A very widowed day
I am having a very widowed day, even for a Monday.
One of Gavin's best friends is dying. He had a massive aneurysm and wasn't found for a few days. I tried to go up and visit him, even after I found out, despite the different name, that it was the same hospital where we saw our oncologist, where Gavin had chemo all summer one year and a dreadful surgery that fall. That I’d again be crossing the vast clean lobby, but this time without my love in a wheelchair. The same parking lot, with native plants to color-code each level, so friendly – a hospital parking lot.
Don was -- not just a friend. We spent a lot of time with Don and Linda before their divorce, which depressed us. Don was nearly Gavin’s twin, the same suit size, same height, similarly thin, handsome, and clean cut. Their art was even similar, their concerns and conversations and love for Guy Davenport and theory. Don has a blacker side than Gavin did, though, and loved obscure poetry, had a crazy romantic self who appeared once in a bit, insisted on living rougher and never started a family.
He visited Gavin on his last day, in hospice, and a week before that, was one of the few I invited to the ICU. I cried talking to Linda about it – she was his only one, traveling from her new home to take care of some things and watch over him.
I feel I must go in tribute, too, in return. To thank him for his kindness – we visited after I took Shortie to the ballet, and she padded about his studio after him. That was the last time I saw him – just when I was starting to date, so two years ago plus.
Even with a life hanging, my pilgrimage was prevented by a very trivial widowed chain of events. As always, you can have something spiritual and important and gory and real, and still get messed up by worry and paperwork and the way small bits of time pass you by.
First, Mr. Fresh listened to Car Talk during his morning workout and decided I should not drive up to the hospital with my bad brakes. There was “another problem” it could be and he “isn’t crazy about the idea of losing me just yet.”
I made an appointment with the repair shop and took it in. They’d give me a loaner: even better for the long drive up to see Don. When I showed up, they pointed out that my license was expired. Who KNEW they expire on your birthday? A side effect of wishing that day away every year since the diagnosis, which was the day before my birthday. Second widowhood-related complication.
The MVA was smooth and easy, but still took an hour. And then it was time, as it is always time, to fetch the dinner and the daughter. Yes, I got something important done, which had to be done, but now I can’t take the car in until tomorrow and drive the loaner up to the hospital.
It’s a small setback, but that’s what every day is like, when it isn’t dead serious or grey during grief: a set of menial tasks to please someone you don’t really care about. It’s the company that makes it all worthwhile. At least, that was what I thought the whole first year after my loss: the deliciousness of having company and the emptiness of life without that one person. So I got another flashback, one of perspective.
And that’s what makes me saddest: that Don lay there. That Linda was the only one to be asking if there was work to be delivered to a show in November (most of what we talked about). To mourn, but only as a friend, because the partnership ended long ago. She’ll be grieving only memories, not any present or future.
Sometimes people say “no one should die alone,” which is sort of a point, but it’s very important to note that we do all come into this world alone and we all do die alone.
But as much as I hate being a widow, I think the proper expression should be: No one should die without widowing someone. It’s only in giving love that we live well, and we don't need just a caregiver, but a witness. No one lost Don’s future and that’s a crying shame.
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