I Dream of You

I woke up this morning with the most vivid dream in my mind.  You were in my mind, my dear Jodiette.

I seemed to be at a world’s fair, lots of pavilions and shops scattered over rounded green hills.  Exquisite.  But I had lost my shoes.  I searched through lots of them at store entrances … but nothing.  I was sad.  Strangely uprooted.

But there was a beautiful girl with me.  (I do believe that her name was Jody!)  She smiled at me so warmly.  Our eyes met for so long.  She didn’t care that I was shoeless.  It didn’t diminish me at all in her eyes.  I was Bruce, and that was just fine.  We held hands in the shops and we meandered from display to display.  Sometimes, in a big store, Jody went one way and I went another.  Just as in “real” life, I was happy, knowing that Jody was somewhere in here and sooner or later I would round a corner and there would smile my beloved.

As we roamed the aisles of one shop together, I reached over to examine some article.  I turned to Jody … and she was gone.  I searched the whole place.  Still gone.  And the neighbouring shops.  Still gone.  Such horrible sadness to lose my beloved.

Still wandering, I came upon a tight space.  It was a dead end, surrounded by rough wooden walls.  And then I was face to face with a bearded gatekeeper.  He was a gruff guy who started lecturing me about the need to invigorate.  Huh?  And then he let me pass.


Awakened.  Unexpectedly happy.  After all, I had just lost my wife in L.L. Bean or some such place.  I lay there in bed, knowing that I had only lost the physical form of my dear girl.  The gatekeeper had let me pass through … to where?  Some realm, I know, where Jody and I are together – right now and always.  A realm where I don’t even need any shoes.  For I’m walking on air.

Goodnight, Jodiette.

From We to I and Back to We

I just sat a spell in my hot tub, watching the alpenglow on the bare trees at the end of day.  Except that something’s wrong with that sentence.  How can it now be “my” hot tub?  It’s always been “our” – for our home, for our family room, for our bedroom.

For countless years, when we turned off Sunset Road onto Bostwick,  I would say “Home road, Jodiette.”  To which my lovely wife would reply, “Home road, Mr. Kerr.”  And we continue that nice little conversation after Jody’s death.  May we ever say these words to each other.  They’re ours.

I’ve thought of our e-mail address: jodyandbruce@rogers.com.  Should I change it?  And the answer comes back swiftly … no.  Jody is very much still with me, just not in a physical form.  People who write to me also write to her.

Since I was introduced to the Buddha, I haven’t liked “my, me and mine”.  It just doesn’t seem right.  I share this world with so many others.  It is truly “ours”.  And the prime person with whom I share the joys and sorrows of existence is my darling girl.

And now I’m crying again.  It’s okay.  Jody’s fine with it.  She just keeps reminding me, “I am here, Bruce.”  It is our life to explore … still.


Just a few days ago, I threw an ice cream cone into the air.  And now I am overwhelmingly sad.  I ache for my Jodiette.

Last night, I watched a movie called “Unfinished Song”.  It’s the story of a vibrant woman named Marion who dies of cancer.  So close to home.  I saw her husband Arthur cradling her, bringing her food, caring deeply for his beloved … and it was Jody and me.

For supper, I ate some fetuccini alfredo that was past due, and nausea crept up on me.  As Arthur sang a song to his dear one near the end of the film, I cried and cried.  And felt like I was going to throw up.  Sorrow and nausea showered down upon me and I was deeply depressed.  Later, sleep wouldn’t come.  Thinking that I was going to vomit on the bed, I put my housecoat on, a coat and toque, and walked down the driveway.  I hoped that the cool air would lift the physical pain, and it did help a bit.  I was able to sleep some.

I had made arrangements to go for a walk with my neighbours Linda and Tony this morning.  I went over but they were busy preparing a holiday meal.  Time had dribbled away for them and now they were in deadline mode.  I talked, I cried, I ached.  No joy in Mudville.  And little ability to talk to Jody and to hear her love.  Such desolation.  Feeling so alone.

