Lunch with Jody

Dear inspiring ones,

It’s been 13 days since I’ve probed my laptop keyboard with these digits … Wow.  First sentence and it feels like I just don’t have it.  But one of my joys in life is to communicate, so I will keep going.

Since Jody’s death, my life has been covered with crying, flatness, a pinched nerve in my neck, pain often about 6 or 7 out of 10, and the dullness that the pain meds have given me.  More importantly, this little life of mine has received a huge flow of love … face to face, on the phone, and in my Inbox.  Thank you for loving me.

Twenty-six of us shared a meal last Saturday.  Twenty-five told Jody stories, animated with great love.  The 26th human being cried a lot and couldn’t bring words forward into the group.  So … all of us let our inner heart shine.

At one point, I stood up and started singing “Annie’s Song”, a piece that I sung to Jody for 20 years or more.  A few words into the singing, my grief blanketed the phrases.  But people heard, and many of them continued the song.  “Like a night in the forest.  Like the mountains in springtime.”  I’ve always added a special verse, but after “May the road rise to meet you”, everything tightened again.  And once more, kind souls held me with their singing.  How blessed I am to receive such love.

Julie, our family doctor, spoke of how well prepared Jody was for her appointments, armed with pertinent questions about her medical well-being. Many folks reflected on Jody’s smile, and on how she brightened their day.  It was family around the dinner table.

I played a YouTube video of Cyndi Lauper singing “True Colors”, one of Jody’s favourites.  She loved singing it with the SingStar microphone poised by her lips.  I see the song as a request from Jody to all who loved, and love, her.  “Of course you have tears for me.  May your smile return soon.  I love you because you show me what’s true for you.  You speak and act as an expression of the great soul you are.  I’m so glad you do that.”

Wow. I’m all drugged up.  I sure wouldn’t want this to be my daily life.  I think I’ve had enough writing for today.  But it is a blessing for me to speak with you again.

Oh, one more thing.  I said in my last e-mail that I’d respond to all of the messages I received after Jody went back into the hospital.  There’s about 300 of them, and I’ve said hi to 25.  I expect that I’ll get a few e-mails saying “Don’t bother.  Take care of yourself.”  The thing is, though, talking to you is taking care of myself.  So I will write to all of you who wrote me.  Just not right now.  Is answering an e-mail a month after I got it too weird?  Oh well.

Second more thing. I’m going to Cuba for two weeks, from December 5 till December 19.  I’m going alone.  Haven’t gone on a vacation by myself since my 20s.  The hotel didn’t even charge me a single supplement.  Yay!  I’ll be staying at the Memories Paraiso Azul Beach Resort, on Cayo Santa Maria, an island just off the northern coast of Cuba.  For part of my time there, I will be silent.  A lovely meditation retreat on the beach, on the jungle paths, in the dining room.  For another part of the time, I will be anything but silent.  I love talking, and I’m going to gab with all sorts of folks from all sorts of Canada, Cuba and the world.  Jody thinks it’s a great idea.  Me too.

And the third more thing.  Jody’s Celebration of Life will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday, January 31, 2015, at the Bellamere Winery in the northwest corner of London.  For all of you within easy travel, I hope you’ll come, and perhaps speak of my lovely wife.  Our room has beams and panels of vibrantly brown wood, with a vaulted ceiling animated by tiny chandeliers.  A good space for honouring Jodiette.

I will talk to you soon.  Travel well.

I love you all,



Oh, to let myself be exactly as I am in the moment!

Today my friend Leslie invited me to join her and a few of her friends for breakfast.  It had been over a year since I’d gone out for breakie.

For most of the meal I did fine, chipping in during the conversation, and telling the folks some of the plans I have in my head.  And then suddenly my four companions were off like a speeding bullet into topics that clearly were old favourites.  I couldn’t handle it.  I was overwhelmed with all the words and just wanted to be with Jody.  How I faded away.  From inside came the parental voice “Be better company!”  But I couldn’t and wouldn’t.  I let go of social appropriateness and lost track of Bruce in society.  I allowed myself to go away.

Later in the day, my friend Neal and I planned to deliver Jody’s hospital bed to Lynne, one of her former colleagues whose husband was having breathing problems.  Gosh, that was a heavy so-and-so, and I wrenched my back as we hauled it out to Neal’s truck.  Big muscle spasms.

I was a hurting unit when we pulled into Lynne’s driveway.  “Pull your weight, Bruce!” screamed the inner critic, but I couldn’t and wouldn’t.  Sure I helped some but really it was the Neal and Lynne show.  I was feeling sad and feeble as we got the bed set up.  And again I chose to let go … of performance, of participation, of ego.

Two emptinesses in one day.  But it’s okay, Bruce.  You’re merely a fragile human on a little green and blue planet.

