Thank you, Bert Lahr, there will never be another Cowardly Lion as brave as yours

Thank you, Bert Lahr, there will never be another Cowardly Lion as brave as yours

Where do you think it came from? Calling a coward, “chicken”. I’ve never seen a cowardly hen or rooster. Have you?

On Tuesday, I faced a hurdle – a tough one, I’ll admit – and didn’t make it over. I journaled about it and titled it, “Chicken”. I’m told I am judging myself wrongly. It was pointed out that I wouldn’t think any of my friends and loved ones were cowardly for choosing the path I took on Tuesday. Still, it’s what I do.

Several days ago, the wife of a neighborhood friend died of complications from advanced cancer. I didn’t know her, and I had no idea she was ill, let alone dying. But. Her husband was the first person from my neighborhood to call on me the day after my Darling Husband died – they were good buds. The day after his wife died, he called on me again. This time, it was me giving out the hugs and holding his hand while we cried a little.

He told me of the arrangements he’d made with the local funeral home. There would be a viewing on Tuesday.

This is the same funeral home that came to pick up my Darling Husband, that took care of him and all the arrangements for me, that hosted the magnificent memorial service for those of us left to celebrate a beautiful life. I have not been there since. I drive past frequently — this is a small town — and never look too closely.

And so. On Monday, I called for flowers to be delivered to the funeral home on Tuesday. On Tuesday, I spent the morning doing my normal things, with the addition of agonizing over what to wear to the viewing. I fixed my hair, applied subtle makeup, got dressed, settled Fergus in his playpen with some peanut butter, got in the car and drove into town.

On purpose I arrived a few minutes late. I didn’t want to put unreasonable expectations on myself that I would stay very long. The plans must have changed because, as I drove into the parking lot, everyone was leaving the funeral home for the drive to whatever cemetery she’ll rest in. It was an impressive turnout. I could have stopped anyway, looked for my friend to express my condolences in person. Instead, I kept driving on by.

I was at a loss. My feelings were a bright mix of relief and guilt. I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I took a drive through some lovely old neighborhoods that my Darling Husband and I used to drive around to admire homes and landscapes – especially at this time of year. I went to Starbucks, got my usual and took the long way home. I drove the back roads that take me past a nearby cemetery, thinking maybe that’s where everyone was heading and maybe I’d stop then.

The Universe conspired against me. Road workers had the road closed and I had to turn around and take another picturesque mountain lane back to my usual route. Again, I was relieved. I tried, I told myself. I tried.