It’s Aug. 11 now. I didn’t mean to stay up through today, but here I am.
This week has been horrible, but made better earlier tonight by the birth of Ryker Hardt Windham, new daughter of my dear friend Amy. My happiness for Amy, for this dream come true, is great indeed.
It is one of the only signs of beauty in an otherwise dismal week.
Today, I went to a visitation for a young man, the 18-year-old son of one of my friends. She may be one of the friends I’ve known the longest here.
And her son is gone, tragically. Tomorrow, on Adam’s birthday, I will go to his funeral. No matter how much I want to make tomorrow all about me because of Adam, I can’t. Because it’s about another family right now. Their loss. Patrick was our batboy years ago, hanging with us in the dugout. I remember him sitting with us after games at the Squatting Chicken. He probably rolled his eyes a lot as we drank beer and laughed about the game. I remember his mischievous smile. I hope you will take the time to read his obituary. We should all be remembered.
I attempted to be strong at the visitation, but that didn’t last. I ran into old co-workers from Air Force, and another former teammate from our now-dismantled women’s rec team. I tried to focus only on others, and I failed, falling back to the grief that can overwhelm me.
Today, Adam would have been 44. We would have gone out with friends. He probably would have chosen sushi or seafood. I would have tried to make today special. He most likely would have bought himself some gadget for his birthday.
I’m claiming Ryker’s Aug. 10 birthday as a gift to me from Adam. Amy said I could. Besides, Adam would have been thrilled with the name!
Happy Birthday, Ryker. Happy Birthday, Adam. Farewell, Patrick.
I started on the pills today. It’s been nine months, and all those pills have been gathered in the same plastic bucket in the pantry. Just hanging out and waiting. This is what it takes to live. This is what you need if you are going to survive liver disease and make it to transplant. It’s also what you need to hold on to when you are grieving.
To live, you need vitamins, diuretics, sleep medicine, anti-depressants … and medicine to keep you from actually going crazy when the ammonia builds up and you suddenly are mentally confused.
This doesn’t even count the medicines the wife was/is on to survive.
I wasn’t ready to throw them away. Maybe I would need them. There’s this “holding on” you have that says “if I keep the meds, maybe he will need them again. They are expensive. Maybe he’s not dead and we will get to fight another day, and if that’s the case, well, I’m going to need that Lasix.”
At the highest it was nine different pills … nine in the morning and seven at night. This wouldn’t hold a torch to what Adam would have been on had he made it to transplant. I laid out the pills every day for him, sat with him as he took them. I organized them into pill containers. I was going to will him to live.
“Do everything the doctors say.” That was our mantra.
It was too late to listen to that advice.
I confirmed this morning that you can dispose of prescription medication by mixing them in kitty litter. Well, I’ve got two kitties now who pee and poop like you wouldn’t believe. So there they are, multi-colored gems mixed with crap.
If you have followed me in this blog over the last eight months, or if you just know me, you know the one thing I do is tell you what I think. Nobody expects to get too much sugar-coated bullshit from me. Can I bullshit with a sweet smile when I need to? Hell yes. But I won’t do it if you are my friend.
So here goes. I’m going to share my thoughts here and they will probably piss you off, but they are mine, and I need to share.
The suicides of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington have affected me, but not in the way you are thinking. I don’t know their music. I am not feeling the loss of their talent the way many of you are.
What is affecting me is the aftermath of their suicides and the way we talk about it. I want to start right here by saying that I absolutely know nothing about their struggles and lives and reasons (as I said, I don’t even know their music). Here, I only talk about myself.
I have suffered from depression. I remember in a way “coming out” in the early 2000s to my family and friends by telling them about my diagnosis. Many were not surprised. Many could see a pattern in my life that might have shown I was always functioning a little “off” or “below the normal.” But when major depression hit, out of the blue, when I had so much going for me, that was different.
It was hard. I nearly lost Adam. He stuck with me. I combined drugs and therapy and made it through to the other side. But in all that time, I was never once suicidal. Ever. I was immobilized by depression, able to work like I always did, but paralyzed by the rest of my life. I still had no idea why people would kill themselves.
And then Adam died.