Crazy in Love

I’m talking to Jody all the time.  Here are some things she’s said to me over the past few days:

I’m right in front of you, Bruce.

I love you too, Bruce.  I wish I could shower you with kisses.

I’m okay, husband.  I’m worried about you.

Bruce, don’t censor what you’re saying to me.  I’m right here with you.  I love you.  Let it all come out.  I’ll listen.  We’ll talk.

I am here, dear one.  I’ll always be here.

Thank you for selecting such fine songs for my service.  They’re among my favourites.  You’ve always showed me your true colours, Bruce.

Gray eyes.  I haven’t called you that in a long time.

I wish I could touch you, Bruce.

Read to me, Bruce … from the story.  May I read to you for the rest of my life?  Please do.  I love the stories.

For months now, I’ve read aloud to Jody, mostly Stephen King.  She’s loved it and so have I.  It’s so much fun to create different voices for each character.  It was last night that Jody asked me to read to her again.  So I cradled The Waste Lands, the third book of King’s opus The Dark Tower, and picked up where my lovely wife and I had left off more than a week ago.

Only for a second did I think I was strange, reading out loud while sitting “alone” in our family room.  Only for a second do I question my sanity as the words between us flow out of me and onto the pad of paper.  Only for a second will I settle for a life without mystery and grace.

And tonight’s chapter was pretty cool too.



Lost A Bit

I write because I want to touch people, to give them a little of me, so maybe they’ll pass on a little of themselves to others.  But right now, I don’t know what I have to give.  I miss Jody so much.  I cry a lot when I’m alone.  So why am I writing to you now?  Shouldn’t I just take a few days off for myself?

“But, Bruce – this typing is for you, even if it feels like you have nothing to say.”

I guess I’ll sit here and see if anything comes.  If it doesn’t, I’ll just say goodnight.


So much of my experience is silent.  Big moments seep through.  Like now.  I’m just so quiet.  Jody is here.  I long to touch her, to stroke her cheek, to brush her hair, to rub her feet.  My brain wants to go to the empirical evidence for life after death but the soul within me just wants to hold and be held.  My hand moves naturally to cover my heart.  My cheeks sag.  Where did my bones go?

Wow.  I have nothing to say.  There are no words that can add to the moment I’m in.  And so …


I Welcome You Everywhere

Dear WordPress readers,

I’m sending this post both to you and to the many folks that I’ve e-mailed for a long time about Jody.


Dear ones,

Yesterday I had a bunch of errands to run – meet with the funeral director, get Jody’s rings cleaned, arrange for a plaked 24×36 version of the beautiful obituary photo, and go to the restaurant to discuss menu and room arrangements.  It seems that I needed a little spurt of busyness.

I started driving towards London and began crying.  I’m doing that a lot when I’m alone.  Somewhere on the highway, Jody talked to me, words that were astonishing:

It’s not just the big beautiful tree on Bostwick
I am all trees, Bruce
I welcome you everywhere

And I cried some more.  Trees passed me on the left and on the right.  Big ones.  Small ones.  A few with leaves, others with needles, and many with bare branches.  My darling wife was there with me all the way, everywhere I turned.

Words now fail me.  It is Jody … bowing to me, kissing me, clapping for me, and smiling.  I am so blessed.  I love you, my dear.  And as our nephew Jagger would say, “until the end of space”.

Last night, when I went to bed, I continued a tradition that is many years old:

Goodnight, Jodiette
Sweet dreams
I love you

And quietly I knew that these words would flow from me to Jody, in the dark of evening, for the rest of my life.  Just so.

I hope that you will allow me to express love for my dearest for a little while yet.  Gosh, this is two days in a row.  And I’ve let that be okay.  I’ll write some more after Jody’s funeral, and then after her Celebration of Life in January.  I’ll know when it’s time to bring our e-mail saga to a close.  I just checked back.  My first e-mail to you was on November 23, 2013.  A year of love.  And actually, infinitely more than that.

Since Sunday, you’ve written about 275 e-mails to Jody and me.  Thank you.  I would like to answer them all.  It would be good for me, and I hope good for you.  It may take me awhile, though!

I’m going to turn all of my messages into a book.  It will be called Jodiette: My Lovely Wife.  I’ll get going on it in February, I expect, working with the self-publishing aids available through the Blurb website.  I don’t want to sell this book.  My inner something-or-other tells me that’s not right.  I’ll be giving it away to anyone who’d like a copy.  May the experiences that Jody and I have shared be a gift to many folks out there in the universe.

Thank you for listening

My Wife

I woke up this morning, sat on the edge of the bed, and looked at the floor.  Atop a jumble of CD cases sat a little wine-coloured pillow, with “Love” inscribed on it.  I looked at the wall, where twin paintings of a forest scene hung above me.  I cried a bit.  “Jody, are you here?”  “In the trees, always watching over you.”  I cried a bit more.

