Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where –‘ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘–so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation.
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Kathy dropped me off at home. After being with Freddie at his home since July, everything seemed not real anymore. Why do I have so much stuff? and where should I sit? where is everyone? anyone? No, it is just me and Freddie’s ashes. My thoughts are still back in California. Freddie would be there. This is just all a dream.
I thought I would be the one to plan the service for him. I had contacted two of his church friends and asked to meet with them on Monday to get things worked out. We had to wait for Freddie’s family to come from across country. So, I thought I would be the one to get everything together. Then, Dan Baker called me and very coldly told me that the wife was planning the service and he could not meet with me. Stunned, I hung up.
What to do? Nothing. All I had to do was wander around his home and wait for my daughter to arrive. It was a long wait and when she got there finally, she quickly informed the wife to “step back” that she was taking over, being the executor of his estate.
During my wait, the wife tried to evict me from the house twice by email. Once by her and once by her attorney. Fortunately, I had read about eviction laws in the State of CA and had advised the attorney of my rights and asked him if he had missed the day they taught that in law school. I was not leaving until I was ready to leave and not without Freddie’s ashes. I have no idea how I held myself together against such evil forces, or so I thought. She did come and change the locks on the doors, even after I had given her all the keys and said it was not necessary for her to go to the trouble. She could come and go as she pleased with one exception. I needed to be notified before she came.
I remember the Memorial Service. It seemed unreal. I sat on the back row, not wanting to sit near his estranged wife, who acted like the grieving widow, in my opinion. Perhaps she was sad. My daughter introduced the family. She left me off the ones there because I was on the back row and she did not quite know what to do about everything. I felt sad for her being caught up in such difficult surroundings. The wife could not come and see him while he was alive. Why did she have to show up now? For appearances sake? Everyone who knew me and Freddie knew the situation. Strange that families can be so divided.
I sat with Wilma, his caretaker. There were others there whom had been with me when he died. They were the only ones who mattered to me other than my daughter and her family. I remember Ric singing, Freddie’s friend. I had never met him. I remember Dan Baker, yes, the same Dan Baker, saying something, I do not know what he said nor anything else. I remember his best friend, Craig Smith came from Knoxville, TN. There were others who came, i.e.his half sister and brother; his dad and step-mom; the CEO of the hospital, a friend of Freddie’s as well; Marcello, his friend who owned a shipping company. I could look at the guest register and see who was there but I have not done so. It is not time.
Alone in a crowd. The reception yet to go. The beautiful sunshine pouring though the windows of the Chapel. Wishing for Freddie to be there.
Only a few days ago we were together. Yet, Jackie had asked that I make photos of his body. I said I would and made arrangements to see him before he was cremated.
The funeral director met me and showed me where Freddie was…there on a long cold table with only his hospital gown on. Why had they not asked me for some clothes to dress him? Why did I have to see him this way? My broken heart was now even more shattered. Such a humane thing to do to dress him. He would have wanted to be dressed.
I made the photos. I held his hand and touched his forehead. Then, I bent over and kissed the top of his forehead as I had done every morning as he left for school. I was saying my last goodbye to his earthly body. He was already far, far away, well and happy. He could not take me. I left knowing that this image was seared into my heart and brain. Why had that not dressed him?
To smile without feeling. To Be; and somehow get through this day, this Memorial Service in CA. I thought only two more to go. One in Huntsville and then the last one. Finally, it was over and we went back to Freddie’s house, Jackie, Jim, Christoper and I. His son came for a little while but did not stay in his childhood home, going to his mother’s apartment instead. We would remain there until Jackie, Jim and Christoper left and I had the ashes.
I paced the floors and went from room to room? I had lost so much weight, I felt lighter than air. Maybe I could find Freddie somewhere. He seemed so close, yet so far. I wanted to go back to his house. I did not belong here without him. Did I have any friends? To whom could I talk about Freddie?