13 January 2023/2018

Each year that I read this (and it is now five) I am struck by how close to the initial feeling I still have, how it is now my core, how those first four months of aftermath set the tone for my moving forward.

The sentiment is the same.
I wish you could see.

I couldn’t be this person if you had survived, I wouldn’t be. I wouldn’t have to be.

I wonder if you knew the electricity and wonderment and sheer delight others know to be my truth; I have to believe we had that, too, once upon a time.

How good was my best back then? How close to this could you possibly have seen back then? I guess it must have been something because we met and fell in love and you told me so eleven days later.

I wish I could talk to that girl that I was that person who was running on full-blown mania 100% of the time. I have so much to tell her.

Gary, my love.

Four months ago today you left this Earth.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss you, that I don’t think about you, that I don’t have something to share with you.

I’ve grown stronger, and softer, and wiser. I’ve grown in ways you would expect, be proud of. Become even more resilient, because I’ve had to. You always had my back even when neither of us knew it. Even when it was too difficult to say so, to share so.

I’ve met people who you would like, who you would love, and I’ve told them so. I’ve made changes; some small, some not-so. Evolved, mostly. Become, more. The way The Velveteen Rabbit Became.

Anyone I let into This Widow’s Life has to measure up to your memory, is judged against your bar, and a very high bar it is indeed. I can reach it on tiptoe, in bare feet. You remain the smartest man I’ve ever met. The most difficult partner I’ve ever had. The most worth-it partner. You had to be, we had to be, for me to not give up, for us to not give up. And we never did.

I tolerate less, and more. Funny, that. I’m not afraid to speak my mind, stand firm, hold my ground. I give no quarter; this far and no further.

Those I have let in, those few, I think they know, I think they realize what a gift it is. You did. Even though it wasn’t until the very very end. So bittersweet; but I am not bitter.

I love you, more.

Glitter 💜💜


“If I didn’t see it happen in front of me, I wouldn’t believe it. Goddamn.”

That is what my witness said to me after it happened. I have proof. Finally I have a witness I have proof.

The place where I work was packed, busy even for a Saturday. My boss asked me to do something as I was sitting at the computer doing other things so I added it to the list of my tasks. One by one I got through most of them when my boss asked me if I had gotten to her thing. I replied “nope! Not yet! Haven’t had a chance I’ll do it right now.” And got right to it.

This woman. This fucking woman.

This fucking woman appears in front of me with her two children akimbo. I had helped the older one once upon a time, been very patient with her as she overcame a very difficult thing. Gently and successfully, much to her sullen, preteen resistance I might add.

This fucking woman.

This fucking woman says to me.

“Watch your mouth around my children.”

My head shoots up, eyes wide. “Excuse me?” Having zero understanding of what she’s talking about since I have said absolutely nothing since responding to my boss.

This woman. This fucking woman.

This fucking woman says
“You were about to say Jesus fucking Christ in front of my kids.”

And I looked at her.
And my witness looked at her.
She said it in front of her kids.

“I absolutely did not say that.”

This fucking woman said Jesus fucking Christ in front of her kids.

This fucking woman.
This fucking woman says:

“I am the queen of cursing and you were about to say it I know what you were going to say.”


“I absolutely did not say that.”
My witness, shaking their head, shocked. My jaw just about hitting the floor.

The queen of cursing, you say.

The Queen.

This fucking woman thinks that I would respond out loud to a question posed by my boss with the answer
Jesus fucking christ.
This fucking woman thinks that I would respond in front of children
Jesus fucking Christ.
In front of her children. Jesus fucking Christ.

You want to know what was in my head? You think that banal bullshit was what I was thinking at the moment?

You have the audacity to think you could imagine what it’s like inside my head?

The things that I think, the things that exist inside my head would terrify you to a point where you would never, ever, ever say another thing again.

