A Little Sadness, But a Lot of Love

A while back I wrote about my Monday night gang of people that I get the pleasure of taking care of. My little family of Monday night regulars. I lost one of my tribe last night, and I am pretty sad about it.

My gang is made up a pretty diverse group, lots of different backgrounds and ages. So on the older end of that group is Jim and Audrey. We lost Jim last night, after he had suffered a stroke a week earlier. I do not know exactly how old he was, but let’s say somewhere in his 70s. On Mondays they will come in around 6ish. (Audrey needs to usually get home 7 or a little after for the Bachelor or Bachelorette, depending what season it is.) Jim will pull up to the bar, and I pour him a pint of Bud Light and get him a glass of ice on the side. We talk sports for a few minutes while Audrey gets her social game on talking to everyone in the place!! She is definitely the social butterfly of the night, the Belle of the Ball as it were. Jim and I will tease her about the Bachelor, and we go about our night. When it’s time to go, Jim heads out to the van while Audrey says goodbye to everyone for as long as it takes.

With my parents having been gone for so long, I have always found surrogate parents along the way. Jim and Audrey fit that mold pretty well. When I have a birthday, they bring a gift. When I had kidney stone surgery, she brought me soup and flowers in a snowstorm. Jim was like everyone’s dad. He liked drinking beer, watching and talking about sports, Packers, Badgers, Brewers and making fun of our resident Bears’ fan. He was a guy with that twinkle in his eye, so you knew there was mischief there, but he kept it pretty even most of the time. Easy to say, I like them very much. I love them, really.

So last week when Audrey stopped, without Jim, and told me what happened, I gave her such a big hug. I felt so bad, and she had some tears, that I felt when she hugged me, and I let that tear dry on my face. I talked to her, we joked about me smuggling a Bud Light to the hospital (they have ice at hospitals, good ice, so I wouldn’t need to bring that) and I told her to give Jim a big hug for me. It didn’t sound good, but it didn’t sound so bad either. But with strokes and older people, you just can’t really know. I didn’t hear much from her as the week went on, but I figured no news was good news. I was wrong.

I don’t know any details of how the week went, I am sure I will learn more from Audrey later on. What I do know is that his family was with him. All evening, the whole Monday crew asked if I knew how Jim was doing. I didn’t hear from Audrey until after 7:30 last night. So I had told everyone I didn’t know much, but I was planning on reaching out this morning to see how things were going. I sent almost everyone back home, and then I got her text. I was just heartbroken, for her, their family and our little Solea family. I messaged her back, saying how sorry I was, that I would pass it along, and we would pray for them. And I said that I hoped it was peaceful for Jim. She texted back and said it was beautiful, that he had a good week with his loved ones. How beautiful. That is all I could ever hope for.

I thought, how lucky is Jim? To be surrounded by love as you make that final journey. Probably only a Bud Light might have made it better for him. I thought to myself, it must be wonderful to have so much faith in your love that you can let go here and know your souls will be together again when it is the right time. I know he and Audrey and their family have that, and that made me feel a lot better about it.

I say goodbye to my friend Jim, and I promise I will keep Audrey socially butterflying herself around as much as possible. I will properly bitch about the Brewers, Badgers and Packers like we always did, knowing we really love them, but they don’t need to know that. I will pour that Bud Light, with ice on the side for you, in my thoughts often. Next Monday the gang will raise a glass to you, because we loved having you be a part of our little family. Rest well Jim, no more pain, no more suffering. No more Bachelor for you either, you lucky bastard.

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