For sure, Jimi, you were proud of me and your chosen family as we fumbled through the “next” day after you left us. For sure! For sure you were sitting on our shoulders and inside our heart. For sure you were glad we did it “your way”.
After you left, I didn’t know what to do. I was walking in circles up and down the hospital hall way not knowing where to go and what I was supposed to do. So, I just gathered the hospital bags, blankets and pillows and went outside and sat in the dark night wondering what now!
Then appeared two familiar faces…two friends who rushed to Loja in a taxi. Most of you will know who they are, but I don’t share their names for their privacy. “What now?” was now a three-some query.
We re-entered the hospital to find that answer. The armed guards reluctantly let the three of us in but only because I was sobbing tears of english with a bit of sternness. Somewhere inside that guard-man he mustered a bit of compassion. We went right to nurses station where they told us before we get any “papers” we had to go purchase a vial of medicine that was used to help revive Jimi. That vial was owned by another patient. So, out we go…stomping the night streets looking for an open pharmacy. After a few failed attempts, we had it. Back we went!
Then the papers were presented. My name wrong…Jimi’s too. They always had his name wrong – Royer C James although he explained over and over and over to the nurses and doctors…”we gringos only have “one” last name”
A Nurse was telling us to follow her retracting her arm in a circular fashion…we did…into an elevator to the basement where doors opened to a dungeon of damp, dark and moldy concrete. Following her, we went around the corner. There was Jimi’s body..on the gurney. Shock! The nurse starts to push him into a room with one single large cross adorning the concrete walls. Shock! Then, out of the shadows came a man with a business card. Shock! The three of us stood stunned. I was asked “Leisha, what do you want to do?” I answered “run”. We did! And we kept running as other people came at us swinging the business cards.
We returned to the hotel room and out came a bottle of wine and then another and another. The hotel was close to the hospital but at night time, the area turns into the whore central park. Here we three sat on the sidewalk late into the evening, sipping (no gulping) wine and watching the walkers of the night. I felt Jimi was totally with us, laughing at us, proud of us. I am so glad these two were with me. I might not of got through that night.
The next day, the rest of the family arrived. Time to get the system stuff done. The five of us pounded the streets of Loja on foot, back and forth in a huddle. There were tears, hugs, laughter, coffee, beers, cocktails, smokes, frustration and shock. As we waited outside the officaling buildings, we often formed in a circle. The locals were staring at us wondering what these grown-up hippies were doing. For me, I felt held up by these people and this circle was comforting. When the steps got too hard, they carried me. One was the joker, the other a “mom”. One presented the logic and the other the gumption to get it all done. We were a mass of friendship all walking together…and I know very deeply that Jimi was with us BIG TIME smiling.
After the paper work was completed, it was time to present to the crematorium. It was located up in the mountains of Loja and it was creepy to say the least. The iron gates, the pebbled driveway, manicured lawns and rooms of silver, white and glass. What in the world was going on here? I think all of us came to the conclusion it was an organ donation outfit…and while we are not 100% sure, it seemed to fit the creepiness of the glistening stinky rich site. Okay, never mind…let’s move on….
Three hours later, we received the precious box of Jimi’s ashes. We loaded into a taxi like a can of tuna and we were homeward bound. Upon arriving home, I was exhausted. Where to place the box of Jimi? We entered the garage…opened his truck…and placed him on the driver’s seat. This is where he still sits…until the ceremony. Of course, if I need to go anywhere in the truck, I will move him to the passenger seat for now.
I share this with some sadness, joy, laughter and deep fondness. Jimi and I both love our chosen family and I am forever grateful for their love, support and carrying me even though they too were grieving and in shock. The day was perfect and while not traditional or conventional, it was Jimi and the way he would have liked it. The memory special. Jimi is smiling!