Careful the things you say. Children will listen.

Coco’s project

Dear (Little) Adam,

You are my inspiration for this project because my theme of loving and appreciating what you have before it becomes what you had, makes me think of you.”

So are the words that start Coco’s letter describing her school project; a project where she took a pair of her earliest pointe shoes and decorated them based on one of Adam’s art pieces. A tribute to her uncle.

By now, you know me. I never wanted to have kids. Neither did Adam. What was confusing to so many people was the difference between not wanting to have kids and how we felt about kids.

There was a thought that because I didn’t want to have my own children that I didn’t like children. People thought this despite the fact I was actually the greatest day camp counselor ever. Four years with 11-13 year-olds. Kids who trusted me, who I trusted and treated with respect. Kids who grew up to be friends.

I just knew, always, that I didn’t want to “have” them. Call it what you like. Call it selfish, call it ambition. I honestly don’t really care, it was what it was. It is what it is. I’ve never been fond of babies, that’s for sure. Toddlers are tough for me as well. But, man, once they start communicating, I could spend a lot of time with kids.

But the fact is, every moment I live now, every ounce of joy I fight for, is for my nieces. They’re 18 and (almost 15) 14 now. But they were 13 and 9 when Adam died.

“While everyone was grieving your loss because of the impact you made in their lives, I was grieving you didn’t live long long enough to make a real impact in mine. And yet you did.”

Everything I do in my life since Adam’s death, in one way or another, has been for Ava and Colette. When I wanted to die, my sister would mention them, and I stayed the course. All I can do is have joy to let them know that whatever comes their way, it is possible to survive. It’s possible to thrive. There’s always hope.

I don’t regret any of the choices I’ve made in life, at least the choices I made when I had all the information (hindsight sucks). I don’t regret not having children. But as I’ve grown older and wiser, I sometimes regret not having more children in my life to try and be an inspiration to. I want them to see me and see the possibilities. See the worst. See the best.

Coco, Adam, Ava

“I knew you were an amazing artist and uncle, and that you loved Aunt Laura with every fiber of your being. But at just 9 years old, I didn’t fully understand what was happening and why you to had to leave my life so early.”

Ava and Coco are no longer children. But I hope to continue to teach them and inspire them just by my joy. I may never get to spend as much time with them as I have, or that I wish to, but every moment will be the best it can be.

“I chose to recreate your painting on my shoes because it represents both the beauty and the turmoil in my life and our family after you passed away, but also the beauty and turmoil of your life before.”

Every once in a while, someone will still say something like “I don’t want to bring up Adam if it makes you sad.” And I try to remind them that I’ve never forgotten he’s dead; it’s a part of me. But it no longer makes me sad. If you remember even a small piece of him. it’s an honor to him. It’s an honor to me, and an honor to his parents and the rest of his family. It’s an honor to our life together.

I fell in love and married a man with a disease I could not solve, cure, handle, or do anything about. He wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t perfect. But the only anger we ever had with each other was based on fear, fear of a disease we didn’t name for years, fear of a disease we couldn’t comprehend.

I chose to paint on my pointe shoes because, as you know, dance is and has been one of the biggest parts of my personal identity for as long as I can remember. But family always comes first.”

I was so lucky to be born into a family that loves like we do. A family made of Taylors and Fawcetts and Kuntzes. And then there is my extended family … the Currys, and the friends who have allowed me to be part of their families on holidays and weekends and special occasions.

And to the parents who give me the special privilege of hanging with their children, I’ve forever grateful. Your greatest gift to me is raising your children with love and tolerance. When you let me share in that, I’m so happy. When you can’t hang with me because you are taking care of them, you’ll never know how much I respect that.

Just keep asking me to hang with them, too.

I love you, Coco. I’m learning to understand that we all still process Adam’s death in our own time and our own way. But he adored you. He adored Ava.

We have so little time. So little time. Don’t waste it.

There Are Never Enough Silent Discos With You.

