Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Year of Life After a Death

Dear Cissy,
Last night I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook when I saw this note that Beth had left on your page:

Tomorrow will be one year ago that we lost you. There are so many times I reach for the phone to call you because I know you're up for everything. While it makes me sad, it makes me glad we were friends for so many wonderful years. I love you, Kissy Cissy. Me and so many others. xo
I guess it has been a year. It's still four days from being a year since I had the Tampa cops show up at the door on Friday afternoon to tell me. After the cops left, I called the Manchester PD, gave them my information then waited for the cop on the scene to give me a call. We spoke for a bit, then he passed the phone over to Kathie who told me all that had transpired and who was around. After we hung up, I got online to track down Win's phone number and saw that Paula had sent me a message on Facebook. As I thought on it, I'm kinda glad things worked out as they did, otherwise it would have been Paula giving me the information about what had happened

I got to Manchester on Monday and Dana and Debbie picked me up. O'Leary came over and let me into the condo. As I'm sure you knew would happen, all of your friends pitched in to help me over the next few months. Kathie and Paula both took me out to lunch or dinner a few times. Sharon and Iain had me over, Thanksgiving with Dana and Debbie. We were all each others' connection to you and I've seen this over and over this past year. I have a lot more friends now than I did a year ago because of you. One afternoon Susan had come over to pick up a few things and we were chatting as she got ready to leave. She remarked about the diversity of your friends and how you had been the common link between all these people who would not have known each other except for you.

That first week in Manchester things were just a bit of a blur. Trying to deal with the funeral home, the credit union, and everything was just a tad irritating to say the least. But then, there were the positives. My jaw dropped when the funeral home director told me Doris had died just a few days after you. Her funeral was earlier in the afternoon of your Memorial service but Joe, Signe, Katie, Brendan, and Signe's sisters all came to your memorial. Joe made sure to send me a copy of the wonderful column he wrote for you and Doris. The whole Memorial that afternoon was a tribute to the many people you had known and affected over your 40 years in New Hampshire. Friends from your Sandown days through Derry and Londonderry to Manchester. People you had worked with from the Derry News, Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, and the Union-Leader then others you had worked with at the Palace Theater and the Statehouse. Cops and firefighters extolling your coverage of them and your empathy. The Manchester Police Athletic League was already missing your support. The future governor and the once and future Speaker came and stood in line for an hour just to honor you. And speaking of the line, I had a couple of folks trying to push me along on greeting people but I told them, "I have friends and I'm going to speak with them and share a memory or two. Other folks are people I know of because Cissy has spoken of them over the years and I want to hear their memories. And there are people I don't know at all and I want to hear their memories as well." So I stood up and talked to folks for four hours (for a "3 hour" Memorial!) Wiley and Phil had come out from Syracuse and Wiley spoke with people in the line as well then we all went down to the Wild Rover and had a late dinner and talked some more (though I'm not sure how coherent I was by this time as I was emotionally exhausted.)

The time in Cynthiana was more of the same. Medearis had family over on Friday night then we had the Memorial at the church on Saturday. Doug and Cindy flew down to Dayton together and rented a car and came in for the Cynthiana Memorial. At the memorial on Saturday, Cindy was standing with me and a couple of folks asked if she was my wife so we made sure to introduce her and Doug as cousins. They got to meet some of their other cousins for the first time and everyone was able to put a name and a face together. Sara came up before the memorial and asked if she could speak. She had been inspired by Kathie's blog post and the story about the bubbles and had gone out and bought a bunch of bottles of bubbles and after the service, we all stood out by the church and blew bubbles on a Saturday morning. Our cousin Katherine came in from Roanoke and Sara, Linda, Annie, and Gwen helped me direct her to the St Edwards cemetery where she went and visited our great-grandparents. Sara was the one who noticed how much Katherine looked like you and when I mentioned this to Katherine, she told me she had noticed it the first time she saw your picture.

Through your emails and folks' Facebook posts, I wound up notifying a few people individually. I talked to Bettie the day your body was discovered and gave her all the info I had at the time. I traded emails with your friend Hans in the Netherlands. He was just another of the folks you impacted over the years. He told me how the two of you had met as seatmates on a flight to Amsterdam. I figured that was the start of your African trip. He said that was the only time you had met yet here he was over 20 years later, mourning his friend.

Bebe is doing fine with Paula and family. Paula had researched and discovered you had a few days credit at the kennel in Hooksett so we took Bebe out there the day before I took off for Kentucky then went on to dinner. She picked him up while I was in Cynthiana and I guess he settled right in. I saw him in September at "CISSYFest" and he was doing fine. Paula says even the cats have come to accept him now.

I'm writing a 'report' on how I sold and distributed the condo and contents. I made all the distribution of items specified in the Trust. There were a few items you had specified in the Trust for people but I guess you had disposed of them after the Trust was drawn up. I wound up substituting some small things in those cases so everyone remembered in the Trust got personal remembrances of you, even if the original item was no longer available. I let Dana help me pick things out for his Mother, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and sons. I sorted through the pictures and passed them on to the people who were with you when they were taken.

The condo sold and we closed at the end of November and I came back down to Florida. I imagine you'd like the woman who bought it - she told me that she felt like she was half-way home as soon as she first walked in the door. O'Leary and I made 8 to 10 trips to Goodwill in the last week or so before the closing as we finished cleaning things out of items that didn't sell. A few things didn't sell but I still made sure got good homes like the Captain's chair that had been Dub's. I asked Dana to take that one and it is in his living room now. I made sure to keep your Christmas Tree Angel.

So there it is. It's been a long year with a lot of good to go with the bad. But as Beth mentioned in the note from last night, I still make a note that I need to tell you something or share something with you then, "oh, yeah, I can't do that anymore."

I miss you Cissy and I love you,

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