One Year Ago: Down to the Gardens
Here we are. Almost at the day that my Sweet Nathanael rode the Glory Train home to Jesus.
Today is not his homecoming day. That will be tomorrow. Today marks one year from the last day I spent with my beloved. He was in hospice and it was the hardest and saddest time of my entire life…, but we were still together and I could talk to him. He still had breath and I could whisper in his ear. I actually don’t remember much of this day one year ago because I don’t need to or want to. I just want to focus on the happier memories and the best part of all—that my man is HOME FREE because of Jesus.
Somedays I feel like he’s right down the hall, and other days I don’t know where he is off to. There are times I feel like he’s watching everything I do, ready to correct me for eating food I’m allergic to, not taking all my vitamins, or scolding me for not going to bed early. I look over my shoulder with guilt. Other days it seems too good to be true to have known, let alone to have been married to, such an incredible being. He was like an angel who drifted into our lives for a few moments and then passed out again forever. Knowing him was like a dream.
But I know he was here. I’m wearing his old tattered REI wool shirt and his World’s Softest Socks that he made me order ten pairs of from Amazon. I can see another stack of his clean white shirts staring at me in a corner of my room next to his shower flip flops. I can’t seem to find a place for them so they just sit in that corner. That’s okay.
His reminder notes are still taped up in cupboards, fall out of books, are stuffed in drawers. But even they seem distant. Like some little creature not of this world came down and wrote them for us. His writing is cute and awkward in mechanical pencil. In the laundry room there are instructions on how to wash towels vs. sheets in the new washing machine. He was very concerned about who was going to take over laundry duty since that was his main gig. I like to touch those notes more than read them because of course I had to revert back to doing laundry my way. I know he won’t mind now.
My mom has all of his toxin absorbing plants in her room—snake plants, spider plants, a ficus, a peace lily—all of which he researched and made us buy as natural air purifiers for their superior chemical absorption properties. He was so excited about these. Plus there is our cactus Ted from New Mexico. He was very worried about who would care for his friends when he was gone since he knows I have a black thumb. Franco is keeping them all wonderfully alive. He is happy about that, I’m sure.
It’s really, really strange to conceive of where we were at one year ago. Together, but soon to part. It hardly seems that long, but then it also seems like it never happened. Maybe he’s just on vacation or something. At the Elysian Fields. I remember asking the Lord if he could pass over the Grand Canyon with N on his way Home because he always wanted to see that, and it’s only a few hours away from Sedona. Then I felt kind of dumb because right after I prayed that prayer I could feel he was going to see something far, far better. Doesn’t matter now. I do feel I’ll see him soon. I wonder if that’s because all time will fold when my day comes, or because this life is fleeting like a vapor. If one year seems invisible to me now, how quickly will the others pass me by? I had better get with it.
At this time last year my dear friend Clara had prayed and received this scripture for me a few days before N’s departure:
“My beloved has gone down to his garden,
To the beds of balsam,
To pasture his flock in the gardens,
And gather lilies.
I am my beloved’s and
My beloved is mine
He who pastures his flock
Among the lilies.”
Song of Solomon 6:2-3
I know this scripture is about Jesus, the Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep. And I know it was meant for me to ponder upon loosing my beloved.
On June 16, I flopped on my mom’s bed-- she had already moved most of Nathanael’s special plants into her room. I was weak and crying, but not a bit shocked when I looked up to see N’s Peace Lily in full bloom pointing straight towards heaven.