10:01p, 15 april, 2019

I could not have done this yesterday.

Nor the day before, or the
one before that, no.
Even though it meant that whatever
Whatever it is growing rapidly had extra time.
I could not have done this yesterday.

I pulled myself together and made a plan
and altered that plan the second it needed be.
I kept my head,
channeled my fear into anger
Not rage,
Anger, while focused, can be productive.
Rage, always focused, never is.
Always is destructive..

I could not have done this yesterday.
I only hope I don’t have needed to anyway.

3:13p, 15 April, 2019

A close-up of my black cat, Teaz'ka, curled up on my lap, on my pink and orange tie-dye pants and white t-shirt. His head is resting on my left arm.

Waiting in this room by myself with our cat
With Teaz’ka
Ivan Rumpelteazer, first of his name
Cleverly named, loved more than life itself.
I am so angry at you for being dead.
You aren’t here to be with us
You aren’t here to talk to
You aren’t here to be overrun with emotion with me

You aren’t here to console him, to console me. We are alone.

You aren’t here.

5 april, 2019. 6:46pm

My heart. Oh, my heart.

I was hunting around in the vast artbeast mess of a dining room looking for A2 cello sleeves for the new cards that are drying. What I found. What I found is my orange Filofax that has been missing for four and a half years. The origami envelope that Gary made to enclose Sonnet 145 for me in its back pocket. Addressed to “my Glitter Girl”. I am overcome, overwhelmed. Weeping, shaking in my grief.

Also in its depths: a line from Hamlet, penned by someone dear I cannot remember, fallen whiskers of cats long-dead, a collaged card with a photo from 1959 with both my father and grandfather, a note from my stepmother about the ApoE4 gene which my father has a double version of, a small version of my own handprint to be made into a photopolymer letterpress die, fortune cookie widsom from Arthur Ashe, hastily written notes about multiform PVCs and success rates of ablation surgery (70%).

This is why the bar is set so high.

Asking for help, 17 September 2017, 2018, 17 March, 2019

From 2017, three days gone:

I am not ever one to ask for help. But I am one to realize when things are beyond my grasp, beyond my capabilities. So with all of the love and support and heart that you all have shown me from the beginning of this total and complete horror show (and really? For a long time before this), I am learning to ask for help.

My friend Jennifer (has) created a YouCaring fundraiser for me, to help get me through this next part of my life. This difficult, insanely stressful part of my life.

Thank you all for the love you have shown, and continue to show me and Gary.

From 2018, one year and three days gone :

The daily struggle to survive is real. The money that everyone so generously raised last year paid for Gary​ to be cremated. That’s it. The entire $4600. Every day since, every bill, every single thing gets weighed in importance. I’ve been putting off Mojo​ getting his teeth cleaned because I need to return more bottles and cans. Somewhere along the way the YC fundrasiser page disappeared. No clue.

There was no life insurance, no pension, no 401(k). It’s all on me, my part-time job, and selling my art.

If you can give, even a little, please. I have no pride anymore. No shame.

I have Venmo and PayPal (lysa.hoffman@gmail.com). An Amazon wishlist (which right now is mostly a holding place to watch the price of bras I desperately need to replace).

Asking for help shatters the last bit of hope I had.

From this Friday, 542 days later, and today:

Mojo (whatagoodboy) waiting to be seen by Dr. Romano for his well-baby checkup and dental work. This little dude is the more scaredy-cat of my pair of knockabout clowns, but he really is an amazing creature. He always knows when his Momma needs him and snuggles right in.
UPDATE: Home now, a little wobbly, but really none the worse for wear💜💜
And that was more than my entire paycheck. Worth it. Worth every penny.
But still more than my paycheck.

I stopped paying my mortgage in September. I never had the intention of completely defaulting but the bank (thank, Wells Fargo!) refused to work with me until I did, until I had completely destroyed my credit. My house, our house is now in foreclosure. I have come around to the idea that I need to find a smaller place. That I need to let go of this place. The idea no longer terrifies me; I’m resigned to it. I need to stay in this city that I have grown to love, Peekskill, where my created family lives.