It’s a Saturday morning. Tonight the Olympics end. Long two weeks for sure, full of joy and heartbreak. It’s the first Olympics I’ve “worked” without actually being there. It’s possible I might be thinking “if I’m going do that much work and not be able to host Olympic watch parties, I should be there.”

But the Olympics aren’t on my mind right now.

You know what is? My friend, Charlie. (that’s her in the back right at a silent disco, of course)

She’s on my mind for no particular reason. I mean, our last text exchange was yesterday when I sent her a TikTok about dicks and she responded “Hahahaha.” “Yes.”

Earlier, she had texted “I’m in the Springs and I so wanna see you…but I’m probs super contagious still.” No, it’s not Covid. Look, she loves me AND respects my health.

But the last seven months have been one of the greatest periods of change and growth post-loss, and it’s because of her.

It’s because she tells me I’m beautiful all the time. That she reminds me I’m amazing and worthy of anything I want. She has her own struggles and trauma, and she spends a lot of time being my cheerleader.

You know what’s weird? Charlie didn’t even know me very much pre-loss. She was in our nerd circle, but we weren’t close at all. I wasn’t sure what I thought about her. Looking back, I should have known better because Adam liked her a lot, and Steve liked her a lot, and their judgment was always important to me.

She went out of her way to help Adam and me with finding help in the last year of his life … and at that EXACT same time she was experiencing trauma I can’t fathom. She looked out for Adam. He really appreciated your time and friendship that summer, Charlie.

After he died, she moved in for awhile, and our shared trauma and grief was a key component of how I survived. I’ll never forget this one moment when I had a bunch of people over. Something in what we were watching triggered me and I left the room quietly. Somehow she knew, and she followed me upstairs. She just put her hand on my back. Didn’t have to say anything.

Charlie is the one person in my life who knows everything. Like everything. I can tell her anything, the most personal shit. And she doesn’t judge; she laughs and sympathizes. Ok, sometimes she judges because she wants to protect me. And she’s usually right. She’s much better at boundaries than I am.

You see, Charlie knows my tendencies. She knows I have this deep desire to “help” people. She knows I’m gullible and naive sometimes, and that shit is going to bite me in the ass. She knows I take in strays out of some weird desire to save someone because I couldn’t save Adam. But as we know, I’ve been taken advantage of a couple of times. She stands in front of me to say “stop that bullshit.”

She’s the one who tells me all the time “you deserve better. Don’t waste your time.” I’m dumb and I don’t listen. But she waits me out because she knows I’ll get over it. She knows I want to do everything and see everything and feel everything, knows I can be fragile and strong.

Sometimes I don’t listen because I don’t want to waste time. Not waste “my time.” Those of us who have experienced loss and come out the other side better sometimes just want to “do, do, do” and we don’t stop and think about the consequences.

2021 has been hilarious and fun and sad, and so much of it is because of her encouragement. So, I just wanted to say “thank you.” I have so many great stories to share because of you. You’re a compass who keeps me on track to take care of me. No one makes me feel as beautiful as you do. It’s just so sad we like men so much.

And because of her, and her support to be braver, I’m ready to do some things.

So, I’m going to end this with a request for help. I’m ready to really clear out stuff in the house. You know the stuff. There’s still so much here that I need to let go of. But I feel so overwhelmed and I don’t want to do it alone.

So if you are a local friend and read this, text or message and say you will help. Because I will cry a lot. But I gotta do it. I’ll provide the food. The drink. The music. Also, the drunker you get me, the more likely I’ll be able to throw away stupid stuff.

Oh, and I’m really ready to travel. I’m going to use my PTO and my vacation like you wouldn’t believe, so get ready. I’m gonna go to Michigan to see the Harvaths; Seattle to see Christie; Amy and Carolyn in Atlanta, the Currys in Texas, Jana in Minnesota, Elizabeth and Lisa in San Diego, Annie and Kelly in San Francisco, Karen in D.C., J.R. in Mexico when he’s settled for awhile. I’m sorry if I didn’t mention you. But I’ll come there, too. And I really need to go somewhere I’ve never been just by myself.

