Sunday, March 15, 2009

36 years, 4 months, and 4 days . . .

That's precisely how old Jeff was when he died. And it's precisely how old I am today. So, if I live to see tomorrow, I will have officially outlived Jeff. It's amazing to believe that, for him, everything ended today.

I've thought about what I would do if today were my last day on Earth. I'm sure I wouldn't spend it doing laundry and cleaning the house and grocery shopping which is how I spent today. But, confidence in the future has made me lazy and unrepentant. In other words, I'm pretty sure I'll live to see tomorrow, so I don't feel like worrying about it.

I do know that I've been more generous, both in my words and actions, since Jeff's death. I've had occasion to tell certain friends and family that I love them and I've been fortunate to be able to give money to causes and people who are important to me. I do these things knowing that life is short and with hope that if my last day sneaks up on me unexpectedly, I'll have no regrets.

It has been nearly six months since Jeff's death, and in some ways, I feel like tomorrow starts a new life for me. Tomorrow I start a life of days Jeff never saw or counted; of things he never knew or experienced; of people he never met and places he never visited. Despite the constancy of our routine and surroundings, much has changed since his death that he will never know: Finn's new haircut; Jack's new bike; our nanny, Jenny (whom he never actually met); my blue hair (don't worry--it's removable and for Rabid Aardvark shows only). He also does not know that the permanent settings on the thermostat have been changed, or that we frequently rearrange the living room furniture to accommodate a sharp increase in "Dance Parties" that we have held since his death (both of which would have been nearly unforgiveable transgressions if he were alive . . .). He won't see Aubrey in the middle school play, he won't see the Rabid Aardvarks pack several hundred people into a show . . . these are the things that happened after his last day.

So, after 36 years, 4 months and 4 days the rest of us continue to hurtle through time and space and to fill the distance between us and Jeff with living and life and experiences. Nonetheless, despite all that changes, much has stayed the same: I still have all the sympathy cards from the funeral in a box in the living room; Jeff's deoderant and toothbrush and medications are still in the medicine cabinet; his voice still greets callers on our answering machine. Now, these things are more a symptom of my own laziness than any commentary about my unwillingness to "let go." In fact, I have gotten rid of a lot and have organized and stored the rest, but it's a big job and I've had to prioritize it among the million other things I do each week and cleaning out the remnants in the medicine cabinet is hard to justify . . .

The kids are more sentimental, however. Jack brought home a picture of his family that he had drawn in school this week. Included with a likeness of me and the kids, was a picture of Jeff with his cane--just as though he were alive and with us. And they were eager to go to the cemetery today and talked with anticipation about when the head stone would arrive (remember--it was a special order, uncommonly big, and comprised of more than one piece, so even though I approved the final design in December, it might not be here until later this spring). Life truly goes on . . .

So, with that said, I'll fill you in on the latest "goings on" at my house: Many of you have asked about the big Rabid Aardvarks show. It was a lot of fun and very well-attended. Thanks especially to Mike and Katie and their entourage; to George and Mary; Cindy, Jason, LuAnn, Susan, and the other friends I've surely forgotten. I wish I had more time to talk to each of you at the show. Thanks also to my nanny who gives up her weekends to work third-shift so I can even be in the band because without her it truly wouldn't be possible.

In other news, the kids got to play outside most of the day today because it was finally warmer than 50 degrees. Regan took the neighbor's dog for a walk. Jack played with the Murphy boys. Aubrey pushed Finn on the swing and I, well, I did housework. No fun for me.

Oh, and I'll tell you a cute story just for fun: While Aubrey was outside with Finn, he got his hands dirty. As is his custom--he freaked out and insisted on immediately going inside to clean them off. As Aubrey was wiping them with a wet-wipe, he saw the dirt and mud transferred onto the wet-wipe and he actually, physically, gagged. Literally. It was hilarous. At the same time, I felt sorry for him. He is just so disgusted by dirt.

Finally, Regan announced that she wants to change her name this week. I don't know what she wants to change it to--she has a couple of ideas, but I gave her information about the procedure and told her she can do it when she's an adult as long as she pays for it. I also informed her of the cost and she informed me that she is saving her money accordingly. I have found that being agreeable to such things takes all the fun out of it and the idea is usually quickly abandoned. I told Aubrey the same thing several years ago when she wanted a tattoo--she can get one when she's an adult if she pays. Except that I gave her a further incentive: I said, "I will even pay for it if you let me decide what the tattoo is and where it goes." The thought of ending up with something like this was enough to curtail her tattoo dreams:

I'll offer Regan the same deal: "I'll even pay for your name change as long as I get to pick the new name." Again, I have found that taking ownership of your kids' stupid ideas makes them wholly unpalatable. (Mwah-ha-ha! (That's my evil laugh)).

Until next time . . .



Irene McGoldrick said...


I had very similar thoughts the day I surpassed my late husband in age. And again the day Arthur was the same age as Henry was when Bob died.

Interesting the little milestones that crop up.

Enjoy your 36 years, 4 months and 5 days.....and beyond.


mka said...

Poor Finn. But, he will outgrow it. Remember when Jim gagged looking at an ugly old woman in a National Geographic magazine. I still laugh when I think about it. I was the only kid in my class in 2nd grade who wouldn't fingerpaint because the paint smelled so bad. Later I got over it and fingerpainting was fun. You might try pudding painting like Terri did with her kids. He can lick his fingers and it will be fun. Of course he'll be twn years old at the time, but he will learn to enjoy himself. Uncle Warren who was a doctor and surgeon couldn't watch grandma cut up a chicken, and he didn't want any of the different foods on his plate to touch. He would even go rinse off his plate after each portion, such as mashed potatoes and gravy, rinse, green beans, eat them and rinse, chicken, eat it and rinse. So maybe his little quirks will make him a very great doctor someday.

Jim said...

Tattoos and name changes, hmmmm let's see. There's nothing wrong with a tattoo, and this comes from man with a very satisfying tattoo, one that no one would ever regret having, and it will live on long after my final days and time won't be able to erase my mark of youth! For those of you who don't know it's a green skull with blood and says "USMC" (and it's on my shoulder, most don't even know it exists). So tattoos are ok, but when you choose...choose wisely. Also, name changes, I was going to actually go and have my name legally changed a few months ago and I was going to have it changed to "Jim Archuletta" for obvious reasons (I go by Jim, NOT James), but even legally changing my name to my currently used name would be a big pain and cause problems, so "James" it will stay. Name changes are not a good idear!