've known for over 20 years and whose advice I trust. My last appointment, when asked the reason for my visit, I replied "I just want to sit and talk for a bit". My doctor is very good at listening and helping me with the stressers that one goes through at a time like this.
I have been working diligently on my home. Painting, moving things into storage, selling a few things, etc. But still not touching Laura's things. Those decisions will not be faced until at least June. I'm sticking by my promise to not make any decisions on her possessions for at least six months.
I cry a bit less now, not only because of the drugs, or the time that has passed. I'm getting to a point of remembering the good things that have happened for us over our forty years together. I'm remembering things that are near and dear to me, events that we shared, concerts that we've attended, family reunions, even some of the bullshit that we dealt with - together. The one phrase that constantly runs through my mind is when she would always say to me "we're a team - we'll make it through this together". It comforts me. I've known people who were married as long, if not longer than we were who never seemed to reach this place.
I still hear her voice. When I'm doing laundry, or trying to cook, I hear her guiding me (although she still has yet to reveal that secret ingredient that she used to put into her green beans). When I make a decision to move furniture in the living room I can hear her telling me to move it back a few more inches, or to the left a bit.
Some things that haven't changed - her stuff is pretty much where she left it. It was put there for a reason and I don't need to move it.
I still miss her very, very much. I'm still in a kind of shock that she was here and suddenly gone so quickly and unexpectedly. I still tell her daily that I miss her and that I'm sorry that I didn't know to get her to the hospital sooner. And I still let her have the last word when she told me "I love you more" as they were taking her into ICU that night. She did and I know it!
You can't just let go of forty plus years of a voice and a presence. And she was most definitely a presence!
I'm telling stories about Laura to some of my co workers and friends, some who had the pleasure of meeting her and some who didn't. She left many great stories for me to share; from her long-standing suffering as a Carolina Panthers fan and the obscenity usually screamed during the games to her legendary attacks on anyone who disrespected either one of her children (especially obnoxious high school coaches).
It's good that I can laugh when I share these stories. I also firmly believe that every time I think of her or utter her name that she is still alive, simply because she lives inside me.

There will never, ever be another like Laura Welborn Reid - and you can take that to the bank!

Jan 29, 2017

The Invisible Cat

Pom Pom. What a name!
It all began when I was considering a new roommate. Laura's passing left such a black void in my world, a dark and cold hole that only the spirit of another living, breathing being could begin to patch.
We have had cats before - or cats have owned us, I should say. In our eleven years in the cabin only two have resided with us. Gomez-the original and Gomez two. The original Gomez was a black and white kitty who was the last born of a litter. I wrote about Gomez before and won't go into detail here.
Gomez Two was found in a hollow log by two great friends who had come by the cabin for a visit. While we were not in the market for a new cat, this little abandoned fellow sorely needed a place to stay. After placing the kitty on Laura's chest, and the kitten's paws wrapped around her neck like a hug, Laura said yes and a kitten had a home. We charged Fiona with naming the new kitty. "Gomez two"
Gomez Two was insane - not the 'I'm a cat' type of insane. He took it to a whole new level. Scratching paint from the walls; jumping from the balcony to the floor below. Then, he escaped to the outside one day and suddenly he was an indoor/outdoor cat. Bad for us because, no matter how many flea collars and treatments that we applied, he brought the fleas in the house and they attacked with a vengeance. After that, he was an outside cat. Bad for him and Gomez the Original as our area has coyotes, hawks and other cat-unfriendly predators. We last saw Gomez Two one morning before going to work. We placed his food and water in the bowls, gave him a pat on the head and we were off. Gomez Two was not to be seen again.
Laura said "No more cats!"
I was in agreement with her. You get them, they become a part of the family and then you lose them. Not a good location for a small, outside animal.
So I decided, after Laura passed, that a live female presence was needed in the home. While trying to decide what kind of fish or hamster I would acquire, granddaughter Fiona told me that I needed a kitten.
So - a kitten it would be!
The lovely Peggy heard about this and took it upon herself to arrange it. She called me up and asked me to meet her at a place called Pawmetto Lifeline. - an animal rescue facility. I heard from the adoption specialist there that most of the kittens are rescued form 'Death Row', and my kitten was no exception.
I met Peggy, daughter in law Catherine and Fiona there and we started shopping kitties. Peggy had observed Pom Pom when she first arrived, a playful Calico mix with the softest fur that I had ever had the pleasure of stroking. After picking out three kittens to interact with, they brought Pom Pom to the room first. I think Fiona had already made up her mind that Pom Pom was to be the one. She even told the specialist that we didn't need to see the other kittens. I asked Fiona what we should name the cat. "She already has a name. She's Pom Pom". So we packed 6 month old Pom Pom in the carrier and drove the 40 miles back to the cabin. As soon as we opened the carrier, Pom Pom skedaddled! She found a hiding place under the sofa and there she would stay. Later in the day, we were able to pull her from under the sofa and we took her to the bedroom. There, Fiona placed her under the covers and crawled in with her, petting her and talking to her. Pom Pom seemed to like being under there...for a little while. As soon as Fiona lifted the covers, the kitten made a run for it and was gone. This time, under the china cabinet. Earlier, before we took her to the bed, I had shown her where food, water and litter box were located. As the days progressed, Pom Pom was an invisible cat. I could see the effects of little Pom - cat bowls almost empty, litter box used, etc. But no sighting. This went on for weeks. Every day I fed and watered her and kept an eye on the litter box. Every day I looked high and low for her. She was not to be found. No noise, no bumps in the night, no purring, no meows. After three weeks, Fiona visited again and we went on an adventure - find Pom Pom. We moved furniture, looked behind clothes hanging in the walk in closet, upstairs in the bathroom, underneath everything that we could think of - no Pom Pom. "She'll eventually come out granddaddy" I knew that Fiona was right. I was, however, getting a bit tired of feeding and cleaning up after what appeared to be an invisible cat.
"Maybe she has powers like no other kitten" I told Fiona.
"What powers?" she asked.
"Like Wonder Woman, maybe she has invisibility powers. She may be sitting right there in front of us but we can't see her".
"Maybe so, granddaddy. Maybe so".
And another two weeks went by.
One night as I came in from work, I saw through the window a golden blur which crossed the visible area between the walls of the foyer and disappeared just past my line of sight. Wow! I have a visible cat!
Two nights later, as I turned over in my bed to go to sleep, I felt a slight thump on the bed. Turning back over, I looked up to see a kitten standing on my bed. She slowly made her way up to my face and purred. I petted her, talked to her and she reacted by pressing her nose to mine. She stayed on my bed, jumping, playing and chasing my hand which was under the covers. When I would move to get out from the covers, she would run. So, for the next few nights she was a night time visitor. When I would awaken, she would become invisible again. That is until...this weekend. Fiona came to stay the night. While lounging in bed, eating pizza and watching a movie the little cat that could jumped on the bed from an unknown hiding place and started playing with Fiona. This time, however, she didn't take off when Fiona moved the covers and started playing with her. She stayed and played.
Next evening my family came down for a visit. "Look up there. A cat is hanging out of that rolled up carpet on the balcony", my sister observed. My brother went upstairs and started interacting with Pom and, next thing I know, I have a visible cat! This morning she was waiting for my brother when he woke up.
I'm not sure what this poor cat went through before being rescued from death row, but I think that I've finally passed the audition with her. Welcome to Fort Reid little Pom Pom!

