Now Safely Home

No Gravatar

On Thursday I went out to Kranket Island  with the workmen from Lae Builders and Construction to put in place the monument for Eunie’s grave. The bright, sunny day belied my mood, which was dismal. I have been very anxious to finish this unhappy task before I leave for an extended holiday for some rest and recuperation. I was grateful for the company of an old friend, one of Eunie’s pals from a decade ago, Regine Neuhauser, who is visiting Madang for a short while. I needed to be propped up a few times during the day.

It was very hot in the blazing sun and the monument was extremely heavy. It is very solidly built. LBC did a good job.

It took quite a few of us to carry it up the hill from the water’s edge to the grave site.

I did not attempt to help the workers lower it into the hole. I was feeling shaky enough already. We were there for four hours. We left as soon as the workmen returned to town to get more cement, as they had discovered that they did not bring enough.

On Saturday morning twelve of us piled into Mike Cassell’s boat for the short ride to Kranket Island.  Until I got on the boat I thought that I was going to be ok. Then I felt as if I were going to lose it. I asked Mike and Trevor to talk to me. They kept me chatting until we got to the island. Nasty black clouds were gathering over Madang.

I had fretted all evening concerning whether the workmen had dug the hole for Eunie’s ashes. As it turned out, they had “forgotten” to do so. I could hear Eunie laughing at me. “Silly man. You expected everything to work smoothly? Did you forget where you are?” After a I made a suitable display of frustration and dismay one of the island residents retrieved a shovel and dug the hole while we all waited inside the small church.

Once again I found that I had no idea what to do. I asked Mike what he thought. Should I pour the ashes into the hole or simply put the whole container in? Mike decided for me that it was suitable to just place the container in the grave and cover it up. Hey, that’s what friends are for – to help you when you can’t help yourself. We all gathered around and I mumbled a few words of gratitude that we had all worked together to give Eunie the best possible care from the time she became ill. So many people helped – many more than gathered here to say goodbye to her. Finally, I invited all to drop a handful of sand into the grave and speak a few words if they liked. All I could manage was, “Goodbye, Baby.”

Here is the small, intrepid group who braved the tropical sun at midday and made the trip to Kranket to bid Eunie farewell. In the background from left to right are Monty Armstrong, Di Cassell, Regine Neuhauser, Jenn Miller, Mike Cassell, Rich Jones and Trevor Hattersley. In the foreground are Meri Armstrong, me, Karen Simmons, Pascal Michon and Maureen Hill.

I was only mildly surprised that Di Cassell had laid on a very nice lunch for us at the Cassell home. We were all happy to recover from the heat and refresh ourselves in good company. It was a celebration of life. I could not help thinking that Eunie was enjoying the party. It is just the sort of gathering which she loved.

I have been very blessed to have gotten through the complex and uncertain processes necessary to lay Eunie’s remains to rest in accordance with her wishes. It was something of which I was always aware while she was with me, but in a detached, otherworldly way. Yes, I knew what would be required, but the details proved to be messy and impossible to work out quickly. It took me five months to do the job. All that time Eunie’s ashes rested in my closet two metres from my head as I slept. I can’t say that I was in any way uncomfortable with this, except that it reminded me that I had not yet fulfilled my promise to her.

I do feel relieved now, but not as much as I thought I would. I still have much to do to recover and build a new life. Most of what I need to do is not going to be much fun. Some of it is very scary. However, in about three weeks I will be off on a major adventure. Never in my life have I made such a journey alone. That, by itself,  is a little scary to me, but it is necessary for me to learn to do all things in life alone.

That includes learning to enjoy life alone. This is going to be the most difficult task of all.

Be Sociable, Share!

25 Responses to “Now Safely Home”

  1. David Lile Says:

    Jan…I was deeply touched by your story, in finding Eunie a resting place. May you live in continued peace, in the midst of your path of life. David

  2. kristy Says:

    A beautiful post again. Thank you for sharing a process that is very personal and difficult.
    What a wonderful group of friends , to accompany you and help you through the day.

  3. Helen Jones Says:

    Felt like we were a small part of this very emotional day for you, you were in good hands Jan and you have fulfilled your promise – go and embark on your trip nowx

  4. Madcap Maven Says:

    Echoing previous comments, thank you for sharing this personal and painful process. We can get things wrong, but God doesn’t; and although they were spoken to those going into exile in Babylon, we can take comfort that God loves us as deeply as those to whom he spoke through Jeremiah: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Building a new life is messy, just as building anything new is messy. But I have confidence in you and in Him to whom you belong. He’ll fill the empty spaces after you’ve handed them over to Him. Sometimes it seems He’s abandoned them, but one day you’ll take a deep breath, and a sweet contentment will fill the nostrils; you’ll realize that He’s breathed Life back into the desolation. Meanwhile, smile over every good or pleasant thing, no matter how tiny.

