“It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.” This line from John Green hit me in the gut while I was reading The Fault in Our Stars. My co-rememberer is gone, I’m not sure of the stories, the memories, any more, and he’s not here to help me remember. Tonight, even after 10 years, I’m lost and sad and I miss him. The very best part of him lives on in his kids, who are the joy in this world for me, and were for him too. And he would have been just head-over-heels in love with his grand babies.
Happy Anniversary, Merry Christmas, I love and miss you.
Nine years ago today was your 58th birthday. Erin had a video ready for you to watch, but you never really woke up. Yesterday a really sweet nurse tried so hard to make you comfortable, propping up various parts with pillows, but something wrong happened, and now looking back it seems this was the turning point. The “romantic” notion of dying on your birthday may have been a motivation, I don’t know. I do know you must have been exhausted, having fought so hard for over two months to get better. Two months on a vent, tube fed, poked constantly, mostly alone.
Tonight was the real beginning of the nightmare. I don’t remember whether I was at the hospital already or got a call at home, I only know something had gone very wrong. When I got to the room in ICU, people were doing CPR on you in your hospital bed. I remember leaning against the wall unable to breathe, out in the hallway. Erin was there, but I also needed the boys to come back. How could we make that happen? They had just gone back to schools hundreds of miles away. But I knew, that having his children there would be the most important thing in the world, and if that would provide comfort, then it was going to happen.
By the 4th, you had come out of surgery, been a bit awake with no sign of distress. The boys started the trip back to school after being reassured that you were progressing as you should. I think they flew, at least I’m sure Jared did. None of us had a clue what was coming.
We had to be at the hospital early, so parking was not a problem. Surgery was scheduled for seven, we were there around five. Got done with pre-op preps, and Ed Mosier showed up. Ed is a pastor and a friend. And definitely a comfort. Because of Jimmie’s death after the same surgery, Art was afraid, although he covered well. Ed’s presence and prayers were calming.
I don’t remember much more about that morning except that last time I saw him before the gurney was wheeled through the exclusive doors. He was lying down, hooked to his IV with a net over his hair, and smiling. He mouthed, “I love you,” as I let go of his hand, and was gone. And that was maybe the last I ever saw of the real Art Naylor.
Where do I begin… I’ve always loved that line from Love Story. Like most, ours was messy and definitely not linear. This day ten years ago was the beginning of the final chapter, and I will tell as much as I remember as best I can. October 2nd was Party Day. I only recall who attended from the pictures. We had Jimmie’s family, fresh from their loss less than six months earlier, Erin and Carey, and our boys home from college. It was the middle of the semester for them, so being home was important, even during football season.
Stand out memories from that night include two comments and an image. Erin had put together a slide show of pictures from his life. He commented after watching-I’m the only person I know who has seen their own funeral video.
Later we all toasted to his health. He answered that he loved us and hoped to be back to full health soon, but if that was not to be, then “f**k ya’ll, I’m going fishing with my brother.”
Last, the heartbreaking image of him kissing baby Kate on the head the first time he held her. He had to choke back tears as he held his brother’s first grandchild, knowing that Jimmie never got the privilege. It was as if he was kissing her for his brother, his one expression held all the heartache and longing he had kept inside. Heartache over losing Jim and longing for a grandbaby of his own.