letters from the past. 9th february 2018

dear j.

sorry I missed your call yesterday; Penny was here, helping me get Gary’s computer sorted (well, preliminary steps, anyway; she’s got more research to do) to get it connected back to the server. The one password he didn’t store in LastPass is the root password, because obviously that, his phone password, and his LastPass password were the only ones he needed to remember to unlock everything. She’ll be able to get sudo access though, and from there, be able to reset the server. She was able to open a terminal though (zshell) and it was a beautiful thing watching his code populate the screen once again. I happen to know that his code is streamlined and super-concise; no obfuscation, no mess, but it was heartwarming to get confirmation of that from another Linux user.

I gave her three of his most favored coding books; Beautiful Data, Beautiful Code, and I can’t remember the last but she was like “are you sure? These are really expensive”. Yes, I’m sure. They’re in good, useful hands now.

welcomed.

to the lovers of my lover.

How I wish.
How I envy the decades you have had
learning this man, evolving with this man.

How grateful I am.
For your caretaking
your taking care of each other until I could get here.
I wasn’t ready.
So many things had to happen, first.
so many terrible things.
I arrived, breathless, on your collective doorstep.
Invited in but still a surprise.

four years/forty years

Last year I turned off Facebook memories for 2017-2018-2019 for this week beginning today. Today is the beginning of the end. Today is the beginning of the last week that Gary was alive.

So much in my life has changed in the last four years. I am not the same person who I was four years ago. I am not the same person I was forty years ago.

Forty years ago is when my bipolar disorder began to truly manifest in ways that other people could see. When my behavior became outwardly observable. Things that only I could see and feel and experience from age five were finally coming to the surface. The person that I grew into, the person that I became was by necessity, a damaged, broken, angry, fearful thing. I was shaped by my experience, by the storms inside my brain that no one could understand, but the results of which everyone could see.

The person that Gary met, she was a powerhouse. She had divorced her first and second husbands. She was taking care of her cats. She was running her own shop, she had an employee, she was working a lot. She was working out a lot. She was taking care of everything around her. She was not taking healthy self care.

She was, however, manic 24/7 and hella cute and driven.
And on fire.

She is still here, in my brain, part of The Committee. She listens mostly. Doesn’t have much to say anymore, more an observer. She sits back and nods knowingly, joint in hand, smoke curling from her lips. She is Rosie Revisited, captured in a portrait, hanging on my wall. There are times when she does speak, a forceful, if gentle “STOP IT.” I have evidence.

your author. đź“· Gary Hoffman 2002

Four years ago I was forced to stop. I became incapable of movement in any appreciable direction. The formerly driven, push-through-ahead-no-matter-how-miserable-it-makes-you person could not go any further. The “attack wife” had no fight left. I had no accountability to any other human. There was no one there for better or for worse. My life spun completely and totally out of control. I lost things, am losing things I can never get back. And yet…

I have found a new self, a calmer, more even self. I am finding the capacity for euthymia, for a happy evenness above my emotional equator. A firm-yet-squishy pleasantness that exists beyond the edges of what I smoke and carries me through the day and into my involvements with others.

I am no longer miserable.

In voicing this thought, however, there is such exquisite pain for the reality that Gary could have been helped. That perhaps he too could have finally found some measure of relief, as I have. That we just hadn’t gotten here yet in researching. That given enough time, we would have.

We didn’t have enough time. But I do.

I miss you so much.
I wish you could see me now.
I wish you could hear me now.
I wish I could talk to you.
The only thing you can do is listen.

And all I really want is to hear what you have to say.

1042a 8th august 2021, sunday

I forgive you.
I forgive you for everything.

I did not think it would ever be possible
but in this moment
bells ringing
birds singing
breezy air soft and comforting around me
there is no benefit to questioning any longer
it doesn’t matter

none of the things we said or did to one another matter now
none of the hurtful things, anyway.
you are no longer here to protest and I am too tired to do so any longer.
easier to let go

let go or be dragged.

listen, here: https://recorder.google.com/share/5161f077-5e7b-401b-9b15-565e53ccc52f

why does learning this shit hurt so much

So if I’m right about this, all of the manic spending that I did, all of the things I did to treat myself, all of the retail therapy that I did that never filled any kind of hole, all of the evidence of this that is sitting in the house that I am losing that I am having so much trouble sorting through.

And now that I am not living in that house, now that I am trying to do my very best to figure out how to dispose of all those things, and it is so difficult and making me feel so empty and so useless and so all alone like I am worth completely nothing, perhaps it is because I am not

That all of those things that I collected, that I bought in moments where I felt not enough, maybe it is that I feel that I will be even less than not enough if I get rid of them.

Spending money on those things when I didn’t have it to spend but I bought them anyway because it was self-soothing and now that I have no money and now that I have to get rid of them even though buying them made me feel worse it feels like that was the only remedy I have available and now I am disposing of that like it didn’t even matter, like it didn’t even help ever at all.

1130a 31st february 2021. the impossible day.

i have seen the edge.
walked right up to it, lookedover.
i have looked into the abyss and it welcomed me.
its maw is deep and wide
and it welcomed me.
come, it said.
step over the edge.
or don’t
but i am here for you when no one else is. i will wait for you.
I know you will be back.

teeth bright and sharp
white and cold.
keep hold of what’s good.
that’s all there is to save me
that’s all there is
flashes of all the good things

grasping at anything to pull me back from this edge.
grasping at them
smashing them into my brain
shoving out this other
look away. look away.

