Part Six

It has been a few hard days for my imp. She sleeps now while I write this. This is the first good sleep she has had in days and I am grateful. The dark smudges under her eyes, the weight loss, her lack of energy - these are worrisome matters.

An old and dear friend of hers has died. There has been too much of this in our lives of late. This one has taken its toll. The woman was very old and led a long and productive life. Based on the number of people who flew in from all over the country to bid her farewell, she must have been greatly loved.

We received word of her death late afternoon and flew out at dawn. Sar did not sleep all night. I expected her to sleep on the plane but she remained awake - unusual for her. We routed through Denver and barely made our connection to Florida. The Denver airport is very large and the distance between gates was about a mile. I was certain Sar would sleep on the next leg but again she remained awake. I keep chocolate bars in my pocket for her but she refused to eat, a worrisome matter.

Soon after we checked into our hotel I ordered room service. Sar still had no appetite. A shower and then I insisted she rest and she could not. She turned down Twinkies, cracker jacks and even chocolate. I held her on my lap hoping she would relax enough to sleep. She tossed and turned most of the night. By the time we arrived at the graveside ceremony the next morning, Sar had been awake about 40 hours.

Her close friend Alli is here from Chicago with her husband and 4 boys. Several other childhood friends are here too - Bob Ham and his wife Annelise, Bob Bacon and his wife Marsha, and some I do not know. Alli and Sar hug each other. They have tears in their eyes but I know my Sar. She will not cry aloud in front of people she knows but will hold her grief back until there are more private moments.

I grandi dolori sono muti. (Great griefs are mute. Old Italian proverb.)

I know a little about this woman who has died. Sar and her friends called her Mama Hannah. She lived somewhere in the back alleys of Chicago's downtown streets, had a grocery cart filled with personal items and spent quite a bit of her time in abandoned buildings. I don't know what she did for the street kids but they all speak highly of her. When she died she was living in a very nice studio apartment in central Florida that was paid for by many of the children she "mothered" years ago including my wife. I don't know the details of how that came to be but she was so important to Sar that I have asked her to write about her. Perhaps she will.

The interment ceremony is presided over by a rabbi, a minister and a priest. I don't know why that is but I have learned over the years that Sar's friends are extraordinary people and why they do things is not always easy to explain but they are content with each other. Sar told me Mama Hannah was Wiccan and that explains a lot of the men and women present whom none of us are acquainted with. I am curious as to why a follower of Wicca has 3 members of the clergy here but I will not ask.

The clergy seem comfortable together and as they gather to say their prayers we hear the screeching of brakes and someone hurrying toward the gravesite. We all look up and in seconds Sar is running toward the man coming our way. It is the priest Father Gary - a very old friend. Gary hugs my wife. To my eye it seems like a long hug and I believe if the man had not chosen God and the Church over Sar, I would not have met and married her. I see them and send yet one more thanks to the good Lord for giving her to me.

There are many rituals at this burying - Wicca, Catholic, Christian and Jewish. All of them are spiritual and emotional. There is beauty in ritual. It makes us feel better and it gives us hope for better times. When the service is over we all gather at the hotel in a private suite where long buffet tables are heavy with food. There is chocolate cake and cheesecake and other foods Sar loves but she does not eat and I am uneasy that she has not had more than a bite of anything in almost 48 hours. I hand her a glass of orange juice. It will give her some energy.

She sits with her old friends. They all have much to say to each other. They remember things about the woman who has died and they share laughter in remembering. The laughter is not loud but sincere and for that I am happy Sar is with those who knew this woman as well as she did. My cell phone rings and it is Max calling from Chicago. He wants to speak to Sar and she goes into another room to talk to him. When she comes back she seems more relaxed and I make a mental note to send our old friend a box of his favorite cigars for helping my wife through this difficult day.

The suite is a private one so when the double doors open I look up. Three men come into the room and by the look of them - ear pieces, broad shoulders, the way they carry themselves - they are federal agents or secret service. Two men remain at the door and 1 seems familiar and it is only later that I realize I know him from my wife's description. Sar and Alli rush to meet him and he hugs them both. His hug is hard - both of them are lifted so that their feet leave the ground. His name used to be Timothy and Sar has not seen him in many years. He stays a very short time and is gone again. This is a bit of a mystery and again I am going to ask Sar to write about this special woman whose death caused people to fly here from across the country and a few from overseas.

We route home through Chicago - Alli and Paul and several others on the same flight. Sar has slept about 3 hours and had a small breakfast. I put my arm around her and with no effort, pick her up. She has probably dropped 6 or more pounds in 3 days and I am eager to get her home before she loses any more.

Her dogs cannot wait to touch her when we get home. I know from past experience they cannot be ignored so I drop our bags and sit on the rug in the family room, lean against a stack of floor pillows and pull Sar between my legs. She is half asleep - finally. The dogs whine and vocalize their pleasure at seeing her. They lick her face and neck and when they stop wiggling they lay down on either side of her. The Rott rests his head on her chest and stares at her. The Mastiff has his head on my thigh but his muzzle is on her arm. Sar is thoroughly worn out and almost asleep and oblivious. Needless to say the dogs ignore me completely.

If you want to feel completely invisible, get a cat. The tomcat comes running when he hears the dogs whine and ignores me and the dogs, butts his head against Sar's chin, licks her neck and finally settles in for a long nap. He revs his engine at warp speed and would probably remain in that position until she wakes and pets him. After a solid 10-15 minutes I get up, taking Sar with me and go upstairs. The cat spits at my back and the dogs follow us.

Sar is barely awake when I take her into the shower and falls asleep in my arms when I wrap her in toweling to dry her. She needs rest and I am not disappointed that she sleeps more than 14 hours. Mid morning she wakes and comes downstairs, the dogs following behind. I open my arms and she comes to me. I tell her she has to eat. She says she is not hungry. I tell her she will eat anyway. She leans against me and says she will eat toast and drink coffee. I make cream cheese omelets and cinnamon toast and pour milk for her. She eats a little of everything and steals my coffee.

I give her a light swat and her eyes fill and I grab her and hold her while she cries for the woman we buried. My imp is hurting and I can only hold her until she is calm again. You will write about this and you will feel better I tell her. She nods. Maybe she says. And then she dozes in my arms.

Over the years I have held her many times while she sleeps. Always it is magic to watch her in slumber. I give thanks that she is mine and through the good times and the hard times, our love remains strong.


~ End Part Six ~

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