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A photo of the pink moon over Croton in a Facebook memory from 5 years ago, Gary commented, “My lovely lunatic. đź’ś”

it is getting close to the end, again.

five years ago this was your last two weeks on Earth.
You didn’t know, I didn’t know.
No one did, no one could.

I turned off facebook memories for those first three years, it’s too much.

(there have been years gone by, now, years without you. Years.)
“those first three years” is a terrifying thing to say out loud.
i digress.

As the memories come up for this week, though, I am warmed again by the things I see, the things you responded to, the way you responded. all not knowing what will come,
all perfectly normal and routine and lighthearted and me rapidly cycling, clutching fast to anything stable

and then there is this yawning pit that opens and will never, ever close
unhinges its jaws and
e v e r y t h i n g in my life hurries in, disappearing.

it is only now, close to the end, again
that i am beginning to see my way
but is it clear? no, not yet.

one thousand, eight hundred thirteen days.

how many more will there be

17 September, 2019

bisque-fired black clay cinerary, going into the salt kiln on Halloween.

Sunday brings your birthday, and with it, more work on the cinerary I’ve finally been able to make for you. I thought I’d be able to make it and fire it that first year — I thought a lot of things that first year.

I thought I’d be able to get this place cleaned up and out.
I thought I’d be able to handle getting our taxes done.
I thought I’d be able to apply for your social security death benefit.
I thought I thought I thought…

I knew nothing of the overwhelming and all-consuming grief that would completely take over my life: not all of it, no, but it is insidious, its tendrils curling into every single aspect of my life, twisting around the things that keep me going, threatening to cut off air, blood, sanity.

I am not the same person I was a year ago.
I am not the same person I was two years ago.
I have become more patient and less tolerant.
More open and less willing to bend.
More sure, more confident. Quieter, calmer.
I react differently to things now.
I am able to let go, to let things slip away when they matter not.
It is taking me by surprise; I wonder how you would react to this girl?
This girl who has finally had to grow up?

It’s you, you know, you’re the reason. The catalyst.

I only wish you could see me now.
I think you would be proud.
I know I am.

Love is. 10:40a, 13 September, 2019.

Today I know how much I am loved. I have no doubt. I will never ever not know. I know what it feels like to be loved, and seen, and heard. I know what it feels like to be understood.

My evolution is ongoing. The path I started down two years ago is ever-twisting, ever changing. Forward, ever forward.

I’d brought this little bit of printing I’d done to hang up in Gary’s hospital room. To remind him that he is loved. I brought it home, taped it to the shelf on his side of the bedroom. To remind me.

The last day. 13 September.

This is how I began my morning two years ago today. Texting with Gary, who was waiting for the Klonopin to kick in. I never heard his voice that last day, never saw those beautiful blue eyes of his.

I have tried to imagine what was going through his head as he composed that last post. As he wrote one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. My husband was a writer, but normally it was infused with snark and sharpness and cleverness. Not that day. That day it was pure, and true.

I don’t know if he had already had the stroke; I’m imagining he must have done, otherwise why would he be going for a CAT scan? What I do know is that if in fact he had already had a stroke as much as I would have liked to see him wink at me, as much as I would have liked to see his face, as much as I would have loved to hear his voice telling me one last time that he loved me more, I am happier for the fact that I can remember those things in my head untarnished, not tempered by the damage that the stroke would have caused. I am truly grateful for my supervisualizer memory, that these things are as clear to me as if they happened a second ago. 

The last bit of my text to him, the unfinished bit, it was me being so incredibly frustrated that I couldn’t find a place to park. The hospital was under construction, there was an enormous event going on and it took me 40 minutes to park. During those 40 minutes he had been taken in for neurosurgery and I never saw him conscious again.

Two years on, I’ve gotten nothing done, nothing that I was supposed to have been doing. I’m losing the house. I have just about nothing left, no strength, no energy. But I have my memories of him.

I love you more.

It begins again. 7 September, 2019

The difference two years makes.

The girl on the right has no idea that a few hours later, she’s going to watch her husband get his life saved by his defibrillator/pacemaker right in their living room. She has no idea that the trip to the emergency room that night will be the last time she takes her husband there.

That it is the last week on this planet for her husband.

The girl in the middle, a year out from that night, operating on sheer mania and lack of sleep. Fucking up everything, it seems, though people are quick to tell her, “no, no.”

The girl on the left, today. I honestly have no idea how I’m even breathing but for the unending care and tenderness of some truly spectacular humans. Still fucking everything up that isn’t life-or-death and refusing to give a single shit about it any more. Loving deeply and intensely with no regard for those who fly too close to my flame and get burned. Indulging in ink and sex and cannabis and embracing everything good. Dismissing anything less-than.