1019p 16th august, 2020

1019p 16th august, 2020

where did you come from?
(out of nowhere, out of time)
you are at the same approximate place
in space and time
I have proof that time travel exists.
I do. It does.

His time ran out.
Mine began.

Ours is..?
Ours is beginning.

I have learned so much along the way here
To you, to here, to now.
I have learned enough to be able to show you the way
for it seems you are ready to learn.

I am reminded of possibility. 11th july 2020

I am reminded of possibility.

This couple, older than I am,
(not by so much that the differences are stark)
this couple who is writing their next chapter
successful, and snarky, and smart,
cool, and kind, and a little kooky,
warm, and funny, and genuine.

I am reminded that anything is possible.

Everything is possible.

I have seen glimpses of it, I know.
had morsels of it.
enough to whet my appetite.
my palate has become more refined,
my preferences both widening and narrowing in the same instant
as i breathe in
and out.
embrace, joyfully
discard with little fanfare.
there is no value in overthinking what i leave behind
no valuing the discarded
take the lesson and move forward.
that lesson alone,
separating the signal from the noise,
that in itself is such a heavy prospect right now
but in other moments,
(breathe, please. and again. once more. good girl.)
such as this one,
it seems thinkable, plausible
possible.

i have left so much behind am leaving
so much behind.
what would carrying it forward do for me?
cui bono?
for surely i have long since paid for these crimes
surely i am rehabilitated, getting there, anyway
surely i am on the right path
surely i am still going the right way.

it doesn’t have to all come with me
(why does this feel like i’m convincing myself?)
i can let it go
(then why is there still so much left to sort through?)
((can you just?))
(((can you?)))

thousands of photographs, blurry and out of focus
my life is out of focus, blurry
and getting clearer
more clear.
more,
focused.
as the unimportant,
the less-important,
the extraneous
as all this falls away is sloughed away
given away
pressed into other hands, joyfully,
gleefully, even.
no more guilt at not wanting to keep things
no more guilt at the money spent
the time spent
the energy.
spent.

even the idea of it
(the idea!)
the idea is lightening
not lightning,
l i g h t e n i n g .

alien.

Hopeful.
Full of possibility.

by lightening the load
both literal and metaphorical
I am making room for new.
Taking pieces of my armor,
loosening them
disarming.
i have become disarming.

It is only because I can see the enemy
enemies
for what they are
it is only since I have learned how to dance
sidestepping and evading
choosing who to embrace
and who to deny
it is only now that even in my most frantic moments, hours
I do not doubt the loves I have.
I know I am not needed,
I know I am necessary.

I am reminded of possibility.
I am open to possibility.

Gary saves the day again… 10:08p 11may, 2020

That’s what the subject line read.
“Gary saves the day again…”
An email from T**, a client of my husband’s who I haven’t heard from in a year, if not more.

Thinking it might be spam, (the all-lowercase addressee and the name of my dead husband in the subject line seeming strange but somehow remembered) I was only slightly distracted from watching the new season of “Dead To Me”, ironically enough. coming down off my necessarily extreme cannabis high of earlier, however, and thinking about what I wanted to smoke next while waiting to hear back from several friends, I opened the email.

It said, (and this is where I am stopping, having read beginning of the email, gasping for breath and not wanting to look any further, not yet, not before I refilled my lovely pipe and repaired to the privacy of my parked, darkened car where I could smoke and sob in peace) in part (and here, I should tell you, I am pausing to take an enormous hit of medication. Perhaps five or six. I brought refills. Who can know for sure?):

Lysa,

One of the core components of (our company) which Gary designed stopped working today after the Government changed something on their website.  Back in the good-old-days I would have called Gary in a panic, he would have calmed me down and quickly resolved the issue.  Now I have to reverse engineer his work in a language of which I am only somewhat familiar. 

You got some comfort from seeing his writings last time I e-mailed you, so I thought I would share how he saved the day today.  While attempting to understand what he wrote, I looked through his copious notes and discovered that he described in great detail how he solved this problem last time.  This allowed me to bite a little piece of code that he wrote years ago and use it to fix everything.  If he hadn’t documented everything so well, I would be spending the next few days trying to figure out what he did while customers complained. 

Man I still miss that guy. 

Hope you and the kitties are well.  N** and I finally closed on a house after living in a crappy apartment for ** years, so now we get to live like adults.  How are things with you?

Below is boring shop talk, but it reminded me of how much I liked working with Gary and how good he was at his job.

T**

(So here is where I am now, sitting in my car, about to read words from my husband from years ago which somehow saved the day today for someone’s company. Eyes wide and full of tears, of missing and knowing how much of a huge void he left.)

a screenshot of the kind of zealous documentation Gary adhered to.

How do I explain that?
How do I explain how seeing what looks otherwise like gibberish I know is tinged with his particular flavor his
Stink (he used to say “I like your stink”, a pretty aggressively passive-aggressive way of saying something nice, like he had Calvin as an interlocutor)

Knowing that code that he wrote notes for six years ago with no idea of the future
(especially not that he wouldn’t be in it)
would save the life of someone’s company today.
That that person chose to pay that forward by remembering how much it comforted me the last time this happened and to let me know again.
save my life, today.
Gary did indeed save the day again.

to me this is what it means by
“may his memory be a blessing”
.
there is so much pain
so much brokenness in his life, my life
our life.
I got shoved into the lessons I am learning
everything all at once
a whirlpool of chaos
nothing to do but be stuck
choosing to pick through the debris and only take forward what shines
what will shine with enough patience
taking forward the joys, the lessons.
I wouldn’t be here but for him.
In every single way.

may his memory be a blessing.