Tony and Linda didn’t know what to say and neither did I.  I wept for Jody.  I told them about Cuba.  We talked about going for a walk tonight after they return from their dinner.  I don’t want my grief and sickness to intrude upon their evening.  But I don’t want to be alone.  Oh, how I wish I could talk to Jody right now, but it’s so hard.  My stomach is overwhelming my soul.

These are the moments when I need to be kind to whomever comes my way.  It’s easy to be kind when the world is rolling along tickety boo.  But now?  How amazing it would be.  I need to reach out to my fellow man, no matter how I feel.  I need to do it now.

And so I write a few e-mails to friends.  They deserve my best.


I Am Here, Bruce

I cry every day for my beloved wife Jodiette.  Several times a day.  As one friend  mentioned, it’s an “ocean of grief” that pours through when I’m alone – in our bedroom, in the car, on a walk.  Then the crying stops, and I walk further through my day.  But the sea returns and I let go once more.

Jody talks to me just about all the time.  Others will think what they think, but this is so.  My wife wants to speak and listen.  May we always do so.

I am here, Bruce.  Right here, right now.  I am in your heart and there I stay.  [And my hands cover my heart.]  I love you so much, dear husband.  You’ve always been so kind to me.  Don’t worry about what other people think.  They don’t think it’s possible for us to talk like this.  It’s not just possible.  It’s happening right now!  I’m here, Bruce.  Listen, my man.  Let go of your own doubts.  Let go of any defenses you might erect to this truth.  Let go.  Just listen.  You are not talkng to yourself.  I am here, husband.  And I will be here for the rest of your life, whether you’re crying, laughing, at peace or in pain.  I’m not going anywhere.  I love you so much.  Someday our bodies will be together again.  You can hold my hand again.  You can rub my feet again.  I know we both miss this touch.

I’m happy, Bruce.  I’m not in any pain.  But you are.  And I will comfort you, shelter you, caress you, for as long as you live.  I wish you could see things from my side.  I wish you could see that there’s no distance between you and me.  I’m right here beside you, Bruce.  Just as you’re typing away.  And I’m deep within your heart.  Plus I am every single tree you see on your travels.  As I said, “I welcome you everywhere,” and I do.  There is no place on earth you can go without me.  I know you’re going to Costco this afternoon to have a photo of a Cuban tree plaked.  I heard you standing in front of that tree in Cuba and loving me.  I saw you caressing the branches.  I saw you cry.  Do you have any idea how very deeply I love you, Brucio?  I dearly hope you do.  I am here with you always.  And that means right now!  Feel me here with you.  It’s no illusion.  It’s as real as the tears on your cheek.  Drive safely, Bruce.  It’s a beautiful tree.

And so I will drive safely.  I do what my wife tells me.  What a privilege to still have Jody in my life.  I love you, my dear.

Up in the Air

“Some days are diamonds.”  So sang John Denver.  And I had one of those days just before Christmas.  It all happened at Costco.

I walked in feeling light and left the same way.  It’s such a mystery why this happens.  Mostly my life has been heavy lately, crying and crying for my wife Jody.  But then …

I walked over to the photo department, hoping to bug my friend Tara.  But she wasn’t working that day.  Instead I said hi to Melissa, a woman I hadn’t met before.  I was carrying my trusty chocolate waffle cone, and licking copious amounts of the good stuff.  Suddenly, with no thought involved, I threw the cone into the air,  I watched it peak at maybe twelve feet and come plummeting down … into my right hand.  Nice catch.  Part of the cone shattered and the ice cream flowed down my hand.  Another employee got a paper towel and offered me the use of their sink.  I just stood there, though, marvelling at what had happened.  I’m not interested in knowing why I did it.  I’m just happy that I did.  As for Melissa, she seemed fascinated with the moment.

