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Sunday, February 03, 2013


            Colleen was the most unanticipated person
in my life.

Having given up on love years before,
    I had no hope of finding someone
        I didn't want to live without. 

            When she trained me for a summer job,
I had no idea that by the end of the season
            we would love each other. 

I often just wanted to watch her because
            she was so graceful and deliberate. 
I came to love her when I realized that
            most of her life was approached
            with that same style, dedication, and insight.

We promised each other at least 40 years;
I was luck to know her for eight years
            including four years, six months, and 19 days of marriage.

I felt like a failure when
I couldn't save her from the things
she feared;
            she was scared of bugs,
            loud noises,
            and old men. 
Our TV wasn't turned off for years;
            she was so scared of the dark. 

            It is easy to love a person for her virtues;
I can honestly say I loved Colleen for her faults as well. 
            She would get so anxious
I just wanted to comfort and hold her
            but that only made her more upset.

Colleen never gave up on people. 
            She was friendly in the most stubborn way possible. 
            She greeted every person, every day. 
            If someone snubbed her, she made a point
            of being friendly to them until they cracked;
            sometimes this was just a warm smile, but she had changed someone.
People I wouldn't have given a second thought to,
            she saw the value in being kind to.
It wasn't a game or a matter of pride;
            she knew that everyone was worthy   
            of a kind word and a smile;
those who can't reciprocate need it even more.

I learned to appreciate travel because
            Colleen loved to travel. 
            She loved to drive, to have that control. 
            She loved to speed with Mellencamp or The Stones at full volume. 
We would both sing (scream) along. 
            The beat of the music encouraging her to go faster. 
I always felt safe with her at the wheel. 

After an insignificant tiff,
             she almost left
me at a gas station in South Dakota. 
            Because she believed I would have been better off without her;
I am glad she always waited for me. 

            Colleen didn't mind hurting, suffering, and sacrificing. 
            At times holding her hands hurt her. 
So many nights I feel asleep holding her hand.
            My love was honest unless it would hurt someone else; 
I never knew how much she hurt or for how long.

On a Saturday afternoon in May, the
doctors explained the situation: 
            An infection (and Colleen was always afraid of dying from an infection)
            they could not adequately treat had developed. 

Aren't I too young to make this decision? 
Aren't I too young to have to make it? 
Isn't the doctor
too young to know for sure? 
            "Will treatment cause her more pain?"

"Yes, it will cause her more pain;
though it might prolong her life slightly. 
She is too weak to respond well.
Colleen likely has brain damage." 

Yes, you will have to push a button every 15 minutes
            to help ease her pain,
you will have to tell her
            it is okay "to go" and
"I will be okay"
The last thing you hear her say(yell) will be
            "Oh, God make it stop!"

In a few days you will have to hold her close
            as her last breath is taken,
you will have to sit with
            her dead body to wait for her lifelong friend
            to come and say goodbye,
you will be haunted by all you have seen, you will often be alone now,
you will have to endure the "knowing"
glances of everyone who knows and the
"ignorant" remarks of those who don't,
you will sometimes find yourself wandering around your home looking for
            something you can never find,
you will die some day too but you will be
            far less afraid of death.

I still get up very early in the morning; but, I don't have
            Colleen to fret over
so I nervously check
the windows "just one more time" before I leave
            as if the cats or dog might have opened them. 
I get halfway to the car and rush back to
            make sure I really did lock the front door. 
At least, this is the excuse I give myself.  

The Collected Chaff, v. 1.0     

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