And, who wants a weekend in Vegas with me? CHARLIE!!!!! Let’s go to Vegas!

Fucking Feelings

I have this card I keep in my room.

This is my favorite “everyday” wine, though I don’t drink it every day. It’s $14.99 at Coaltrain for when you need to bring me a gift.

Adam gave it to me at some point in 2016. I don’t know what stage it was. Was it when he was in outpatient rehab? Was it right before I sent him to his family in Texas because I didn’t know what to do? Was it in July when he got out of inpatient rehab and I “caught” him drinking again?

It doesn’t really matter when. But I know what it says.

“You are my favorite person.”

There’s some other words he wrote, akin to “I will do anything to work my way back, to get well, that’s how important you are.”

Come to think of it, this was likely sometime in February/March, when I followed through on a promise I made to myself. I packed a bag, called my friend Jeanne and asked if I could stay with her.

Adam was pleading. But I had to do it. If there was anything I learned later on in Al-Anon, it was that I deserved a life, too. I didn’t deserve the constant anxiety and fear. I came back and we worked together because I was still just as much in love with him in 2016 as I was in 1999. I was committed to him and our life, as long as he was committed to recovery. But when I left, I didn’t feel he was committed.

He was never checked out of our marriage; the alcohol wasn’t destroying our marriage, but the alcohol was destroying his liver; we’d known that for five years, and drinking meant death. But when the disease gets a hold of you…blah blah blah.

Rehashing that isn’t what led back to the blog today.

I’ve been thinking and feeling lately. Thinking is fine. Feeling is awful. If you follow me on any social media, you’ll know I’m out a lot, out with friends, doing shit, staying busy.

Yes, I’ve always been extroverted, but things have changed in the last years. I don’t like necessarily being alone with my thoughts much anymore. I want to be out hearing other people’s thoughts and sharing mine, but not the ones I have when I’m alone.

It’s because when I’m alone, I’m still likely to be randomly focused on the pain of 2016, as opposed to the 16 years before that. It’s because I still relive those final two weeks, and no one wants to hear that anymore. I still cry thinking of telling him I loved him over and over until he was unconscious, until he was no longer breathing, until I called the doctor to bring his family back because it was over.

I don’t think about wishing he was alive or having that life back. That’s a part of grief I’ve worked through successfully. But when I’m out and laughing, when I’m with my friends, I think of how good my life is now, and how lucky I am, how much joy I have. Someone can mention Adam, and I will laugh without a shred of sorrow or regret anymore.

But alone, I think of telling the doctor to turn off life support. Still. After 4.5 years. Look, I’ve been through this in therapy, I know I’m normal. Grief is a messed up process. I think of a widow friend on Twitter who said “I love my life AND I miss my husband.” It’s OK to miss your best friend.

I just wish I could forget all that. I wish someone would want to hear the things I’ve never told anyone. But I fear that people won’t “get it.” We widows still fear people will say we aren’t “over it” or “stuck,” which we know is the dumbest thing in the world, but it still hurts sometimes. I’m far from stuck. I’m just carrying sadness with me wherever I go, and I still cry a lot and just want to say “why me?”

I sometimes feel like the most stable fucked-up person in the world. But I try to forgive myself because I’ve seen so much death. I’ve watched two people die and then watched my mom dying in front of me just over a year ago. Please forgive me if I still have moments of complete terror about life because I know I’m going to have to go through this all again someday and it’s literally fucking terrifying.

But I had a point.

The point is I had a long talk last night with my friend Mike. He’s been in my Colorado Springs life as long as anyone. We talked about who we are, what we want, where we are going.

