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Roses Everlasting

Saturday, February 11, 2006 10:24 PM CST

Okay, got some pictures back, and this one is worth backtracking a little bit to share. When the Warriors beat Clarkston, at the end of the third quarter, they were up by quite a few points, and the buzzer rang. They headed over to the bench, the guys on the bench got up, I expected shouting, jumping, cheering, high fives and back slaps. Instead, this....

These are amazing kids. They put their arms around each other, pulled in close, leaning their heads together, and quietly soaked up the moment, holding onto each other. These kids have supported each other and been through a lot. I have to believe that Zach wasn't the only player to take a moment to think of Dave during this big win. Dave coached them along with Mike until he no longer could. He loved these kids. You can see why. Each of them is something extraordinary.

Some of you have been waiting for an update on the poop machine, I mean Duke.

He's growing and pooping and growing and pooping, and if he weren't so impossibly cute, I'd strangle him. Speaking of such, it's a good thing my kids are cute, too. All the promises of "I'll feed him, I'll walk him, I'll clean up the messes!" Well, if you've ever had a puppy, you know who REALLY does the work. Thank heavens for my Bissell Little Green Clean Machine!

Some of you are waiting for an update on my mental health. Apparently, some of you gauge that by how my bed looks, so here you go:

Yeah, not doing so well. Although today it actually is made. The pic of Duke was taken today, and you can see the sheets. No comforter, it's in the dryer, Duke puked on it. Someone, who shall remain nameless, but whose initials are MM, cannot resist that face and stupidly shares food with the puppy sometimes. Sausage and puppies apparently do not mix well. And yes, I really am reading all those books. Well, most of them, about three or four are on deck. The rest I'm in the middle of. I'm finally able to read again, and I guess I'm going overboard.

Kenny puked today, too, up on the slopes. Please pray that we won't have a bout of the flu. I am SO not up to that. Kate's going with Uncle Bob again tomorrow. She's really excited.

Last, I re-read some of the journals, and am really struggling where to go with this. I haven't decided anything, but it's been hard for me to make the journal reflect what I want it to. And I don't know how to explain that. Some of it is that people think I'm crazy or losing my mind. I'm not. But grief is hard work, and there really isn't room for a lot else some days.

Underlying every moment, every event, every day, we miss Dave. Most of the time we make it through. Sometimes it builds to the point of being unbearable. No, often it builds to that point. Often. We do what we have to do, but it's not enough. It's hollow most of the time.

Part of that phenomenon for me is that so many times, every day, I can see Dave in my mind, not memories, but as if he were here. I can imagine just how he would sit, or stand or walk, the gestures he would make, the words he would say. It's as clear if it had actually happened.

But I don't feel him. And I really thought I would. And part of it makes me feel incredibly sad, alone, bereft, abandoned. And part of it makes me feel angry. I remember hearing this song when Dave was getting sicker.

I Can Still Feel You
Collin Raye

It's that feeling that someone
Is standing behind me
And I turn around and there's no one there
And it's the sensation
That someone just whispered
Yeah and I still hear your voice but you're not really here
Your memory is like a ghost
And my heart is it's host

I can still feel you just as close as skin
Every now and then
All by myself, in a crowded room, or my empty bed
There's a place you've touched
With your love no one gets close to
I can still feel you, I can still feel you, I can still feel you, I can still feel you

You said you'd love me forever
Then you said it's over
And left me without the missing link
I thought I'd forget you
But I guess I forgot to
And lately I've been too confused to think
When I reach for someone new
It's like I'm touching you

I can still feel you just as close as skin
Every now and then
All by myself, in a crowded room, or my empty bed
There's a place you've touched
With your love no one gets close to
I can still feel you, I can still feel you, I can still feel you, I can still feel you

In everything that moves
In everything I do

I can still feel you just as close as skin
Every now and then
All by myself, in a crowded room, or my empty bed
There's a place you've touched
With your love no one gets close to
I can still feel you, I can still feel you, I can still feel you, I can still feel you
Oh, I can still feel you

And I remember being comforted by the words of the chorus. "I can still feel you just as close as skin." I thought, that will be us. After all, we are so close, if anyone has a love that can survive death, that can remain connected across heaven, it's us, right?

The connection between us was so powerful. From the first time we were together. Do you know the story of that night? We were both working at The Old Spaghetti Factory and a bunch of us decided to go to the waterfront restaurant CI Shenanigan's in Tacoma to dance. It was restaurant employee night. We went and danced and laughed and had so much fun. Dave and I were drawn to each other. We danced. Madonna's "Crazy For You," Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire," Bryan Adams' "Heaven." Not wanting the night to end when the bar closed at 2:00, we talked friends into going to Denny's for coffee. We sat and had coffee and ice cream and talked and talked. It got later, everyone left. Dave and I decided we should go. We went to the parking lot and stood by my car (a pinto look-alike called a bobcat). The rain was pouring down. We didn't care. We stood there for hours, soaking wet. Finally, it started to get light. We sat in my car for a while. Rex Smith's "You Take My Breath Away" played. We talked and talked. Commuters came in for breakfast, the world woke up around us. The sun rose, and broke through the clouds. Watching him get into his VW bug, with his U2 button on his Members Only jacket, I knew something special had happened. And I hadn't even kissed him yet.

I believed in that connection with all my heart. I still believe it. And I believed it would survive death.

But I don't feel him. I feel this horrible, aching, gaping, burning, searing, throbbing, screaming emptiness where he should be.

I never imagined death was so final. So complete. So separate.

It wasn't so with Kyle. Perhaps because only days before his death, he had been part of my body. But I could feel him. Sense him.

A few days ago, I found this.

I opened it. And cried. Last year, in early February, we found that nothing was stopping this tumor and they told us it was a matter of time. A matter of months.

Then it was Valentine's Day. Dave has always sent flowers to wherever I was during the day. Now, if you know Dave well, you already know this, but Dave loved flowers. His favorite part was the smell. He loved the roses from our yard because they were so fragrant, he preferred them to the beautifully sculpted but bland roses from the florist. I used to find him in the yard, his face buried in the blossoms. He brought special ones into me, always saying, "Smell this one!"

So last Valentine's Day, no flowers. Hmmm...memory acting up? But later in the day, I find in my car that box. Golden box, beautiful bow. Candy? No, I opened the box to find a gold and crystal rose from the jewelers...

I thought, how beautiful. And then, how expensive! And then, how un-Dave-like! It was beautiful, but incredibly fragile, too perfect, and devoid of scent and life. Not at all reflective of the things that Dave valued or loved...

But when I found the box again this year, I finally understood. Or maybe I finally allowed myself to understand. It's a rose that will not die. It's a rose that will be here for me, when he no longer can.

It's the most beautiful rose I've ever seen. Can you smell it, Dave?

Love, Shelley


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