I no longer settle. I no longer feel less-than.

I miss you more, Gary. I miss you so goddamn much.

I have so much to tell you.

Post-ablation surgery. 8 September, 2017

Gary did do well. Nine+ hours of cardiac ablation surgery. The doctors were cautiously optimistic.

It didn’t last.

From 2017: As soon as he was sedated, the vt stopped, so they had to use adrenaline to trigger it. Small circuits inside his heart, triggered only from where they were ablating.

Long story short, he’s in his room, resting, in pain, but done.
For now.

Here we go. 8 September, 2018

From the beginning.

Well, it wouldn’t be summer at Hoffman House without a cardiac event. G’s ICD did its job at about 10:15pm, shocking him.

After dinner and an episode of Narcos, he’d gone into VT and tried to cardiovert on his own, which didn’t work. I heard him coughing, trying vasovagal maneuvers, and asked if he was ok. He said that I might need to call an ambulance. Then he got shocked. 
After calming down some, I told him I was going upstairs to get his clothes, and I would drive him here, where his doctors are, where his surgeries have all been, and where they have the proper equipment to care for him.

He’s had a chest x-ray, blood drawn, and an EKG. We’re waiting for test results.

“The implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is a device designed to monitor the heartbeat. This device can deliver an electrical impulse or shock to the heart when it senses a life- threatening change in the heart’s rhythm. Like a pacemaker, the ICD is small enough to be implanted.”

His ICD is smaller than the palm of my hand, and cost about a quarter-million bucks. Of course, our health insurance is right squack in the middle of changing over to MVP. Because of course it is.

What a difference a year makes. 7 September, 2018

side-by-side photos of myself, one year apart.
7 September 2018 / 2017

The girl on the right has no idea that a few hours later, she’s going to watch her husband get his life saved by his defibrillator/pacemaker right in their living room. She has no idea that the trip to the emergency room that night will be the last time she takes her husband there.

That it is the last week on this planet for her husband.
I miss you more, Gary. I miss you so goddamn much.

This is me, twelve months ago today, mere hours before the very last car ride to Westchester Medical Center with Gary. I was feeling confident in the way I looked, not as confident as I do now, but confident all the same. We had made great strides in our troubled marriage, great strides to understand each other, to try and see and feel where the other person was coming from.

These past 12 months have been incredibly difficult, so hard, so unbelievably hard. I still don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, how I’m going to be able to survive the rest of my life.

What I do know is that I was as strong as I possibly could be for him, for us. I remember everything that happened as if it happened yesterday. The sound of him coughing from the living room, attempting to avoid being shocked, attempting vasovagal maneuvers is etched into my memory as if it were in the next room right now.

The girl in this photograph is at work, feeling cute, wanting to remember how she looks for the future, when maybe she doesn’t feel quite as cute or as confident.

The girl writing this now is getting ready for work, not feeling confident at all, but knowing that she has to get through another day. All the days. Until she can’t anymore.

28 August, 2018

I’m having a really hard time. 
Four years ago tomorrow, Gary got his defibrillator/pacemaker. Four years and fifteen days later, he didn’t need it anymore. I have it, now. It’s sitting in my kitchen, atop the box of his cremains. Its alarm fires every four hours, thirty-four minutes past the hour. It has lost three minutes over these past nearly twelve months.

He never liked celebrating ICD Day; at his core he knew that the average lifespan after ICD implantation is seven years. Never mind that he was only 43 years old when he got his and the average age of implantation is mid-seventies. He knew this and still, it mattered not. And with so very many things, on this final thing? He was right.

I know he’d much rather have been wrong. I wish he had been, more than any other thing I wish he’d been wrong about.

From today, four years ago, a still-hopeful, still-scared two of us.

And now there is only one of us.

From 2014:

So this is where Gary and I have been since Tuesday. My husband has a great big heart which likes to go on adventures without asking permission. He had an electropulmonary study this afternoon which surprised the doctors in that more than one arrhythmia came to the dance party. So ablation/cauterization came off the table while Gary lay on it. He’ll have his ARC reactor installed tomorrow and with luck, he’ll be discharged Saturday (it’s really a defibrillator but I’m dying to make him an Iron Man costume).

There is basically no cell service whatsoever in the CCU, so no phone, SMS texting, voicemail, etc. The WiFi works like a charm though, so anyone that wants to hit us up on Google Hangouts is welcome to do so. Even video! It’s like FaceTime Android-style.