In my 31 years of existence, I am extremely lucky to have only lost one grandparent and one great-grandparent (at 98 and 99 respectively). Up until last week I had never even been to a funeral or memorial service. The closest I have come to death was when I had to put our greyhound, Mattie, to sleep, and as horrible as that was, it was nothing compared to this. I never gave much thought to the logistics of death, and I never considered what it would be like to mourn the loss of a loved one while simultaneously trying to be strong for your family. Writing Hap's obituary was important to me, in part because it felt like it was one small thing I could actually do to help. It was also incredibly difficult - how do you condense a man's life into 250 words? I hope I did Hap some justice in two short paragraphs. It's not an easy thing to do, I assure you.
Of course, John and I had to fly to California on incredibly short notice. John's mom called us at 11:30 PM on Thursday, May 5. We were on a plane by 7 AM on Friday. Jack was a trooper, but throwing off a toddler's schedule is hard under any circumstances; thrusting him into a strange (un-baby proofed) environment with dozens of new faces added several more layers of stress. Jack got sick on the plane, which meant John and I were both sick within two days. And, because (as I've said before) when it rains it pours, I acquired a strange rash on my torso that I initially thought was bedbugs (thanks to a well-meaning cousin). Turns out it's a viral infection that will go away in eight weeks. Joy. In the meantime I'm covered in itchy welts that will continue to spread for several more weeks. I'm praying summer holds off a bit longer, because there are no tank-tops in my future.
There is little good that can be said about death, except perhaps that it brings people together. John is so lucky to have an amazingly supportive family, loyal friends, and the kindest neighbors you've ever met. People flew in from around the country to be there for John's mother and lend a hand in whatever way possible. John and I are also blessed with wonderful friends - thank you to all of you who sent your condolences, cards, flowers, and especially Mike and Alexis, who held down our fort in our absence and fed us upon our return. And a big thanks to Toni and Rob Fox, who got us a hotel room at the Ritz Carlton for an absolute steal. I only wish it had been under different circumstances.
I'd heard that funerals and food go hand in hand, but I wasn't prepared for the sheer volume of delicacies that flooded our house. Hap, who liked to eat the way skinny girls only wish they could (in large quantities and without any guilt whatsoever; I once saw him polish off a bowl of ice cream, several cookies, and a handful of truffles in a single sitting), would have been proud. There were donuts, pies, pavlovas, casseroles, enough cheese to smother a small village and more cookies than I dared count. Of course I found every excuse possible to avoid exercise while we were in California, aside from one short run and a daily walk. John, on the other hand, didn't miss a single workout (during one of his highest mileage weeks of the year). What can I say? Some people reflect while they run; others drown their sorrow in Toni's gruyere potatoes au gratin. To each their own.
Despite the fact that Jack caused me mountains of stress (I spent most of my time chasing him up and down hallways, watching him continuously roll off the step into the sunken living room, and trying to keep him off sleeping dogs' tails and paws), I know he was one small ray of joy during an otherwise bleak time. Even the animals were depressed, but Jack was his usual cheery self, charming people with his toothy grin and a steady stream of no's.
The other piece of good news was that John finished his Master's degree, receiving an "A" on his thesis (for a 3.99 GPA) and high praise from his advisor. He graduates on Friday, and I'm so happy that his mom will be here to witness it.
One more small moment of happiness was Jack's first trip to the beach - he apparently loved the sand between his toes and wasn't remotely afraid of the waves. John even dipped Jack's feet into the ocean for good measure. We are looking forward to returning to Half Moon Bay (one of my favorite places on earth - and certainly worth visiting if you've never been) in June for John's next 100-miler.
|Jack and Mom take in the ocean air.|