The Other End of Sunset

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Maybe the gypsy lied

All you have to change
Is everything you are

5 years ago today, Jeanne Michelle Russell won her battle with cancer. I wrote about it here.

I was sitting with her, at about 1:30pm pacific, holding her hand, in the little room down the hall.

She asked me if I was ready.

I said yes.

I was an idiot.

And who shall wear the starry crown?
--Alison Krauss

I met Jeanne -- I called her JR -- when I was at Schwab. If you're interested in the story, it's all laid out, in embarrassing detail, in my blog.

From this distance, it all looks different. I feel differently - I've released on some of what I got wrong. I've gotten more upset at myself about other things. I understand some things more, and find others even less clear, fuzzy, as if in a haze from a distance.

It feels a bit like a sharp object wrapped in cotton for shipping. If you hold it "right", it doesn't hurt.

But most definitely if you grab it by the point, it still draws blood.

What made you forget
that I was raw?
--LL Cool J

Dear Jeanne:

All these years later, I still celebrate your birthday. I remember how your eyes shone when I brought you flowers, or bought you a present, or said you were lovely.

And I still mourn the day you died.

I know that Minnie is with you now. I hope you are remembering that she likes to rip the squeaker out of her toys, and vivisect the little stuffed ones.

Get her lots of toys, she deserves them.

And don't forget to keep her away from the hot dog buns. Remember the year that she grabbed the bread off of the little table that we put beside the bench in the back? How sick she was for days? It was sad… but, really, it was funny. You know it was, even though you didn't say so at the time.

When you lose something
You can't replace.
Could it be worse?

Brown is lying at the foot of the bed, panting. He's getting lots of love. Lots of treats -- he still likes the Greenies best. Lots of pats -- but he still hates to be groomed. He eats mostly soft food these days. I know, I'm spoiling him. But he's a good boy. You'd be amazed at how much more pack-like he's become. He wants to hang with us, he kisses us, he gets bummed when I travel.

He's become a bit like Minnie, actually. The best of him, with a touch of her. It's wonderful.

I think I'm better too. Perhaps a bit more like the man you always thought I was. I'm a little calmer, and a little more understanding. I hug more often, and tell people that I love them more.

I learned that from you.

You'd really like Sonya. You both think the same things are funny, and both love wedding magazines. Really, what is that all about? Regardless, you'd be pals.

And Elisabette is remarkable. Luckily for her, she doesn't look or act like me at all. But I'm still going to read to her, kiss her, and try to do my best with her. I wish you could say hi to her.

So much of what's good in me came from you. When I'm sad, I try to think about all the good you did, and all the people you touched.

But, really, I just feel my way into the parts of me that wouldn't exist without you.

I shall never forget you. Five years on, I'm still crying.

And suddenly
I become part of your past
--The Fray