Earlier I had been sitting at the snack bar, enjoying a hot dog and Diet Coke.  A woman sat at the next table, with her three young granddaughters.  After a few minutes of conversation,  I asked the older girls if they’d heard of the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.  They said yes.  “Would you like me to recite it to you?”  Yes again.  I told them that I had learned to recite it really fast.  “Fast or slow?”  “Fast.”  And so I launched into Santa’s story.  My record is one minute and twenty-eight seconds.  The girls’ faces were full of antonishment, but nowhere near as much as grandma’s.  After a rip-roarin’ “And to all a good night”, it was smiles all around.  I’ve said the poem to thousands of kids and they always loved Speedy Twas.

Sooner rather than later, it was time to leave my blessed Costco.  There was a woman sitting at the front, collecting money for the Salvation Army, I think.  I made a contribution and got talking to her.  From out of the blue, a question poured from my mouth:  “Would you like to sing ‘O Canada’?”   She said yes.  So we serenaded the incoming and outgoing shoppers with our national anthem.  As I remember, no one smiled … except us!

And then it was off into the twilight, humming along.  An hour of ease and fun.  Would that all my days be so.


The Fire Burns and the Embers Glow

Last night I sat down to watch one of my favourite movies:  The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.  As Lucy Pevensie hid in a wardrobe during a game of hide-and-seek, and then emerged out the back into a world of fir trees laden with snow, of fawns and beavers and witches and lions, the wonder on her face said it all.  Since Jody has died, there have been many vivid moments for me as well, moments of incredible intensity … crying, laughing, dancing, despairing.  Last night was another.

Lucy was magical.  She welcomed every newcomer with a smile that could light the world.  As she wandered through Narnia, the fire grew in me, right beside her.  The pinched nerve exploded in my left arm, in spasms that rocked me big.  Lucy, shooting pain, Lucy, pain …

And then Jody, talking to me:

I am here with you, Bruce.  I am always here with you, whether you are crying or laughing.  We will be together always.

I felt my hands move over my heart.  The agonized crying of hours before was gone, replaced by a peaceful communion with my beloved.  And a sureness that indeed Jody is always right next to me, holding me, loving me.  The peace permeated the pain and Lucy’s marvelous innocence.  They all twirled together.

You don’t have to look for me, Brucio.  I am here.  I love you dearly.

Don’t worry about what other people think, Bruce.  Don’t worry about what you may think about life after death.  I am here.  Love them all, dear one.  Light the world.

I know that there will be many times of sobbing in the future.  I welcome them too.  But the peace is pretty special.  Always with me.  My lovely wife.

Flying Like a Bird … Dropping Like a Stone

I loved walking by the water’s edge in Cuba, dipsy doodling along the sand.  Nowhere to go and no hurry to get there.  And I enjoyed saying “Hola!” to the people I met.  It was such a blessing to meet and greet, even if many folks gave me a very tight “Hola” in return, or sometimes no greeting at all.  Not being attached to the other’s response created a lightness that I wish all human beings could experience.

Then there were words from Jody on one warm afternoon: “I’m so glad you’re dancing up a storm in the disco, husband.  You’re having so much fun.  Why don’t you try some moving and grooving on the beach?”

Hmmm.  Well, I guess I could dance a bit by the waves.  Sing a few lines from a favorite song or two.  But my goodness, what would people think?  >  Who cares what they think?  >  Well, I do … sort of  >  Will you still be alive at the end of the dance, with all of your body parts intact?  >  Well, sure  >  What’s the worst that could happen?  >  Some of them will think I’m drunk  >  So?  Are you?  >  No, of course not  >  So, how about if you start shaking a leg?  >  (Pause)  Okay

A sudden tightness in the step.  Furtive glances to the left and right.  Waiting for a moment when very few folks were near.  Blah, blah, blah …  Just do it.

