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The other day Carol announced she was going out. Back in a time that is now lost to history, she would have said simply: “I have to run to the store.” But since running to the store nowadays is a call to arms for the warrior class, Carol’s announcement carried the weight of a loved one deploying to Iraq.
Mourning becomes memory, part 2
Carolyn Kay Marquardt
August 10, 1949 – May 23, 2017
If you asked those who knew Carolyn, they would tell you what they remembered most was her laugh. I remember it as a great full body dry heave of joy. They would also mention her hugs. “Huge sister hugs,” Marianne describes them.
That Carolyn exuded joy was something well remembered by her nephew Sean. “She was almost always smiles from cheek to cheek; this happiness tended to resonate with everyone around her, and aside from being a very fun and outgoing auntie, this was probably another of many reasons I always looked forward to her company.”
We had spent a solid morning seeing the sights of Verona – the main square called Piazza Bras, the Roman colosseum, even fake Juliet’s fake house and fake balcony (where we secured our first love lock as a couple), along with a walk along a few of the crooked, narrow streets and alleys spoking off from the main square. It was the kind of sightseeing that would last me for a week, if not a month. For Carol, of course, we were just getting started.
On May 23, 2017 at 1:07 p.m., I looked at the attending nurse and asked, “Is she gone?” The nurse nodded. At that moment I experienced an emptiness I had never experienced before. Today marks one year since that nurse nodded that Carolyn was dead. I still cry at a sudden memory of her, but as I have since the moment she died, the tears represent both sadness and gladness. Sadness for the years we would never have, and gladness for those precious five that we did. Only the percentages have shifted. Increasingly over this past year the tears have favored gladness, as memories of her are able to bring smiles to my face. Now, the tears that are sad center around thoughts of a life she was unable to live for herself. That’s a sadness I’ll be carrying with me for the rest of my days.
While I don’t go out of my way to meet people (in fact I go in the opposite direction) that does not hold true for children, especially from about two to about six. I sense they feel an instant kinship (“Hey, that grownup is just like us!”). Since that same comparison has been made by adults coercing me, I have to allow the kids may be onto something.
My decision to walk whenever and wherever I can on this trip is not a financial one. What I’m spending on my international data plan, chewing up minutes following GPS around town might equal what I’d be spending on uber. It’s not a health-driven one either. At the pace I saunter, it hardly qualifies as exercise. I walk because I can, and I love the liberating feeling of closing the door behind me and just taking off.
The 10:26 to…”
…Lyon. I think I may have seen the papal palace on the way out of Avignon today. I couldn’t help it, since stone walls and crenelated rooks and towers came into sight suddenly, and they filled the train window. At least now, though, I will be able to honestly answer “Yes,” when the inevitable question, “Well, did you even bother to try and see anything while you were there, for crying out loud?” is asked.
“The 11:42 to…”
… …. ? The further implications of an Avignon with two train stations made itself apparent the following day after arriving in town. I started looking at destinations out of Avignon, and I realized I could see a lot of places without having to pack up and leave the city. The idea of being able to leave Claude in the room for a few extra days was more than appealing, since I had access to a kitchen, patio and laundry, all within the little gated community of Residence Les Cordeliers. I extended my stay an extra three days, and sat down the plot out my next itinerary. The 10:26 to Aix en Provence looked juicy. From there I could travel on to Toulon, and then circle back home in the early evening. Since this was a non-pass day, I strolled up to the ticket window with plan in hand. That’s when I learned that my 10:26 was not leaving the Avignon Centre station where I was, but Avignon TGV, a six minute train ride away. It was already 10:20, so I had little chance of making the connection.
I once fell asleep on a Munich bus late at night (probably Oktoberfest had something to do with it). When I woke up, I was the only one on the bus and had no idea where I was. I started walking, and about two hours later, I was turning down my street and heading for home. I don’t know how I found my way, especially with the effects of Oktoberfest still snarling my navigational coordinates. So it is more than a little annoying that on this trip, armed with GPS, Google maps and my own documented capacity for finding my way in the middle of the night, I could not find my way from the train station to the hotel without a lot of gesturing and pointing on the part of the locals, and in one case, humiliatingly forced to take a taxi about eight blocks.
The 10:50 to…
…Bordeaux. There was, fortunately, nothing much to see out the window the entire way from Paris to Bordeaux. It was the kind of flat, brown and weathered green landscape that would have had Carolyn put away the camera and settle in for a good nap. For only a few dollars more, I’d bought a first class rail pass. The spacious, reclining seats would have been no match to beat Carolyn’s ability to fall asleep within the space of a single yawn.