Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Transition

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.

"How's everything?"

"He's gone."

"Oh, where did he go?"

"He's gone!"

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.

14 comments:

  1. Oh Anna, my heart is breaking for you and for your sudden, thoroughly zombie-making loss. I don't wish you to be with Charles very soon, for purely selfish reasons. I couldn't stand knowing you, too, had left us.

    The transition to widowhood can be frightening, awe-inspiring, and just plain hard, but I know you are up to making the required changes.

    God bless you, my dearest friend.

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  2. Anna - I'm so glad you were able to share this with us. We love you. You are in my prayers as you make this transition. I have loved the stories you've shared about you and Charles, particularly the one that you gave us on the 4th of July. It is how I came to love you both - I can hardly imagine how this must be for you - hard, hard, hard, dear Anna. . .

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  3. Please know all your ANWA sisters will be saying a prayer for you and are here whenever you need us.

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  4. Anna, we love you. Thank you for sharing your tender moments and letting us know about your loss. i will be out of town when you have the funeral. Our first grandchild is getting baptized. You know I will be with you in my heart and in my prayers. I'm sending warm hugs and loving angels to you!

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  5. Dearest Anna:
    I'm am very grateful you wrote this all down. It was very comforting for me to read It is exactly the way my husband went-- sleeping in his chair--only 33 years earlier than Charles. You were so blessed to have him as long as you did.
    My heart goes out to you. It takes time for it to all sink in. My prayers are with you.
    Much Love:
    Valerie Steimle

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  6. Wow, Anna, you are incredible. I want to be like you when I grow up- heck, I want to be like you now. What an eternal perspective and incredible attitude.

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  7. You are in my thoughts and prayers today. I hope the comforted spends most of his time with you in the next days, weeks, and months. May your loss be tempered by the Savior's love.

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  8. This is my second try. I can't wait to get home to say what's in my heart. I'm so glad I got to meet Charles before he left this worldly existence. And I'm doubly glad to have had the good fortune to meet and associate with you. Don't you leave soon!

    Your posting was one of the most beautiful things I've ever read, for you were there in every line, and you are one of the most beautiful people I know.

    I'll be thinking of you often in this next while. You're in our prayers.

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  9. Anna,you are faith and hope in the flesh! I always look for your posts and emails and words of inspiration, laughter and wonder. Today, I read your post and wish I could find a way to return the favor and raise you, hug you, fill you. The best I can do is love you, e-hug you, and pray for you that your family and dear memories will fill your immediate void. I love you, Anna. May God be with you...closely. xoxoxo

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  10. Anna,
    What can I add to what's already been said? I've never been married, so I haven't lost a spouse, but I've lost people I love and continue to miss dearly. All I can add is "Amen!" to what's been written above, tell you I love you (what a blessing you have been in my life since I've known you!), and say again that you are in my prayers, today and for the days to come.

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  11. Anna,
    I know that unreal feeling. It is a gift. The reality hits soon enough. I am glad you had such a wonderful, long marriage. You are a great example for us all. Thank you for sharing with us.
    Terry Deighton

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  12. What a beautiful post by a beautiful person. Thank you for sharing this.

    You're in my prayers.

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  13. Anna,
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Please know that while you may be a widow here in this life, you won't be in eternity. As Joyce said, I'm not married either, so while I can't totally feel your loss, I have lost a parent, so I know your pain. To help you deal with your pain, I hope you write a book for your children, who will know all the stories of your life with your husband.

    All my love,

    Linda Lang

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  14. I'm sending my love to add to the many expressions that have been offered. May the Lord strengthen you through the next few weeks.

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