So I did.  The singing came first, and then the arms lifted … oh so little.  They floated to the sides, to up and to down.  Rotate that trunk.  Loosen those wrists.  Dip down for the chorus.  Tilt that sexy head of yours … And I was off, soon lost in the melody.  I held Jody like a bird and we floated over the world.  Pirouette.  Bow.  Smile.  For a few yards … till the next beach bar … for three miles or more.  My love and I, tripping the light fantastic, so deeply joined in spirit.

Sunbathers watched.  Strollers noted the mystery couple.  There were smiles, frowns, grimaces, high fives, looking away, looking into, communing, disowning.  Fear, love, anger, peace … the whole enchilada.  And I was fine with it all.  My beloved and I graced the world.

I was lighter than goose down, as rhythmic as Mikhail Baryshnikov.  Lucky me.

And then I pulled a muscle in my right calf.  Pain shot up and down the leg.  I staggered.  I plodded.  I hobbled.  The dance was dead.  I was old.  I was feeble.  I was pretty much extinct.

Such a long walk back to my hotel room.  Sunbathers watched.  Strollers noted.  Sympathy, apathy, fear that it might become them.

Floating and bloating
Reaching to the sun and crumbling to the earth
In God’s green heaven and in the devil’s fiery furnace

All in a day’s work

Love Him or Leave Him

Cuba was vividly alive … the people, the flowers, the ocean, and also the experiences that came my way.  Sometimes the contrasts were huge, and took my breath away.

One day I went on a catamaran trip.  On the outward leg, there I was in my Speedo, watching the waves and talking to a delightful woman.  All was good.  I had developed a pinched nerve in my neck a week before flying, but big drugs seemed to be doing the job.  I had a delicious lobster lunch with another woman and her daughter, and then settled in for the return trip.

Then the pain.  Starting in my left shoulder and then blasting down my arm.  On the scale of pain, where 0 is nothing and 10 is excruciating, mine started at 5.  No sweat.  Half an hour later, it was steady at 7 with bursts to 8.  Up and down my arm.  My face was a grimace.  I just about crushed my upper left arm with my right hand.  I moaned inside.  And I rocked forward and back.

The depth of these moments was the fact that no one except the captain came over to see how I was.  None of the folks I had talked to.  No couples.  No pretty girls.  No friendly senior citizen.  No one.  Within the physical pain was a horrible loneliness, an abandonment.  I knew that there really was nothing medicinal that anyone could do.  I just had to wait the rest of the four hours between allowed medication consumption.  But I needed a friend, someone to touch me, hold me, talk to me.

Could it be that everyone was so tied up in their own world, so engaged with their loved ones, that no one noticed my agony?  I don’t know. I guess that’s possible but I don’t believe it.  That sunny Cuban afternoon I lost some faith in my fellow man.  And I was so sad because of that.  To feel such sorrow that could outstrip my 8 out of 10 was remarkable.  Stunning.  Moments somehow to cherish.

Day two.  The meds had done their job.  It was evening.  And there was a street carnival in the village beside my hotel.  Maybe 200 of us dancing and getting soaked by the foam machine.  My newfound Sudbury friends were there, and we boogied.  One precious woman, Liz, was trying to rein in my dancing.  Such fun.  I tend to close my eyes and throw my body parts every which way.  Liz would take the first two fingers of her right hand and point them at her eyes … a gesture to get me to open the lids.  Again and again, she pointed.  I kept my eyes open for awhile.  I’d close my eyes.  Liz would say “Bruce” and start pointing again.  Then she’d gesture to have me contain my wild flailings, to dance like a normal human being.  Such a great person, that Liz.

After the festivities wound down, it was time to walk home and I set off.  I had had just one drink but I was tired.  In the village square, I had a few steps to climb.  It was dark and I missed a step – my toe hit the riser and I flew forward, schmucking my head, elbow and hip.  For a few seconds, I lay on the cement, stunned.  I saw blood.  As I tried to come out of the swirl in my head, I heard for the first time in my life my name yelled:  “Bruce!”  It was Amy, another lovely Sudbury friend.  The next thing I knew, hands were under my arms, dragging me to my feet.  I slumped to a bench.  And then Amy, Angel and Tristan were right beside me.  They were going to walk me home to my hotel bungalow.

