Recent Tweets in the eMotion Cafe

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Death

The eMotion Cafe has been busy lately. Between trips to Los Angeles, San Jose, Chicago, and Minneapolis, I've had little time to sip my IS2PWM (Iced Soy 2Pump White Mocha) and reflect on the people that wander in and out of this little joint.

I have come to realize, however, that those little metal chairs with the curved backs that are often found in coffee shops throughout the country are remarkably comfortable, compared to the wood, straight back chairs in this, my favorite, coffee shop. A relatively small and insignificant realization, I realize.

Anyways, today I walked in and ordered my drink after getting the usual "NORM!" response from the baristas, and while waiting I got a head's up from one of them.

Molly, my favorite barista, whispered to me: "Hope..Someones been looking for you. He's been in and out of here several times in the past few weeks. He's always asking for you and if we've seen you lately. We're not quite sure how to -"

She stopped cold and looked over my shoulder and there he was.

As I turned, I knew who it was, instinctively. Warm and welcoming, yet cold and forever distant. My eyes wanted to tear up and my stomach was knotted and yet I was strangely aware of little things like the coldness of the air conditioning vent over my head and the Jeff Buckley song wandering through the background via the eMotion cafe XM feed and the smell of coffee grounds in the planters. My senses were alive, so it had to be him.

Death.

"Long time, no see. How are you" I say.

So, it's instinct for me to try to warm up conversations with those that intimidate me. Death intimidates me.

Then, Death gets this sad look on his face and simply whispers "We need to talk. I've been looking for you."

This means one of two things.. as it's been years since we last talked. Death isn't one to make casual visits or engage in small talk just to pass the time. Something tells me he has a full plate most of the time.

So, as my IS2PWM is delivered up, Death wanders over to one of those wood straight back chairs, even though there are several of those plush, maroon wing chairs waiting for a warm body.

Molly, still speechless, handed me my drink and confirmed "That's him"

"No worries," I say to poor Molly, who's obviously shaken and hasn't seen much of him but thinks its best to just stay unknown to him for as long as possible. Some simple reassurance might help, I figure, so I offer up "Moll.. we talk every once in a while.. it's ok. Death isn't the bad guy everyone makes him out to be.. think of him as a tour guide or travel agent who simply arranges your vacations and trips to the Next Place." She's still a little shaken. I'd like to think she's worried about why he's here at all and if it's for me, so I leave her with this: "We, Death and I, have an agreement.. when the time's coming for me or for someone else, if I can help in any way he contacts me. That's all. Everything will be ok."

I guess in the end, that's the Truth. In the end, it always ends. Life goes on with or without you.

What is really remarkable to me is that more people don't Live each day they're given. Death may have arranged the flight, but the plane doesn't take off for hours, days, months, and years for most.

Maybe it's easier to wait for the inevitable. Maybe that's why I like to shop. All I know is that I'm gonna engage everything and everyone until it's my turn to go. I'm not sitting in any airport lobby if I don't have to. And if I do, I want an iPod, Media Player, Laptop, an IS2PWM, and lots of other gadgets to pass the time with. Hey, maybe that is why I like to shop. But, I digress.

So, in that split second while I'm thinking those thoughts, I'm already turned and heading to the table. I sit down and scoot my chair over to face him. Havin his job, he sincerely deserves that kind of respect and attention.

"I'm sorry, but I will be helping someone you know move on, soon," he tells me. "Your wife's GrandDad, he has lived a beautiful and full life. I have sat with him and talked to him and we have shared many stories of So Many Things Long Ago. I want you to know that I'll be taking him somewhere where there are many Others waiting for him. I want you to be able to reassure the Family that all will be ok, that Everything Will Be Ok."

It doesn't matter how many times, we talk. There's something about anything he says that creates this aching, black hole in a Person's stomach. A curse, it must be, to have all of your words spoken bring so much pain to People, regardless of the message you share.

"I understand" is about all could bring myself to say.

Death continued: "GrandDad is InBetween right now. He will be passing, very soon. I want you to know that even when you or The Family is with him, he has Family with him from TheOtherPlace with him, even now. Regardless of where he is, he's asked me to tell you to make sure that The Family knows that he is not Alone."