You really think you’re the queen of cursing.
You want to go head to head with me?
I guarantee you will not survive. I will make you rethink your entire existence.
I will make you question your reason for living; I will make you question whether or not you deserve to breathe on this Earth.
I will tell you things about yourself that you know to be true deep down in the deepest fucking recesses of your soul.
I will share with you the reasons your daughter hates you so much (it’s because she looks like you), you narrow-eyed cunt.
Every time she looks in the mirror she sees your face even though her cheeks are full and they’re going to be full for the rest of her life and you are going to shame her for her fat face. Every time she sees you look at her she sees your disgust, feels your disappointment. If you aren’t already saving for her therapy, you should do so immediately.
You ought to just give up on your son because he is going to be in codependent relationships for the rest of his life. He is completely neglected and wishes for a second that he would get some of the attention you give your daughter even though it’s all negative. Honestly it would be better for all involved if you let him go live with relatives. Literally anyone else would take better care of him. You simply don’t give a shit.
You take your anger out on me because you couldn’t help your child. You know that you absolutely do not have the patience to help your own child where I did.
Your daughter hates you so much because you’ve made your husband miserable and he doesn’t fuck you and is most likely fucking your friends. A quick look on dating apps would find him in a second.

You think you’re the queen of cursing? Come at me bitch. I’ve got you I’ve got your fucking number. I haven’t even gotten started with you.

Jesus fucking christ. You think I was thinking Jesus fucking christ? No I wasn’t. My only thought at that moment was how to get to the end of the day without killing myself.

It’s going to get a whole lot worse from here.

4/9/89 11:21 pm | 757a 24 february 2022

typewritten 33 years ago. found in the attic at the last possible moment.

darkness — thick, oppressive
congealing as if blood around an open breathing wound
am this
the wound
panic steers this two-ton beast
not i racing
racing heart racing through mazed streets
dimly lit by infrequent lights
sudden dip
plunge headlong into wooded thick
cricket thicket surroundsound
i turn up the radio to shut out the nature
nature of this two-ton beast of steel racing heart racing.

I wrote this 33 years ago on the way home from somewhere/something stressful. My engagement party? I was less than a month away from turning 21.

I would have stopped to pull the car over to write this; wherever my first Filofax disappeared to, deep within its pockets lies a piece of looseleaf covered in my handwriting, tense and manic and completely out of control from the feel of it. This was about 6 months before I married my first ex-husband, The Sociopath. I hadn’t yet gotten anywhere close to the diagnosis I finally have, I mean I had finally gotten away from the schizophrenia misdiagnosis and was hovering somewhere in limbo, hinting around manic depression and clinical depression, but no one understood suicidality and ADHD back then, much less accounted for the PTSD I already had and would continue to have. I’m pretty sure by this point I had been put on Prozac which only helped to launch me fully into extreme mania.

The terror that I know that I was feeling that night, it is a familiar one. The time of year, well into the beginning of spring, added to the mania I know I was experiencing. Without understanding that this is how my body acts in spring, without any tools to help mitigate what would always be outside of my control, I can feel (finally, I think) really aware of just how much I have survived, and continue to survive.

I kept going when I had no proof of better times to come. I have that proof now.

I am that proof.
My proof lives in me.

It always changes; it always shifts. It gets better and it gets worse and it gets better again. Gam zeh ya’avor / gam zu l’tovah. This too shall pass and it is all for the good. גם זה יעבור זה גם לטובה

the time traveling doctor. 7a 20th november, 2020

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.

Clarity. 11 September, 2018/17

I wrote this in an email to a good friend just after midnight last year. How I wish, how I wish we had had more time. After fifteen and a half years with Gary and the last three days of his life were at once the most crystal clear, even through the muddiness and haze of drug reactions.

“On my way home again for the night. So tired, so drained from the day. I’m sure it’s much more tiring for him, but having to play all the roles I am playing is getting exhausting. Caregiver I’m fairly used to; but now there’s translator, interpreter, social worker, and cryptographer added in. I am fortunate in that the medical staff is used to people in my position and they tolerate me well.

“He’s made some mental and emotional breakthroughs as well; the combination of a massive drugs cocktail and PTSD (because that’s definitely what is happening after incurring seven shocks in three days) is making him hallucinate, lose words, and essentially experience things that happen to me on the regular as just a lovely feature of my own illness. I (gently) confronted him with the comparison, telling him how explicitly I understand and why, and it was like a light bulb went off. He apologized, and wept, realizing how dreadfully little patience he’s had for me in my times of extreme stress, just when I needed empathy the most. So, silver lining.

“He may not remember what he said. He knows that. He’s given me leave to remind him. Here’s hoping.