I don’t know what depression is like for others. All I know is that for me, the major depression I suffered years ago is a soft roller to shortstop. Grief is the line drive to your body in The Drill (shout out to my CP pitchers). And you miss the line drive. You miss the out to first. And everyone is telling you to get back up for the next one. You get up. But you are never as good again.
I know what it is like to contemplate suicide. I know what it’s like to be on the edge. Without many of you, who reached out with texts and calls and coffee, I would be gone.
I’m not saying I’m happy about it. I still often want to just die. It’s a lingering feeling you have with this kind of grief. It comes with exhaustion about living. It’s more than the exhaustion of trying to put everything into my job, take care of the animals and the house, still keep my friends… that is exhausting, but everyone has that. It’s just a feeling of a lack of purpose to all of it now. That I’m going through the motions of life. With Adam alive, everything I did had a purpose. It was to get home at night and be with him. It was planning our future, seeing our future with everything we did.
So living now is exhausting. Living will be exhausting until I find some sort of passion again. If I can.
And this has only been eight months for me. Not years.
With all this, I have a rationality about me that keeps me sane. My mother is my safe haven now. But my father was the one I think who taught me to just look at life with the level-headed common sense of an engineer (if only I had gotten his sense of spatial orientation). This rationality allows me to believe that it might not always feel like this.
But not everyone has this. More importantly, not everyone will have it. Ever.
A friend told me “you would not be a candidate to answer the suicide hotline” right now.
This is true. Because I couldn’t talk any developed adult out of it. (Note: none of what follows applies to young people who aren’t adults with fully developed brains. I would wear myself out talking them out of suicide.)
In my darkest days, I asked my friends “Why are you stopping me from killing myself?” Because to me, their decision to keep me alive only appeared selfish. You don’t want me to die because YOU WILL FEEL BAD. You will feel like I do. So instead you say “It will get better, don’t kill yourself.”
But you don’t know that. What you do know is that you don’t want to feel like I do. You want to go back home to the people you love and forget about the pain someone else is in because it’s too hard. This is normal.
Who is selfish then? The person who dies by suicide? Or those of you who fight so hard to keep us alive and suffering?
The time to help others contemplating suicide is not after a celebrity kills himself. The way to help others is not by telling us “it will get better.”
It’s not better, guys. You only get used to carrying the pain around.
I’d like to say I can’t imagine what these musicians were feeling. But I can. Because if the first few months of how I felt after Adam died is the way some people ALWAYS feel, then I can imagine.
I’d like to say the answer is just keeping being a friend. Keep remembering your friend is in pain. But that’s not always going to work. Sometimes, you just can’t stop it. Sometimes, you just don’t know.
Adam slowly killed himself. I could not stop it. I know that. But I will always feel a guilt that I should have been able to do something. We want to be the savior.
Sometimes you can’t be.
I would be remiss if I did not add this: If you are contemplating suicide, there are people to talk to. I’m not a professional. I’m just dealing with this shit. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Call me and we’ll find a professional together. If this sounds like the antithesis of what I just wrote, it’s because, shit people, life sucks. Let’s try to figure out a way to make it work.
Here is another nasty secret I am here to share with you. Life is measured in paperwork. Paperwork spills out all your secrets, all that you have loved, hoped and dreamed. It’s all there in crinkled, musty receipts, and notices and letters. Paperwork is memory. Paperwork is painful.
But here I am, once again elbow deep in my previous life. Because it’s not my life anymore. My life only includes memories of those times … purchases, laughter, headaches.
I break through the piles one by one. The shred pile, the recycle pile, the “I’m not sure if I need to keep it” pile, and the worst of all… the “I’m not sure I can part with it” pile.
This pile contains dumb things sometimes. A bit of paperwork with his writing on it. A doodle on the corner of an overdue payment notice. Or my name in his handwriting.
I am in the conundrum pile. I don’t want to go through these piles alone, but I also don’t want any help. I don’t want help because you won’t understand the last pile. Maybe I’m a hoarder now. A hoarder of the last remaining bits of my husband.
Hi. I’m back. You miss me? You should because I’m awesome. Being awesome doesn’t help grief, though. So why bother, you know? Here is a picture of Murry. Because kittens go with hard truths. I have shit to say.
