From David’s primary care doc

11/21/14

Dear Ms. Albert:

I am very sorry for your loss. David was a wonderful human being. He was always respectful, direct and honest with me. It seemed to me he enjoyed life and I find inspiration in how he handled his heath problems. My he memory alwasy be a comfort and a blessing to you.

Robert DeBare.

David’s ashes

David was cremated November 27 at 2 p.m.;  exactly a week after he died. Jews, particularly those who are religious or traditionalists are buried within 24 hours of death, not cremated. We all know David was neither religious or traditional. The one time David attended services at Kehilla occurred during the first High Holy days we were courting.  He did this, I learned from others, to make an impression on me. After that first Rosh Hashana,  David, Jessica and I went out for lunch at the former Scharfenbergers (sp?) where Jessica and I jumped  on him after David ordered a pork sandwich.  David would call himself a “cultural anthropologist,” who attended Yom Kippur services only as he’d put it, to observe the rituals. Despite being tired, hungry and irritable David insisted in the true spirit of scientific inquiry that we stay until the bitter end – something I never do.  I’m not especially observant myself, I’m the kind of Jew who goes to services to find solace; to reach a place of spiritual peace inside myself that has in the past allowed me to commune with Stew. I hate to tell you this, David, but from now on you and all your glorious atheism will also have no choice but to attend synagogue with me.

Long before he got ill, David and I would discuss how to dispose of his remains when the time came. We’d joke that we would stuff his body in the green bin where the community puts our compost. To scatter David’s ashes on top of Stew’s grave in Jones Pioneer Cemetary in Portland did not feel like a compelling option.  Now David will be with Donna, and what’s left of me will some day lie next to Stew; each of us together in death with our long term partners as we were in life. David and I used to say that, had we met forty years ago we might not have liked each other much, but that we were the best people to be with each other at this time in our lives.  Now, that too is gone. Rabbi Joey from Portland called to say it was a gift for me to have had  the love of two such amazing men.  In the midst of my pain, I cannot question: Joey is right.

I will bury David’s ashes next to Donna’s on the Inverness Ridge at the home of friends. It will be a private ceremony attended only by a David’s closest friends and relatives.  A more public memorial is planned for the spring. I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

Trying to write about David’s shiva

This past Sunday night. It was a wonderful and heartfelt event with over 100 family and friends in attendance.  Rabbi David Cooper from Kehilla put it best: “community, community, community.” But I can’t get my act together to express how I feel. Perhaps I’m not ready to accept the reality of David’s death yet.  If anyone who was in attendance would like to comment, I’d appreciate it.

Note to self:  Cleaning up the mounds of David’s stuff will not make the pain of his loss go away any more quickly.

A visit from a tough old bird

When I walked outside the house this a.m.  a large black crow was perched on the lawn quite close to  me.  It flapped its wings, turned its head to look at me with a quizzical eye, cawed loudly then flew away.  I recall someone writing a piece recently for the New York Times in which she remarked on how those who die come back to us in the form of birds, especially near to the  death. I remember that being true for Stew, who visited my backyard in the form of a strutting wild turkey.  Perhaps I’ll see an eagle land when I next walk the Berkeley Marina but today, the first full day of David’s shiva, my tough old bird hangs out and talks to me right in my own front yard.

David is gone

It is with deep sadness that I tell you David is gone. He died peacefully at 2 p.m. Friday, November 21, 2014. At the end, David was surrounded by his nephews Jesse, Tonk and Rio, and by me and Jessica. David opened his eyes, perked up, took an in-breath, a tear rolled down his left cheek and then he died. A shiva will be held this Sundayg at 4:30 at the Common House, and continue during the week at my house. People have asked me about donations.  David was the primary instigator of a line in the Cohousing budget to support new capital projects. If you feel inclined to make a donation in memory of David, e-mail me at judygumboalbert@gmail.com. With deep sadness, Judy

Moving quickly

Everyone should know David is going down fast. In both the professional’s and my opinion, he is likely not to last more than a day or two.  He drifts in and out of consciousness but is able to focus a bit better in the morning – for example this a.m. he actually took part briefly in a conversation with a few cohousers about a savings and loan  board meeting at which something significant is going on; I don’t know what.  Apparently David will remain interested in financial matters until the end!

On the left side of David’s hospital bed are two painted wooden ducks from Korea that Yeonsil, David’s colleague from his work at Walnut Street, gave us when David and I married.  As I understand it, the tradition is that the position of the duck indicates the state of the relationship. The ducks can be moved by either partner.  Bills apart means dissent; bills together stands for happiness.  David can see (or could when he first arrived downstairs) one orange duck bill and one blue, nestled tight together.  Next to the ducks is a photo of David’s late sister Ella and next to her is a photo of David and me taken around the time we first met. With his left arm around my shoulder and his right hand clutching a vanilla ice cream cone, David looks as happy as I’ve ever seen.

David and I would often say that everyone needs a mammal. He and I were mammals to each other. When  I read Keith’s commen about how David had said goodbye to our bedroom before he was helped downstairs the night before last, it really got to me. Last night, alone in our bed for the second time, I reached out to stroke the flannel sheet on David’s side but my warm mammal wasn’t there.  Early this morning, David woke up briefly and smiled at me.  I could see such love shining at me out of his hazel eyes now yellowed with jaundice that, for the first time since this all began, I truly began to grieve.