Stay here. Stay here stay here stay here (repeating ad infinitum into the dark, into the open windows of my car out to the night ) stay here please so much more for you so much more please stay.
I look out into the night, look into my mind to remember the things that are waiting for me. please stay. I know you feel unwelcome but please stay. I know that you feel that there is no room for you and that you need to be by yourself but please stay.
I smoke and I smoke and I smoke and I smoke I smoke until finally I find something that makes me laugh, I comment, “thank you, that finally made me laugh.” knowing that it will only last until it doesn’t.
2023 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.
2018 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.
“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 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.
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.
you know i wanted to be part of the conversation but you switch it to things i can’t contribute to.
thanks. bye. it’s okay.
they’re not rejecting you. they’re turning towards each other. it doesn’t mean they don’t want to talk to you it only means they aren’t as invested in the every last bit of it as you are so please please please please just understand that please it isn’t against you it really isnt, it is okay you are okay.
This is real fear. This isn’t the free-floating shit that pours over me like a fucking wave of lava no, this is real fear based in reality and is well-founded.
This is all of the usual panic and terror before a show coupled with the fact that I have decided to make a fucking living from my work. My real work. That kind of a decision takes confidence and it is a confidence that I am not so confident I have under me completely.
I know it’s there, I know way down it’s there.
The part of me that is the gatekeeper, She Who Heads The Committee, She stands in front of that door, arms crossed. She doesn’t say anything, just looks at me, looks me over the way I assume everyone looks me over all the time. It is She who I have to win over, ultimately, She is the one who pulls me together.
Today is probably the very last day this year for picking Queen Anne’s Lace from the side of the road. I kept my eyes open on this rainy, grey day, keeping up with 69mph traffic but still trying to spot my prize. There had to be enough room to pull over, traffic had to be far enough away from me that I wouldn’t panic, and finally, I saw it. The telltale long legs with flat, white faces tilted to the sky. I know this is the last shot I’ve got.
I signal, slow down, stop. Hazards on. Jump out of the car, run around to the passenger side, gingerly step across a water-filled ditch and grab her. Enough lovely ladies, small and delicate, and finished ones as well, right on the stalk, root and all. I do a quick once over to look for winged passengers, open the door, and unceremoniously toss her inside. I get to the studio, fill a plastic goblet with rainwater, plunk her in the bowl to wait.
I took a long time getting other things done at the studio, nothing towards this little wild carrot waiting outside, patiently, for me to be ready. Checking the light, the time, She Who Leads The Committee in my head murmurs, hmm, it’s getting late, maybe you shouldn’t bother. It’s getting dark. It’s raining. I deflect; i worked hard to get this last one, this last one! There will be no more especially if I do nothing with this one. No.
So I make a little more space in front of me, no, not really enough space but it’s okay, and I garrote a thick, creamy slice of porcelain from the perhaps ten pounds I have left. I tear off a handful of it as if a handful of warm bread from a fresh loaf. I am looking at the flowers and I know exactly what I want to do with every single one of them.
There are conversations that need to happen. There are people that need to be confronted. There are people who need to know exactly how I feel about them, about the things that they’ve done. There are people who need to stand in front of me while I fume and scream and rage in their motherfucking faces. There are people who need to stand in front of me and look me in the motherfucking eyes while I scream at them. There are people who need to listen to the things I have to say.
What I would really like actually, is to punch these people. To hit them, to punch them in their stupid fucking faces. To rip them limb from limb to tear them fucking apart. I want to make these people bleed people I want them to bleed and suffer and scream in pain I want them to know exactly what they’ve done. I would like to take these people’s skulls and smash them into the ground I would like to watch their brains spill all over the sidewalks. I would like their blood and guts and gore to run into the gutters. DO YOU GET IT YET DO YOU?
do you get it?
No I am not okay. No. I will never be okay you keep fucking with me I will never be okay.
One thousand, eight hundred twenty six days ago was the last time I heard your heart beat next to my face.
I miss you. I miss you every day. I am glad you saved me from hearing your voice that day, already altered by the stroke. I am glad your face was already placid and sedate when you heard me telling you that I loved you. I can imagine the smile. You were actively dying. You knew I would be angry for not waiting and you knew I would understand.
You were dying and you saved me. You have saved me.
I am sitting in my car, unmoving Right foot on the dashboard Smoke nearly filling the cabin, rain outside Grim and grey and compressing me into this small, flattish wafer of a person I am so alone and I do not want to be so alone but I cannot go anywhere I do not want to go anywhere I do not want to go out in this The things that I know will make me happy I cannot find the energy to begin to think about doing, There is too much preamble. I think about curling up in the shower and letting the water beat down on me as I lay on the floor of the tub I think about crawling back into bed and never getting out I think about my hand my shoulder cramping as I clutch this pipe and cannot smoke enough weed to make me feel better no there is not enough to make me feel better
I do not want advice. I just want some fucking relief.