On Wednesday afternoon, I went for a walk around the block, something I haven’t done in  months.  I realize now that for the year that I’ve cared for my lovely wife Jodiette, I’ve never left our home without the thought “Get this done fast.  You have to get back to Jody.”  And now I can amble.

Before Jody died, I asked her to send me a sign that she was all right.  As I walked along Bostwick Road, I saw a huge deciduous tree approaching me.  I have long admired this gracious creation.  Its branches fall so beautifully in a gesture of grace.

As we neared each other, I looked up, way up.  It was Jody.  “I will shelter you, Bruce.  I will protect you.”  “Are you happy, Jodiette?”  “Yes.  Can’t you see me waving to you?”  The tops of the high bare branches were blowing in the wind.  Thank you, my love.

I decided to go for a bike ride yesterday despite the temperature hovering around zero.  A bit of a wind too.  I thought I was so smart, bundling up in multiple layers, ear warmers, gloves and wool socks.  But gosh I froze, as I did my time trial route for perhaps the last time in 2014.

And I started crying.  I’ve never done that on ta-pocketa.  (That’s the name of my bicycle.)  And I couldn’t stop.  “Jody, my wife!  I miss you so much!”  Over and over again.

At one point, I could feel my fingers heading toward numb, and I was dead tired.  I had about eight kilometres to go and the sun would set soon.  “Jodiette, please help me get home.”  “I’m right here, husband.  I have your back.”  And she pushed me oh so gently.  Earlier I had thought I’d have to get off my bike and walk the rest of the way, but that idea now drifted away.  And I floated down Fruit Ridge Line.  Very, very slowly.  At Fairview Road, I stopped for traffic, and I couldn’t feel my hands.  I was crying.  A woman in a car pulled up beside me and asked if I was all right.  Her name is Laurie.  She had seen me many times on Fruit Ridge and wanted to say hi.  She offered me water.  She reached out her hand and shook my frozen claw.  I told her that my sweet wife Jodiette died yesterday.  We mourned together.

Soon I was home.  I stood in the kitchen, glasses all fogged up, and I tried to undo the clasp on my cycling helmet.  Couldn’t do it.  And so I stood, waiting for warmth.  Maybe it’s the same now that Jody has died.  I need to wait for what emerges.  Lots more crying, I’m sure.  Whatever comes my way, and whatever bubbles up inside, to let it be there.

Did I mention how deeply I love my darling wife?


Dear grieving ones,

Jody died this morning at about 3:00.  I woke up at 2:30 and heard little moans as she breathed.  I got the nurse, who gave her a shot of fentanyl for pain.  Soon the moaning was gone and her breathing sounded good.  I fell back asleep.  When I awoke an hour later, I couldn’t hear her at all.  I know that she died in peace.

What a marvelous human being, my Jodiette.  I miss her so much.  She always looked out for my needs first.  She saw the person that I am.  Sometime in the next day or so, I’ll write some more words to you about my dear one.

Jody asked that her funeral be a small one, just family and her close friends.  There will be a luncheon for these folks on Saturday, November 22, 2014 in London.  Sometime in January, we’ll have a Celebration of Jody’s Life.  I hope you’ll come.  The date and location will be announced in the “In Memoriam” section of the London and St. Thomas papers on Saturday, December 6, 2014.

What a privilege to have Jody Anita Kerr in my life.  And she’ll be staying there.  Thank you for loving my Jodiette.

I love you all,


Near the End

Dear loving ones,

Since Jody went into hospital on Saturday night, she has been declining. The infection in her lungs has spread.  She was having pain with a deep cough on Sunday but a medication has helped to dry up her secretions.  Jody is mostly non-responsive verbally but she is with me as I hold her hand.

Jody’s doctor says that she may only live a day or two more. I know your prayers and love are there for my dear wife.  Please keep them coming.

As I sat with Jody yesterday afternoon, we had a conversation, a silent one. I know deeply that this was not just me talking to myself.  This was Jody and me.  I let go of her hand and wrote it down.

Jody: I’m going to fly.

Bruce: Travel well, my love.  We will be together again.  I will always be with you.

Jody: I’m ready, my husband.  I will have a doggie.

Bruce: Thank you for loving me so much.

Jody: I’m tired of this shit.

Bruce: You don’t deserve this shit.

Jody: You are my husband.

Bruce: I love you, Jodiette.

Jody: Take my hand, husband.

Bruce: May the road rise to meet you, loved one.  Oh darling wife.

Jody: Enjoy your life, Bruce.  Find someone else.  Be happy.  I know you will.

Bruce: You’re safe, Jodiette.


 Except for a few quiet “yeses”, Jody’s last word to me, as of right now, was “Bruce”, said in a tone of voice that told me “I’m glad you’re here.”

