Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sometimes damn is just not enough


from Jamie's collection

Kimberely stops by on her way home for the holidays for one last visit. As we’re finishing, Teddy’s sister, father and friend have just arrived from Suffern, up the Hudson.
The family resemblances are striking and clear. 

The tell me that in their culture, no one should die alone and that they are comforted  that Teddy died surrounded by people who loved him. I tell them that not only that but that he was accompanied by people who cared for him throughout the day. That means a lot. 

There’s lots to talk about. Family history. the struggles and strains that every family goes through in its own unique way. And how above, beneath and through all, even when we don’t see or can’t say it, love remains.  They are comforted that he had found a place where he felt accepted and loved and good about himself. And having struggled with God ever since his mother died at a young age, Teddy could be at peace with God again and join the church. be part of the church. I try to tell them just how much a part of us he had become.

We go into the sanctuary. Pause at his candle, still burning. His sister Dorothy places her hands around it, closes her eyes. We stop at Martin’s studio. Martin and Soli come out and embrace the family. Talk about how much a part of their family Teddy had become. There are embraces all around as they look at the beautiful dance studio Teddy had helped to build. 

Stephen and Christopher come down. They’ve bagged and brought everything of Teddy’s down for them to look at. More clothes than anything.Christopher says, he was the best man I ever knew.  More embraces. And tears. I show the the kitchen in Mc Alpin where he prepared so many meals for himself and for others. Then we go to the fourth floor, where he lived. The carefully look over every inch, trying to imagine him there. 

We finish our visit. They will wait until the body is released form the morgue and send it to Suffern for wake and funeral. His sister says that the last time she saw him, at his son’s football game was the happiest she had ever seen him. I told his father, who has the solid look of a man who after years of struggle has come to peace, that there is much he can be proud of. He says, Teddy always felt like he had to do something to make me proud of him. I always wanted him to know that I loved him, just as he was. I wait a minute, then say, I believe he knows that. They leave, on their way to the morgue.

My friend David arrives with his wife, Wendy, the prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet. And David, another friend. As soon as Jamie arrives, we go for a tour of the whole building, seeing possibilities. Their friend has a particular passion in and interest for the organ. 

I am excited about the possibility of what  working together with David again might be like . They say they’ll be back to us in 2-3 days. 

As Jamie and I are wrapping up, Fire chief John walks in. Jamie says, Oh no. The chef says, Well, what a way to greet me. You don’t even now what I’ve got to say. And then laughs.So does Jamie.  The chief has been studying up. He’s found another way to help us. The fire department, especially this chief, has helped us from the first day we moved back in. They want to see us make it. I thank the chief for all he’s done. It is sincerely appreciated. 

Kara flies in. Bubbling over with Blessyouyousavedmylifeteddysavedmylifethe womensavedmylifeblessyougodisherejesusishere....The words come out in cascades. I thank her. She continues on with the story of her life. Birth mother. Adopted mother.  Abuse.  God father who, well...She wants to play the piano awhile. I say sure. Her playing has that same manic quality as Sunday. 

I noticed that the hem of her dress was embroidered front and back. The front said, Hope in  spirit and the back, truth in love. 

Later she will come back in. Tell me she’s been trying to call Teddy. Hemustbesleepingahsleeepweallneedsleeepblessedsleep....She takes my hand, wehavetherestofourlivestogethertherestfourlivesiamaprimenumberonlydivisiblebyoneyouarethepatronsaintofprimenmbersofoutcastsofisntthatexcitingI’msoexcitedaren'tyouexcitedwhere’s Teddy? No way I’m telling her Teddy’s dead. I’m not ready for that. I’d need Teddy to help me deal with that. Damn it. Iloveyouiloveyouiloveyoutherestofourlivestherestofourlives....Finally she lets go of my hand. Whirls and swirls out the door. From out on the street the I love you’s keep working their way through the door and inside.

Later in the day, Rachelle swoops in. Pastor! I was here Sunday for the holiday sing along. Where were you, you weren’t here. You weren’t here. It was so beautiful. And afterwards there was food. And everyone was so beautiful. Even that man, that man, he offered me food. Offered to introduce me to that woman. That man....
I can’t take it any more. Rachelle, that man is dead. 
Oh no Pastor, oh no...evil or not he...
That’s his candle burning in the sanctuary.
She sinks into the empty chair.
Oh no, Pastor. 
I’m sorry, Rachelle. Yes, it’s true. 
She looks at me. Shakes her head. Leaves.

I do some more work. E-mails to get out. Facebook announcements. People to inform.

You never know what's going to happen when you wake up on any given day. We think we do. But we don't. Maybe you send your kid to school and a madman comes and blows them away. Or maybe your friend drops dead.

I walk home in the cold and dark. The minute I get into my door, I collapse. I feel like I’ve been hit with a bag of bricks.  There are days, you find yourself, when you’re alone, just walking around saying, fuck. Over and over. Sorry. Sometimes damn is just not enough. 


  1. My Teddybear. I miss him so much. My heart is broken and torn and feels like it's never going to mend.

  2. and "fuck" doesn't begin to cover it.