Posted by: Ken Wheatley | September 20, 2009

Time is short

It took me a bit to select the clothes Sheila was going to wear. She doesn’t have high collar blouses and I had to also consider that whatever I was going to dress her in, she is going to be cremated in. 

I know it’s really stupid, and a bit irrational, but I found myself selecting her bra based on how much metal there was in the clasp. I wanted to minimize the amount of hot metal that would be touching her skin. I know intellectually she won’t feel the heat, but nonetheless, it helped me with the whole process to do what I could to avoid it being a “problem.”

I found a nice purple turtleneck and some black slacks that I know she liked how they fit. I’ll dress it up on Monday with a pearl necklace.

So on Friday, I collected up the clothes and headed down to El Camino. Clay met me and we went over the last of the paperwork and I paid the bill. I reviewed the program – they did a nice job. The photo of her came out quite nice on the cover. She’s so beautiful. Her smile just lights up the page.

I couldn’t visit Sheila because they were in the middle of embalming her. So I left and went to UCSD to thank Mike and the others in infusion who took care of Sheila during all the chemo, then over to the ER to thank the  many nurses who had treated Sheila, and finally over to the radiation center to thank Dr. Lawson for the extra time he gave me with Sheila through his treatments.

On Saturday I got to spend three hours with her – from 9 to 12. I had brought along some music and the newspaper. I read stuff to her that I thought she would have been interested in, we “talked” about various things – mostly how much I missed her and how it was to sit with her. I laid across her chest and kissed her a lot.

Then I got the music out. One of my regrets, and I’m sure more will surface over the next few months, is that she  had asked me several times to make a CD of my favorite music so she could play it in her car. I had been slowly compiling the playlist, but never did cut the CD. So for what it’s worth to her now, I played the songs to her on Saturday.

I left a little after 12 noon to meet Clyde, Susan, Kathy, and Steve for lunch in Little Italy. Susan and Clyde had just flown in from NJ to see Sheila. We ate at Mimmo’s and talked for a couple of hours. Then I headed to the airport to get my mother, one sister, and my daughter. Monica helped because my truck wouldn’t hold everyone.

Today we went to El Camino at 1 so that I could help dress Sheila. It was difficult to see the large embalming incisions, the drain plug, and the toe tag from the morgue. I’ll have to be sure to remove the tag before she’s cremated, if they don’t. 

Otherwise, her skin is almost albaster white, and she looks as beautiful to me as always. I never tire of looking at her. She has such a beautiful face.

After the mortician helped me dress Sheila, mom and Tammy came in to visit for awhile and then I was left alone with her again. I put the music on, stood next to the table and laid diagonally across her chest. Her head is resting on a pedestial so I was able to get my arm behind her neck and hold her close like I used to. After kissing her a bunch of times, I laid my face down on the left side of her neck.

We listened to the music for almost an hour and at one point I actually dozed off. I was at peace laying on her. That’s where I wanted and needed to be. In her “arms” once again.

For the past two days I’ve been writing a tribute to Sheila that I’ll read during the remembrance portion of the visit. It’s actually helped me to put things – details about our lives together – down on paper. I cried much less today. Not that I don’t feel the emptiness and sadness, but writing provided a channel for the deep ache I’ve been feeling in my heart.

It also doesn’t seen totally real yet. I look at her closed eyes and still think/hope that they’ll open followed by her big grin. Spending as much time with her as I’ve been able to has also helped certainly.

So tonight and tomorrow morning I’ll finish up the tribute and in the morning I’ll iron a shirt. We’ll head over to the memorial around 2:15 so we can be there by 3 to set everything up – the large picture of Sheila, the audio, check the video slideshow and hopefully some more time with Sheila.

Tuesday morning the processional will leave El Camino and head down to the crematory. And at 8am on Wednesday, they’ll cremate her. I’ll be there to witness the first part of the procedure. They said I could help load her into the oven and actually throw the switch to light the burners. WHO COULD DO THAT???!!!!! It’ll be incredibly difficult enough just knowing what’s going to happen, but to load her and throw the switch??? I don’t think so…

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Responses

  1. Dear Ken, Our tears joined yours as we read your sad news. Your expressions of your love and caring for Sheila touched our hearts. We know you love Sheila deeply. Sharing with all of us the clarity with which you can see and feel it inspires all of us. You are truly a love story that touches our hearts and makes us want to feel more deeply the love of our own lives. Thank you for sharing this journey with us. our love and best wishes Dawn and Alan Schiegg

  2. Ken, as I read your loving account, the tears won’t stop streaming down. I am heartbroken that I can’t be out there with you today. It’s not because I don’t want to be. I wrote something that I hope Monica will read for me today at the memorial. It won’t replace the hugs that I want to give you in person, or the last goodbyes I would like to give to my beloved friend. But, I will be there in every other way possible for you– emotionally, spiritually, and lovingly. I am aching for you and your pain and loss. I can imagine the two of you together sharing these last few days… thank you for playing the music for her. I know she heard it and is happy. Always love, Kathi

  3. FOR MY SHEILA….

    Three souls. So young. So naive. And lost. Yes, really lost. Yet, through the amazing benefit of fate, we found each other.

