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Fifteen minutes


Love for all time

©05 Levite

To Melissa, the love of my youth. I will never forget you.
To Teresa, the love of my life. I will always love you.

      The Day Job Office is on Delayed Opening due to a winter storm. Nobody else is in here right now. The Desk came in on time because it needed some time to focus and regroup and drink strong coffee and listen to a live cut of Golden Earring's "When the Lady Smiles" at speaker melting volume on the computer.

      They've got a great website, Golden Earring that is, You can listen to full length live recordings of some really good songs. You have to wonder Why they are considered One Hit Wonders in the US when they have been around for over thirty years and have dozens of albums and are still rocking the house almost weekly all across Europe?
      Another mystery of life that may go unanswered.
End Tangent

      In any case. In Fifteen Minutes it will have been Two Years since Swan died.

      The Desk remembers that terrible Tuesday Morning like it was... like it is... this morning.
      Every noise. Nuance. Footstep. Everything.
      Vivid detail.
      It can't forget.
      It's not sure it ever wants to.

      One of the Desk's Day Job semi-supervisors came by for a cup of coffee and a chat about a project.
      A diversion to cut the memory for a little bit.
      Talking about work orders and problems with a site and a contract and all.
      It was Almost a relief. Almost. Not quite, but enough.

      But now, now it is NOW. Sometime in the next few minutes her rattling breath slowed, then stilled almost imperceptibly. It was over.
      Sometime in the next couple of minutes... the exact time is irrelevant since it all ran together into one blinding rush of slow motion anguish.... The Desk's mother called Hospice and got their team rolling.
      The room was unbearably silent in spite of the running oxygen machine, the TV, the air filter. Something was missing. And the Desk knew EXACTLY what was missing. And there wasn't a damned thing it could do about it.


      Now the Desk hears that one of its bosses' spouses has cancer. It told her how to get around in Baltimore and that she has to take care of herself so she can take care of him. And offered some rather plain ideas about it all. Screw the insurance company and the hospital's billing office, get him well, then work it out with them, if they get really stupid and talk about denying treatment- don't beg, call the television station's consumer line. And, sleep when you can, unplug the danged phone and tape over the doorbell. One more thing: you cannot live on junk food alone.
      Swan's brother just died. The Desk got a call from her sister in law last night. She was faced with dealing with canceling his cel phone and credit cards now. Her name wasn't on some of them and the companies are being stupid. The Desk gave her some very good, although a little blunt, advice about dealing with them. Don't rush, deal with one at a time, whoever is screaming the loudest. And it has more to relay to her.
      The lady next door just lost her mother after a long illness. The Desk offered insight into dealing with well wishers and visitors during the process. The store is three blocks away, let'em feed themselves, you take care of her and you, the rest of them will be all right.

      "Been there. Did that. Drank the Whisky. Wrote the book."

      Not only did the Desk go through it all. It documented it. There are things the Desk wrote about those evil days that will never see the light of day.
      The Desk had thoughts and ideas and insights that it is only now coming to terms with.
      And it still isn't any good at dealing with false consolations and people who try to say something meaningful and only end up looking stupid.
      Yesterday morning a dear friend of the Desk's realized what day was coming up and admitted she had no idea what to say or do. That was plenty. It thanked her for being there.
      At the funeral for a friend's grandfather recently the Desk couldn't go up to the casket, but instead stood by its friends and their children and made that mindless small talk that gets people through those times.
      Debating the meaning of life and eternity and whether we are mere puppets to the Cosmos, as RUSH puts it in their anthem:

There are those who think that life has nothing left to chance,
A host of holy horrors to direct our aimless dance.

A planet of playthings,
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot perceive
"The stars aren't aligned,
Or the gods are malign..."

      Those discussions are better left to a long night around a kitchen table with coffee cups of strong drink than standing in the front of a chapel with a grieving family and a priest you'd never seen before.

      But the Desk sees deeper meaning in the song as well... something better left to its treatise on Metaphysics than a rambling rant about a terrible morning and worse afternoon.