I am simply frozen. There is so much I have not gotten done, so much piling up and broken. So much I know I’m overpaying for (hello, Verizon wireless and internet!) but am completely unable to take care of. I certainly don’t need the upload/download speeds that Gary did, but I know for sure I’ll get taken advantage of. Because that is what happens.

I am adrift.

As the inevitable waves of depression wash over me I do everything I can to ease them: listen to the “groovy shit” and “boss BITCH” playlists I made on Spotify, write, snuggle wee beasties, plan playtime, EAT SOMETHING FFS, use some CBD, head into the studio to set type for the orders I desperately need to print. Messing about with my little secret garden. My mother is coming over in a few hours to help me clean and organize, to help make some sense of this mess. Knitting with one of my best girls was cancelled because her shitheel of an ex has yet again decided to be a totally pernicious twit of a narcissistic asshole. So instead of knitting and dishing, I’m writing, and listening to good music while snuggly bois wind around my legs. And making my plan for the day.

Which, as I see it, isn’t the worst thing that could be happening. I’ve managed, by spending this time writing and attaching Spotify links and stuff, to elevate my mood. I’ve responded to an email chain that continues to make me happy.

Gotta go. Shower’s running.

Part 1. 13 September, 2018

This is how I began my morning one year 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 his work 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.

One year on, I’ve gotten nothing done, nothing that I was supposed to have been doing. I don’t know how I’m going to keep my house and I’m pretty sure I’m going to lose it. I have just about nothing left, no strength, no energy. But I have my memories of him.
I love you more.

I’d recorded Teaz’ka purring and sent it to Gary

Teaz’ka. 27 July, 2018

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not religious, superstitious, particularly concerned with any sort of luck, or Karma. I believe in coincidence and hard work, not fate and destiny. I believe that things happen. I believe that they happen not for a reason, but just because they happen, that we can push things in one direction or another, that we can make things happen, that we have free will.

All of the above being said, I don’t remember the last time that Teaz’ka had a seizure. It’s well before Gary died, and every time I’ve gone to mention it, every time I’ve gone to say “well, he hasn’t had a seizure in X number of months”, I stopped myself. I don’t say it. That second grader inside of me who heard ghost stories at a sleepover and is worried that I’ll now be followed home by a scary, creepy doll, that part of me is worried about “jinxing it”.

So at about 6:15 this morning, before my alarm went off and after only about 3 hours of sleep, Teaz’ka had a seizure on my lap while we were both still asleep. Mojo got up, concerned, and I woke up, took off my CPAP mask, and stroked Teaz’ka’s fur. I soothed him, calmed him, talked to him, kept him from falling off the bed, kept him from scratching me. He finished seizing, was going into the post-ictal state, and then he began to growl. Another seizure. I kept stroking his little, tense body, murmuring to him that he was okay, held him. He came out of the second seizure more quickly than the first, eyes wide, meowing loudly. I scooped up the blankets and top sheet to launder after I get home from work tonight because I have a first chiropractor appointment before work this morning and can’t afford to dump these in the wash and leave them there for 8 hours to mold.

The little dude is pretty much all calmed down now, having marched around in circles for a while, checking to make sure all his stuff is where he left it as he usually does after a seizure. He’s had stuff to eat, some water, even. I managed to get his pills down him, and he’s purring loudly. His pupils aren’t completely dilated anymore, he’s much calmer. I’m not worried about leaving him alone while I go to work.

A beautiful black cat with golden eyes
Teaz’ka, post-post-ictal state, settling down

27 June, 2018

The following is from two years ago today, from the third, and penultimate ablation surgery.

Although the doctors Gary had are some of the best in their field, at the top of their game, ultimately the care they provided for him wasn’t enough. His body simply gave out.

