Oct 8 6:10pm – No, I do not like grief and I don’t mean to swim in it nor do I relish the idea of grieving for weeks, months, or even years.  It is not something that is easy or enjoyable.  Grief comes from the inside but it also is prompted by things on the outside – events, people, places, things.  And such was my day today.  I share these thoughts more for me – it helps to talk about them.  I do not share to ‘keep the grief alive’ or anything like that.  But what I will say is that the loss of a loving spouse who was so special and who had so many friends and acquaintances and who lived such a full life makes it hard for things to simply stop.  Her influence and aura doesn’t just go away.  Disappear.  It lingers. What she put out is still coming back.  Often.  And so my day’s story…

– I really did not have big plans for today when I got out of bed this morning.  I thought I might do a bit of cleaning and straightening.  Maybe some reading.  Little did I know…

– On impulse, I grabbed a box of trash bags and went into the bedroom and started taking apart Regina’s closet.  Pants.  Dresses.  Shoes.  Purses.  Hats.  Belts.  And then I ended up in a second closet.  More pants, dresses, and shoes (but for different seasons).  And then a third closet (house robes, sweaters).  And, finally, another chest of drawers.  All in all, twelve bags of good, quality clothes, shoes, and accessories.  That I took to Goodwill.  And left with a grumpy helper who didn’t say anything to me as we unloaded the car and as he threw – yes, threw – the bags of clothes onto piles of other clothes in the warehouse.  Many piles of clothes.  And there were my twelve white trash bags full of Regina’s clothes along with everyone else’s bags of clothes.  And that was that.

– I found all of the t-shirts that I had bought for Regina on all of my travels over the years – Salt Lake City, Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Dallas, Miami, New York City.  Why did she keep them?  And all of the t-shirts we bought when we went to concerts together.  And a few shirts from concerts that I did not go to – country western concerts!

– I found all of her Rockhill t-shirts – teacher this and teacher that and physical ed this and that and read this and read that and so many more.  All precious and special shirts.

– I found her ‘wedding’ dresses – the ones she wore to the weddings of Zak/Kathy and Nick/Laurie.  

– I found her stash of holiday and Christmas shirts, socks, and sweaters.  Snowmen, sleds, pumpkins, Christmas trees, pies, valentine hearts, Lincoln and Washington, and more.

– I found her secret stash of personal nighttime clothes – not used for many years – which were special to her and me.  All proper and nice – nothing yucky – but silky and soft.  Good times.  All gone so many years ago…

– I smelled her sweaters.  Lots of sweaters.  As you know, she was always cold.  Heavy and light sweaters of all kinds.

– She had lots of Land’s End, Orvis, and Liz Clairborne.  Is that good?

– I finally opened the few unopened boxes sitting in one of her closets that had been delivered to the house the few weeks after Jun 20.  More pants and a blouse or two.  But one box was unexpected.  All our time at WHC we both really enjoyed the soap/lotion in Regina’s hospital rooms.  It was something called ‘Aloe Vesta 3-n-1 Cleansing Foam’.  It is good stuff, smells good, is foamy, and made our hands feel smooth.  The one square box had three bottles of this foam in it – from Amazon.  And I looked at the packing slip.  Regina had ordered this from Amazon on Mon Jun 11 at 4:37pm – about six hours before we got the call to head up to WHC for the transplant.  Officially, the last Amazon order that Regina would make. And I have some very special soap…  

– I found some of her ‘pregnant’ dresses.  The green one, I remember.

– She liked fluffy, flowery, and stuff like that.  So many shirts and blouses of patterns and frills.

– She liked light colored pants.  How many times would she wear white or light colored pants and get a spot on them and then complain the rest of the day about the spot?  It never ended.  And to suggest to not wear white pants was a death wish…

– I found a drawer full – to the top – of cards and letters and drawings and mementos from students and parents and from Regina’s special grandkids.  She put post-it notes on drawings from the grandkids – “Arwen 8/11/11 fish”.  I look forward to going through all of these items closer in the future.  A very special drawer.

– She mostly wore slip-ons if she could.  Because she had so much trouble with her feet for so many years, she much preferred something that was comfortable.  She only had a few pairs of pumps and heals.  She really had lots of flip-flops.

– I wasn’t able to do all of this at once.  It took four or five hours.  I would have to step away for a bit – check email, or drink some tea, or answer a phone call.