All preordained
A prisoner in chains
A victim of venomous fate.
Kicked in the face,
You can't pray for a place
In heaven's unearthly estate.

Chorus You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose freewill.

Words by Neil Peart. Music by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson
Released: 1980 Mercury/PolyGram Records

      Powerful words.
      They mix well with the powerful emotions coursing through the Desk right now.
      Words and emotions fueled by, what, four, five, more, cups of black coffee? And some seriously righteous straight up rock and roll.

      There are times that nothing else will do.
      No. The Desk doesn't want to listen to gospel. Or country. Maybe some "Angry German Opera Music", but the web is a little short of Wagner or Orff these days.
      And thirty second clips of KISS or BOSTON just don't cut it. And if you try to pull up some AEROSMITH you end up with a string of commercials.
      Canadian lyrics and recorded music from a concert in the Netherlands while you talk about German Opera composers. Welcome to the World Wide Web.

      While the Desk avoids dealing with the subject at hand.

      Now it's been two years and an hour.

      The Desk had plans to go out to the cemetery and leave some token out there.
      Mother Nature canceled those plans for today. Maybe over the weekend or sometime like that.
      If there is a supreme gesture of helplessness, human frailty, impotence, mortality and everything else that is our lot in life and our place in eternity when it is over it has to be that.
      Going out to a graveyard and leaving flowers or something at a marker.
      It does nothing at all for the deceased. There are more productive acts of memorial and demonstrations of love you can do. Take the cost of the flowers and the gas for the trip out there and donate it to the Red Cross or something. The Desk could send a subscription to a magazine to the Cancer Society's Hope Lodge in Baltimore. Something that would be of some use to the living instead of something that will lay out there for a couple of weeks and once the snow melts be thrown in a dumpster by the grounds crew.
      Yet we do it.
      The Desk has done it a few times. And on the way back to town it always wonders why it did.
      She is not out there. Yes, her ashes are. But she is not.
      If Christianity is true, she is with the Lord. If it is not, she is, well, either elsewhere or nowhere. There is no way of actually knowing this side of that boundary, the River Styx if you will, what really and truly lies on the other side. If anything. Ahh, and with that we are back to the Metaphysics. Time to get back on track.

      Now two years out, the Desk has tried to move its life on.
      At times its felt like it has made a dreadful mistake and cheated her memory and has dishonored her or something.
      At other times the Desk feels that it has finally found some happiness and peace and can look forward to the future without despair.
      It has found somebody when it wasn't looking. It found love when all it knew was emptiness. It has discovered hope in the midst of turmoil and the endless void of depression. True love out of the blue, or from a picture of seagulls, whichever.
      There is a message there too, for it to share when the time comes. With those that NEED to hear it even if they don't want to.
      No matter how teeth gnashing bad it is right now... Don't give up. Don't quit. Go on.
      If the Desk can find somebody to love, and somebody to love it, after everything that happened, then there is hope for you.

      The only thing it is sure of is that everything happens for a reason. And maybe what the Desk is doing now is part of the reason for what happened two years and ninety minutes ago.
      And now, this far out, it can finally tell other people what to expect and how to get through it without a wave of nausea and violent trembling in its extremities.
      Yes, what is going on with your loved one is terrible. But YOU have to force yourself to be somewhat practical and take care of some things and tell other things to go stand in line, you'll deal with them when you can. They'll wait.
      OK, it's cold, it might be insensitive, it might not be all touchy feely compassionate. But guess what? The bill collectors will be even worse. The Desk had one outfit call it a liar when it told them she had died. It got those "hey deadbeat" letters addressed to her. One bunch tried to sue her for her outstanding debt. They got over it. But a little preparation at the time, and some copies of the death certificate, would have made life a lot easier. The Desk knows this now. And it is trying to share the information with those that need to hear it.

      - - -

      The Desk tried to find a suitable ending for this piece. It couldn't. There isn't one. The Story isn't over yet.

Selah peace

      And if those people who are going through it now need somebody to be loud and stupid and maybe even violent with bill collectors and insurance companies and the idiots in their call centers... Call the Desk.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
    1 Cor 13: 8 - 13 (NIV)

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