Dinner with Grief

Within an hour of last hearing your voice, I sat on my knees in front of my bed and prayed to God in the dark. I did not ask him to heal you. I did not beg him to take this pain away from us and to save you once more, as I had done many times throughout the last nine years. Instead I bowed my head to Gods power and I asked him to please make sure that you made your way safely to Him. I know in my heart how this made a difference. For the first time in my life I was ready to accept your physical absence.

The last day we spoke was the morning of August 20th 2020. When you heard my voice I felt your spirit lift from limbo. I suspect you were refusing to lift your feet from the ground until we reached each other. You told Mèmé that today would be the day you would be leaving – but there was one thing left to do.

When I had you on the other end of my voice, you startled me with how quickly you told me you loved me. I knew in that moment you hadn’t much time left. Your feet were beginning to lift. That Holy Light embraced you throughout the last three days and this voyage couldn’t be held off anymore. “Love you” you told me from the depth of your last breath. The last words you spoke into this world were “Love you” and “Hi Curtis”. I am unsure if I’ll ever know that level of consideration again in this lifetime.

I hold onto those words like bed time stories.

I press them against my heart like the words of God. They’ve become my Bible.

I knew they’d be the last.

I knew this wasn’t about what I wanted anymore.

So I bow my head to God and I pray that you make it to him safely and in peace. That you are finally free of pain. In this prayer I feel your feet lift off the earth and I know in my heart your spirit left this plein at 10 37 am, eastern time. Your official time of death would not be until later, 6:56 pm, once the decision was made to remove you from the assistance, the machines giving you breath. Within an hour you took the last one on your own. My father watched as you exhaled for the last time.

I called three minutes on the mark after your official time of passing. Your heart resting in your chest – the beat may have ceased on the monitor but I know that’s not how hearts go out. We gathered on the phone, first with dads immediate family; there was us – the three musketeers, you and meme were my best friends throughout my life. me and meme, our voices echoing with mom and dad and Krystal. We recited Our Father and upon ending, a tear fell from your eyes. I hung up the phone so that Jeff could call in his daughter’s, and together they too recited Our Father, and again tears fell from your eyes. This is how I know your heart was still beating. Your soul is always alive.

I got to meet you in the sky before landing in Ontario. I took a picture over Vancouver as I’ve always wanted to fly above the mountains. I think maybe you had wanted to see that beauty, too. I felt you with me every moment of those flights. I took a picture and I wrote “Love, all the way” because that’s what I felt from departure to arrival and back again – your love – moving me all the way. Keeping me safe. You know what I thought of? How to make the family laugh once I landed. I asked them to share their favorite memories before we ate dinner. Dad went last. In the background of all these moments I remembered all the times I told you that I wanted to write a book of your life. What that would look like. But what could the ending possibly be?

I have you strong on my mind, every single day. If I allow myself to succumb to the barracks, I fall further from the familiarity of your spirit. Of your ever lasting soul. Of the love that grows only stronger in time, despite physical absence.

But in moments like today, when we started our walk and we were plumed by a slow, snow globe falling, easy to catch on your tongue kind of snow, I knew you were with me – and I felt your presence strongest while at my fullest, most open, alive; at the top of the mountain. The Summit. What we named our dog, whom we met the same day your spirit started off towards Heaven. What a great gift that is that very simple and dedicated knowing.

I’ve shuffled throughout the realms of grief, bouncing like ping pong from one end to the other. I have met the extremes, and I’ve welcomed them to dinner. I soon came to realize that you can’t small talk grief. It wants all the details out on the platter and you can’t pick at what you want to Gather, either. It’s all of it. Some you don’t want to look at but others you fork in to your mouth to try and keep them to yourself. It’s all about balance. Eating slowly and accepting all of it for what it is.

So I slid my butt down the icy hills, I bit my tongue in suspense as I walked over the icy log across the river below, and I ran down the snowy path towards something that was calling me since I arrived: a tree that had a purple sign and a telephone.

The Infinity Line.

For those of us who have lost someone and trying to find our connection. Or to simply say hello, I miss you. I still hear you.

Yes. I heard you. Did I ever hear you. I picked up the phone and I dialed your cell phone number. The only one you had throughout my life. The last time I’ll dial it until next time I meet these trees again. I bowed to God on my knees and I thanked him. I thanked him three times. I have felt you with me so strong today – I started writing this entry before our walk and I am now ending it as I’ve returned home. I never doubt my grief, nor my intuition when it tells me how close you really are. But moments like this, under my snow globe snow, are almost hard to believe; a piece of life I should be so lucky to carry. Thank you Pèpé. Until next time.

Krystal and I, matching Christmas outfits, chocolate ice cream on the eve of Santa’s arrival. Pepe, candlesticks.
The last time we were together. We had dinner at your favorite restaurant. I remember looking at Curt thinking this may be the last time. The next morning we were making our way back West after sitting in Newfoundland. Meme wanted to give me a strawberry jam that she made, but I called you at 535am and told you we were running late and I wouldn’t be able to say a last goodbye. Curt and I were leaving town just before 6am, and when I looked at him he knew in an instant that I needed to see you. So we took an extra ten minutes under the thick and wet along snow of the early morning in North Bay; he parked at Fresco and I ran to your apartment door, out of breath, tears in my eyes, I told you I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye. Meme passed me her jam and told me not to cry. Pepe you were in your chair at the kitchen table wearing a white pajama shirt and I hugged you greater and longer than I have since I was a child. It is that embrace in which I draw upon for strength and courage when I need it most. I love you.

If you are dealing with your own story of grief and growth, please feel free to get in touch with me. I’ve always known that courage is found in having these conversations. But there is so much faith and love to be felt within them, too. Keep them close to your heart, whomever they are.

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