Later yesterday, as I sat alone with Jody in the room, I looked around … and we were certainly not alone. There were at least one hundred of you crammed into the large private room.  I could feel you there.  Jody’s bed is near the window, with her left side parallel to it.  Some of you were standing on the window ledge.  On the wall above Jody’s head, two fluorescent lights stuck out.  Several of you were sitting up there.  During the last few weeks, Jody’s head has leaned to the right.  On the left side of the bed, a line of you came to Jody, each of you planting a kiss on her left cheek.  The rest of the room, including a hide-a-bed and two chairs, was full to overflowing with you souls.  All of you were smiling.  All of you had your arms stretched straight ahead at eye level, forming a huge parasol of care over my lovely wife … and over me, I later realized.  Thank you.

On we go.

I love you all,


People Floating Into My Life

Whatever joy there is in this world
All comes from desiring others to be happy
And whatever suffering there is in this world
All comes from wanting pleasure for myself

I was pretty worn out this morning, watching Jody decline, and sensing that I’m losing the love of my life, at least on this physical plane.  I needed to get her some meds, plus we were low on groceries, so I headed off to Costco.

First, though, was Shoppers Home Health Care.  I was looking for absorbent underwear that held liquid better than the generic brand we’d tried.  As I trundled in, a woman greeted me with an all encompassing smile.  “I can tell a happy person the moment they open the door,” she said.  “Well,” I replied, smiling, “Maybe I’d better come in again.”  So I walked out and I walked in, putting on the grumpiest face I could find.  “I want service!”  “Doesn’t work, guy.  Your eyes give you away.”

Thank you, my new friend.  I’m so sorry that I can’t remember your name. I’ll find out next time.

So on to Costco.  As I sat by the snack bar, eating my decadent turkey and provolone sandwich, a familiar face was pushing her cart past me.  She looked.  I looked.  She smiled.  I smiled.  It was Julia, our hairstylist.  There hasn’t been any haircutting in the Kerr family for the past ten months, and I was so glad to see Julia.  We gave each other a gentle hug.  “I miss Jody so much, and I love both of you,” the words having trouble making their way past the tears.

Thank you, my old friend.  Someday you’ll be cutting my hair again.

Watching this was Joanne, a woman who sits at a kiosk, trying to sell furnaces.  I walked over and she came towards me with a hug posted special delivery.  “I read all of your e-mails and I think of you and Jody a lot.”  And we talked about how my lovely wife is doing.

Thank you, o standing-on-your-feet-at-all-times saleswoman who cares so much about a woman she’s never met.

The e-mails that Joanne mentioned are weekly updates about Jody.  I’ve been writing them since November, 2013 and there are about 300 addresses who receive them.  I figure that over seven hundred human beings are praying for a miracle.  So lovely.

I was just about to get up post-sandwich when Pen, one of the Costco employees, walks by me, touches my shoulder, and says “Hi, you.”  And hi back to you, Pen.

So many people to love

Moe Norman

How about reflecting on those of us who don’t fit in?  Many in society look at them and sneer.  They don’t talk right.  They don’t dress right.  They make some of us very uncomfortable.

Moe Norman was a Canadian professional golfer.  His constant chatter was punctuated with repeated phrases, such as “Not bad!  Not bad!”  At the same time, he was overwhelmingly shy in social situations.  His clothes were old and ragged.  He sometimes smelled bad.  He often slept in his car.  He stood on the tee with feet that looked impossibly far apart, and swung straight back and straight through – no classic turning of the body.  He’d walk up to his ball on the fairway or green, and just hit it – no waggle of the club, no studying the line of the putt.

Moe never made it to the big bucks of the PGA Tour.  During his few tournaments on the Tour, he was ostrasized by some of his competitors.  Moe went home.

And yet … golfers such as Tiger Woods say that he was one of the purest strikers of the golf ball who ever lived.  Moe hit it straight and true – over and over again.

Here are a few stories:

At an exhibition in Toronto, Sam Snead warned Norman that he couldn’t carry the creek 240 yards from the tee.  “I’m not trying to,” said Norman, who calmly stroked his drive across the walking bridge to the far side of the hazard.

Leading by three shots on the final hole of a tournament, safely on the green in regulation, Norman putted deliberately into a bunker, just to make things interesting. He got up and down to win by a stroke.

Norman died a week before the 2004 Canadian Open.  He’d had bypass surgery several years before, and upon waking from anaesthesia, he was asked if he knew where he was.  On the third green, he said, at the London Hunt and Golf Club.  Doctors were concerned, but in fact the hospital where he lay was built on the former site of that club.  The building that held his room was located where the third green used to be.

I need a world that makes room for Moe Norman, in fact a world that embraces him, and those who follow him down the streets and fairways of life.