04/19/2015— Jamey’s death date.
The date starts with a 4. If you subtract 15 from 19 you get 4. If you subtract 4 from 19, you get 15—then if you take the 15 and subtract the 1 from the 5, you get 4. Jamey’s(and Caeley’s) chosen number in soccer was 4.
He was buried wearing a number 4 jersey(and his “Captain” armband with a paper football smuggled underneath, courtesy of his best friend “Uncle Mr. Jim” as well call him.)
On April 19, 2015, Caeley had a dream. In it, her dad visited her……I have to be distinct here: her father didn’t visit her—her dad visited her.
For her, there were two completely different male figures in her life: father and dad. Father was the person she’d known most recently–she saw father as more an irritating and selfish older sibling than an authority figure. Dad was the person she’d grown up with. He was the one who adored her.
She currently can’t remember what life with dad was like.
Neither can I.
Yet, on 04/15/2015, Caeley recognized dad when he showed up in her dream. His presence was brief, but he was there long enough to let her know, “I’m ok now.” I’m not sure how she knew it was dad…..perhaps he was thinner, perhaps he’d shaved, perhaps there was an eye-twinkle that had long dimmed.
But she knew it was dad. And she was happy.
In the time since then, neither she nor I have had any “positive” dreams about Jamey, In fact, our dreams have both been filled with ghoulish, graphic and macabre images, thoughts and experiences. It has not been fun.
We’ve had no “sense” that he’s been “with us” or “present”, which is ironic since we live in a freaking haunted house and spirits are constantly making themselves known.
But not Jamey.
So I guess we’ve been looking for signs/symbols/something that represents or stands for or suggests that Jamey is still with us. We’re the shady “ghost hunter’s” or “psychic medium’s” dream mark–two desperate, sad people who are willing to unearth the solid rocks of logic and reason to see what we want to see, not what’s actually there.
Cael was the first to jump on the death-decoder boat with her number/date of his death. She’s the one who looked for all the 4 similarities. It meant something significant to her since 4 is a number shared by both of them.
It made her feel closer to him.
Then there was the Wifi issue. Out of nowhere, our Wifi kept cutting out. Considering both Caeley and my growing dependence on escaping into a world of Netlfixtopia, unreliable Wifi was interrupting both our binges.
I’m not sure if it was Cael or I who finally made the (ludicrous, I know) leap that somehow Jamey was to blame for this disrupt in internet signaling. So we chose to do what all pragmatic, rational people do when faced with troublesome technology–we blamed the spotty Wifi on the DeadGuy. We both blamed Jamey.
Yup, that’s right. We both stood in the middle of the kitchen and yelled at him to stop messing(I may have used a harsher term) with the Wifi. Caeley actually tried injecting a sense of empathy into GhostDad by stating, “All you did for 3 years was watch Netflix, how would you have felt if you kept losing it?!?!”
After the guilting and admonishing, the Wifi’s been stable. Coincidence? Probably.
As illogical and irrational as it sounds, though, I’d like to think Cael and I dialed up to Jamey and made a connection.
It makes us feel closer to him.
Today is 05/19/2015. It’s been a month(technically 31 days) since Jamey died.
Here’s what I’ve learned in the past month..
1. There’s a lot of paperwork after someone dies.
2. There’s a lot of food after someone dies.
3. If you’re married, it’s easier if you have a lot of joint accounts so that there’s less paperwork after someone dies.
4. Most people become acceptably psychotic after someone dies(by psychotic, I mean they have a temporary split from reality such as expecting the loved one to come home from their business trip to Toronto, etc)
5. Freudian defense mechanisms are NO JOKE and they work masterfully(for a while, at least.)
6. Grief grapples with every cell of your existence. It armbars your heart, throat chokes your soul and bear hugs your body breathless until you limply submit. Grief is NO JOKE.
7. I learned what I needed to do/say/experience to be ok with Jamey’s wake/funeral process. You never know how you’re going to react to something like seeing the corpse of your dead husband in a hospice bed or rented coffin or permanent grave until you’re there–in the tick-tocking second of that exquisitely painful moment.
I learned I was ok with touching his corpse.
When I said my goodbye to him in the hospice room, I sat down next to him, rested my head on his chest and cried. I apologized…for anything and everything bad that I’d ever said and done(and there was a LOT to apologize for).
I stroked his freshly-shaven face with my teary, snotty hands and slid my fingers over his craniotomy scar one last time. He’d only been dead a little while by the time I’d gotten there so he was still warm and “normal”; he looked like Jamey so I talked to him like I’d talk to Jamey.
I had my iPhone with me, so I stuck one ear bud in Jamey’s ear, one in mine and cued up the song Jamey’d always wanted as his/our wedding song. He loved this song.
I do not love this song.
I always commented on how it was “too saccharine”, “too straight-forward” “too Phil Collins” Genesis.
He liked Phil Collins and thought Peter Gabriel was “just weird and too deep”.
I liked Peter Gabriel and thought Phil Collins was “too pedestrian too obvious.”
That pretty much sums up the differences between me and Jamey in a nutshell. In the end, Phil did not play at our wedding(although Peter’s “Solisbury Hill” did.)
We may not have had our “first dance” to this song, but it was playing when we had our last moment in bed together.
You win this round, Mr. Cranstoun
When he was in his coffin at the wake, I touched him again. I didn’t know what to expect this time since he’d been dead for a while and hadn’t been embalmed. His skin felt cool to me, but not cold. Aside from the private time Caeley and I had with him before all of the guests started arriving, I didn’t spend too much time with him. It was kind of like at our wedding–we were ok being off with other people because, at the end, we knew we’d wind up together.
And at the end of the wake, we did end up together. I kissed his forehead(because kissing on the lips in public was something we really never would’ve done anyway) tucked him in under his blanket, and said “See ya later, Jame.” and walked out.
I’ll go into the awesomeness that was Jamey’s “green burial” at another date, but I want to share with you the last two reactions I had that I could not prepare for until the moments they arrived.
To shovel or not to shovel? That was the question….
After Jamey’s body had been placed into his grave, we all had the option of burying him ourselves.
Outwardly, I’d tried convincing people that I thought this would be a “therapeutic” ritual and that it was something I was looking forward to.
Inwardly, I was terrified I was going to chicken out.
I still can’t sit and watch the death scene in “Charlottes’s Web” when Wilbur frantically screams, “Charlotte! Charlotte!”
I was afraid if I started shoveling dirt on my dead husband, it would all be too real; I though I was going to lose it and start screaming “Charlotte! Charlotte!”…actually, that would’ve been pretty funny.
I was wrong, however. I didn’t chicken out and I didn’t scream anyone’s name, Charlotte or otherwise.
I placed that spade into the mound of earth and tossed it onto Jamey’s muslin-wrapped body.
Then I did it again.
Soon after, his siblings, my neighbor Kelly and others followed suit. .
I started digging with a little more vigor and aggression as we collectively de-earthed the mound.
I eventually handed over my shovel, stood at the edge of his body’s new underground home and watched the dirt cover his shroud.
I watched until I could see no fabric shining through.
I watched until Jamey was gone.
I didn’t know I’d have the courage to do any of those things, but I did.
And I do.