I wonder what you would say if you met my Brian. Would you look up at him and say (head cocked like the dog on the victrola commercial)
how? how are you so good? why are you so good? I see how she loves you. Everyone does.
And he would look at you with kindness in his eyes and his voice would drop and he would say
aww sweetie because you are me.
I want you to feel the love I feel I want you to know what this feels like because I don’t know that you ever have. I don’t know that I have ever felt this love for you before now. now, when it is un/complicated.
It hurts me that this is here and you are not. That I am here, That you are not.
I have so much to say to you so much that, um, I just i keep thinking that
I keep wanting to
I just I just want to share with you. I just wanna tell you I just want you to see me now. I want i really
and I don’t think you would blame me for where I am. I don’t think anymore that you would blame me for where I am. Because I
depended on you so much
i depended on you so much and it just took everything away.
and everything you did stopped with you.
There’s no one here. To see me doing fuck all.
There’s, there’s no one.
No one to report to.
There’s no one here.
There’s Mojo. He was real happy that I went to bed at 9:30 and fed him first and got into bed and he came right in with me. And we snuggled all night, got up around six or something for his medicine. And then went back to bed. Had like 10 hours of sleep sort of
what the fuck am I supposed to do now? what do I do now?
I mean, if I thought there was no way before and then there was but now it’s like everything is used up. I, i If I spend the money I have on the car, I will have nothing else. nothing. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now.
I never heard your voice again that last day, today.
By now (8:18am) you had already had a stroke, you were already being prepped for neurosurgery. I never heard your wonderful, delicious, boomy voice that day again, today. That voice, when it was being clever and kind, I could listen to for hours. The last time I heard your voice, a few hours earlier as I was leaving your bedside for some sleep, it was pure and true and you told me you loved me and I take that with me into Oblivion.
I have the words you wrote to me, I have the texting we were doing about the kitties, about your anticipated relief from the meds they gave you every day to soothe your terror, I told you that “they will, my love.” You did not tell me about the stroke. You saved me from that. You gave me the most selfless gift of not having to worry when worry wouldn’t help.
I know that the last words of mine that you saw were that I was coming to you and that I would see you when you got back. I have that unbelievably beautiful post that you put on Facebook that morning. I didn’t know then that these would be your last words. You were so concerned with last words you had a whole book of them on your side of the bed. You didn’t want to end up like Pancho Villa.¹
I know the last words of mine that you heard were from my mouth to yours, to your ear, my head on your chest, your hand in mine. I know you heard me because the doctor told me you could hear me. I told you you were safe, that you were loved, that you were okay. That everyone was working on you to help and that you were okay. That you were still going the right way and that I would see you soon. That I wasn’t going anywhere. I told you that I loved you. I told you that I loved you. I told you that I loved you.
I am posting this to you directly because I want certain people see it. I want to know (even though I won’t) that certain people are aware of what today is, that certain people are thinking about you.
Of course I won’t know. Of course I know that that part is a useless, useless exercise and one that will not bring me any joy. I know that that part is petty and small. And still I feel the need to do it. Perhaps someday I won’t. I believe your memory deserves to be cherished in a way that perhaps your life was not.
I have been learning how to exorcise from my life the things that do not serve me. I have been learning how to be more patient. I think you would be amazed. Truly. And yet I don’t do these things to amaze you, I do them because I am finding my way towards happiness, for truly the first time ever.
I know that every breath you ever took in and exhaled is still out there in the air, circling and eddying and dissipating and coming together again.
I know that the electricity that powered the supercomputer that was your brain and that faulty thing that was your heart is still reverberating out here in the ether, in here, inside me. I know that the ashes and broken bits of bone and teeth that I have on my bookshelves, in the room where I spend most of my time aren’t indicative of who you were, that even at their most concrete, these remains are the most ethereal ones.
Things are still so hard. The pain is getting easier to bear. I have people who love me who are helping to ease the weight. There are times when I feel you in the room with me, when I am transported for a moment, and it is comforting.
There is so much I have to tell you; so many things I need to say. So much I need for you to hear.
I am learning so much. I need to tell you everything.
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.
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.
Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 53 years old. I spent the entire weekend with people and missing people who clearly love me and who I love so much. I spent the weekend
I spent the weekend doing familiar birthday things, Going to the Lyndhurst craft fair as I have done for decades (maybe half the artists this time, different layout, timed ticketing, all due to covid restrictions) stressing out from all of the unknowns (known and unknown, thank you D. Rumsfeld) wanting so much for normalcy (but what is “normal”, anyway? I certainly don’t have a fucking clue) feeling so much that I have to explain even though I know I don’t It seems like all I have been doing for the past three and a half years is explaining and explaining and explaining because honestly I don’t understand any of it. Just when I think I do I get caught off guard and none of it makes sense again.
I suppose I’m not explaining to others so much as to myself.
I miss all of the things that we talked about, all of those things that we never did. All of the ways we responded to each other, all of the good, all of the terrible. The contrast, I think, the contrast is what’s killing me now. i do not know if I can take being loved this way.
I can say things out loud and I can say things out loud and not worry about feeling stupid for saying them. Being made to feel stupid for saying them. I can say things out loud and not worry about I can say things out loud and not worry about being instantly and immediately criticized. I can say things out loud and not worry about who might be on my side.
I know I know for sure I know now that you loved me but I didn’t then. I never knew for sure. I never knew from one minute to the next. You would rescind and retract your love like the outgoing tide. Snatch it away from me, away from my
craven, grasping, grubby little paws
I want to forgive you for saying these things to me. I want to forgive you for this so much.
How can I miss you so much and still be so angry at the things you did to me? That we did to each other.
I told your sister once that I never really had an accurate sense of your feeling for me, not that I felt I could believe anyway. That I always thought you thought I was stupid and not enough and too much all at once. That now I can look at the last things you wrote, and know. I can look at all the small lovelinesses you left behind. I can look at those things and know that they are real, they are proof. Not soon enough to be able to enjoy with you, no.
The very desperate need to hold onto them
((craven, grasping, grubby little paws)screaming to the sky to talk to you for you to hear me
I am trying so hard to do everything I can to be well. I am still so I am still so unwell but I don’t feel crushed by having to hold up every other damn thing anymore if only because I have given up on everything it seems)
I can look at the small lovelinesses that you left and see them for the huge gestures that they were. Everything is relative.
I can see the unexplored and forever unknown possibility of us becoming better to each other, to ourselves. Knowing how difficult it was even in the very best of us knowing I would not be this person if you were still alive proving my progress to the memory of a dead man wanting so much to escape your critical eye, your devastating words and yet wanting to show you that I am okay I am not okay.
Yesterday was my birthday. I felt loved, and cherished, and adored, and so sad for what we never had. If you could see how people treat me now. If you could see how people love me now and aren’t afraid to say, to show. I know you would, too.
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.
clear, warm(ish) night, listening to music over headphones, productive day, visiting with some of my favorite people and meeting new ones. there’s some stuff rolling around in my brain; I’ve said some, but it seems too harsh, too cold to say, but it’s true.
my husband died and I was able to become who I am now. he died so that i could live.
I can barely even say the words without wanting to smack my own face in horror, but it’s true.
I think I’ve said it out loud to maybe three people, each time thinking my own skeleton will exit my skin when I say it. I feel like I am daring myself to remain conscious, like maybe I’m dreaming. I’m not dreaming.
I mean this is horrible shit, right? I’ll tell you something else truly terrible: on more than one occasion but fewer than ten, I confided to best girlfriends that
fuck this this is terrible.
“…no place to go but everywhere…” ²
I’d said to these women, these women all married like me, in various states of dysfunction in their own marriages and relationships, all bent and dented and damaged and nearly broken. Like me.
“…I’ve been waiting for you, in sunshine and rain… won’t you look at you now, you mad molecule…” ³
oh gods. Oh gods.
“The problem is all inside your head, she said to me The answer is easy if you take it logically I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free… …it grieves me so to see you in such pain I wish there was something I could do to make you smile again I said I appreciate that and would you please explain About the fifty ways” ⁴
I’d said to these women wtf knows how long before he died “If he could just be gone. I don’t want him to hurt, I don’t want him to die. I don’t want anything bad for him, not pain, not suffering. I just want to stop being in so much pain.”
and now he is and now I am. Now I am
I am becoming something more than I thought I could. I would like the dissenting voices to kindly shut the fuck up, please and thank you.
“…I just want to say I love you And make sure you feel it every day ’cause if today had been my last chance It’s just something I wanted to say…” ⁵
I feel like you know, in this way that my tenses and my conversations are still fucked up three and a half years in I feel like you know like you see Tonight, especially. Now. Like right the fuck now jesus fuck.
