It has taken me eight months to find the heart to order a copy of the coroner’s report. It was hard enough taking each step forward, without having to be dragged back to those first horrific days and weeks after he’d died.
With a bit more distance after these months, I thought it was time, not just for me, but for the rest of his family as well, to try to understand the truth of what happened on that operating table.
Fourteen pages of body parts and words I couldn’t pronounce much less understand. Hard to look at all of that and try to imagine that this was my husband, had been my husband. And the memories that tumbled in after that nearly crushed me:
- They’d kept him at the hospital for several days before they released him to the coroner’s office.
- They’d kept him in the morgue for weeks because they were back logged with other more urgent cases.
- My sweet husband’s body lay cold and alone, while we waited and waited for him to be released back to us.
- I didn’t even want to consider what it meant, what they would need to do, in order to conduct the autopsy.
- My husband had become bones and organs and body parts, measured and weighed and dissected as they sought to reveal what happened.
- The day I packed up his ‘travel kit’ and photos for them to cremate him with. Him with his family, our favorite vacation, our wedding day. How he had looked on with such love.
- The day I sat on the beach and waited for 10:00 am, heart in hand, when they would begin the process of setting his body free.
The great mystery of what it is that animates us will not be found in bones and blood and nerves. I felt its missingness the afternoon I visited his body after he’d died. He looked the same, and yet he didn’t. His skin cool to the touch, his lips already turning slightly blue. His eyes closed. I touched his face, his hair, kissed his cheek and said goodbye.
And as I raised myself from his body, I understood, more deeply than I ever have, that our lives are such a miracle. It is an ephemeral thing that separates life from death. And that light, that spirit, that soul that had animated his body had moved on, was no longer there in his smile, his touch, his laugh. But how very very fortunate I had been to have shared my years with him.
And painfully it reminded me that we, each of us, house a light, a spirit, a soul, that must be honored and cherished and celebrated. We cannot afford to waste time on resentment or judgement or hatred. We have been gifted with an infinitely precious thing and we never know when it will be time to say goodbye.
#widowhood #lifeanddeath #mysteryoflife