And I realized, I would like to be someone’s favorite person again. I don’t know what that means, really, because I don’t want to share a bathroom again (I know, I have three in this house). But even in the worst moments, Adam and I had confidence that we were facing this fucked-up world together. That we had each other’s backs.

That was a good feeling.

So I turned on my grief song. I wrote. Because that’s what I do.

We Just Live With It

I can go through a day without a serious thought about Adam. This probably doesn’t sound very sweet or romantic. Adam is a presence in my life always; grief and love is something I carry now as easily as a glass of water.

But I don’t mourn anymore. Sometimes, usually at night, my thoughts will wander to the last day in the hospital, but I’ve learned to redirect my thoughts. Memories of turning off life support really hold no positive purpose in my life.

Sometimes, I’ll say something that reminds me of him; or a friend, a book or a TV show will remind me of him. But I don’t generally cry about his loss anymore. Sometimes, I’ll hear a story about him I’ve never heard, or someone will say his name, and maybe my eyes will shine up a little.

He is dead. I’ve heard all the platitudes in the last 4.5 years. I know what’s happening to me today is normal and has nothing to do with anything except the sometimes overwhelming feeling of “how the fuck did I get here?”

What’s happening to me today, you ask? I can’t open a fucking bucket. And I got pissed at Adam because he’s dead and now it’s my house and I have to do this alone. And I completely, 100% broke down like I haven’t in years.

I know I can call a dozen people right now who will open that fucking bucket in five minutes. That’s not the point. The point is that death lingers, and sometimes it overwhelms you.

I know why this is happening. It’s because yesterday I felt a keen sense of betrayal. I implicitly believe everyone is telling me the truth. Maybe if I’d been more cynical I wouldn’t have believed Adam when he said “I haven’t been drinking” and he’d be alive. Why would anyone lie? (Listen, I don’t need a lecture on why Adam lied about his drinking, I know why. These are irrational thoughts.)

I don’t know. I don’t know why I’m writing and sharing. No, I do know. Because I had to. We are all struggling in some way. Hell, I know, my life is really good right now. I’m happy most of the time. But I just want to say that I’m not always OK. And when, I’m not OK, it’s generally because something minor has brought up the grief and profound loss in my life. And sometimes, when it hits me again that Adam is not part of my life anymore, it hurts. It hurts that I can’t yell “I can’t get this fucking bucket open” and he’d laugh and say “Ok, hon.”

I hate that there are probably people out there saying, “oh, she’s still talking about grief over her husband.” But not a single one of you would say that if I instead broke down today because I missed my dad. I still feel like people don’t think I’m “healed” because sometimes I miss my best friend.

Ok. I got that out. I’ve also now watched a video on how to open that bucket. So, I’m going to listen to some Neil Diamond and paint my house.

Also, this is my favorite picture of us. When I go dark and think about how he looked when he was dying, this is the picture I conjure up. Denver, early 200s.

To my mom, who is gone now.

1620931_10202316367265027_332258186_nThe night my mom died, after I had watched someone sitting on top of her pounding her chest, I knew I didn’t want to do this all again.

Sitting in the waiting room with my sister, I know I said “I can’t do this again. I can’t go through this again. I don’t want to do this again.”

The hospital didn’t handle death very well at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday night. At least not as well as Anschutz did for Adam. But, of course, then, we were waiting for death, life support off, sun fading over the mountains. They were prepared. We were just..waiting.

With mom, we were just waiting for the next step in care when we got the call that her heart had stopped. We had just finished dinner, just across the street. The mad rush to find an entrance into the hospital at that time of night.. running through empty corridors, so many empty corridors.

My therapist has been after me to write about Mom’s death, as I did with Adam. Back then, I flooded my emotions on to this blog. But I didn’t want to go back there; didn’t want to hollow myself into the depths of that pain.

So, I’ve avoided it. I’ve held it at bay with purpose. I’ve got too much to do. I have to show I know how to handle it.

