...I hold on to you, you lift me up
And always will
I see you in life
Hope I don't get left behind
I, I hold hold on to you
You bring me hope I'll see you soon
You bring me hope I'll see you soon
And if I don't see you
I'm afraid we've lost the way...
~ Dave Matthews Band, American Baby
Stepping up to the podium, I silently repeated, "Boomer's with me. We've got this." Moments earlier, while sitting at the banquet table, nervously awaiting the introduction, I grabbed his ring around my neck - - the heat coming off of it could have singed my finger (read Choking). I turned to my friend Carol sitting next to me, "Feel this," I said, "Do you feel how hot it is?" Carol took a touch, softly shook her head and said, "No." Yikes! Freaky. Boomer was so privately with me, only me, through his approving, radiating spirit, penetrating deep into my heart.
It didn't occur to me at the time, two months earlier, when I'd said yes to speaking to this group of 75 men and women, that I'd be doing it T minus 5 days to the 1-year mark of Boomer's death. I was the headline presenter for a recovery luncheon and had been asked to share my personal story of experience, strength and hope of living with alcoholism, personal recovery, grief, loss, and love. As the weeks, days, hours passed and the minutes drew closer, the idea of making a sly get-a-way was looking very appealing. Wait a minute - - hadn't I already been down the road of geographic relocation solutions once before with abysmal results (read Florida)? That's about the time Boomer put the heat on to encourage me to hold strong. This is my ascension moment, stepping into what is becoming his legacy with me, the work I desire to do - - advocacy for addiction, alcohol, and grief recovery - - using my life, his life, our life together to help others find their way through healing and recovery.
As I was introduced, welcoming applause ensued; I stepped onto the stage, behind the podium, placing a small collection of trinkets I brought with me including: notes, a book with a inspirational quote to read, water, kleenex, the small black leather pouch I carry everywhere that houses my 2-year recovery medallion, a silver heart from my friend Lisa, mine and Boomer's angel coins, along with his drivers license. Taking a deep breath, I began, "Thank you. It's a privilege and honor to be here with you today. Let me candidly just say...I have to pee... [uproarious audience laughter]" YES! SCORE! I'd broken the ice and my nerves. I don't recall much of that next hour or what all I said; whatever it was, to my shock and amazement it worked, the audience was on their feet with a standing ovation. I was stunned back into consciousness and completely drained for the remainder of the day. That's grief depletion. Tap in to everything you've got, and use every ounce. It took two days to refuel the energy.
Refueling is precisely what I need for the pinnacle week before me - - one year, 12 complete months, that Boomer is gone. Today, November 12 will be my hard day - - tick, tick, boom - - it's the day I left the hospital knowing Boomer was never coming home. It's the day we said our last words to each other, "I Love You." By 3:30 a.m the following morning, Boomer had tubes down his throat to keep his airways open from the internal bleeding through his esophagus. I've been preparing.
My time on November 12 will be spent putzing at the house, tending to the daily tasks I've become increasingly accustom and efficient doing solo. I'll ride to Boomer's adopted church here in Florida, All Faiths, and sit in solace and meditation with his memorial brick bringing the reserve of his ashes I've held for this time. It's symbolic ceremony and reflection at this space, though it isn't where Boomer rests with me. He rests where ever I am - - He is and will be always with me. I'm aware at the hesitancy I have leaving the house for this "visit", I haven't been to Boomer's brick since March (read Free Bird) and for just the second time in a year "Free Bird" spontaneously queued on my iPod. This time, it wasn't just Boomer in the poetic words, it was me. I too was now becoming a Free Bird. A tear gently ran down my left cheek.
Is this another ascension for me? Ascending out of the hallowed darkness of loss, grief and bereavement? I think so. I sure as hell hope so. Though it's never permanently over, it does diminish, that's what you hope for, work toward. Me anyway. I returned home, where at last, I was able to share the remaining ashes on the grounds of our home; something I've been both reluctant and unprepared to deal with. Now is the time. The perfect spot, beneath the giant shade tree in the front yard, the vantage point view from Boomer's chair on the veranda below his favorite metal frog and lizard mounted on the tree trunk.
Later, sitting in a meeting, I subconsciously gazed at the wall clock. Time: 7:15 p.m. Tick, tick, boom. There it was, the flashback moment I'd been afraid of, and had averted all day - - this time, one year ago, Boomer was being prepped for his 1st transfusion, and in 4 hours, our final words.
I'm not alone in the tick, tick, boom of these coming days. Though my experience is uniquely mine, there are many who are in my thoughts, who likely too, are reliving their unique experience. My heart is with them for their ascension out of their own hallowed darkness.
Now to get the hell out of Dodge for the remaining couple of days - - SMO's Key West bound...