TJ passed on Sunday, October 25, 2009. By this time the cancer had moved into his bones and the pain was horrendous. He did not want a traditional service; he wanted me to have a party so that is exactly what I did. The following Friday night we had a celebration of TJ’s life. I estimate over 100 people were there throughout the night and lots of TJ stories were told. I put together a DVD of pictures to play continuously on the TV and everyone was mesmerized by it. Although it brought lots of tears from men and women alike it also brought back many good memories of TJ and his zest for life itself. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who showed up to celebrate his life and offer support to me. As for me, I think I handled the evening fairly well. I had my moments, but they passed.
The day after TJ’s party a few guys came by to pick up and return the tables and chairs I had borrowed. We had a couple of beers together and I asked them to get some boxes down out of the attic for me to go through. I informed them that there were probably only about 8 – 10 boxes so it wouldn’t take long. Well…….Mr. Pack Rat himself had a garage full of boxes up there. Some were even empty?! Most of them seemed to be full of just miscellaneous stuff that should have been tossed quite a while ago. We all had quite the laugh at the immense volume of stuff up there and swore that TJ was laughing at us hauling all of those boxes out of the attic.
Sometimes I got by hour by hour and sometimes it was even minute by minute. At times it felt like TJ was just on a trip and would be returning home any day, but then something would happen or a thought would pop into my head and I was forced to come to the realization that he would not be coming home any time soon or ever. That reality really hit me when they called from the mortuary to let me know his ashes were ready for me to pick up. When I hung up from that phone call I felt like I had hit a block wall with full force. The reality of what had happened slapped me in the face. I realized that he would never be home again and that I am alone for now and for the foreseeable future. The intense emotions coursed through my entire body and I was frozen with fear. I felt utterly helpless and literally sick to my stomach. I didn’t know when I would go pick up his ashes but I knew it wouldn’t be until I had more of a grip on what had happened to my life. I was lost with no direction, no idea what the future was to bring and no idea of where to turn or what to do. I hated the hurt, I hated the pain and most of all I hated the fear. The fear of a very uncertain future was overwhelming. All I was left with was a broken heart and a continuous flow of tears.