Our family tradition had always been that Joanne would spend the day pampering herself, manicure/pedicure and a massage, then she would come home and take a bubble bath. I would rush around like a maniac getting things ready for the combination birthday/Christmas Eve bash. It was a huge undertaking, first down to the fish place under PCH for the oysters, muscles, fish and lobster. Next to Lucci's Deli for the meats and cheeses, Smith brothers for the produce and finally to Black Forest Bakery for the Cake. I would usually make it home by 11 and bust my ass until 3:30 to get everything ready. It was a madhouse but I loved every minute of it. A quick shower and then off to Church for the Five O'Clock mass. It is supposed to be for kids, we just kept going even after Tara got older because it fit so neatly into our schedule. We would be home by Six, it gave me plenty of time to get the food out for the guests that would start arriving by Seven.
The first year Tara and I did everything exactly as we would have had Joanne been there with us. I made the traditional meal, Tara and I went to the kids mass and I even invited most of Joanne's friend over, even the ones that I don't like, everything was just as she would have wanted it.
I knew in my heart I couldn't do it again last year. Even though Fancy Nancy and I did not work out everything had changed. After all I had dated another woman, I had stopped talking to most of our old "Couple" friends. A lot of things had changed.
On the flip side of that I still had an entire walk in closet that was still full of my wife's clothes, purses, and shoes and yet I was trying to act like I was ready to move on. I had donated most of her things to women's shelters already but there was something about that closet, I just couldn't seem to get around to that closet. Not to mention the small fact that her ashes were still on the headboard of my bed. Just in case your wondering, no Nancy had never been in my bedroom.
If anyone remembers, last December 24th, it was one of those Southern California days that you think to yourself "the traffic isn't so bad" "the crowds don't bother me that much". It was spectacular out. I knew it was time, Joanne wanted her ashes spread at Thousand Steps in Laguna...she loved that beach more than any place in the world, we had been to so many beautiful places in the world during our life together but Thousand Steps was the place she always love best.
I opened the car door for Mrs. Priest for the last time, or so I thought. When I was two blocks from the house I realized that she would have insisted in going in the convertible. I turned around, went back to the house and switched cars. I stopped at Hi-Time on the way and picked up two splits of Moet, put the top down and headed for the coast.
When I got to South Laguna there was just a very slight marine layer, it was perfect. I packed u up and we walked down those steps together for the very last time. There was not a another soul on the beach, and the Ocean was calm. I walked to the water's edge, near the tide pools that separates the two coves. We always took that spot when it was open, for the better part of 25 years we shared that spot. I opened the splits and grabbed the bag from the urn. Very carefully I walked out on the rocks, I toasted my wife and sang happy birthday one last time, I drank one of the splits I poured the other into the water. I reached into the velvet bag pulled out the plastic that held my wife's ashes, removed the clip and with a single motion flung the ashes into the air, the wind spread her gently across the water, I stood motionless for a while, not knowing what to expect, but nothing happened. There would be no lightning, no parting of the seas, nothing amazing happened at all, nothing with the exception that I never felt alone, so very alone.
Walking back to the towel and the urn and my emptiness, my heart sank, then lifted, then sank again much like the tide. I collected my things and made the long walk back thru the thick sand to the steps. It was a very slow walk, I turned to look back more times than I care to remember. My foot prints were the only ones in the sand no matter how many times I looked. Up the steps one then the next I went, and finally was back at the car.
I grabbed the tape and put her favorite song in and cranked it all the way up, playing it over and over again all the while singing at the top of my lungs, I drove up PCH (Alive and Kicking by Simple Minds).
I actually stopped at Fashion Island on the way home. Joanne would have liked that a lot, I needed to go to the Lucky Brand store, Teuscher's Chocolates and Victoria Secret to finish getting the last of Tara's Christmas gifts. Life does go on after all, doesn't it...
There's still a few things I haven't sorted out,
Sometimes they make my brain get sore.
But I am not going to worry about it, well not to much anyway. Lots has changed again as another year has almost passed. We will see, won't we.