by Anna Arnett
The last thing I computed this morning answered an email about the worst day in somebody's whole life. I chuckled over it, little knowing that I was about to experience the most unbelievable, weird, horrible, mind-boggling, yet strangely comforting day in my whole life. I've experienced a kind of transformation -- a division -- and transition -- that I know many have had, one that cannot be completely unexpected, but should not have come to me yet. Perhaps I could never have been ready.
Charles slept later than I, and as he came to our sitting room, he chided me gently. "You didn't come check on me last night," he said.
"You'd gone to bed by the time I got home from my ANWA (chapter) meeting," I replied. "I did check, and knew you were all right."
We talked a little more. Then he said, "The alarm didn't go off for pill time."
I looked at the clock and reminded him the cell phone alarm was set for eight, and it was only about seven thirty. Shortly thereafter, I went into our bedroom, to my computer. I probably spent a little time completing a Sudoku game I'd started yesterday, then started checking my e-mail.
I don't know how long I'd been reading and sorting e-mail that should have been disposed of long ago, but each time I went to sign off I'd find four or five new messages had arrived.
When I answered the phone a while before ten, a friend said, "You're home. If you come open the door, I'd like to come visit."
I went immediately to tell Charles to go let him in while I got dressed. My husband was sitting in his LaZBoy with his head dropped to his left, his mouth open. I smiled to think he was napping, but a second look, and I knew.
"You're gone!" I said, and repeated it a couple of times, feeling his cold hands and face. I hurried downstairs and let Brother Plotz in.
"Oh, where did he go?"
I felt rather like a zombie, acting outside of reality. Upstairs, we reclined the chair, making the body Charles has inhabited (for the last 88 years, 5 months and 6 days) look more comfortable. Brother Plotz offered a priesthood blessing.
I called 911, and from then on the house opened to a procession of helpful policemen, firemen (and women). It seemed impossible to find a doctor to sign a death certificate. My husband's primary care doctor hadn't seen him in about a year, and she was off duty today. The VA Hospital couldn't produce a qualified doctor, so eventually the Medical Examiners took over. They scooted us out, spent ages examining, then left, rolling a gurney with the body in a big, navy blue plastic bag. I watched from a front window. It still felt unreal. And it may stay that way for quite a while.
The ME won't be able to release the body to the mortuary in time for a funeral this Saturday yet for all concerned, a Saturday is most appropriate. So we're planning the viewing to be Friday evening, March 21, at Bunker Mortuary on Centennial Way in Mesa; the funeral Saturday, March 22 (the day before Easter) at the Gilbert Stapley Stake center on Cooper and Houston in Gilbert. Since the National Cemetery in North Phoenix (on Cave Creek Road north of Loop 201) is closed on Saturdays, burial will need to wait until the day after Easter. Hmmm. That's just a couple of days before it's my turn to blog again.
All seven of our children and many of the grand and great-grandchildren came quickly. All live in the Phoenix valley. Brought-in-food appeared like magic. I’ve had a full week’s worth of hugging, and find fresh tears with almost every kind word of praise.
Now the house is quiet. It’s nearing midnight, and I’m probably sleepy enough to rest well. Nothing quite seems real, yet it still is. I realize I just made a transition from wife to widow, from part of a couple to a single. I’m not sure I like it, but I aim to cope. I want to prove that nothing is so bad but what there is something good to enjoy sneaking around somewhere, waiting to be discovered. I think Charles would like it that way.