But you can’t do that, you know. The grief is different, of course, for mom. Different from Adam. Adam’s death was the upheaval of my day-to-day existence. Mom’s death was the one we all know is coming…someday…in the natural order of things.

Guilt will always be there with grief. What if I had stayed holding her hand and watching that fucking Democratic debate till the end? Would we have been there when she choked? Would 30 seconds have made a difference? I tell myself again… “Guilt is not a fact. It’s a feeling.”  Thanks, therapy!

I left home a long time ago. Essentially at 18. I had to be out there; I had to explore and follow my dreams. That always, I think, made my relationship with Mom different from her relationship with my sister. I was quicker to impatience and frustration, cultivated by years of living apart from my parents.

I haven’t told all the details of my mom’s progression toward death over the holidays, except to two friends who patiently listened to it all on a three-mile hike in Red Rock Canyon.

I yelled at her a lot before getting into the hospital. I was scared and frustrated; I knew something was wrong. Her determination that she was “fine” reminded me of the frustration she felt with dad as his mind deteriorated. I told her she was acting “just like dad.” I think she told me to fuck off. Good for her.

I yelled at her when she only ate the ice cream on her hospital plate. I always asked for another Ensure for her, though. I was there every day in the hospital, working from a corner of the room as she slept. Once, on a good day, I had her tell me about her life as a single woman in Pasadena in the 1950s. Precious memories now.

1975064_10152217156484197_1879319576_nAnd then, we took a day off. Saturday. January 11. I really had to focus on work. Barbara didn’t go either. Mom’s youngest brother Alan was there. He texted us that she was active, lucid, said she “missed her girls.”

On Sunday, it was all wrong.

She was not responsive. I pulled the Fawcett of all Fawcetts, being the same woman who demanded to see the head of the transplant unit in Denver … because I wanted her to tell me to my face that my husband wasn’t worth saving.  I expressed my frustration this time with my mom’s nurses… “How can you not tell something is wrong? Things are WRONG.” She has the fucking flu, why is she nonresponsive?

Barb and I are pretty much convinced by the trajectory of her symptoms that it was COVID (and flu), It would make her a very early case. We’ll never confirm it. Does it matter? No. Still dead. But, it makes a better sort of sense to me. Makes me feel like it wasn’t my fault; that this was it and an 86-year-old wasn’t going to make it through.

I can’t cover everything I loved about my mom in a blog. She was better than she ever thought she was. Her two years as a widow before I became one set the pace for me. She thrived as a widow; learning, growing, exploring.

I’m not a mother. I’ll never ever understand the pain she felt watching me in pain as Adam died. How she felt worried I would kill myself. Frustrated she couldn’t come to Colorado and be with me for a long time … the altitude wasn’t for her.

But I’ll never forget her arrival in the hospital room in Denver. She sat by the window on the couch. And I sat next to her. She held me. I was 47. She was 82. Adam lay intubated… my life falling apart right there. She didn’t cry. She just held me.

I can still feel her arms around me.


Jeanette Taylor Fawcett, 1933-2020

We are heartbroken. Our beautiful mom, Jeanette, passed away Tuesday evening after contracting both flu and pneumonia at Christmastime. She was 86.

Our mom was the steadfast center of our family, a smart, funny and caring woman. One step into her house, which she nurtured for nearly 50 years, shows what was most important to her: family. She influenced the world through love and friendship, sending two pretty awesome daughters out into the world, and being a role model for them and her granddaughters.

Mom was born in San Francisco on November 3, 1933, the middle child of five with two older sisters and two younger brothers. She graduated from San Francisco’s George Washington High School in 1951 and shortly thereafter moved south to Pasadena. She received her AA degree at Pasadena City College and her business certificate from the Sawyer School of Business. While a student, she worked part-time at Bullocks on South Lake Ave where she wrapped gifts. Oh – her packages were so beautiful! The best part of every Christmas was seeing her creations … not just what was inside the box. While she was in the hospital, she talked about her time in Pasadena as a young woman, saying “we had a good time.” If she could have winked, she would have.