It’s June, so I’ve been seeing a lot of anniversary posts. June brides and all. I’m happy for you (if I like you). If you are just on my Facebook page because I haven’t deleted you yet and you are celebrating your anniversary, then fuck you because I hate you and why do you get to be happy?
Kidding. Sort of.
I’ve seen a lot of variations of the following in these posts: “I can’t imagine living without you.”
I am a snowflake, so this triggers me. I’m actually not sure if Adam and I ever said that to one another. As I’ve said before, we didn’t like the term “soulmate” or that shit, and basically, if you use the term soulmate in the sense that there is ONE PERSON for everyone I want you to go fall off a cliff because you know what you are saying to ME? You are saying “Sorry, Laura, you got fucked, but your life is over and you had your chance and it just didn’t work out with your ‘soulmate.’ Sorry about that, short end of the stick and all.” Seriously, people, rethink this nonsense about one true soulmate. It makes you look cruel. Oh wait, maybe it’s because Adam wasn’t my soulmate, is that what you are saying? Well, that cliff is still waiting for you.
I’m off topic. Sort of. You “can’t imagine your life without that person,” eh? Well, luckily, and I mean luckily, the brain is amazing and you have the luxury of NEVER thinking about it. It’s easy. If we thought about it too much, we would go crazy. But I’ve got news for you.
In the absence of catastrophe when you go down together on the Lusitania, it’s going to happen. YOU WILL HAVE TO LIVE YOUR LIFE WITHOUT THAT OTHER PERSON FOR SOME AMOUNT OF TIME. It is inevitable. Listen to me. It’s going to happen.
Be prepared. I keep talking to people, and it’s not making a difference. Couples still tell me they haven’t made out their wills, or checked their beneficiaries, or discussed what the other person wants when they die, or looked at life insurance.
I just learned that Adam didn’t list any beneficiaries on his Colorado PERA account for his time teaching at PPCC. Now, in my case, it’s going to be easy to get that money, as there’s no will to contest and I have the small estate affidavit. But seriously, Adam, we had been together for 11 years and you were too lazy to write my name down? Why, you ask? Because “we couldn’t imagine one of us not being there.” Who the fuck needs beneficiaries, because no one will die, right?
You know who didn’t think like that? My dad. Because of that, my mom is set, and things were much easier for her. Dad, thank you for being an amazing husband and father.
If you have not done this for your spouse or children and made sure everything is in order, I am judging you. Do you understand? I AM JUDGING YOU. Be a better person.
Adam didn’t have life insurance. We didn’t think we needed it because we didn’t have kids. You know, that advice is sometimes given to people without kids? Well, let me tell you, had he had life insurance, my options in dealing with grief and bereavement would have been so much better. Instead, I had to go through endless, mindless days at work to collect a paycheck when I was in hell.
I have these cats now. Well, they are kittens. Rambunctious, playful, purring, loving balls of fur. Meet Run-PMC (Purry-Murry-Curry) aka Murry, and Jyn. These are mine now. Did I want a kitty? Of course. Did I get talked into two? Yes, because Jen is convincing. And two is better. I feel less guilty about being away from them all day.
I have to keep telling Bix he’s still my number one. I’m not sure whether he wants to love them or eat them. We’ll see.
I’ve been waiting to get “my own cat” again for 12 years. When Adam and I met, I had just gotten Patches … a roly-poly beloved 9-year-old calico … and he had Chance. Patches died shortly after we got married in 2005. And Chance ruled the roost. Adam didn’t want to bring another kitty into the house. I mean, as you all know, Chance was born in a Wal-Mart battery shed, and she just didn’t like much for most of her life.
Chance warmed up to me over the years. In fact, in her last years, she spent more time sleeping on me than Adam. But Chance died, too. Because my life is fucked, and in the last three years I’ve lost Dad, Bailey, Chance and Adam.
Sometimes I think Chance didn’t want to live without Adam so she just went first.
Getting these cats is the first major decision I’ve made in 17 years that was my own. I didn’t have to discuss it with someone else first. I just did it. I’m terrified I made a mistake, that I won’t be able to love them.
Grief really is love with nowhere to go, but I feel like it has gone nowhere for so long that I don’t know how to let it out anymore. At least with something new.
