For the last 12 or so years that my wife was bed confined, I’ve been her caregiver at home 24/7/365. The longest we were ever apart was around 7 hours once when my car upchucked and another time when I had to go to my Moms funeral. In order to deal with the often times massive sleep deprivation on my part, I relied on a series of alarms on my Palm Pilot. Ie, its easy to know what to do when woken up in the middle of the night, or day if you crashed, when you get a screen telling you to do A, B, C or whatever as you don’t have to think too much. I then got the wise idea to give her a Palm Pilot of her own… which worked out really well, as she could program things exactly as she wanted, unlike the far too often cryptic messages I used on mine.
As I mentioned on facebook, she passed away in the hospital last Thursday afternoon… a snippet of which is below.
My wife likes to say we’ve been married 21 years, as she does some creative gymnastics (or at least that’s what I call it) with the zero point. Technically as of today, we’ve been married for 20 years and 4 months exactly… Alas, lesson #1 in marriage is the wife is always right, so I concede 21 is reasonable being we are in our 21st year of marriage.
At 3AM this morning, I had to authorize a change in her care orders to comfort only, as curative care had reached its limits. Sadly, while holding her in my arms at 3:45PM this afternoon, she breathed her last while listening to “Behold the Lamb of God” from Handel’s Messiah. One of her favorite pieces of music (we used parts of the Messiah as our wedding music way back when)….
Each anniversary for the last 10, Jan said she wasn’t sure she’d make it to another one… and God blessed us with 21. Pretty amazing.
As such, I’ve got a meeting with her priest this afternoon and have been working like crazy to put the service together. The two tricky bits I’m working on are songs and the scriptures… and then her alarm goes off and knocks me off balance for a bit.
I decided to keep the alarms up and running for a while to maintain a routine. I’m not sure if thats a good or bad thing, but its what I’m doing. I’ve got an artists drawing of her from years ago just beyond my computer too. Grief is hard, very hard… so before jumping back into the funeral work, I figured I’d blog just a bit.
When it comes to the songs, I looked at theological content with a strong leaning towards ease of congregational singing. As the funeral is likely to be during the workday, its pretty likely not too many folks will attend. In addition, over the last few years, our outside activity has dropped to near zero… and folks move on as well, so numbers of singers in the congregation wise will be limited and complex music won’t cut it… but I found some great songs that my wife enjoyed and a couple easy hymns that totally jibe with her Christian walk.
Scriptures are tricky. Electronic Bibles are a great thing, but they don’t lend themselves to timestamped breadcrumbs. Ie, you don’t know when something was read from a timeline pov… so I rolled back to her printed Bible, and based upon the types of bookmarks used, I got a timeline together to assist with sorting the scriptures. Paper towel bookmarks were one of her last inventions when we ran out of post it notes before transitioning to electronic scriptures.
Alas, a bookmark while a good thing, doesn’t lend itself to zeroing in on the content at hand. I’m under some time pressure to get this done, being I’ve got to be on the road in 5.5 hours and need at least a couple hours sleep…
A bit of googling, and wowzers, a reverse lectionary. I can scan through the bookmark pages to church A,B, C years and see what the lectionary gurus thought was an important text. It has allowed me to zero in on key scriptures pretty quickly…. I wasn’t able to do this earlier due to the whole grief thing going on, but am getting back on a roll… I hope I remember everything to bring everything else along.
In other words, the reverse lectionary rocks.