Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Road Less Traveled

I didn’t know what to do. I was standing in the street. I really wanted to just walk down the hill, get into my car, and drive home to my wife, two kids, and the afternoon I had planned. Instead, I walked across the street into the building and took the elevator to the 8th fl.
I found him in the hallway, with her Dad. I was really here to see him, to offer whatever support my words and physical presence could provide to a man about to lose his wife. His children sat at the end of the atrium. "How’s it going," I said; nothing else to say. "This sucks." "Yup." "Let’s go see her," he said.
We entered the room, and he leaned over, kissed her, and told her that I was there. I held her hand and tried to tell them both how much they had meant to me and my family, their faith and encouragement to us as we battled our own problems, that we were able to share and support each other a little. I felt what was either a spasm or Jerri respond with her hand, I will never know for sure. I’d like to think so, but I’m a skeptical guy. I’m not trying to paint a romantic picture. I looked at her, knowing that it was probably the last time I’d see her. Her head was turned to the side, as I’ve been accustomed to seeing her, at church, at parties, here and there with groups of friends. I tried to burn her profile into my memory. Even in this condition, she is a graceful beauty. As much as it still hurts, it was a privilege to hold her hand and be present with her.
We left the room and returned to the hallway, windows open to the bay. It was a clear day, I could see the Coronado Islands. I have come to deeply respect Brad, our common backgrounds and suffering have given us a way of connecting past the awkward things that most people say. We are two intelligent, able men who are powerless against these forces, and I hope that I in some measure return the strength that he provides me. As we spoke of our different-but-connected perspectives on life, I looked out over the city to the water. The water. The water that had taken so many lives just a couple of weeks ago. This wave was only going to take one.
I left him, and went home to my wife, 2 kids, and the afternoon I had planned. I learned of her passing, last night, as I write this this morning. I am saddened, and will continue to greive for her, but I am glad, today, that I did not take the easy path. I do so hope that you are in Paradise, today, dear Jerri.