Perhaps I am today remembering this time those 18 years ago because of the recent death of our dog Punk'n. When death touches our lives, it seems to re-invoke the memories of other deaths that we've experienced, and today I remember my first partner Jim losing his battle with AIDS. While I remember the events of that day with crystal clarity, the emotions that I felt then are gone, but not completely forgotten. When someone we love dies, we hurt in an almost indescribable way. Grieving is unique to each person who experiences a death, and everyone needs to understand that and allow the process to unfold naturally. Grief is probably one of the truly acceptable selfish reactions that mankind accepts and understands. When someone we love dies, we grieve our personal loss of that person, and we grieve the changes to our life that result from that death. We will talk of the quiet house, or the change of routine, the empty car seat next to us, or having to buy groceries alone and cook for one. Oddly we say things we don't truly mean like "at least he isn't suffering anymore" to convince ourselves that what has happened is OK, but in the next breath we'll also say "I'd give my right arm to have them here with me again".
Grief has to be one of the oddest battles the body can endure. When the head and the heart are duking it out over something, it is next to impossible to resolve anything to an acceptable level. One plays the devil and the other the angel, and then they switch roles and throw a few more punches at each other. When the head is in battle with the heart, the best course of action is to just let them fight. They are in complete control, and to interfere will only serve to exacerbate the process. Sometimes, you have to let the dogs fight. Stick your hand in there and you will get bitten, and the dogs? They will continue fighting, and you will be in more pain than before.
Jim's death was not my first experience with someone I loved passing away, but it was my first experience at being there when the death occurred, and to have someone die at home as opposed to being in the sterile environment of a hospital. I hope that when my day on this earth is due, that I have the opportunity to die as Jim did that day. With those he loved by his side, getting a foot rub, and listening to some favourite music. It was a peaceful death. We were prepared, and we knew that it was time. There was an angel of a nurse on scene who had been involved in Jim's home care for a few months, and following his death, our doctor came to the house to pronounce him, and to have her last visit with one of her favourite patients.
So today I am thinking of what happened in 1994, and I'm not sad. I'm remembering the wonderful times we had together, and I'm remembering Jim's family, and I'm remembering all the people who helped with his care, and there were many. I wonder if this day is something they remember. I wonder how their lives have unfolded these 18 years. I wonder because I hope that people do remember Jim. I hope they remember his voice and his laugh, and I hope that they smile when they do think of him. I hope people remember his personality, and that eccentric behaviour of his that would present itself from time to time. I hope all this because like everyone else, we all hope that our own existence will be remembered with smiles and laughs, and that our time here will have impacted others, and we'll never be forgotten. How sad it would be to die, and have no one left to remember you or to find themselves thinking things to themselves like "Gee, I remember when my friend Jim taught me...", or "I'll never forget the time with Jim when we...".
I remember them Jim, and I'm so thankful for the time we had, and the things we shared, and for having my wonderful partner Jeff by my side now to share in the wisdom of some of those traits and lessons. As Jeff and I carve our own path in life together, we understand how great a teacher the past can be. We all just have to remain as students to her wisdom, and the future will be ours to hold.