Wednesday, August 25, 2004

36 Hours is significantly less time than a week

I'm not doing very well on the diary updating thing, am I? Not that it matters since I'm positive nobody is reading it. The last few weeks have just been a complete blur! My friend of whom I wrote in my very first entry died that Thursday morning. E. and I were literally ten minutes from his house and were supposed to visit with him and P before we headed to Wisconsin and a weekend of racing action. Instead I got a call from Paula in NC telling me to call her immediately (she had gotten voicemail as I was in the shower). I call Paula knowing it can't be good news, but still not believing it. She told me that dear J died that morning around 7:00 a.m. – just two hours before we were supposed to see him. I completely lost it and said, "What happened to the week we were supposed to have?" knowing full well that the doctors can't promise that week and that J was ready to go. It was a clear indication of how sick he really was. His wife (I refuse to call her his widow) was doing so well that morning. She said it helped knowing that he's now no longer suffering and at peace. She was the only one who knew how sick he was, so I guess she had more time to come to terms with the actuality. E. and I hugged her and stayed for a few minutes, but then the visiting nurse came and was going to get his body ready to be removed to the funeral home and we bailed. P's parents and sister were with her, so we didn't feel like we were abandoning her.

After a weekend of racing, we made our way back to IL and went to the funeral and visiting hour. It was good to see J's sisters, Char and Mere, and Char's husband Rich, although it wasn't the circumstances we preferred, obviously. Char was taking it very hard and I felt so horrible for her. When I first got there and she saw me, she came over to me and hugged me and just cried. I hugged her back and cried right along with her. J was Char's younger brother so it's that much harder because it just seems wrong when the younger person goes first.

The funeral wasn't too bad, considering. Thankfully it wasn't a Catholic Mass (because everybody picks the same songs and then I just cry throughout the whole damn thing) and I only knew one song which was, unfortunately, one we sang at my Uncle's funeral just a few months before, so I had a little trouble. We didn't end up going to the cemetery for two reasons: 1) E. hates cemeteries, and 2) we really had to get on the road. It's a good 5 hours to my house from P's and E's an additional 3 (the way she drives, it takes me a little longer) w/o traffic! And if someone knows how to get east of Chicago while heading into Michigan w/o encountering construction traffic or even regular 2:00 p.m. Chicago traffic, please let me know. God, I hate Chicago traffic. Thankfully I wasn't driving as I already had the headache from hell which was not letting go – no matter how much ibuprofen or Aleve I took. At one point, I said to E, "I just hope my head doesn't hurt when I wake up tomorrow morning." She just looked at me and said, "I'd be hoping it would go away before that." True, but I could tell that it was going nowhere. The funeral was at 1:00 p.m. CDT, so we were on the road around 2:30 CDT. E. dropped me at the curb with all of my weekend worth of crap and headed toward Canada around 8:30/9:00 EDT (if I remember correctly). I got all of my stuff into the house in only three trips and then collapsed onto my beloved comfy pillow-top bed.

I think it would be an interesting sociological study to see how people treat a subject, i.e., death and funeral of a dear friend, from the perspective of time, meaning I wonder how emotional this entry would have been if I had written it the day after I had gotten back, instead of three weeks later. It's pretty cut and dry, this entry…and that's not how I felt toward J at all. He was a good friend and he loved P (his wife), his sisters, Harry his dog who died last year, all of his friends, Champ Car racing, cigars, anything and everything Disney, and once a year he could combine most of those things into one weekend, when we would all gather in Cleveland for the race. This year was the first year since 1996 that J wasn't with us and there was a definite lack. We all knew he was sick, but we never had a clue that he'd be gone so quickly. P did tell me at the funeral that she was already planning on returning to Cleveland next year, so that's good news. It'll be hard, but she'll have all of us there, as well as our beloved Champ Cars at our favorite racing weekend.

Tomorrow I'll talk about the actual weekend at Road America. That'll be a much more enjoyable entry, I hope.


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