Sunday, April 25th, will be 8 weeks since Frank passed away. Sometimes it feels like it’s been longer than that and other times, much shorter. Maybe it’s because I’ve kept busy with school, a surgery (I’m fine), an internship and hanging with friends and family since then.
Last Saturday I had a party with a special group of people to honor Frank. We had picnic food, a campfire, a quiz with prizes and just all around grand fun. I bought some shot glasses with an up north scene on them and had Frank’s name and the date he passed away imprinted on them. So we all toasted him at the campfire with them – I had scotch because it seemed the right thing to do as that was what two of Frank’s best friends and I had the day he passed away, in the living room while saying good bye.
I never did share here much of that day and some parts of it will always remain private. It’s interesting because I had put out a post on the blog at 10:06 am that day, Feb 28th, explaining that I was going to be restricting visitors because he seemed so agitated, and then he passed away not much later the same day.
From the time I put out that post until just moments before he died, I something was happening. I honestly didn’t know what it was but I knew something had changed. The energy, for lack of a better term, was different in the house. I had to be in the same room with him, I needed to be, I physically couldn’t bring myself to leave his side. Even though he wasn’t responsive at the time I talked to him about the fact I loved all the trips we took together and how much fun they were, and how he was the love of my life, how it was a good thing we never went to bed angry at each other because it was so much more fun being happy, how I knew I was going to be okay and that he didn’t need to worry about me. Sweet stuff. Silly stuff. Our stuff. I told him I loved him and I kissed him, and hugged him the best I could without hurting him.
Later I was sitting next to the bed, just being quiet, touching his arm lightly. I knew then it was close. I felt it in my gut. He moved a bit and then took two calm breaths with a pause in between, just in and out, very slowly. And he was gone. After that and before I called anyone, I spent time with him, just me. No one else. It was my turn, my time. I wanted more time than nearly 15 years but you have to appreciate what you get, right? I held his hands, I patted the arm that was nearest to me. I kissed him, I hugged him and tidied the blankets around him. Then I started the calls.
Later that day two of his friends were here with me and we stood around the bed and toasted him with shots of scotch, because that’s what Frank would have wanted. Yes, it was sad. Yes, it sucked in the worst way imaginable to even do that because it signified the end of his life here as we know it, but we had to honor what we thought would be his wishes. Frank was a big presence, a free spirit who spoke his mind and loved those who were true, and he will be remembered that way always. If anyone remembers him as anything else, you didn’t know the same person. I know he is somewhere enjoying the next part of his journey, pain-free, strong and happy. I wish he were here doing that but I have come to accept that isn’t possible so I need to more forward with my life. To my next journey.
I wasn’t going to share even this much on the blog but I just spent the past week doing my 40 hour internship at the same clinic Frank received his cancer treatments at. I wasn’t sure if it was a smart idea going there for the internship but it turns out it was definitely the right thing to do. There wasn’t one single person I met or worked with who didn’t truly care about the patients – the level of compassion and caring is simply admirable. I applaud the entire staff sincerely for what they do – from the front desk to the switchboard, the schedulers, financial counseling, the nurses, the doctors…everyone really, truly has empathy for those coming to the clinic.
They welcomed me with open arms and those who knew Frank, I offered a memorial bookmark to them that I had made for his service. He is now all over that clinic with those bookmarks, he’s grinning from ear to ear in the picture on it – and likely grinning from wherever he is now because even when he was at his crabbiest, someone always got him to smile when he was there. Believe me, I heard the stories and they were lovely. For that, I thank the staff from the bottom of my heart for not only helping make his day, but sharing those stories with me last week. To the staff – I will be visiting sometime this summer and I’ll bring the salsa I promised all of you.
I know now doing my internship there was the right thing to do because it confirmed for me that I’m moving into the right field for the next part of my life’s journey. I may not be able to work at that clinic but I know what aspect of the Medical Office Assistant role I want to do now, it’s probably really not a true aspect of it but it’s definitely related. And it’s important.
I don’t know when it happened but the majority of the anger I had about losing Frank has dissipated, it’s been replaced with a quiet resolution to move forward and begin my new life, and with the knowledge that it’s okay to do so. But I will do it without forgetting Frank – he is permanently in my heart.