The other day it was crows at dawn. Tonight it is frogs. A delightful chorus in the pond at the back of the house. A pond that grundoon and I helped restore last year. It pleases me that the frogs found it, and sang around it each evening, because it's right outside the room that Christine was in for the last three weeks. We both liked frogs, the guardians of the wetland and the forest. It was a fitting place for Christine to be at the end.
I apologise to you all for once again sharing my sorrow, but it helps to get it out of me, out there. I feel like a man who has just one thing to say and keeps saying it. Please bear with me.
It's been one heck of a day. Hella weirdness. Of course, there is a backstory, and it goes back to last Thursday. That was the day that the mortuary called to tell me that the death certificates were ready to collect, so I hied me to the Yolo County Recorder's Office in Woodland armed with my firm jaw and a box of tissues.
I remember the office well - it was where, almost seven years earlier to the day that Christine and I went to get our marriage licence.
I waited in line, remembering that exciting, eager wait for the bit of paper that said we could wed. Happiness filled us then, we were like...well, we were like the young couple ahead of me. Yes, as I was lining up for my love's death certificate, they were in the line getting their marriage licence. Shining eyes, happy smiles, the kisses, the loving touches, the holding hands. It was all so familiar, and it wrenched me.
So there I was seven years on, completed application in hand, trembling at the memory and envious of the couple's obvious delight. His sister was there, taking photographs, documenting this lovely moment. I dared not catch their eyes. I was filled with something. Not sadness for me, not quite. Nor joy for them, though I appreciated their joy. It was hollowness, emptiness and pain.
Thankfully I did not have long to wait. I presented my form, my ID. The clerk attended to her computer. My wife is another number, now. She looked up, embarrassed. To cut the story short, the mortuary had jumped the gun. They'd filed the paperwork, but not paid their fee to the County. She was very sorry, but could not release what I needed. It was not her fault, she saw my hurt, wished she could do more. Hollow no more, my emptiness filled with anger. I called the mortuary. They were of course very sorry. I am angry. I told them what I just told you and said that they could now come and get things sorted out and bring me the paperwork once they were done.
Sometimes an apology does not cut it. I could not grieve, just could not. My anger was in the way, and I carried that all through the weekend. All I had was deep sorrow and anger and nowhere to take it. Grief needs space and time, and that had been stripped from me by a stupid bureaucratic error.
They came today, with the certificates, with Christine's ashes.
I am cold. Tired, cold and still sore at losing so much time. If I disliked bureaucracy and crass idiocy before, I loathed it now. I will never forgive you. Never. You stole something from me, and can never give it back.
This evening a bunch of us sat to organise the memorial. It will be big, we think. Family, noders, colleagues, ballet dancers, market customers, friends all. We arranged for chairs and songs, figured that five minutes was the longest we could reasonably offer for folk to speak. We organised for food storage and preparation. Parking, refreshments, sleeping, music. How different this was from the harshness and impersonality earlier.
I feel a little better now; at least in that loving company I could cry with people who loved. Christine and me they loved, and Tessie and one another. Tess and I have been crying together. It helped us both. Tears are a blessing when shared.
The memorial is on Sunday 15th April; you are all welcome. Bring tears, bring laughter, bring instruments (there will be music) and bring food to share if you want supper.
Your tears will be a blessing too.