Jeff’s wandering around, packing stuff, getting ready to (hopefully) go home to Bloomington tomorrow. There are so many reminders everywhere. We went to Kangaroo Kids, a used clothing store/maternity support store that we frequented when we lived here post-transplant. Jasmine, ever the natural bargain hunter, loved the store. The owner recognized us, and, in her very typical upbeat way, asked how the girls were doing — meaning Jasmine and Gabrielle. She was totally unprepared for Jeff to tell her that Jasmine died last Saturday. Very gracious, very kind. I find that reaction a lot these past few days, even from strangers.
Last night we went to the airport to buy plane tickets for my dad, brother and sister-in-law to come for Jasmine’s memorial. The woman at the counter was harried and we were asking for some strange things. I asked about a bereavement rate, which she furnished. Because we were flying them into Chicago, and buying in St. Louis, she asked us what brought us to St. Louis. When we told her, she gave us her condolences and then worked really hard to make things as easy as possible for us.
Sunday we went shopping for clothes to wear to Jasmine’s service here in St. Louis. Jeff wanted to look his best for her, so we went to the Men’s Wearhouse to get a suit. The salesperson was very nice to us, and then asked if we were getting the suit for a special occasion. Jeff and I, both very raw from the night before, teared up. Jeff told him it was for his daugther’s memorial service on Monday. He was so kind to Jeff. He apologized, but didn’t harp on it and made sure Jeff walked away with his suit nicely tailored and helped him get all the needed accessories. He wasn’t pushy and didn’t try to sell us the most expensive suit in the store. He was very classy.
Yesterday we went to the crematorium to anoint Jasmine with some oils, say prayers over her body, and leave a written prayer to be cremated with her. It was extremely hard for us — we knew we could really be thrown for a loop by seeing her. She’d had an autopsy and also donated corneas and heart valves. The director there was so very gracious. He brought her in for us, let us have as much time as we needed with her, and most importantly, he made her appear peaceful and very presentable. He draped a beautiful handmade quilt over her body from the chest down. He was visibly moved by Jasmine and scaled the costs down for us considerably. When we left, he was red-eyed. I don’t imagine that happens much in his profession.
Two things I know after the past few days. First, Jasmine continues to touch people even after she is gone. Jeff said yesterday that even if there was no afterlife, it was comforting to know that Jasmine lives in the hearts of so many people she met. I miss her so deeply and it is soothing to me to hear that others miss her too. Second, people are very compassionate when death takes a child. No one has said anything insensitive and several are willing to admit they simply don’t know what to say. That is so much easier to deal with than something insincere or hurtful, however unintentional.
I also know my world is forever divided into Before and After. Every day carries before and after — it is time we are speaking of, after all. But this event divides my life into Before and After. I’m not sure what After is going to be like. Right now, I pretty much hate it. My only solace is knowing Jasmine is no longer suffering.
Grieving for Jasmine is the darkest thing I have ever done. I cry often and have actually had to increase my water intake because I’m losing so much. Nights are the hardest for me. I lay in bed and am inundated by memories, thoughts and doubts. Tonight I keep thinking about how she was so emotional when she took that first dose of steroids and how I held her as best I could while she cried about being so sick. I keep remembering how she liked to slip her hand into mine as we walked. I can almost feel it there if I hold the image strongly enough. I miss her so much.