sunflowery's Diaryland Diary


What Did You Do This Weekend?

I am in Wisconsin. I should be in bed but I can't sleep.

I came down from the Cities yesterday. I arrived in town around 3:30, unloaded the truck, chatted with Mom a bit and then headed over to my friend Mary's house to see how she was doing. Her husband died Wednesday night/Thursday morning from complications with sleep apnea. He was 40 years old. We all went to high school together. Their 20th wedding anniversary would have been on my birthday next month.

When I got to Mary's house, I found her father-in-law watching the Badger game, her daughter playing with a friend, and another friend of Mary's was there lying low. Mary was on the phone so I just chilled for a bit. After she got off the phone, we played with her cats for a bit and then people started dropping by. There were girls I went to high school with, friends of Mary's kids, and other folks just dropping by to give their condolences. When I left, there were more than a dozen or so folks still there. I wanted to stay longer, but I promised my brother and his family that I would drive to their place that same evening.

I spent a lovely evening with my brother, his wife, and their boys. They moved to a new-to-them house the same weekend we moved to our new apartment and I had yet to see the new place. It is CUTE! I really like it. Can't wait to see it in the summer when their pool is ready and waiting for swimmers.

I got a tour of the new place and then we all sat and talked into the night. My nephews are among my favorite people on earth and I enjoyed hearing about their friends, school, sports, and other accomplishments. I left their place around 10:30, after my sister in law and eldest nephew started nodding off.

This morning was church with my mom and dad. The service was good and it was good seeing old friends and new faces. I was asked for the third time in under 24 hours when Bob and I were going to be moving back to town. Maybe it's prophetic. For sure, we have to wait until we are out of school, but after that, who knows.

After church Mom, Dad, and I came home for a bit. I did my laundry and uploaded some photos I had taken while Dad watched the Viking game and Mom made a salad for a potluck we were going back to church for later.

The potluck was nice. We sat with some friends of Mom and Dad's and enjoyed the company. I left when their church meeting was about to start. I finished our laundry and my homework in the quiet restfulness of Mom and Dad's house. Although it wasn't so quiet outside. The wind was really whipping and it sounded like one wall was really creaking from the backlash.

Mom and Dad got home just as I was ready to leave to attend the visitation for my friend's husband, who was also my friend.

When I got there, the line was incredibly long. I stood in line directly behind the former football coach Mr. Hanson. He seemed so big when I was in high school. He did not seem so large today. I also stood in line with a gal I had known from my high school days who had attended Campus Life as well. It took us a while to get to the part where we realized we knew each other, but it was fun to reminisce once we did.

Mary's family was spread out, so first I hugged her youngest son and then her, then her, then came the photos, flowers, and memorabilia, then the casket where Paul lay, then the eldest son, then the father. I hadn't yet cried. It didn't seem real. Paul looked like he was sleeping. Very peaceful and at rest. He looked like he could wake at any moment and just start talking away. It was surreal.

After the hugs and walk-through, I just found a chair and sat down, intending to be near...just in case. Just in case what? I don't know. Mary is my oldest friend. She had many, many others there to lend a hand or a shoulder to cry on should she need it. I just felt I should stay on.

I talked with Lisa for quite a bit. I chatted with others who came through the line. A gal I graduated with, a guy a couple of years ahead of me in school, a teacher or two, people from church. The line of people kept coming for hours. At the end of the evening, the funeral home director said it was the largest visitation he had in memory. He handed Mary a large bag of memorials and cards and said it was the biggest he's ever given to a family.

Paul was well liked and well loved. He was a good man. He was a pee-wee football coach and nothing will break your heart more than little boys coming to pay their last respects to a coach they loved. They all wore their jerseys too. It would have been cute if it wasn't so sad.

It broke my heart to see Paul's kids crying over his casket. It's just not fair. He won't be there to see his son play football for two more years or graduate from high school. He won't see his daughter dance anymore. He won't be at his kids' weddings or see their kids.

I know he's still here in spirit and I know his soul is alive and well. But the big man on campus is no longer with us and it breaks my heart. It sucks and it's not fair and none of his family should have to go through this.

After we left the funeral home, we went out to eat. There was laughter. Lots of it. I'm glad we can remember Paul in laughter. He was the big brother I never had. He used to tease me mercilessly, but he had a tender heart of a big teddy bear. He died before his time. He should have been here another 40 years at least. He will be sorely missed.

I called Bob from the truck on my way to the place where we were all meeting for dinner. (Bob had to stay in the Cities, so I came to WI by myself.) As I was telling him about the turnout and the little boys in purple jerseys and how Paul's son cried over his casket, I finally broke down and sobbed into the phone. Bob wasn't happy that I was driving, talking on the phone, and crying, but by the time he made me pull over, I was already in the parking lot of the restaurant. He let me sob some more and told me he wished he was there with me. I cried some more realizing that I wished it too even as Mary might be wishing it for herself and Paul, but it would not be until she is reunited with him again in her passing.

I ended my conversation with Bob by saying, "No regrets. We can't live with what ifs and what should have beens. We need to live the life we want while we still can." He agreed.

I can't make it to the funeral tomorrow as I have to drive back to MN. I wish I could stay another day but, as they say, life goes least for those of us left behind.

Goodbye Paul. I loved you. First, in high school when I was a silly school girl and had a big crush on you. Next, after you married my best friend and made an honest woman out of her. And last when you were a dad to those three precious kiddos. I didn't know you so well these past 10 years, but your family has a close place in my heart and always will. Thanks for loving my friend and being there for her when she needed you. You were a good man. I hope to see you again one day...but not too soon. Until then, say hi to Reggie for me and keep an eye on us all, will ya?

12:05 a.m. - Monday, Nov. 14, 2005


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