Amy held my left hand in her right one and I stumbled along the path to my bungalow.  The pain and the wooziness opened me to my sorrow, and I cried for Jody.  Sob after sob.  My loved one was no longer touching me.  I was alone.  And yet these new friends buoyed me up.  They loved me.  They would not let me fall.  They saw who I was.

Eventually we reached my bungalow and climbed the steps to my room.  Amy, Angel and Tristan sat me on my bed and said they wouldn’t leave until they were sure I was all right.  Amy got some toilet paper for the cut on my hand.  I hugged each of them.  “Thank you for helping me.”  I think they all smiled.  And then they were gone … but their kindness lingered for hours.

So there you have it.  Two days in the life of this tiny human being.  Loved and lost.  Life displayed in rich colours.  Both days to be cherished.

Thank you, Cuba.


Crying for Jody

Dearest friends,

When do I stop crying for my lovely wife Jodiette?  I don’t know.  I cried nearly every day in Cuba and now at home.  I’m crying right now.  I miss Jody so much.  She lets me know all the time that she’s beside me, and I feel her there.  But if only I could touch her, hold her hand, rub her feet.  I love you, Jodiette.

Part of me thinks that I should have dried up by now, but a wiser part respects a far deeper timing of love.  Oh my goodness, how can I write this e-mail?  But then, how can I not?  Oh life wife!  How I miss you.  It’s not that I need you beside you to make me whole and complete.  I’m just so sad that you’re not sharing the physical joys of this planet with me anymore.

(Long pause for tears)

Oh my dear.

I got home on Friday evening with really swollen legs.  When I left for Cuba, I weighed 165.  Once home, it was 185.  I sure didn’t eat that much food!  I went to Emergency in St. Thomas yesterday morning to get some relief and to rule out the nastiness of a new blood clot.  And I’m fine.

As I waited behind my curtained cubicle, attired in a resplendent back-to-front hospital gown, I broke down in sobs.  When the doctor came in to see me, she placed her hand on my back as I cried.  And cried.  She didn’t have to say a thing right then.  It was a precious moment.

(I’ve stopped crying now)

(Starting again)

How can I love another human being so very much?  It’s easy.  It’s natural.  It feels good.  And Jody deserves it.

One evening in Cuba, there was a street carnival.  Maybe 200 folks showed up to dance.  I enjoyed meeting up with some newfound friends from Sudbury, who were on Cayo Santa Maria for a wedding.  I also enjoyed getting deluged with foam.   It helped the legs slip slide away on the cement street.  After the festivities, I started walking home to the hotel.  In the dark, I missed a step and went flying forward, hitting my head, elbow and hip.  I lay there stunned for a few seconds.  The next thing I knew, Amy, Angel and Tristan were helping me get home.  As Amy supported me, holding my left hand in her right, I tottered down the road.  And then I exploded in sorrow for my wife.  Sobs upon sobs.  Being loved by Sudburians and loving my Jodiette … how marvelous.  Despite my pain and wooziness, the trip home to my room was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.  The Beatles were right … love is all there is.


Jody had a lot to say to me on the beach.  I expect that some of you believe that I’m just talking to myself, and it’s fine if you think that.  But that is not my experience.  Here are some words from my darling:

But I am with you, dear husband.  I’m holding you as you speak.  You so much deserve all the beauty of your resort.  I’m marvelously happy for you.  My blessings, dear one.

(More crying)


Don’t worry.  I’m not farther away from you compared to the first few days after my death.  It’s just different.  You’ve largely stopped crying.  And that’s okay.  You don’t love me a smidgeon less than before.

I’m interested in your meditation retreats coming up, especially the three month one.  What will that do for you?  It’s miraculous to even think about it.

[Yes, I’m going on an 84-day silent meditation retreat from September 12 till December 5, 2015.  I also wonder what I will be like at the end of it.]