“Sitting in the car outside the hospital writing this because it was so unbelievably upsetting, him realizing all this and talking about it, and not wanting to show him how much. Showing him anyway, but trying desperately to keep as tight as lid on it as possible. So I’m letting it out here before the drive home. I’m wound so fucking tightly at this point I feel like I’m made of glass. I can barely breathe.”

An Unquiet Mind. 1 May, 2018

On April 30th, 2002, eleven days after our first date, you told me you loved me.

We lay in your narrow bed in Park Slope, talking about everything and nothing at all. You said those three words. You took my breath away, Gary. You saw tears spring to my eyes, pushed my hair away from my face, and asked me what was wrong. I told you that I loved you too, and that I had something to tell you.

I took a deep breath, and began to tell you about my illness, the illness that has haunted me since I was 13: ultradian rapid cycling bipolar disorder type 1. It is incurable, and in my case, barely treatable. I gave you a brief rundown of my history, about the same that I would do with any new psychiatrist (two of whom retired while I was mid-treatment). I told you the truth: that I had never been arrested, never been hospitalized, and never harmed anyone other than myself. I told you that I had been on medication in the past, and that at that point when we were dating, I wasn’t on anything at all. I was manic pretty much all of the time.

At this point, fully expecting you to either recoil in horror or run away screaming, you surprised me by doing neither. You held me closer. I gave you the name of a book that I wanted you to read: An Unquiet Mind by Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison. I told you that it had saved my life. I told you that I wanted you to read this book, do some research, decide whether or not you wanted to go any further on what would be an absolute roller coaster of a ride, and that I had no judgement if you didn’t. I gave you a brief history, of my medications, my moods. I showed you the many scars from where I had cut quite deeply into my arm. This is your out, I said. You can walk away and never look back, and I wouldn’t ever blame you. Not even a little bit. You hugged me tightly, and promised to read the book. I gave you my copy when next I saw you.

You read it. You said it wasn’t really for you, and was probably more effective for someone struggling with the illness itself as opposed to an outsider.

You wanted to stay, you didn’t want to give up.

The 15 and a half years we were together were an absolute roller coaster ride, as promised. There was a lot of good, and a lot of very, very bad. We never did give up. Not even a little bit.

One of the very last books you read was Madness: A Bipolar Life by Marya Hornbacher. As always, you were listening to it on audio. You had it on whenever you were awake, which included a lot of times when I was getting dressed, or doing something else in the house. The morning that I discovered that you were reading it, I was trying to put on makeup in the bathroom. I was listening to the narrator describe my life. Weeping, I walked into the bedroom where you lay in bed listening. I motioned for you to pause the narration. I asked you why you were listening to it. You said, “Do you want me to stop? I thought it would help me understand you better.” I replied, “No. I want you to finish it. And then I want to listen to it after you’re done.”

Even before you had finished reading it, you looked at me with a softness in your eyes, a softness I hadn’t seen there before. You explained to me that you thought you understood now. At least a lot better than you used to. I said that I was grateful for that, and that I was trying very hard to not resent the fact that it took someone else’s story about my life to have you understand my life.

I asked a trusted friend about this phenomenon, and he explained to me that it’s common with people who are struggling with PTSD, for them to hear someone else’s story and be able to relate to it much better than if the person they’re more connected to is describing it. Curious, but true. I trust him; I trust you.

The very fact that you understood that I could be fearful of showering, or brushing my teeth, or opening the mail! or any of the small, seemingly ridiculous things that I had been unable, incapable of doing at one point or another along my way, whether or not you actually understood why but that you understood that it *was possible* and that it was real, this was mind-blowing to me. A breakthrough. More breakthroughs would come in those last six days you were on this planet. Incredible breakthroughs aided by drugs that you had such terrible reactions to. And the time and in between after you read this last book and the day you died is bittersweet.

You died, and in those last bits of time we had I know that you understood me more than you ever had done before. More than you had ever been able to before. I knew that up until then, you were incapable of understanding me, not because you were stubborn (although you were). Not because you were obstinate (although you were that, too). But only because it was truly impossible.

I am joyful because we had those last few days where we understood each other, where you understood me, where you understood exactly the hell that I had been through. Exactly the hell that you had wreaked upon me. And I know that you were sorry. We had the rest of forever to figure it out. And figure it out we did.

I love you. I love you now, And I love you forever.