I don’t often get real personal here on the blog since I don’t hold with putting everything in life out in cyberspace for anyone to read, but I feel compelled to write this.
Today a dear friend called to tell me her husband died yesterday. I knew the time was close. Jan had called last month to tell me Dave was terminal and in hospice care. He was at home, on the family farm that they had taken over when his parents retired from farming, and he was ready to take that step into the other place. He believed that other place is heaven and so do I. He said he had a glimpse of it when he almost died last month.
Jan and I spent an hour on the phone today sharing about Dave and all the good times we had as couples when my husband and I would visit their little corner of the world in South Dakota. Dave had an incredible sense of humor, and Jan said she still has the joke book he compiled years ago. She said it is filed in the filing cabinet under “J”. Of course it is.
The only thing that was not satisfying about the call was having to end it by both of us acknowledging that I would not be able to go up there for Dave’s funeral. Jan, being the special friend that she is, told me that was okay. I’d been there with her other times when she needed me, especially through the death of her father, and her mother.
One of the things that I learned from her and her family was how to accept what life throws at you. I think farmers have an insight about that that others don’t have. It is like on one side there is all the sadness and grief that comes with losing someone you love, but on anther plane is that realization that this is all so natural and so right. There is life and there is death. Period.
Jan and I have been friends since we were 12 years old, and she and her family have been such an important part of my life. I lived with them for a few years after I graduated from high school, and then later Jan moved away and so did I. We stayed in touch – she from South Dakota and me from Dallas – but I did not see her for 19 years. When I did go visit, it was like those nineteen years melted away.
Not long after that my husband and I moved to Omaha NE and that allowed us to go visit Jan and Dave several times a year for weekends. That was always in the spring, summer or fall, and only once in the winter when we buried Jan’s mother just before a blizzard hit. Those were very special years, and the years that I really got to know and appreciate Dave. He was a Vietnam vet, with some of the problems those that have seen combat carry like excess baggage, but he was also kind and generous and loyal to his family and friends.
So today Jan and I cried a bit together and then talked some more memories of Dave. Then she asked me what I was doing today. I told her I was getting ready to go to the comedy show at the art center. She chuckled, “Dave would like that.”
Yeah, I think he would.
RIP Dave Swenson