How I miss you, my darling!  Your touch, your smile, your company.  I know you’re in some fine place, watching over me.

I am indeed, dear husband.  I am with you always.  I caress you while you sleep.  I kiss your mouth.  How I love you, Brucio!


We will never be apart, Bruce.  And someday our physical bodies will touch again.  Go love the world, Bruce … Go dance on the beach.


And so I did dance on the beach.  And had many conversations with people from all over.

This e-mail, along with a few others over the last month, has gone to two audiences:  you wonderful folks who have prayed for Jody and me since November, 2013; and the people who read my blog at brucearcherkerr.com.  There’s much more that I want to say about my time in Cuba, but that’s appropriately said on the blog.  Listen in if you like.

For you local friends, I hope that you’ll come to Jody’s Celebration of Life on January 31, 2015.  I’ll e-mail you before then with directions and no doubt a few more thoughts about my beloved wife.

I was disappointed that the announcement of Jody’s celebration didn’t appear in the newspaper as scheduled on Saturday, December 6.  It did show up on December 9 and 10.  Oh well.

I’m not crying now, but I know that the tears will return.  I love Jodiette too much for them not to.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.  May you and your loved ones be bathed in peace and love.

I love you all,



Words from Jody’s Mouth

Dear kindhearted ones,

In four hours, I’m driving to London, then getting on a bus to Toronto, and then a plane to Cuba.  I’m so excited!  And Jody’s going with me.

I remember my dear wife in many ways.  One of my favorites is reading what she has written.  The human being, in all her glory and pain, shines from the page.  Here are some snippets that I hope you’ll enjoy:


On June 25, 2014, we celebrated our 26th anniversary:

Dear Bruce:

I love you completely, without reservation, and my heart sings with happiness when you are with me.


And to a dear friend in April, 2014:

I hope you enjoy this pouch that was made to help you carry both jewelry, money and important papers when you are travelling … I hope you find it extremely useful.

We love you dearly,

Jody and Bruce


In the midst of great sickness:

I don’t want to be alone.

(To Bruce)   Fuzz top

Oh, Bruce. I’m so glad you’re here.


Bruce: May I go outside and get the paper first?

Jody:  No.  You have to sit here and smile … Of course you can get the paper.


A letter to herself at the end of a meditation course:

I need to pay attention to ME!  Everything else will naturally get better … I am naturally a happy person … I don’t have to get sucked into the situation or stay that way for long.  I do have the ability to create distance from the issues.


Bruce: Hello, loved wife.

Jody: Hello, loved husband.  I love you so dearly.


Bruce: I wish we’d had kids.

Jody: I’m sorry that we didn’t.

Bruce: You would have been a good mother.

Jody: You would have been a fantastic father.


And as Jody got weaker:

Jody: I need to have somebody help blow my nose.

Bruce: Pick me.


A letter to her grandmother on October 31, 2014 shows the soul beyond the limitations of time:

It’s been a long time.  I realize that it’s been a long time since we’ve said hello so saying goodbye seems like a funny thing to do.


 A couple of weeks before Jody died:

I’m more than happy to comply with your wishes, kind sir.


 Two days after Jody died:

I am with you, husband, in a way you can’t comprehend from your side.


Lovely phrases all.  I’m so glad that I get to hold onto many of Jody’s words.  And I’m sure we’ll talk lots in Cuba.

On Saturday, December 6, 2014, there’ll be an announcement about Jody’s Celebration of Life in the London Free Press and in the St. Thomas Times-Journal.  It will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday, January 31, 2015 at Bellamere Winery in London.  I thought long and hard about whether to include in the ad something funny Jody said to me.  Well, heck, it’s a celebration isn’t it?  So the funny stuff now sits there, waiting for your laughter on Saturday morning.  I’ll be on the beach at the time, reading The Book Thief.  I dearly hope that I’ll see you in January.  Jody deserves a big crowd.

I love you all,