by Mare Tupper
I’ve had people ask before but I never really told my story, it was cut brief and short, loads of details left out. Details I don’t want to or even like to think about! As I look behind at the last and final days that Ed was here, I cringe!
The weather was icy and blowing, I could hear it howling behind the heavy paned windows. The whirr of the fan shot hot air into the sterile room that quickly cooled and almost filled the emptiness inside me.
Bleak and grey, the skies threatened storms.
Orange trucks rolled off hillsides,
Somersaulting in my dreams.
Snow kept growing outside my heavy sterile window…
The last night that I laid near him
we were curled up so tightly in our king sized bed
that there was room for two more.
His left arm under my pillow,
right arm stretched across my body;
I felt so small next to him.
Fingers of both sets of hands intertwined,
the light from the television danced upon the walls.
The rhythmic sound of his steady heart beat comforted me; begged me to sleep. His big wide shoulder felt soft upon my cheek, the even sound of his breathing as sleep took him someplace grand, still did not allow my sleep to come.
He slept soundly as I looked into his boyish man face– memorizing each line, the gentle curves of his full soft cheeks, the roundness of the tip of his nose. Those soft lips, the top covered with grey, while the fullness of his lower lip begged kisses as he dreamed. Long soft grey strands of silk filled his pillow.
I allowed my head to again find its comfy spot on his shoulder,
waiting for slumber to take me to where he was dreaming.
I’d dreamed like this before, I’ve memorized faces and “mentally recorded” their voices. What normally came next I didn’t want!!
—Knew I couldn’t change, and couldn’t face
…especially not now!
My brother had died in September. He was the younger of the two.
My favorite! We’d spent many nights staying up, listening to music, talking, and really getting to know each other. He knew me best of anyone in the family. He encouraged the talents, discouraged the incorrigible!
Life changed when I heard the news.
It got cold and lonesome
and terminally empty all over again.
I t had been 16 years since our mother passed,
14 since our “old man” followed her.
I was swallowed into a deep dark pit and couldn’t get out
….My job sucked! I hated it passionately,
it made me sick thinking of going there yet again.
Monkeys could easily be trained
to take and load stacks of plastic bags
into cardboard boxes as I was,
but much more costly to train than I was!
Our local and county school administrators
were meeting with us constantly.
Battling back and forth over my son’s rights
~~~the legalese of a child
with a learning disability
according to federal regulations of IDEA.
Ed at my side when he was able to be;
even dropping a three hundred fifty dollar load!
Our son got shit on, so did we!
A meeting was coming soon to the pass the buck; educational offices of our school system, principal; all 16 members of their team were going to be there to tell us what was so terribly wrong with our (my) son —to tell us what they weren’t going to do for him, which of his civil rights they’d chosen to ignore– yet again….and ask what medication he was taking!(for that was their only answer!)This meeting was to be tomorrow now and the heaviest feeling on my shoulders too.
The most positive thoughts I had was that death could be near
…but not the one I was re-run-dreaming of;
the nightmare that sat me straight up in bed,
cold sweat pouring from my drenched body.
As orange trucks rolled off hillsides
……I wanted to go first.
Thoughts ran out of control of how to make it look accidental, maybe at work—family gets workman’s comp…
yet I lay in a room full of high power guns, ammunition accessible enough.
No, too big a mess and what a final memory that would be leave my family
…no, it had to look like an accident.
This ain’t right,
you aren’t supposed to think this way.
Yet the schemes kept pouring
into my thoughts.
Drive off the road in the car,
the snow was heavy, falling heavier
still; visibility poor, roads slick.
Yeah, I’ll do that!
I thought of a bridge
where you could easily run off the road
and crash to the freeway
40 feet below…
No, you ain’t supposed to do it that way
…cowards’ way out….
Picked up the phone and dialed the number on the back of an insurance card. I wanted to know what it was going to financially cost to get help, help now, I knew better than to get into that car! So finally and eventually; the ambulance came —and I went.
For ten days the doctors poked, and stuck me, we discovered that my thyroid was going kerplewy.