“Well I don’t mind sleeping alone If it means I don’t have to play your crazy games no more You’re the most precious thing I’ve ever seen But I ain’t gonna let it slide when you’re mean to me I know the love that I deserve…” ⁶
Deserve is a word I take issue with. Earned is better.
Up at four-something; the sound of an upchucking cat isn’t a noise to be ignored. Pushing him (gently) off the bed so I won’t have to wash the entire coverlet again. Tangled in the comedic/horror movie mess of giant bed + weighted blanket + CPAP mask and racing against the threat of a heaving animal simultaneously a thousand miles away and on top of me, I know that my day is going to be a fight.
The waves of depression and subsequent rapid cycling and eventual mixed states yesterday only subsided because I smoked myself into oblivion. I ate a shit ton of sugar and passed out. Took an edible to stay asleep.
I go to the bathroom, look at my phone, my email. I’ve been avoiding the actual mail and swiping left on my email like it’s a dating app. The email saying my rent is posting today.
I’ve been looking at my balance, not buying things. Nothing. How do you get money?
You sell things.
You have things to sell. Good things. You even have photos.
why, then. why frozen. Fogged. Stuck. Frozen.
I can do for Mojo, I can take pretty good care of him. If no one else.
It’s 6:14 in the morning and I realize I can’t go to work. I can’t control this today. I barely could yesterday. (there is no longer any thinking about what would happen if I had to, about how terrible it would get)
there is no longer any fear of safety.
that is a difficult sentence to write. to digest. I cannot breathe. i cannot breathe. . breathe. breathe. . What it means what it means is that I can do what I need to do to care for myself without worrying about getting written up, or in trouble, or fired, or discarded. Left. Ghosted. It means that I have compassionate people who care about my safety for my sake first.
My safety for me, not as an asset. A tool. A toy.
It is 6:27 in the morning and this is what that is, this rage, this dysphoria. This sadness, this depression.
This makes it so clear to me, finally. The sheer disparity. Reminders of how it felt. The unpleasantness, the imbalance. I don’t want that. Not ever. Not even knowing.
So, now what. Delete the playlist (again. It has one song on it.) Done. Back away. Understand this isn’t ever going to change. Really, though. Understand you don’t have to burn it to the ground, either. Really. You can continue to walk away.
you know there isn’t always a trigger but a lot of times, there is.
it is seven in the morning and I am inside as the rain begins to fall. it isn’t, though, raining outside but sure as a rainfall cools the planet feeds the plants smoke slakes my thirst, soothes my fear.
the sky is lightening, the grey becoming less so enough to douse the harsh overhead light and open the curtain.
I am worrying about how I will manage things but right now the fear isn’t strangling me. it’s sort of set apart, a bit. It isn’t going to stay there, not today. Today is going to be
better at home. Quiet, as I need.
it is seven forty-nine in the morning and and there isn’t much getting done today.
That isn’t true, no. no it isn’t.
progress, however glacial a pace, is progress still.
Every time I have seen JJ since my husband’s death it’s all I can be reminded of. How long it’s been. I know I mention it every time I see him and I have found myself unable to stop doing so. I realize (every single time) that this is not conducive to doing more business, or good for his comfort, or for mine, in fact. His profession means that he’s going to have to deal with surviving spouses, possibly more than he thought. I don’t want to keep doing this. I don’t want to keep focusing on only that anytime I see him and I fear that I may have risked ever seeing him again because I can’t stop talking about it.
Listening to The New York Times Daily podcast this morning and an interview with a woman who was a medical examiner in rural Wisconsin, who explains that she understands that as a last responder, her presence is triggering for some people forever.
Do I think that I can rewrite my own code for this relationship? Do I think that I can rewire my brain to be thankful that one of my husband’s cardiologists is such a lovely, sweet, kind person instead of having the first and only reaction to him being one of the last attendants to my husband?
Yes. Yes of course I do. My brain is nothing but elasticity and electricity and muscle and if the past 1,164 days have shown me nothing else it is this.
Most recently, I have been learning how love can help to reframe old photographs, to view memories through a different lens. To not make excuses for, but to understand motivation. To take this current love into the past and care for the people who were hurt. To let that healing wend its way forward into the future, to meet up with the realization I have now.
I wish you could see me now. I wish you could know me, now.