She worked for the Santa Fe Railroad and the Pasadena Independent newspaper before taking a job as a secretary at Aeronutronic in Newport Beach. In 1961, became a secretary at Jet Propulsion Lab where she met and married our dad, “retiring” in March 1967 when she became pregnant with Barbara.

Mom then devoted herself to being a housewife and mother. Ours was the house on the cul-de-sac where all the kids gathered to swim and play, and there was always a hot queso dip and chips ready for hungry school children. She bowled, played bridge and attended all of our sporting and social activities.

In 1983, she returned to work at Verdugo Hills High School as an attendance clerk, where she was always available for her daughters when we needed something. At least that’s what she said. We know she just wanted to keep a close eye on us. Though her presence did come in handy when Barbara wanted to go off of our “closed” campus for lunch at Tommy’s (Laura claims she never wanted to leave campus… what?!?). She continued working for years long after we left, finally retiring in 1998 to spend time with dad.

We know she loved us (her daughters) and was proud of all we did, but her heart became even fuller with the birth of her granddaughters, Ava and Colette. A devoted grandmother, Jeanette loved spending time with them, joining us for every concert, recital and dance competition she could – including trips to Nationals for BOTH girls in Las Vegas. She made the long drive to Orange County on a regular basis and stayed with us so she could enjoy their company. She wanted to be tagged in every social media post concerning them so she could share her pride with all of her friends.

Mom loved her soap operas and was sad when All My Children went off the air. No more Erica Kane! She continued watching General Hospital right up until the day she was admitted to the hospital.

She loved figure skating, Roger Federer and musical theater; she was a season ticket holder at The Pantages for more than 25 years. She had an extensive magnet collection. She loved light beer – one with dinner every night – and fried fish. Her favorite movie was “The Tales of Hoffmann,” but she also loved pretty much all romcoms. She looked forward to both the annual holiday gala and the holiday buffet at The Athenaeum at Caltech every December and enjoyed treating family and friends to an elegant meal.

She often downplayed her intelligence, but we were really proud of the way she took control of her life when dad got sick and later passed away. At the age of 80, she learned how to run every aspect of her household and finances, mastered her computer and managed to mostly figure out her iPhone. Waze, however, perplexed her. We will miss her riding shotgun and asking us if we know where we were going.

She never looked her age and rarely left the house without makeup, hair and proper accessories. Gosh, she was beautiful. Of course, all that beauty took time and it was a running joke that if we wanted her to be out of the house at noon, we needed her to start getting ready at 9 a.m. Not an exaggeration. We hope that we have those same good genes!

Thank you to our family who visited and checked in over the last week. We may not have responded, but we appreciate the effort. We love you. She loved you.

There will not be a funeral, but we do hope to host a party in the near future to celebrate her life.

Grief’s Bitchy Friend: Recovery

Six of us are gone now. Recovery from grief. It’s a bitch.

There comes a time in all our lives where the tables are turned and we become the caregiver for our parents.

My mom pointed this out to me a few days ago as I fed her in the hospital. She’s listless while suffering from illness, and it’s just easier for me to help her out.

Tonight, not surprisingly, while spooning in ice cream and watermelon, I couldn’t help but think of The Clockwork Orange as she opened her mouth for food.

I’ve been back in my childhood home for more than two weeks now, an unexpected turn of events. But I have the flexibility my sister doesn’t. I don’t have children; I have friends helping me out back home. I have a job that is mostly on the interwebz so whether I’m working with a mask on in room 1413 or in my office matters little.

My mom’s 86. I know I won’t have her forever. But I fight to stave off death and grief just one more year. One more year, I tell myself. Give me that. Next year, I’ll say the same.

The truth is I know I can’t hold it back. The last five years have been a cycle of grief: from my dad to Bailey, the dog to Chance the cat, to Adam. All of those in the span of two years, and then it’s just recovery. I wonder, once this hits you, are you always in recovery? Is it the best you can do to hold off grief as long as you can so you only have to be in recovery for a few years, not half your life?