And because of the depression that came on after Kenny died,
after that deep dark hole swallowed me whole and refused to release me,
they filled me with good drugs!
Drool trickled from the corner of my mouth,
I swaggered when I stepped,
and people smiled…
…people in white starched uniforms,
–cups full of pills
extended to me
in their starched white hands.
Morning chats with the man
who could give me even more pills,
starched white pills
in this starched white place.
The man in the prim smart suit with the pills laughed
and dismissed the orange trucks
somersaulting in my dreams
… he just wouldn’t listen!
Delusional was written across a starched white paper
and placed into a starched white file
and deposited into a cold metal file cabinet.
The man who I loved held me on his lap
as I uncontrollably cried the next evening,
the only words that would sound were,
is going to happen to us.
The gentle man
with the full rounded cheeks and soft lips ,
and the big blue-hazel eyes
looked sad and remained silent
as he held me tight and let me cry.
I held him tight at the door the following night,
begged and begged him to be safe
and to come home to me,
…kissing those soft lips,
mist filled his eyes as I fought back tears.
…they told me the next morning that he was found dead in his orange truck.
Coldly and sterily,
cut and dry,
emotionless and matter of factly.
The man in the prim smart suit with the pills
who had laughed
and dismissed the orange trucks
somersaulting in my orange dreams;
He who just wouldn’t listen!
Delusional he wrote
across a starched white paper
and placed into a starched white file
and deposited into a cold metal file cabinet
….now angry because he had to return
to his cold corner office
to sign papers to allow me to be released
in order to dispose of my husband’s body
… the body found dead in his orange truck!
…the orange truck that made me delusional!
The wind was bitter cold, but i didn’t feel it.
The sting of the snowy gale blowing
my eyes and cheeks
numbness was all.
The wet icy snow caked
and stuck to my long silky red hair,
the wind whipped it hard against my cheeks
but I didn’t feel that either.
The look of there’s nothing I can do
—pity was all over everyone’s faces,
eyes to the ground,
primly and properly
going through polite motions.
Emily Post’s lil redheaded robot!
The world was gone,
he was gone;
my world was gone
…and what to do now
was my biggest worry!
…what would I do without him I hadn’t a clue!
His ashes, held in a tin like flour or sugar,
and 10 death certificates came home in his place.
Friends showed up by private invitation,
… His family was there;
Complaining about walking so far in the snow;
covered in their good clothes;
all came to say their good byes.
He lies to rest where he requested
as the green flag fell
on the first race…
as the checkered flag fell
upon the last race,
to cremate him
and scatter his ashes under our seats
to rest after he died.
… I did as he asked,
…I did as I was told.
His family was not real happy,
and to his family
— it wasn’t what he wanted at all–
…but he always said they never listened
…I understood now.
My son is all grown, a man of twenty one years now.
Living his life and wishing happiness only for mine.
Four years will soon mark Ed’s passing….
…I thought this wasn’t going to happen until we were old,
I’m only 38!
I’m not old enough to know this!
We were supposed to have 25 years;
Not just19 months…
I still hate that it’s true
and I hate that he’s gone,
and hate that I’m so alone.
In these four years I have made way over 350+ friends,
group numbers nearing four hundred,
not counting those who’ve come and gone;
we become wiser,
and with such courage…
—without them; I don’t know what I’d do!
They know not the impact they’ve had on my life, nor do I understand fully my impact on theirs. I have been told I’ve given back, even saved many lives…
but I sometimes still dream of not waking the next day–
…of reuniting with my love
of growing old together
of just laying my head in that comfy spot of his shoulder,
arms around each other, holding hands, waiting for slumber to find us.
About the Author: Mare was born in Youngstown, Ohio, one of five children of Joann and Roger Hober. She is the mother of two grown sons, Kenn Hober and AJ Walkosak. She attended Austintown Fitch High School and graduated from South Range High. She and her husband, Ed, met while working together at National Mattress Company in Boardman, Ohio 1994. Mare now resides in North Atlanta and is attending Kennesaw State University, a Junior majoring in Psychology.