It was late. Ten-thirty at night is late for me. I noticed a text from my brother, Alan in Nebraska. It had arrived just fifteen minutes earlier. “Call me.”
“Goodness. What is happening? ”, I wondered. Alan is up really late since Nebraska is two hours ahead of Portland, OR. So I texted back ”Sorry I just saw this. Are you …… The phone rang immediately.
“I have some terrible news,” Alan’s voice was soft and strained. He had just begun chemo and radiation on Monday. Tonight was Wednesday. I listened as several images of Alan, his children and Lincoln, NE flashed across my mind’s eye.
“Bob Samuelson was killed tonight. A car crossed the median and hit him head-on.”
Bob always wore his seatbelt, but was thrown from the car before it burst into Familiar shocking numbness flooded me from head to toe. My legs no longer held me up. My chest tightened. I sank to the floor for support. Bob, my funny, FUN cousin just six years older was gone from the world we knew together.
Alan continued as if reading my mind.
“It was about eight o’clock. It was still daylight. Those were the only two cars on the road. Bob was on his way home from visiting Judy in Grand Island. “
I had witnessed the closeness between these two first cousins in April of 2015 as Judy played the white baby grand piano in Bob’s living room. He sat by his beloved mother, my Aunt Abby holding her hand. After much urging from several of us to “let your mother go as she wishes, Bob”, Aunt Abby had a heart attack.
Hospitalized, her quick wit remained as she bid good-bye to her sons and their wives, grandchildren and great grandchildren on June 18, 2015. She was 101.
Tonight was June 8, 2016. Less than a year before this beloved family is plunged into grief so differently. Sudden Death. Few Good-byes the way we’d really say them if we knew it was our last.
Today is the fourth Wednesday since that late night call. My heart says to pick up the phone to check-in with Marlene, Bob’s wife of fifty-one years, his two brother’s Joel nearly eighty and his baby brother, Dick, just a year older than I.
It would be easier not to call. After all, life has gone on for these past four weeks.
I have not cried myself to sleep every night like Marlene. Nor thought about Bob every waking hour like Dick. Nor kept furiously busy washing my tractor like Joel.
No, I have remembered, prayed, and pondered the miraculous last year and minutes of Bob’s death. I have felt gratitude as an audience member experiencing Eckert Tolle on the stage in Denver and feeling my consciousness elevate. Practicing the opening of Yin Yoga lead by his wife, Kim Eng, the next day, I felt my body scream and then melt into opening.
Later in June immersed in a stunning Maui sunset, I was in Awe, Wonder and Gratitude (WAG). My living has been richer, deeper and more alive since Bob’s departure.
But it is four weeks today since life was forever altered by Bob’s sudden death.
They must know that they are not alone in this cocoon of grief.
So I pick up the phone and call each of them careful not to ask “How are you?”
Instead I say “Hello. This is Georgena. Since it has been four weeks today that Bob departed, I am calling to check-in with you.”
I am quiet. I listen. Will I hear sobs? If so I lovingly hold the space between us, knowing that a power beyond each of us is connecting us. Feeling my body flood them with comfort and love we are together across the miles.
Science is revealing that particles in another room respond to thoughts. My intention to loving listen, assure each one that they are not alone and to be open to what ever they say, is Bob always organized a huge Fourth of July celebration to watch the country club fireworks from their deck.
Knowing this, I will lead with an inquiry question to Marlene, “Bob had invited me the last time we talked, to your Fourth of July Celebration. How many people came this year?” Wondering if they even had the party this year because grief saps one’s energy, I simply await her response.
Then asking questions of clarification (Who cranked the home-made lemon velvet ice cream this year? Was Bill Bye there and did he bring his sister, Judy?)
Simply following the flow of conversation, I keep my call to five to ten minutes unless Marlene seems to want to talk longer. I end by telling her about a dream I had about Bob. Since it was a comfort to me, that is my intention for sharing it.
Now being in the vortex of grief, it is easier to call Dick and then Joel. They each received dark chocolate hand delivered from Portland (because it elevated’s one’s mood) , the post card with the link to the You Tube Presence Now and Then to lift and of course a hard cover copy of the new sympathy card: A New Mourning: Discovering the Gifts in Grief.
I begin the calls to Dick and Joel with my Why for calling (It had been four weeks today.) Then I listen and follow-up with the events and details of meeting for dinner just the night after Bob’s funeral.
He had told Dick “I may not be there to have dinner with Georgena because I am supposed to be traveling that night.” Neither of them realized then the travels Bob would be on in less than a week.
We never know. So that is Why YOU make the call with confidence and a love.
Let me know who you called as a result of reading this blog.
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