Sunday, October 31, 2010

Private Viewing

I went to a private viewing today. It was extremely difficult knowing that it would be the very last time I would ever see her. Yes, I know about souls and the body merely being a vessel. However, that was the vessel that I held close and snuggled up to at night. In thirty-five years of marriage, outside of the time when one or the other of us was in the hospital we spent exactly two nights apart. That makes for an awful lot of snuggling. Knowing that Janet is no longer plagued with the hardship she bore in this life is comforting but knowing that I will never again hold her isn’t.

The viewing was much easier than I had anticipated because the person I saw looked nothing like Janet. You cannot believe how much easier that made it. The mouth was distorted and she was wearing makeup, something she almost never did. The only thing that looked like Janet was her hair so I kissed her on the top of her head as I have done so many hundreds of time since she has been in the wheelchair. I got to say things that I needed to say and yes, I am aware that she was not there, but I know she heard me. She didn’t respond but that is not unusual considering the past couple of years when the extremely rare reply was a thrill. Of course, I am bringing her home with me.

I did not know what to expect in an urn. I just knew it would not be Oriental and glass or pottery seemed risky so I was thinking maybe metal. However. A wooden box of birdseye maple caught my attention as I walked in. It was very pretty in sort of a Bombay style with the sides puffed out and a black lacquer top. But across the way was a very plain wooden cube and I knew immediately that was the one. Janet was not a person that needed ostentation. Puffy sides and black lacquer tops were not Janet’s style. A simple, unadorned wooden cube would be more to her liking.

The first gift that Janet gave me after we married was a rosewood tea box. Like the cube, it was a simple rectangle, no decoration. Granted, she probably wanted the tea box herself but buying it as a gift justified the purchase. Regardless, we both enjoyed it. The cube and the tea box will sit next to each other, each complimenting the other.

With no one to attend to today, I have been cleaning out drawers and stuffed in the back of one in the highboy I found a very old clutch purse. The purse was unremarkable but inside was a receipt for our stay at the Flagship Hotel in Galveston where we spent our first night as man and wife. I cried. That night we went to a dinner theatre and I would imagine that the black clutch purse was the one she carried that night. Janet was much more sentimental than she would admit. It is always interesting to find her stashes. I am surprised how many birthday cards from her sister I find in her hiding places. They have not been close and Janet has always acted like that was okay, but I suspect that she would liked to have had a closer relationship with Jean. Anyway, I am glad that I found the Flagship receipt before I went to the viewing because I got to tell her about finding it.

For the past couple of years I seldom got a response when I talked to Janet which seems like pretty good practice. I feel certain that I will be doing a lot of talking to a wooden cube. I wondered if Janet sometimes would just like for me to shut up but she never said, so I just kept talking. I’ll probably continue to do the same.

I don’t know but did I mention that I really, really loved that woman? She was my wife, my lover, my best friend, my anchor, my Rock of Gibraltar, my safe haven in the storm, my reason for being.

Janet was a classical pianist so we had a lot of music in our life but unlike most married couples, we did not have a song. I suspect that was because we did not celebrate occasions in a fashion that would lead to acquiring a song that was special to us as a couple. However, we did have a poem.

In the summer on Galveston Bay, if you were under a high pressure system, which was fairly frequent, the wind would die around eleven or so in the morning and not pick back up until around five in the afternoon. Your choices was to turn on the motor, scour the surface of the water for an indication of a breeze you might pick up or you could anchor and wait it out. We preferred to anchor. I would put up the cockpit awning and Janet would fix lunch or snacks. We would sit in the cockpit and talk, listen to music or occasionally read poetry. I have often said that Janet and I could talk for a million years and neither would tire of the conversation. On one such occasion, anchored in the hook on the north end of Redfish Island I read a poem that I honestly have no recollection of ever having read prior to that time. Before I got to the end, even though it is very short, both Janet and I knew we had a poem. I could always pull it out when she was low, for anniversaries and any other occasion. Janet never tired of it and I never tired of reading it to her. It is by one of my favorite poets, e. e. cummings.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)


We have lived and loved together
Though many changing years,
We have shared each other’s gladness
And wept each other’s tears.
And let us hope the future,
As the past has been will be;
I will share with thee my sorrows,
And thou thy joys with me.

No comments:

Post a Comment