– Rockhill called again.  Things are set for a short memorial in the school library on Oct 24 in behalf of Regina.  I was asked if I could bring a few things – of course I can, I said.  Such kind people at the school.  Oct 24 will be hard but I really want to do this for Regina and her friends, teachers, and parents.  

– And during the day, I read an email that Laura had sent to me during the previous night.  She and Jeff have two precious little daughters – twins.  Laura wrote, “I don’t know if I ever told you how Kayla reacted when I told her Ms. Regina had passed.  I woke the girls up from their naps, with tears in my eyes.  They asked what was wrong.  I told them Ms. Regina went to Heaven today.  Kayla’s immediate response was to burst out into song.  She started singing, ‘When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be.  When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and SHOUT THE VICTORY!’ (and if you’ve ever heard her sing this, she really shouts the victory).  That little song was just the comfort I needed.  I hope it brings you some comfort today.  I taught my girls that song early because it is the song I hold in my heart when I think of my father.  I cannot wait to meet my earthly father again in Heaven along with my Heavenly Father!”  Thanks, Laura.

– In my wanderings between packing and sorting, I noticed that I hadn’t yet changed the kitchen calendar – Regina’s calendar.  It was still on Sep.  It made me wonder…  Regina and I went to WHC late on Mon Jun 11 for the transplant.  
She passed away on Jun 20.  This, of course, isn’t on the calendar.  Her schedule called for her to meet “Yessica and Jose at 12:00” on Jun 14, “Luncheon @ RES 1:00” on Jun 15, to “pay SCPS for health & dental insurance” on Jun 20, doctor appointment with “Dr Mousavi 12:00” and “Benny Bday” on Jun 22, “haircut 2:00” on Jun 26, “Food Bank church 2:30” on Jun 27, and “H/M Anniv.” on Jun 29.  Jul had a few less appointments – one doctor appointment and “Laurie bday” and “Hunt Bday”.  Also, “Preacher Search Comm. Mtg. 2:00” on Jul 7.  In Aug, three birthdays and two doctor appointments.  In Sep, one birthday and one doctor appointment.  And now, in Oct.  Nothing.  She did not have any appointments scheduled in Oct.  In Nov and Dec, “F/R Anniv” on Nov 24 and two birthdays.  And that is all except for one other future appointment that is just like Regina.  She has a post-it note in Dec that says “pneumonia immunization Aug. 2016 taken Aug. 2011”.  Thinking and hoping ahead.

– After dropping off the clothes and on my way home from Goodwill, I pulled into Taco Bell and ordered a bean burrito, crunchy taco, and regular Diet Pepsi.  I parked to the front of the parking lot to eat my mid-afternoon meal and watch 610 traffic for a few minutes.  I was listening to Harold Budd.  My phone rang and caller ID said it was Dr. Mousavi.  What could this be?  Well, it was Sherry and she wanted to check up on me.  I couldn’t believe it.  She asked how I was doing and if I needed anything.  I didn’t know what to say.  She also asked about the insurance paperwork that she and Dr. Mousavi had filled out back in Jul in Regina’s behalf so I could claim a refund on the cost of flights that Regina and I had arranged in order to be at Zak’s graduation in Portland in May – which we were not able to attend.  Of course, I told her that the insurance company had disallowed the claim due to Regina’s “pre-existing conditions”. She sighed and said she wondered if that is what would happen.  But then she went on and said how much she and Dr. Mousavi and staff missed Regina – “she was always so positive and happy and perky and hopeful and she always had so much faith”, Sherry said.  Sherry said that Regina called the office often toward the end due to her anxiety and concern but Sherry and staff was always happy to take her call and make her feel better.  One of the hardest days for Dr. Mousavi and the office was when Dr. Mousavi had to tell us that Regina could not work any longer.  I told Sherry I remembered the day and the moment.  Yes, it was an absolute turning point in our lives – truly.  Sherry also said staff was devastated when they had heard from WHC that Regina’s transplant hadn’t been successful.  I was mostly unable to speak during this – what ended up being – one-sided conversation.  Thank you, Sherry and Dr. Mousavi.  You are awesome.   

So I sat in the Taco Bell parking lot for about an hour – crying and breathing and snacking on my Taco Bell.  I was sad.  Uncertain.  Perhaps a little bit of remorse and regret.  Fear.  

All the while, 610 whizzed by.  Stop lights turning red and green and yellow and then back to red.  My twitter feed kept updating with mostly useless information.  The rain came and went a few times.  A Taco Bell person came by my car to dump the parking lot’s trashcan.  The music kept playing.

And I am now home for the evening.  Tomorrow will come… 

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