Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Rose, Some Regrets, and the Answer to Everything

The anniversary of Rick’s passing on December 29th was hard, but not as hard as I feared. What was hard was the virus that mowed me down on Christmas Eve. Ough. On the day of the anniversary I looked out in the yard and saw what appeared to be a rose on one of my rose bushes. I walked out to check it out, and sure enough, it was a rather puny and beat up yellow rose. This late bloomer was pure yellow, and yellow roses were Rick’s favorites. That little rose made me feel like Rick is still thinking of me, and he had sent that rose to me.
To you skeptics and pragmatists who are saying, “Oh for gosh sakes, the rose happened to bloom late and it happened to be yellow,” I say: you are no fun. Like billions of people before me, I ponder what happens and where we go after we die. Books have been written detailing the experiences of people who died and came back to life. Rick’s grandmother in Ohio once was dying and would have been happy to go, but she recovered. Afterward she said an angel came and told her, “Florence, it’s not your time, and you have to go back.” Which she did, albeit reluctantly. That is not that unusual a story. John Edward had a television show in which he talked to dead people. At the end of every show he said, love people while you still have them to love. That’s excellent advice. A lot of my grief has been wishing I could change the unchangeable. I wish I’d called in medical caregivers at home months before Rick died instead of thinking I could do everything myself. I wish I’d hugged Rick more, although we hugged a lot. Sometimes I close my eyes and remember the feel of hugging him, the contours and warmth of his body, the feel of his shirt collar against my cheek, the feel of his arms around me and my arms around him. I am grateful for those memories, and that I can conjure them up so vividly. I wish I’d tried harder to get him to stop smoking. I did nag him at first, but decided after a few years that he was never going to quit, and I was only lousing up our relationship by nagging him. “It’s the only vice I have left,” he said, “and I enjoy it.” I’m glad you enjoyed smoking, Rick. Too bad about it KILLING you. Life is moving on now and I’m moving with it. For the first time since I was young, I have choices about where I go and what I do. Unlike when I was young, I now live with the results of the choices I made over time: My adult children, my granddaughter, my house, and the family mythology created in a lifetime of telling and re-telling stories. Like this one, one of my favorite Rick stories: Rick was a straight arrow, drug-free American citizen until he joined the Navy and went to Vietnam. That’s where he learned to smoke marijuana. After he left the Navy he lived for a time in Marin, and there he was introduced to LSD. LSD, this is Rick. Rick, meet LSD. They hit it off. One night he decided to take LSD and then go to sleep to see what happened. What happened was that he woke up in the middle of the night on fire with inspiration. Suddenly he understood everything! Incredible! He had the answer to everything! He was so excited and happy. Quickly he wrote down what he had realized, and lay down to sleep content that the Answer would be waiting for him in the morning. When he awoke, he remembered the lightning strike of enlightenment that had come to him in his sleep, and he ran to the paper where he’d written down the wisdom of the ages. What he found written on the paper was one sentence: “There’s a funny smell in this room.” Yeah, always loved that story. By the time we met in 1972, LSD was not a part of our lives. It was a character in stories we told about our experiences in the 1960s, which already seemed long ago and far away. I don’t know what happens when we die. I can’t say. But between the yellow rose and all the pennies I’ve been finding lately, I feel like Rick is trying to get my attention. Maybe he has something to tell me. I hope it isn’t that there’s a funny smell in the room. That’s the dog, and he doesn’t need to speak from the other side for me to know that. I’ll try to be still and pay attention and see what develops. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Barbara Millikan said...

During a similar experience, I laid a pair of scissors on my newspaper covered table, only to find that the paper extended past the table. Next morning I found I had written in marker on the paper: "If you set it on what isn't, it won't."