Jan 22, 2017

Five Stages

The five stages of grief- denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Denial - did that one in the moments before and after she passed. No way! Laura could not die, not on my watch! I still have those moments, although they are fewer and farther between. 

Anger - okay...at whom? God? Myself? Laura? The world??
Sure, I get pissed at the hospital and the doctor that allowed this to happen. Fact is - they tried their best to prevent it, or so I'm told. Laura had been much sicker than she even suspected. The thing that killed her moved slowly through her body, causing her blood sugar to rise at the same time. With a highly elevated blood sugar level, you become delusional and your brain does not process any situation correctly. Whenever I would ask her if she needed to see a doctor her reply was always the same-"no, I think I'm finally getting over this. Just let me rest a while longer and I'll be better". She didn't have a fever until way too late.
I get pissed at myself for not making her go to the doctor. I would ask, she would say no and that was it. Should I have insisted? Maybe. In hindsight my answer is "hell yeah - take her now"! But that didn't happen. And I am so truly sorry for that.
Pissed at God? What good would that do? I'm told that he has a plan. Not long ago on the Facebook thing, someone posted one of those memes which had a picture of a park bench with the caption 'if you could spend one hour here talking with anyone who would it be?" I answered "God". I have quite a few questions for the almighty.
Pissed at Laura? Not really - if she had been aware, she would have been the first to tell me to seek treatment for her. I did find myself, early on, screaming inside of an empty home "Why did you leave?"
Out of our hands and a moot point now. Acceptance of that, at least.
The world? Why bother. The world has enough problems, and like my friend James said about the year 2016, it didn't give a shit about how I felt. So that's wasted time.
So there is anger, but it's directionless - without a rudder. It's more harmful than good, so let's try and squelch the anger for now.
Bargaining - never really understood this one. All the bargaining in the world won't bring her back. So let's drop that chip and move along.
Depression - that's where I'm currently residing. Anti-depressants take you so far - but the "I don't really give a crap about much" attitude is strong. And this is where I get into trouble. At work, I tend to speak my mind before thinking about what I need to be saying. This may cost me this job - but right now, I don't give a flying rat's ass. 
I do appreciate the love and concern of my family and friends, who constantly check in on me. I was able to go to the coast yesterday and spend a few rainy, windy hours with my buddy James. It was good to get out of the house and go somewhere like the coast. The ocean always reminds me of the timelessness of life here on earth, and how we are but a grain of sand on the shores of life (this statement is so fucking lame, but true).
Acceptance - Hell, I don't know. I've accepted as best I can, but don't like it one little bit. I miss her, I miss her every single day, and I know that her memory will, for a long time, be at the forefront of my thoughts. I cannot move something from one place to another in the house without thinking of how she might have felt about it. When I do a project at home, it's usually one that she had asked me to do last year. I remember her instructions very well and carry them out. After all, it is her house-she just allows me to live there.

That's enough for today.