We are still digesting the news.
Julie and I have been buzzing like honeybees getting phone calls made, tracking down information, locating a lawyer to help handle Chantelle's affairs, and so much more. We called everyone we could to make sure the Denver move was put on hold for at least a month; Chantelle looked forward to Denver with so much delight that she often acted like an excited child on a sugar-rush who couldn't wait for the circus to come to town. Imagine a 65-year-old kid bouncing up and down going "here it comes!" and counting down the minutes till the moving truck got here.
Now Denver is a distant thought, something for another day, a thing that we simply can't let into our consciousness right now. There's too much else. Still so much to do.
One of the things she always used to say to me when I did something she appreciated was, "I take back all the bad things I ever said about you", to which I would always respond, "Yah, well you'll just say them all again tomorrow". I find myself hoping she didn't really have anything bad to say about me, or if she did, that she really did take them back. And then I wonder, did I do anything to make her say them again the next day? It's the little things, y'know?
Doctors are superhuman. Not above us, but somehow more in tune with what is and isn't real about life and death. They train for a decade or more to be able to tell you, without the slightest trace of brutality or insensitivity, that the person you've known and loved for minutes, years, or your whole life is about to leave this physical world forever. And then stand there and calmly answer your questions, offer solace and advice, and quietly reassure you that not only have you done all you can do, but the best thing for the person lying on the bed is to let them go. So gentle! So understanding! And so, so knowing, because they have seen this so many times before. You wonder how they can be so there with you when they have witnessed this dozens of times before. And maybe that's what gives them the strength to be both consoling and professional; intimately human yet carefully distant - being immersed in life and death every day.
They told us today that Chantelle needs to be allowed to leave now. Personally, I think she left Friday at 6pm, in that very instant when she first slumped over unconscious. That was it; that was her catching her flight. "Sorry I didn't have time to say goodbye, but you know it was an express plane to a tropical island where all the waiters wear really tight shorts and nothing else!" I can just hear her saying that, too. That was just Chantelle; if you couldn't deal with it, that was your problem. She lived life and was gearing up for the next chapter, which just happened to take on a somewhat different direction than she had planned.
She's got friends coming in tomorrow from all over to say their farewells. Sometime later, we will gather close family together and have the doctors remove her body's restraints on this world, so that it can go catch up to her spirit. She's tired; her body is wracked with seizures and fever and so many other problems that they keep her so sedated that she doesn't bat an eyelash; she needs to rest now.
Mommy done good: she raised two beautiful daughters, and she's been not only their mother but a best friend their entire lives, a hard thing to achieve if ever there was one. And certainly one any parent would envy. Julie and Chantelle have been together, like siamese twins, since Julie's parents split up well over 20 years ago. For the last five years that Julie and I have been together, Chantelle has lived with us (or vice-versa) for probably four of them. She's become a companion and friend to me as well as my mother-in-law. And it amazes both Juile and myself how many people who she's known over the years that are coming forward to send their well-wishes and prayers our way. Who knew she was so popular? She has always just been... "Chantelle", "Mumzie", "Chanty", "mom", or "mommy".