Letters from Barcelona

November 11, 2017

Dear Friends and Family, Fellow Mourners,

Another morning. Day 2 of the rest of our lives.

Rebecca and Matthew are here in Barcelona with me. A beautiful city that was one of Paul’s and my favorites. We spent days here on several occasions, walking these beautiful streets, eating the delicious food, drinking the incredible wines and seeing the architectural wonders of Gaudi. If death must come this is a wonderful place to experience last moments. If death must come it is as soothing a place to grieve as any other.
Matthew and Rebecca arrived Friday morning, within 18 hrs of Paul’s death. The first night of gazing into the darkness was over for us and we began an exhausted stumble through the first of many steps required before we can bring Paul home

Beginning with the American consulate we announced Paul’s death. We then went to La Sagrada Familia, as exhilarating a place as can be found to lift ones spirits. Gazing at the soaring facades and brilliant stained glass windows we gathered around each other and did round 1 of convulsive sobbing

We bought an “urn” of sorts for Paul’s ashes. Later we began planning the memorial service. It is tentatively set for Sat, Dec 2 at LOTM, with burial of the ashes in the Memorial Garden that Matthew and Paul built for Matthews Eagle project decades ago

At 6 we went to the hospital to see Paul’s body after the autopsy. Gratefully, he looked peaceful. Round 2, or maybe 3 or 4, of convulsive sobbing. Round 1 of dry heaves.

We decided we would prefer to eat dinner in our hotel room and purchased mounds of cheeses and meats with crackers and a couple of bottles of wine. We spent hours talking, eating, drinking. This is when I miss Jonathan, Rachel and Ruben the most. It breaks my heart that they are each grieving alone.

Thankfully, all three of us slept deeply.

Today will be marked by Paul’s cremation. We have decided to not attend

We can do nothing more until Monday when we get the death certificate, present it to the American consulate and hopefully get permission to bring Paul home. If all goes well we should be able to travel on Tuesday. United Airlines has been incredibly supportive.

The tragedy of errors resulting in Paul’s death are oppressive, however rehashing them does not bring him back. Suffice it to say, we left for Europe under the misunderstanding he was tired as a result of anemia and told to take iron tablets. It never crossed our minds that it was not anemia but a beginning heart blockage causing the fatigue. My self recriminations as to my blindness will continue, I am sure, for some time despite everyone joining in a chorus of, “It is not your fault.”

I am much in need of friends and family now continuing, as so many of you already have, to support me and our children in the days, weeks, and months ahead. We appreciate your reaching out and touching us with kind words and offers of help

Xoxo, Deb

November 13, 2017

Dear Friends, Family and Fellow Mourners,

Because you have reached out to me I want to keep you up to date on current events.

I could not be managing w/o Rebecca and Matthew. They remind me minute by minute of how much I have without diminishing what I no longer have.

Friday was very difficult. We thought we would simply be arranging a cremation. Not so. The process to get Paul released from the hospital is arduous. Friday was just the autopsy. Nothing happened over the weekend. Saturday we decided to go to the beach and have a lovely dinner. While going by metro we got caught in a mass demonstration for Catalonian independence. In the massive crush Rebecca’s phone was pick pocketed. The best thing was for her to take over Paul’s phone. So if you get a phone call from Paul’s phone… breathe…. it is Rebecca.

Sunday morning, however, our dander was up and she used the Find my iPhone app. It showed the phone at the Arc de Triumph so we took the metro there. Several minutes after we arrived we were able to track the phone moving down a side street and we set off on foot to catch up to it. Suddenly it sped away as the bearer got on the metro so we contacted the police. Two undercover policemen arrived and bustled us into their car. With lights activated they began their pursuit of the dot which had now stopped. When traffic became heavy the siren blared and off we went, careening through the back streets of Barcelona, a route unfrequented by tourists I am sure. On the radio was “Take my Breath Away” from Top Gun. We felt like a cross between James Bond and Columbo, trying not to laugh hysterically at the earnest enthusiasm of the officers and the surrealism of our situation. We got to the apartment building but there was no way to pinpoint exactly which apartment so we gave up the chase and Rebecca reluctantly erased her phone. The officers dropped us off at the beach and we walked and walked, stopping for a carafe of Sangria. We met friends from the US on Las Ramblas for dinner, having walked about 6 miles. The lovely tapas and wine and conversation were a welcome respite.

Today, Monday, we went to the American Consulate to officially register Paul’s death. We had to fill out a form on which I identified my relationship to the deceased as “wife”. The form came back for my signature as “widow”. Well, there you have it!

Paul’s body will be released tomorrow morning. At 11:30 we kiss him goodbye one last time, and let him go. The Spanish death certificate will go to the American consulate where they will issue 20 original US death certificates. Sometime Wednesday we return for his cremains, sealed in an aviation approved urn. Who knew!?!?

At that point we contact United and hope they can expedite our flight home.

I have decided to bring very few of Paul’s personal effects home. As I am able I am sorting through his luggage, throwing away some things and boxing up what can be donated to Caritas, the human services agency here in Spain. Excruciating. The 7 James Patterson murder mysteries Paul was intending to read on the cruise are being left here at the hotel library for other travelers.

Hopefully we will be home by Thursday, however it might not be until Friday.

Meanwhile our daughter Rachel and her family will arrive at our home and start work on the myriad tasks facing us.

The memorial service will be at Lord of the Mountains, 56 US Hwy 6, Dillon, Co, Dec 2 at 11 am. Lunch will follow in the fellowship hall. Wine and Paul’s favorite, gin and tonics will be poured by Matthew. Memorial gifts, in lieu of flowers, may be sent to Lord of the Mountains (PO Box 1059, Dillon, Co, 80435) to be used for the creation of a memorial labyrinth.

I cannot thank you all enough for the incredible lavishness of your support for me and our family. The offers to help in some way is amazing. Some of you have already been given and accepted specific tasks. For most of You gathering me up in a hug will be sufficient.

Hope to be home soon
Xoxo, Deb