This house, tucked away on a beautiful cul-de-sac, is a reminder of all I’ve lost… pictures of dad, well, fuck his URN is here! Plus, of course ,mom has many pics of my wedding up. They loved Adam, too. Everyone did.

I don’t look too hard behind the dark corners of this home. I don’t want to find many memories (well, or spiders). But I don’t have to go far because they scream at me.

I turn back to writing when my grief is strong, when I can’t stand to go another minute without putting something down. I guess it is now. Grief is a bitch. Recovery is a never-ending battle. You push back against life and say “just stop, please. Leave me alone.”

But it never does.

“Cuz You’re Strong AF.”


This wasn’t exactly what I expected today.

But as I know, and you know, life will hand you an experience whether you want it or not.

I went back to Memorial Hospital today.

All of Adam’s hospitalizations, save the final one at Anschutz in Denver, were there. I knew every inch of that hospital: where the snacks were, what the cafeteria hours were, the restroom locations. I even had a filled punch card from the coffee shop. They knew me. They knew my drink.

I had no plans to return.

But when a friend texted, there was no hesitation. “I am free,” I said. Two of us were free, and we headed to be with her … and for me, it was an unknown experience to be on the other side of the fence, to be with a woman whose husband was tucked into a hospital bed suddenly and with little warning.

My own anxiety started while turning on to Boulder from Wahsatch. So many times I made that turn. Once it was in a panic with Adam at 3 a.m., sure he was going to die right there in my car.

The tears and shortness of breath came in the parking garage, and I kept crying trying to ask directions to a room; directions I couldn’t listen to.

So I got lost in a place I knew so well. I knew exactly where I was, but with nowhere to go.

The doctor was in the room when I found it, so I waited outside. When the nurse asked me if I needed anything, I told him I was waiting to go in. He had already heard my friends talking. I was the one with the deathversary. Here they are, with someone else in the hospital bed, and they were worried about me.

They knew this trip would cause me anxiety, more so on this particular weekend. I am still stunned by their caring: they were worried about ME! “I’ll be OK,” I said. “I know,” my friend texted. “Cuz you’re strong af.”

But there really wasn’t a hesitation. I would be there. These are my friends. These are the people who have been there for me since 1999.

The familiarity of the situation was disconcerting. Every sound is a trigger, every test result, every movement by a staff member. The yellow gown he wore for fall risk. The yellow gown that looked better on him because it didn’t match a jaundiced face.

About 8, I said I was going to the bathroom. I did go, but first I had to do something.

I took the central elevators to the fifth floor. I walked down the endless hallway toward the renal unit. I stopped at the bathroom I cried in many times. I paused by the set of chairs in the lobby, the set of chairs where I cried and asked Kathy, “if he dies, will I be OK?” “Of course you will,” she said “you are you. But I gotta tell you your breath is really bad right now.”

I smiled at that memory. I knew each of “his” rooms as I walked along the quiet corridor. There were three of them in all. I remember where I was when the nurse said his creatinine levels had dropped, and I nearly collapsed in relief. I remember the lounge at the end of the hall I slept in. The microwave I heated up my coffee in. The ice machine where I refilled his cup over and over.

Just one pass. That’s all I needed. It was ghostly. It was haunted.

But I was OK.

I didn’t want to make the visit about me, but for five minutes I did. Back in the room, we shared funny stories about Adam and his hospital stays, and how my friends were so supportive.

I got to hear the pumpkin cookie story again.

I know this situation is going to have a better outcome. My friend’s husband is safe and well-cared for now. She will sleep fitfully on the couch beside him. We will return to visit in the morning.

Because life doesn’t go as planned.

Take it as it comes.


I’m Out Of BBC Dramas, So I Might As Well Go Back To Work.

