Jim died 55 day ago. I know because I see Ellouise marking the days on the large wall calendar in the kitchen. Well, I was here too but I am not counting the days.... but I do understand why she is doing it. It seems like yesterday and then on the other hand it seems like a very long time ago. Counting is one way to keep things straight.
Ellouise starts each day with a list of things to get done - somedays she does better than others. She gets more done when nothing catches her up and she has to stop for some tears or when she finds herself lost in memories.
Ellouise bought a new desk calendar book this week. It is very complicated and she is spending a lot of time filling in things that are coming up as well as adding the things that have happened since January. She told Betsy she is using it "together." This is a new life - and its like starting a new college semester without a schedule or a reading list.
Jim has been gone 55 days - but they were together 57 years. How many days is that? 21,505 days. I heard her telling her friend Betsy when they were talking on the phone that this is the longest time they have ever been apart since they got married in 1955.
But don't get me wrong. She's busy.
She's working on a new story to tell June 2nd with a group called, Better Said Than Done. I heard her practicing with her friend Susan on Friday. Its a bit of a tough one for her to tell because it is about something she and Jim did together - but all her stories have Jim in them. Susan asked her if she was sure and I heard her say, " Yes. Actually I like telling it - its new and when I tell stories I bring him close by." I hope she's right when she says that its a practice for telling Pushing Boundaries at the Capital Fringe in July. A wise storyteller advised her to think carefully about all her stories so she will know ahead of time which ones could have emotional traps in them, prepare for them and then choose her line-up carefully.
There is a lot of paper work to do on settling business stuff for Jim. Papers are stacked on the dining room table even though she does keep filing stuff away.
Today Ellouise and her son Jimmy worked on the paperwork for Arlington National Cemetary for Jim's burial. They decided on the wording for the tombstone. "I hate this." I heard her say. She says that about a lot of things - i.e. telephone calls asking for Jim, answering mail to him, and cancelling anything because he is not here. Cutting off his Apple phone was tough. But I can see that even though its hard she is working her way through it with the help of friends - especially those who have walked this walk because they uniquely understand the strange landscape she is traveling.