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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Lake Chapala Society

My family, my friends, and my government have been kind and supportive throughout the ordeal of the last week.  Hearing an officer from the American consulate express condolences on behalf of "my government" has particularly and deeply touched my heart.  Nearly everyone I have encountered this week has given me great comfort.

Unfortunately, I had to go to the The Lake Chapala Society in Ajijic to retrieve copies of the official consular report of Billy's death.  It was supposed to be a simple thing.  A final act in the legal process.  I was only going out to pick up an envelope of documents.

Upon arrival, the information and welcoming center failed to both welcome me and give me the information I needed.  I was berated not just once, but twice, by two brusque and impatient volunteers for not having made an appointment.  The second person that I approached for assistance was visibly upset when I explained that I didn't know where to go and that her directions were unclear.  As she proceeded to give me more difficulty, I could only throw up my hands to express my frustration at being given so so much grief.  I only wanted to pick up Billy's "death certificate" and leave.  I didn't require an appointment.  And, I certainly didn't need to meet these two self-important "gatekeepers".

I held back my tears, managed to find the consulate officers, took possession of my documents, and left.  I do not care to ever return to the Lake Chapala Society.  If "serving the Lake Chapala community" is their goal, they failed miserably today.

UPDATE:

The following is an excerpt from a letter sent to me by a friend via this blog's comment section.  I "rejected" the original because of the personal information being supplied.

Oh Lee, I'm just SO sorry that all this grief has been heaped on top of the inconsolable emptiness you must be feeling.

I was so sorry to hear about Billy, and I'm glad to see here that you are talking to him. Keep it up, he'll help you and he needs to know that you haven't forgotten, nor have your friends.

I haven't been over, I thought I'd see you on Saturday morning, but you all were still at breakfast when we broke up our weekly "session."

While I can't know how you feel, nor do I think your life will ever be "normal" again, I have been through a grave loss and I can tell you that with time, and hope and sleepless nights and gritted teeth we do make it through and the lucky ones of us find a "new" normal.

The best thing someone told me was that they promised that while it would never hurt less, it would eventually hurt less often. And this I have found to be true. This year (the 22nd) I forgot to grieve on our anniversary, I didn't cry on his birthday and I made it to noon on the anniversary of his death.

There will be better days, there will come a time when you can breathe again, and talk to people, and cope with rude people -- even is that means telling exactly what you think, in words of one syllable or less.

But that is someday...for now, know that for a year you aren't going to be fully functional. For six months you can barely be trusted to turn on a stove or handle money or try to buy groceries or ..... or ...... or ....

It doesn't mean you've lost your mind, or are into early Alzeimer's. It just means you are grieving -- and the brain shuts down to the degree it needs to to be sure that you can survive this time...for some of us that means bursting into tears in the grocery store because I left the list at home. OR getting to the store with the list and walking around and around the aisles without buying anything.

Meanwhile, IF you need to talk, or if it's 2:30 a.m. and you can't sleep or know how you'll make it through the night, or if there is something I can do for you to make the day easier, or....you get the idea, you know where I am. My phone number is XXX-XXXX. Use it.

Wow --  Thank you, Judy.


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