Perhaps, this explains the conversations he was having last week with empty chairs and him reaching out to hold a hand that wasn't there and the smiles as he looked next to him at an empty couch.

And then Death leaned over and whispered: "He also wanted me to tell you that he is not Afraid."

Now, I just left Chicago and said my "GoodBye" to my wife's GrandDad. This man of 94 years told me of many things over the past 8 years I have known him. GrandDad told me of how he was raised in a simple ranch in rural Kentucky in a home with a dirt floor and two horses and a garden and some hogs. He told me of his Father who was a minister and man of great faith. He even showed me, once, the trail he walked when he went to school, between harvests and winters. There are the bibles from his Father still on his night stand. There are the walls that surround his bed and couch and tv in the simple room he lives in, now, that are covered with pictures of a Long Life. Many of those pictured have passed. His wife passed decades ago. There are the stories of how he worked in a brick factory for a day (which was the best job in town) and passed out because of the heat and realized he'd be best off moving from Kentucky to Chicago to make his life as an Accountant. He built his entire house in Chicago with his wife with hand tools, none of them powered. Those tools sit beneath a layer of dust outside his room, still - some of them on his wall as trophies of Great Things Done in this life.

GrandDad raised my wife, who never knew her BiologicalFather, as his daughter in that very house he built with his own two hands. He was her Father at all those school events where "Parents are Invited". He was a man who hated confrontation and Fighting and was the rock that TheFamily clung to through divorces and deaths and breakups and failures. In all honesty, in eight years of knowing him, I've never heard him yell or get angry or speak an ill-word of anyone. He smiled a lot though and always went to the Grocery store on Tuesdays to shop. He liked one particular brand of Sauerkraut. This I remember after looking for it at several grocery stores, once, willingly and joyfully.

Most of all, he was my wife's rock. And he left her with these words, just hours ago: "You'll always be my little girl".

The words he left me with were simpler. He smiled his Smile and told me I was blessed with two miracles (Esa and Edison, our children and his Great Grandchildren). I told him I had 3 miracles (and I looked at my wife). And he smiled his Smile again, and he simply replied "I think you are 4". He told me to always "be safe". I told him I'd try to take care of them the way he would want. His eyes teared, and I had to pull away before I melted into him.

Yes, Death saw this, too. He's seen every goodbye a millions times over.

Ok. So I have to admit that in the quiet silence between Death and I, at that moment, with that memory in my mind, I was angry for the slightest second. But, then, I tried to think of Death's job. Imagine having to watch every person in this world die. Imagine having to watch every Mother, Father, Son, and Daughter all have to say goodbye to everyone they Love for Eternity. Imagine being at every Passing... forever, watching people leave ThisPlace without wanting to go or not knowing where they were going. One after another after another after another...

"Thank You" is all I could bring myself to say.

Death's eyes aren't cold. They're sad.

He simply stood up and turned to walk away. Then, he stopped, and he walked back to me and said: "You will all pass from ThisPlace to the NextPlace. I won't. This is my existence. Live your life. Love each other. But, more than anything, just know that Everything will be OK."

And with that he was gone. And the silence was gone. And the music crept back into the background and people started appearing.. moving from place to place. And I heard laughter and the sound of the coffee bean grinder. And I smelled the perfume of Sabrina as she walked past with her laptop, on her way to some appointment. And I looked up and saw Lane reading his newspaper and drinking his Double Espresso. And the world started back up again, the same as it was before I walked into the eMotion cafe.

And it hit me. Everything will be ok.

But, the world will need another Rock.

4 comments:

lennie71 said...

Yes, everything will be ok. It's sad when Death comes. Life is stronger than Death, however. The living support each other in their grief. And then everything will be ok. It sounds like the Rock was a great Rock. May he rest in peace. And you and Edra will keep his memory alive. Take care...

asmadeus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
asmadeus said...

Very moving. Archive this.

Dr. H said...

wow... I'm glad you had those last moments with him.