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08 April 2011 @ 01:35 am
...and the horrid  
And then, the phone rang.

Usually, I don't answer the phone when I'm out to a meal with someone, but I noticed the name on the caller ID was Tim. It is not odd that Tim would be calling me, but it was odd that this was the third time in two days and neither of the other times had he left a message. I excused myself and answered. It was not Tim. It was his little brother, Leroy, on Tim's phone. Because Tim had passed away on Friday. They didn't know why. Leroy kept talking, but I was really only catching parts of it. I got a pen and paper and scribbled down what he said without really processing it. I went back to brunch stunned. Tim was only a few years older than me, I'd known him forever - he was one of those fixtures in my life, how could be possibly be gone, just like that? Brunch was surreal. (whymc , I'm sorry if I made exactly no sense about anything.) I'd planned on going to the gym after brunch and, in the absence of any better plan, followed through on it, staying for several hours. I finally went home to keep an phone appointment with my brother-in-law. That completed, I just passed out and slept until General Meeting. Sometimes the only answer to a shitty world is to turn it off. Thanks to the ladies who went out with me for custard after the meeting - I really appreciated it. 

Monday was work and making the appropriate arrangements so I could attend the funeral. After work, I had a house showing, then coordinating with friends from near and far about travel arrangements and contact information. I packed my car, planning on being home at least on Friday night, but not sure what the week would bring, I packed assuming I'd not be home before Sunday. 

Tuesday was a half day of work. I don't know that I'd have lasted more anyway, so I was glad of the pre-arranged excuse to leave and head north.  swords_and_pens  was having his first book signing and I had long ago promised I'd be there if I could. As it turned out, it was a multi-faceted blessing to have that on my calendar. I had a most pleasant dinner with a friend - laughter and curry will improve almost any day - and then it was off to the signing. There were some brilliant T-shirts, many friends, and many smiles throughout the night which was only briefly punctuated with phone calls and texts regarding the arrangements. After the sold-out signing (yay, Morcar!), we did some book shopping (duh) and then went to swords_and_pens  and main_gauche's home for celebration and Scotch. Overall, that went well - I only had to excuse myself for a moment once and refrained from becoming morose until at teffan 's at the very end of the night.

Wednesday was epic. I had slept worth crap, but had to get up early. I had to leave the Cities by 9AM because I needed to make it to Madison by 2PM for a meeting/conference call. Usually, under these circumstances I'd have told them where to go, but it was one of the few non-missable meetings of the year. Bugger. So off I went. I got to work just after 1PM, caught up on email, went to the meeting, and then didn't even go back to my office - I got right back into the car and headed for the wake in Milwaukee. Ooof. I got there about 6PM and just stared at the funeral home for a long time. Eventually, I went in. There were a lot of people there I knew, unsurprisingly, so I lingered at the back for awhile. After some time, Mike came up to me and asked if I'd been to the front yet. When I said no, he took me by the hand and went with me. There's a special, horrible feeling that comes with that level of grief - it's feeling your corporeal body breathe and still feeling like you're drowning. I talked to Leroy for a bit, and then to Tim's mom Barb for too long - I finally noticed we were creating a significant back-up in the line and I excused myself. A lot of my friends from high school were there and we planned to go out later, but once I got to my dad's house, I was pretty much just done and passed out on the couch.

Thursday was the funeral proper. I got up as late as possible and returned to the funeral home. There were even more of my friends there as well as some of the Opala's friends and family that I recognized from years ago but had not seen in a decade or more. Coach Van Duser was also there, which was a pleasant surprise. The service was relatively short... the funeral procession not so much. I was not at the end, and it stretched at least six blocks in front of my car. We started with a single police escort but, when it became clear we were going to be a serious traffic incident, we picked up two more. The graveside service was simple but highly emotional. By the time we got to the end of the line to get a flower from the casket, Jeff and I were sobbing. Thank the gods for Mike, once again he was our rock, even through his own tears. There was a luncheon afterward which was pleasant and depressing all in one. There were so many people that were was so good to see, but I just wished it had been under better circumstances.

Afterward, I didn't really feel up to driving back to Madison - I was pretty sure I wouldn't be safe for the drive - and I didn't really want to go back to my dad's empty house either. Some people find peace in church. I find it in libraries and museums - this being particularly bad, I took a book to the Milwaukee Art Museum.  I had been meaning to visit since finding out they have a painting by one of my favorite painters (Sofonisba Anguissola) in the collection and I thought it might bring me some measure of happiness... but it was not on display! I just about cried. (Not that that was hard at that point in the day, but still.) Some lady docents nearby saw my dismay and mentioned that it was supposed to be back on Monday, but something had gone awry. Poo, but in character for the day. I wandered for a bit, then asked a docent whether there was some number I could call to check on the return of the painting before I was in town for the Newcomer Seminar in a few weeks. The dear man said he'd check, and then returned with the curator. The curator asked why I wanted to see THAT painting and I explained it was by my favorite Renaissance artist and that I'd be back in town in a few weeks. He disappeared for a few minutes, then returned with two large men carrying the portrait. Oh, happiness! Not enough to balance the morning, but an unexpected kindness and welcome distraction. I completely geeked out, loosing myself in examining the details, photographing, and notetaking. (I'll have to re-do the photos sometime with a real camera since I had not been planning on going and only had my cell phone, but the process was calming.) Once I was content with my assessment of the dress, I settled in on a bench near the arms and armor and read about half of Among Thieves,swords_and_pens  new book. I made one last visit to the painting and the docent and curator came over to talk to me, impressed that I'd spent so much time with it - I think I eventually freaked them out with how much I knew about the artist and Renaissance dresses. :P I eventually wandered back to Madison. If I had applied myself, I probably could have finished the project I had for A&S. Instead I ate half a pizza and finished my book. A hot shower is shortly in order, then bed...
 
 
 
teffanteffan on April 8th, 2011 10:05 am (UTC)
**hugs**
marwen42marwen42 on April 8th, 2011 11:29 am (UTC)
*hugs*
jtdiiijtdiii on April 8th, 2011 11:49 am (UTC)
Hugs.

Glad they were willing to bring the painting out for you, that was a very kind gesture.
Evil Imperial Barbariancarrot_khan on April 8th, 2011 12:19 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry for your loss.
Aaron (Rusty) Lloydrustmon on April 8th, 2011 12:35 pm (UTC)
*love and hugs*
former_callixte: starry batformer_callixte on April 8th, 2011 02:08 pm (UTC)
Sorry for your loss.
Mariessaalienorh on April 8th, 2011 02:08 pm (UTC)
So sorry for your loss Jean. I totally appreciate the comfort of Museums and Libraries and I'm glad you at least got to see the amazing painting.
Phatchick: Zen Hugsladybrigid on April 8th, 2011 02:48 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry.
Kareinakareina on April 9th, 2011 01:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you for including the part about the museum bringing out the painting for you--taken in context with the rest of the story got me to tear up a little on your behalf that they would be so kind at a time when kindness matters.

Hugs for you loss of a friend, I know just how that feels.
eithni: sofonisbaeithni on April 9th, 2011 01:47 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I didn't mention *why* I was in town, but in a strange way, it really helped by illustrating that the world is not 100% sucky.