    And, we forged a friendship that was binding and strong—– a long 38 years ago. Out of dysfunctional families and experiences left unsaid, we became the “three Musketeers,” stronger and more confident as an inseparable trio
    of friends.

    At this saddest of times, I can only remember the joy and the strength that Sheila gave me when I needed it most—likely when she herself needed it
    more. Her quiet calm, her loving smile, her enduring and true friendship helped me through my most trying moments. Gosh, we were just teenagers—so young, so vulnerable, each with such issues. How hard is that!? But behind those gorgeous blue eyes you would have never guessed her life, her pain, her trials. She just had that ability to bring the best forward.

    I met Sheila and Monica when I was a sophomore at Helix High School in La Mesa. Coming from a Catholic convent school with no friends, no alliances as a freshman, at a new public school. I had no idea what a culture shock that would be. I don’t remember the exact moment we met, but I will never forget that we did.

    We used to hang out in a pretty patio area for lunch every day… and talk, and laugh, and try to solve all of our, and the world’s, problems. We used to drive in Sheila’s white Chevy Nova – ‘cause she was the only one who had a car!—and escape together as a threesome to reek havoc, laugh hard, and be “free.” It was the best time of my life. We would routinely drive out to a
    remote Proctor Valley and scare ourselves to death with wild ghost stories… we stalked potential loves of our lives—driving by their homes a thousand times a week. (Monica can fill you in on this!) We did crazy things like Car Rallies in my Mom’s car, and dreamed of our futures… We forged amazing friendships with great people that helped us get through.

    And, then, all of a sudden we grew up. To be even better friends. Marriage, children, life, loss, divorce..then cancer. All of that. But through it all Sheila was the “rock.” She was the calm one, the rational one, the truest of friends, and stood by us side-by-side through it all.

    She was a sweet and loving “adopted” daughter to my mother Jane, and took great joy in spending time at my family home. We would make cookies which she would love to do … have dinners together. She was a special part of our family, and I think she felt a special bond to my family. It was a safe haven for her.

    Whenever I needed her, she was there. She was the ultimate professional, and so, so smart. So successful. But she never waivered from being the caring big sister, the loving friend, the attentive and devoted wife. She had the ability to be all those things simultaneously. She put the hurt of her past behind her and only focused on the love of her present. Thank heaven she found the man of her dreams, Ken. I don’t know that there could be a love any more pure or sure. To look at them look into each other’s eyes was hypnotic. I’ve never seen anything like it. And I’m so happy that Sheila had those wonderful, romantic, special and exotic moments with Ken.
    Thank God for you, Ken!!!

    There won’t be a day that I don’t think of Sheila, and all the years between us. I am beyond sad, and devastated that I can’t be there with you today, but I want you to know that my heart is with you all and that as you celebrate her life today, I am there with all my being, heart and soul.

    My biggest hugs to Ken for all you have meant to her, to all the Robbins family, to special friends Monica and Jean who took such amazing care of her at her side till the very end.

    I LOVE YOU SHEILA… and I WILL MISS YOU ALWAYS. Three hearts…forever. The
    three Musketeers. How lucky we have been to have had each other!!! I will never take off my ring.

    Have a peaceful journey… and God bless you.

    My Love Always, Kathi

  4. Ken, I have been looking at Sheila’s site for the Memorial service. It never occurred to me that it would be on your site. Just from what has been shared with me I know you have a great loss. Sheila being a fighter would want you to take care of yourself too. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Kathleen

  5. You removed my comment so obviously you don’t want to face the truth.

  6. Gale, yes, I deleted your offensive post as soon as I saw it. Assuming you’re the “Gale” from “Ed and Gale,” I’ve obviously never met you, but Sheila had only spoken positively of you and Ed since I’ve known her. She fondly spoke of the various trips all of you took. In fact, the picture that Ed took of the cabin with the waterfalls of a place that the 4 of you visited was one of the first things she hung on the wall. Up until a few weeks ago she was pointing it out to friends that were visiting.

    In the early years of our relationship she often lamented the fact that she lost her friendship with you after her divorce and struggled with how to regain it.

    I happened to be with her one day when Ed accidentally called her phone and even during that conversation she commented about her sadness over not seeing the two of you. The conversation they had was very pleasant. So, no, the remarks you made don’t in any way reflect the reality that I know.

    Knowing how positively she’s always spoken of you of course I was shocked and sickened to read the despicable things you wrote today about Sheila.

    I haven’t a clue what value she saw in you. To think that not only haven’t you spoken to her in over 7 years, never visited her in the hospital when she was severely ill and dying but you purposely chose to write what you did the day after her funeral clearly indicates that you have some deep seated anger issues that are being projected upon an innocent. Maybe you should talk with your husband first, assuming he’s still around, before you write things.

  7. what

  8. wow

  9. ken, i am sad that their are “people” who could right such mean, nasty, and sick things the day after she passed.

    sheila was loved very dearly as you have seen mostly in these past yrs. i know i dont have to tell you that.
    she was and is in our hearts..her beauty, her heart was only that of love amen


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