Adam and I never wanted kids, but we named them in our heads anyway. I preferred Zoltan and Gar (after a dead fish we found walking in the low Platte River. I said “what’s that?” Adam said “that’s a gar.” I said “That would be a great name for a kid.” He said “Who are you?”)
He liked the name Murray. I said “Murray is an old man’s name.” But we started naming the local fox in our backyard Murray. Murray even had kits in our window well, if you remember. Murray was a bad mom, and the kits were starving, so the wildlife man came and saved them. Soon, any fox we saw was named Murray.
So I got a kitten and I named it Murray. But I’m spelling it Murry because it works with Purry and Curry. And, Jyn, well that’s after Jyn Erso, the greatest ever Star Wars hero.
“That’s it Johnny, take a good look. No matter how cleverly you sneak up on a mirror, your reflection always looks you straight in the eye.” ^ Angel Heart
I was thinking recently about self-worth.
Then, this morning, I came across a cartoon with a frame that read “I’m depressed because I don’t know who I am.”
And I thought about it some more. I thought about it while eating all of the breakfast sandwiches I had bought for the next three days. I thought while I watched TV, petted the dog and made coffee, and wondered what I would wear to a show tonight.
I’m not breaking any new ground here, but I see why Americans are so depressed because they don’t know who they are. I hear it all the time. I heard it from Adam in many silent and not silent ways. And I didn’t get it with Adam, and that was my failure.
You see, because even if I always didn’t understand who I was, I knew what I wanted to do, which was a product of who I was, even if I didn’t realize it. I shot straightforward out of the cannon until I came to rest like a flopping blue gill ready for slaughter.
First I wanted to be a Dodger.
But then I realized I was a girl and probably wouldn’t ever be good enough (oh god, please don’t rant in the comments on that shit).
Then I wanted to be a sports reporter on ESPN.
But then I realized I wasn’t aggressive enough to be a reporter, and I looked terrible on TV and would always want to eat cheese and bread more than I wanted to look good on TV.
Then I wanted to be in college sports information. So I did it.
Then I got offered a dream job at U.S. Figure Skating. So I did it.
Then I saw my time and purpose ending there, and frankly, I wanted to be more with Adam. So I left.
Every choice I made of what I do was because I have been clearly aware of who I am and what I wanted. (Except for the part where I thought I was an introvert all this time because I liked to watch movies by myself, read alone, and a million other things by myself. Yeah, not an introvert. I don’t need three days to recover from talking to people. I love my introvert friends, and I am here for you when you are ready to face the world. As you know, I will talk.)
I knew I was a writer for as long as I can remember. I always knew I was an overachiever who wasn’t necessarily as smart or as talented on the ball field as others, so I made up for it by working my ass off.
The only question mark is animals. I always thought I was a cat person. I think I’m a dog person.
I think about Adam and his addiction, and I wonder how much he ever knew who he was. I think he did once. I think he did growing up, and in the years we were first together. He loved animals and art and music, and by all accounts he was a creator. He was a fixer and a helper and a traveler. He didn’t want to stay in one place too long.
This was the man I fell in love with. But as he aged, and perhaps as the drinking increased (which comes first, the chicken or the egg?), did he lose who he was? Did he forget? Did he try so hard to keep up with me that he forgot why I was in love with him in the first place … because HE WASN’T ME?
He wasn’t me. He was a sensitive soul. He should have worked with animals. He shouldn’t have tried to work in a cubicle.
Did I not tell him enough that I just wanted him to follow his dreams? That I didn’t care about the money? That the time it was me, Adam, Chance, Patches, Bailey and Meka in 800 square feet was as glorious as I could ever hope for?
Did Adam know who he was?
Did he once? Did he forget? Was it the drinking? Was it me? Was it just this fucked-up world? Did he fake happiness? Was he happy but frustrated? I was with him for 17 years and I don’t feel like I know the answers to these fucking questions anymore.
In one of his rehab journals, he wrote he was “inherently lazy.” Upon reading that, I suppose I realized he had forgotten who he was. “Inherently lazy” wasn’t Adam Curry. But addiction made him something he wasn’t it.
I honestly am not sure if Adam ever knew who he was. But I think he was learning, and it’s never too late.