Although our lives were filled with uncertainty and dread, we were together, we had each other. My life now is still filled with uncertainty and dread, but I no longer have my husband. I can no longer console myself by looking at his sweet face, no longer can I reach out to touch him, to settle his nerves and mine, no longer be soothed by him saying the magic words, “you’re still going the right way”.

None of my “free time” is free anymore. Every waking moment is spent trying to figure out how to save our house, to take care of Teaz’ka and Mojo and myself, how to save what he and I built. I need help.


27 June, 2016 | 6:08pm | Gary is out of surgery. They had to go to the outer surface of his heart, were able to push his frenic nerve out of the way “a little bit”, were limited in what they could do by the placement of other arteries. They ablated what they could, and he will be in the CCU soon, recovering. As soon as they let me in there, I’m gonna smooch him.

Boy howdy is he gonna be hungry.

Babies. 7 June, 2018

Ten. The babies are ten years old today. Oh-six oh-seven oh-eight.

Teaz’ka and Mojo. Ivan Rumpelteazer and Yevgeny Mungojerrie. The $50,000 Rescue Cat and Sgt. Mojohowicz. Stinkerbelle and The Fangster Gangster. My fanged, furry barnacles. My constant companions since you died nearly nine months ago.

My love, you worked from home, were home all day for them, *their* constant companion (whether or not you paid strict attention to them). They taught you their games, taught you how to play Fetch, Human! Teaz’ka became your 3pm alarm, telling you he needed his second dose of phenoxybenzamine.

Since your death, any time that I am anywhere close to being horizontal, there is at least one of the two on me, and usually both. They both sleep on me at night, in the middle of our king-sized bed. They are never far from me when I am home. I worry, now, about what would happen to them should something happen to me. I trust no one to care for them as I care for them; no one. The doors are always locked the second I get home, my phone is always with me. A few very close
friends have keys to the house, just case. I am remiss in not writing out their care plans, their medication schedules, sharing my passwords with those friends for just in case. I’m not sure that I haven’t begun to become a bit more mad than I already am over this.

They are literally the most important parts of my life now, the reason I get up every single day. My friends, my family, I love you but you simply do not need me the way these two little creatures do. This isn’t to say that I do not love some among you more than I can express, more than I think some of you can handle, and I know that there are those among you who I lean upon with a sometimes (and many times frequent) desperate intensity. I know that some of us share a calm when we’re together; that we are a peaceful respite for each other. These boys these *cats* are my respite when nothing else no thing else no one else can help me. When there is nothing but noise and rage and pain in my head and heart these two beings are what keep me here.

For those of you who have met them, have had the pleasure of their small, soft, warm bodies snuggling into you, you get it; you know. I trust their judgement; there is not a single person I’ve allowed into this house in the last nine months who I’ve not felt comfortable around. They are my keepers as much as I am theirs; we take care of each other.

Happy birthday, babies. I wish your Daddy were here.

Two tiny, five-week old kittens in my husband's outstretched hands
Teaz’ka (front) and Mojo in Gary’s hands at five weeks old
Two tiny kittens in a cat bed
Tongue-out Teaz’ka and Mojo resting after getting cleaned up (sort of)
Two much-larger, ten-year old black cats snuggled on top of me
Mojo (front) and Teaz’ka on their favorite cat bed: Momma

Teaz’ka. 31 March, 2018

This was three years ago when Teaz’ka​ was at the Animal Specialty Center​ for his perineal urethrostomy. Here he is, our little super trooper, our little champion, marching around while his Daddy, Gary​, loves on him.

Teaz’ka is doing incredibly well for a cat with many, many physical issues. Thank you a godzillion to Dr. Brian Green and staff of Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital​ for all of your continued, wonderful care.

There isn’t much video of Gary, not in the fifteen years we were together, so it’s little moments like this that make me gasp and smile broadly.

Missing your sweet, sweet face, my love.