Posted by: Ken Wheatley | October 1, 2009

Sheila’s Home Now

I dropped my daughter, Tammy, off at the airport on Friday morning and met Jean for lunch and to give her back the thumb drive with all the photos she had taken of Sheila’s impromptu birthday celebration in her hospital room on Saturday, the 12, the day after her actual birthday.

I knew, or expected, to get Sheila’s remains sometime on Friday, so I didn’t want to drive all the way home and be too far from El Camino. I was anxious to get her back. To kill time I did some much needed shopping for running shoes and misc. clothes at REI and the Runner’s Store.

Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and called El Camino at 3pm. They said that the urn had just arrived a few minutes earlier and it would take about an hour before Sheila was ready for pick-up. I immediately headed over. I wanted to be there to get her as soon as she was available.

The urn, pictured below, is nicer than I expected. Of course it has her name and dates on it. But it also has a sailboat carved into it. I know how important water is to her, and it also symbolized our sailing course.

Sheila's urn resting on her nightstand

Sheila's urn resting on her nightstand

At first I thought I was being weird by carrying her from one end of the house to the other so she could be in the same room with me. But then while I was channel-surfing the other day I saw in the movie, “P.S. I Love You” that the wife carried her husband’s urn around as well. So I felt a bit vindicated. She also laid in bed replaying his voicemail messages, and I’ve done the same. Obviously they had a grief counselor consult on what’s the norm for people like me.
So I leave her in the bedroom during the day because it’s cooler at that end of the house, and when I come home, after kissing her name and saying “hi”, I carry her down to the family room and put her on the mantle so she can be with me while I fix what could be loosely called dinner, read the paper, go through the mail, or watch TV. At bedtime I bring her back with me and put her on her nightstand.
The urn is much heavier than I would have thought. I’m not sure if it’s the wood or the contents. Or both. But the heft actually helps me to feel like I’m really carrying “her” down the hall.
The weekend was very long, very quiet, and very weird. I went grocery shopping by myself for the first time and there was a point when I felt the urge to abandon the effort. My heart just wasn’t into it. I was anxious and tense walking the aisles without her. She wasn’t there to solicit her opinion on what to buy. Did she like the bananas I picked out? Will she actually eat them this time? Should I get white or wheat bread?
I’m obviously not used to being without her, so her absence was very pronounced. I didn’t buy much and actually (legitimately) qualified for the 15 items or less lane with items to spare. I haven’t been all that hungry. I needed to lose weight anyway.
Sunday I worked in the field tending to her fruit trees. The dreaded moles are back, so I had to “feed” them. I checked this morning and it didn’t work, so I have to give them another dose. They’re terribly close to the rootball.
I expanded the dripline around the avocado tree and gave it two nutrient spikes along with a good soaking. It looked happier this morning, so hopefully I’ve salvaged it. We just haven’t had time over the past month to really tend to them, and I would be very upset if any of them die on me.
Monday was my first real day back at work and all went well until the afternoon. I had a momentary lapse of reality when it dawned on me that Sheila hadn’t called in the morning like she normally did. I looked at the clock and it was almost 3pm. She also usually calls between 3 and 4, but I got concerned that she hadn’t called earlier, so as my hand touched the phone to call Sheila it suddenly hit me that she wouldn’t be calling, nor could I obviously reach her. Ever. I lost it at that moment as a deep sense of sadness and despair washed over my heart.
There are still times – too many actually – when it just doesn’t seem real or possible that Sheila’s not physically here. When I look at the photos we took of her just two days before she passed away it didn’t seem at all likely that she would soon not be there. I really thought she’d rebound, once again, like she had so many times before. So I didn’t take advantage of the final hours like I would have had I known. Did we say all that we wanted and needed to say under the envitable circumstances? Did she know? I don’t think so, otherwise she would have probably said something to me. Even though it was 20 months in the making, it still seems like it happened too fast.
It’s now 1:35 in the morning on Thursday. I’ve only been getting about 4 or 5 hours of sleep. The pleasure of going to bed is no longer there. Even before we’d go to sleep we would comment about how much we looked forward to waking up with the other beside us. The ritual intertwining of legs, her individual ritual of laying on one side for a few minutes before flipping to the other can be envisioned but not physically experienced. I do take one of her pillows – the one she would lay her head on – and lay it lengthwise to simulate her being next to me. I think that’s what ultimately helps me go to sleep. Trying to replicate the tactile sense of her touching my side or back.
I may not feel the warmth of her body, or hear her gently breathing when I close my eyes, but she is home now, so there is some peace.
I love you, Sheila. You’ll always be my heart and soul.


  1. Ken,
    Thank You for so much for sharing.

  2. Ah, Ken. There’s not a moment that I don’t think of you and how you are doing. I’m so glad Sheila is home with you now, and you have her spirit around you. I know it’s not the same of touching, and hugging and cuddling as you both loved to do. You two were the ultimate romantics! But, still, she is with you, side by side. Always. The urn and the incriptions are beautiful. Just like our lovely Sheila.
    My love, and hugs,

  3. i love your writings and your beautiful details
    of how you feel and your surroundings and sharing from the bottom of your heart.

    beautiful, beatiful thoughts and thank you from the bottom of my heart by sharing your moments.
    love and peace in your mourning ken,

    love, monica

  4. thinking of you, thanks for sharing, missing her too

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