Jim used to enjoy reading my blog. Man that's a nice thing to know. He would have read this back in December: Awake at a Wake. I wonder what he thought.
My sisters and mother and I will not be broken by this and we have the inappropriate texts to prove it. We're already mosaics from being broken previously, thereby making any impending brokenness null and void. They are my best mates ever. And my Aunty Cousin Moochie. All scarred and bonded by these weeks.
I keep hunching over and crying. Sometimes just a wail, or just a weeny sob. A sharp intake of breath. I can't BREATHE. When Jim was in his big pain, he would grimace. I realised just today that I've been grimacing too. Only ever when I'm by myself. It's a sudden ... a horrible, scrunching of my face and bending over. Pain is pain is pain. Then the keening.
So, so sorry I haven't replied to beautiful comments and emails. It's been wicked. I'm barely coping, cannot handle one more thing, drama, child.
Here's the words I wrote and read out last Friday. Had to punch myself in the head ten times beforehand. I think I made it too personal, couldn't help it.
There's an African saying that when a wise man dies, a library burns to the ground.
I met Jim about thirty years ago. A softly-spoken, thoughtful, peaceful man. Always. He married my mother and it was a happy day. Jim took on four sad stepchildren - quietly, in his own way. He was just always there, you know? He wasn't loud, didn't make sweeping statements using his arms to prove a point. He wasn't aggro or angry or noisy. He was just Jim.
He was the singularly most grounding influence my mother has ever had. What a gift. Thank you Mark and Lynn, for sharing him with mum, Linda, Leigh, Cam and me. No mean feat .. because we are CRAZY.
There have been parties and holidays and babies born and Christmases and birthdays, year after year. Our big blended family passing our milestones and doing our things, getting together when we can in this busy world. I've never had a bad word to say about Jim. Ever. Only good words, like gentle and grounding. Accepting. Understanding. Smart. Humble. He called us all 'love.'
The past month has been beyond hard. It was Jim's time to leave. We wished so hard that it wasn't, but it was.
People came from all over, to visit him in Gosford Hospital. For chats, for love, and to say goodbye.
How do we say goodbye to the people that we love?
Jim showed us that we do it with Grace and acceptance. He is so loved that we had to set up a kind of roster system, taking it in turns to file into his room and see his beautiful face and those beautiful blue eyes. When I saw new nurses come in to care for him for the first time, I wanted to tell them exactly what kind of a man he was. To make sure they knew how valued, cherished and loved this stranger in the bed before them was. Thing is, I didn't have to, because they quickly realised anyway.
Asked by his favourite nurse Lisa what his occupation was, Jim thought for a bit and replied, "Oh, just a handyman." We all know that he is so much more than just a handyman. (He was an engineer.)
Jim had to adjust to his new reality pretty quickly. He wasn't given a choice. When it was my turn to go in, he grabbed my hands and we spoke for a while. I asked him, what is it … what could I do for him, in the world. I would do anything, anything at all. He knew I was completely serious. He said "Well, my grasshopper …" and he laughed. And shrugged. And just went on to tell me that there's people in the world who are only out for themselves, and what they can get for their own gain. He said that's not the way to be … that the best way to live is to give and help others. To be kind.
A few weeks later I sat with him again, except this time he couldn't speak. So I did. I told how beautiful his Spirit was. How hard it must be for him to let go. I told him I believed he was going on to a most amazing, incredible place. One we can't even imagine but I swear Jim it's unreal. Then I told him my secret which is I actually don't like life very much at all but I keep living it as best I can anyway. I said I was probably saying the wrong thing to him and I'm so sorry, and I told him that I wish I knew what HE would say to someone in this position. Because I'd say that.
I said I'd see him tomorrow, and then tomorrow and them tomorrow. To take his time. That we will all take care of mum. That love never dies.
Jim has touched so many people in his life. He is the best father-figure we ever had, and we really needed one.
I ask everyone here today, to please, please take some time out and make sure you let my mother know that she is not alone. Now, in three weeks, in three months, a year …. please show her some love. She is an extraordinary, beautiful, giving woman. And Jim loved her so much.
So. A wise man dies, a library burns to the ground … but before it does, let's steal a few scorched books from Jim. And let the way he lived his life linger in our hearts. For always.
Love you Jim.
Tomorrow I fly to New York for Maybelline NY to attend BlogHer 2012. I wasn't going to go, but my Mum told me to. Georgia from Maybelline has been so patient and kind, not minding a bit what my decision was.
I'm not packing much because my grief takes up all the room. It's invisible, can travel anywhere. Don't know how I'll be or if I can talk to people properly. I know I'm running away but man it's better than the alternative.
I need some time to myself, some burgers, a new tattoo, and a pair of black and gold high tops. I need to see my Americanos. Dave's coming with me - he turns 46 tomorrow. We had presents and cake tonight with the kids and I bought forty six candles. The wax melted all over the icing and it took ages to light them all.
I made him promise me he'll never die.