  5. Ali Says:

    Her love for you, gave you the strength to fulfil your promise to her and it will give you the strength to find all you seek from now on ….if you let it.

  6. Heidi Says:

    Beautiful Jan, you did her well…. she rests in a magical place, her home Madang.

  7. Jay Griffin Says:

    When you have the hope that abides in Christ, your tears can quench, rather than be consumed by, the fires of grief.

  8. Laura Says:

    Okay, Jan, I can’t stop the tears. I know this was another difficult step on your journey to finding your way on this unfamiliar path. You amaze me with the beauty of your words–matched only by the beauty of what you have done and continue to do. Eunice’s resting place is beautiful–fitting for the person she was, the life she led, and the life you had together. Thank-you for allowing us to grieve with you~I only hope that sharing your struggle helps you to get through another day. I look forward to your travels–hearing about the places you see, the people you visit, and the adventures you enjoy. I hope to see you soon!

  9. MadDog Says:

    Thank you, David.

  10. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Kristy.

  11. MadDog Says:

    Thank you, Helen.

  12. MadDog Says:

    Well, Maven, I’m waiting not so patiently for “less messy” and a bit of contentment. I guess that I should be grateful that I’m not the wreck that I was a few months ago. Still, I with God would hurry things up a bit. I think that it’s okay to be impatient with God. I imagine that he pretty much expects it.

  13. MadDog Says:

    It already has, Ali.

  14. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Heidi. I am very glad that it’s finally done. – Maybe I’ll see you soon.

  15. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Jay.

  16. Ahna Says:

    Very touching and heart gripping. I struggled to keep my emotions intact with my ragging hormones of my pregnancy. I will miss her very much even though we have miles and miles of ocean and land between us. Aunt Eunice’s resting place is beautiful and Im so glad that you had both of your most dearing friends present and a wonderful reception afterwards. I can’t wait to see you again when you come to visit and as Laura has said I can’t wait to hear of your travels. (Don’t forget your glasses) LOL

  17. MadDog Says:

    Thank you Laura. You got me going again. Yes, I’ll see you soon.

  18. Colin Huggins Says:

    I think Jan that these words on your blog really sum up the situation and I quote/copy:
    “I do feel relieved now, but not as much as I thought I would. I still have much to do to recover and build a new life. Most of what I need to do is not going to be much fun. Some of it is very scary. However, in about three weeks I will be off on a major adventure. Never in my life have I made such a journey alone. That, by itself, is a little scary to me, but it is necessary for me to learn to do all things in life alone.”

    Life has to go on albeit at times like this for you to be very difficult.
    I’m not much good at these times of sorrow, but I do wish you, most honesty, all the very best.

    Hopefully this major adventure will be a turning point.
    Kindest best wishes for the future.
    Colin (HB)

    That includes learning to enjoy life alone. This is going to be the most difficult task of all.

  19. Paul Reinbara Says:

    The waiting is over and she is finally home and free. God bless her and keep her until the day when Jesus comes.

    Jan, you are a perfect model for a true permanent resident of paradise ( I dont know how long it will be a paradise).


  20. MadDog Says:

    Thanks for those words, Colin. I don’t know whether to wish for a “turning point” or not. Life now is such a strange mixture of security and anxiety, comfort and heartache. Madang is not going to change. My life situation is probably not going to change in the near future. If I want change it has to come from inside. It’s very hard to figure out how to make that happen.

    If there’s a turning point ahead, I need to be prepared for it. It might be good or bad. It will probably be a mixture of both, since life is seldom so simple. It will probably involve hard choices. At least now, that’s nothing new to me.

  21. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Paul. Unfortunately, the paradise lustre of Madang seems to be wearing thin, eh? The state of the roads alone is very disheartening.

  22. Maria-Jayne Says:

    Hi Mr Messersmith!

    I just found your blog today! Eunice’s ”resting place” is just perfect & Iam glad to hear you where surrounded with so many loving & caring friends at such a diffiicult time.
    Be strong, have faith for you are never ”alone”!


  23. MadDog Says:

    Thank you, Maria-Jayne. It is strange that one can feel very much alone even when surrounded by friends. I think that happens when you’re missing “the one”. I often felt this when my wife was absent on business for a few weeks. I’m discovering a great many strange things.

  24. Rob and Mairead Allen Says:

    Hi Jan,
    Mairead and I were very sorry to hear about Eunice. Please accept our deepest sympathy. We have fond memories of you both in Madang. Rob

  25. MadDog Says:

    Thank you, Rob. Some folk are still catching up and being shocked. The sadness will be with me always, but I have been restored to live again by love. I believe that this is comforting to Eunie’s spirit. It is what I would have wanted for her, if I had been the one to go.