This post will be in bits and pieces. Much as I am right now. Fragmented. Everywhere and all at once.
The morning of Asa's passing I was checking his temperature; he'd been running a slight fever. I put a cold compress on his forehead, but as I turned his face to tuck it around I noticed something. In the corner of his right eye there was a tear. And there was blood in that tear. I wiped it away. He had been sleeping for several days at this point, and he left us early in the evening as he slept. At the very end, he had a tiny smile at the corner of his mouth.
He was everything and all to me; that I could give him this gift of a peaceful, comforted ending, on his terms and just as he wanted it to be was my absolute honor and blessing, for I would never be able to repay all that he gave and did for me.
I am, by turns, relieved and devastated and lost and shocky and rudderless and purposeful.
When I stood in the shower for the first time since his passing, it dawned on me that I didn't have to be quick, I didn't have to keep the door open at just the right angle to keep an eye on him. That I could stay there until the hot water ran out. I burst into tears at all that implied. And I did run out all the hot water.
I can't begin to describe the gentlemen who came to take his body. Suffice it to say, Asa would have LOVED them. My best friend was with me during this time. She's a writer. One day, I'm sure that scene will find its way into her work. Something about undertakers who watch too many gangster movies or raid Johnny Depp's wardrobe from the Dark Shadows set.*
It took the supply company almost two full days to retrieve all the "furniture of illness." I had it around me all day on Sunday. I understood that deliveries are a priority, but I thought I would go completely mad with sorrow. They finally came yesterday, shortly after I returned from the funeral home. The whole apartment seemed to let out a sigh when it was all gone.
Montag slept under the head of the hospital bed every night. He kept sleeping there until they took the bed away.
There are no funeral directors in the world like the ones in Albuquerque. Another dear friend accompanied me to the funeral home as both moral support and, as he too is a writer, note taker - in case I missed anything. The young woman who walked me through everything will appear in his work somewhere down the line, I am sure. There were some alarming fashion choices (leopard print cuffs? really?) and you have to wonder at the wisdom of having a glitter-addicted tween niece do your nails.*
After spending close to two intense months in these rooms, walking out and going somewhere was suddenly a very big deal. I did it two days in a row. Knowing I can go anywhere now, do anything now, is overwhelming and unnerving.
Today I spent my morning on the phone, contacting Social Security to report Asa's passing. It was a good thing and a bad thing. I found out what I am entitled to financially which was a very pleasant surprise, and I found out I have to apply for these benefits before they'll happen. Which means I am now in the giant maw of government machinery. I must now wait for the local office to call me to arrange a phone appointment. Which may take 7 to 10 days. And that's to make an appointment to talk to someone on the phone. Unbelievable. I looked at the website to apply online and decided it was too labyrinthine for me. I'm better off waiting and getting it right. That's how I feel today. I may feel very different tomorrow.
My sleep patterns are completely fucked up. I have to be straightened out by next week; I have to get back to work. Cat chow ain't gonna buy itself.
I slept in the middle of the bed last night for the first time. I forced myself to do it. I might have broken that 2-hour-at-a time sleep pattern I'd developed in Asa's final week.
I'm writing lists. Grocery, to-do, to-call. I have this awful creeping doubt that somehow, some way I'm missing something - putting my foot wrong. Still shaking inside this morning, like I'm cold but I'm not cold. Plenty of water, plenty of rest, eating regularly, taking time to meditate - or in my case, read some poetry - physically taking care of myself is easy. Spiritual care is easy. Emotional care is a whole lot tougher.
I'm surfing on waves of The Wet Feels. They're coming frequently but they don't last very long. One minute I'm handling things just fine. Then someone offers condolences and I'm a soppy mess.
Today will be a boxing day I think. I'm boxing up the books he asked me to sell, along with the CDs and DVDs. I'll be boxing up his shoes later this evening. Tomorrow I'll take care of his clothes. Everything boxed and ready for donation on the weekend. Shoes are easy. His clothes . . . that's going to be harder and will need a whole day just for them. Along with more Puffs Plus**, some 13 gallon garbage bags, and dinner after with noisy, crazy friends who will give me much wine and comfort.
Montag has found his New Normal - he spends his days asleep on Asa's side of the bed.
*These dubious sartorial choices may have been intentional; the effect on me was to lighten the atmosphere from the somber business at hand to something bordering on entertaining.
**The best thing I was given during this entire experience was a 3-pack of Puffs Plus. MWAH to my BFF.