Sometimes, I pretend to be artsy with prosecco and photos.

It’s a weird thing for me, seeing this five months come to an end.

When I made the choice to leave my job last September, a confluence of issues made it so necessary that every one of my final 14 days was a struggle. It took enormous will (and a genuine love for my co-workers and the school) to do what I could to leave things in order.

Before Adam died, I never considered needing or having a break from work … a sabbatical, as I called it. I just kept plugging along, putting money aside for the time when the two of us would retire, move to Cocoa Beach, eat steamed clams and watch launches from the deck of Coconuts.

But, damn, did I need a break. I needed to rest, to grieve fully in a way that was quite different from those early months. I needed to reach the top of the mountain in terms of what to do with all the fucking stuff, to work with my financial adviser to start planning for a new second half of life. I needed to zone out and pet my dog. I needed to bond with my cats. I just needed to be me.

I did what I needed to do, but inside all of that I found more.

I spent endless hours in nature with Bixby, exploring new and old hiking trails with him. Most of the time we were alone, but I spent about four days with Christie hiking all over, getting to know one of my best friends all over again. I wore holes in my favorite hiking shorts and wonder now to myself, “Do I learn to sew or find a new pair?”

Sometimes, Bixby whined while I sat on a rock and cried. But that wasn’t often. Most of the time, I blocked out the sounds of nature with a horror audiobook or a murder podcast. Maybe you think that’s not soothing. It was for me. And for Brenna, I finally gave in and became a murderino.

I binge-watched a dozen BBC and Netflix crime drama series. I rarely said “no” to an invitation, and if I did say no, it was because I had a prior commitment. Sometimes I drank too much. When I did, I let my friends know and we talked about it. I spent more time on Instagram and Twitter, becoming familiar with a handful of interesting journalists.

I ate too much. I lost weight. I gained it back. Fuck it. I tried intermittent fasting. I failed. I tried to become a morning person. I failed at that, too.

I went bowling with Paul, then with Charlie and Andy. I fell while bowling. I did freelance work and kept cheering the hockey boys.

I worked on scrapbooks. I threw things away, and then, when the office trash can had to be moved to the outside trash can, I went through everything again just to be sure I didn’t throw away a memory I wanted to keep.

For the first time, today I dumped that office trash can without looking again. Because I have more confidence in what I need to keep.

I didn’t pick up enough dog poop. I didn’t clean the cat litter as often as I should. I paid for both in messes.

I watched my bank account dwindle, but only panicked here and there. I spent 10 days in California with my family … who gets a 10-day holiday vacation any more with family? I updated my resume, wrote cover letters and applied for a handful of jobs. I got one.

I wish I’d gone to Texas to visit the Currys. I have a million wishes, but in general, I’m pretty proud of what I did on my sabbatical.

And interestingly, the further along in my grief slog, the more I found myself retreating to my online wids. My widowed brothers and sisters in WD30. At first, I thought this group wasn’t for me, but I was wrong. The judgment-free zone is compelling. I have the ability to learn from others there, and I have the ability to impart wisdom as well. I can genuinely laugh now at the guys and gals with the nerve to try searching for a Chapter 2, and roll my eyes at their hilarious dating adventures. I can cry with them when they have “one of those days.”

The strength and frailty of widows is astounding, both its highs and lows. I see why we reach out to each other.

My sabbatical ends today. Bixby will be confused with me gone more often than not. I’m am thrilled with where my life has decided to go. I go forward but I return. I’ll announce what I’m doing on Tuesday. For now, I say, thank you to Mom, Barb, Keith, Ava, Colette, Kathy Curry, Bev and Steve Curry, and all my friends who have helped me in each shitty step.

Here’s to another.

Is There Life on Mars?

“But the film is a saddening bore, for she’s lived it ten times or more.”

Today, I received a text from a beloved, snarky friend who made me laugh. It read “While you’re sitting around bingeing, cuddling your pets and worrying about your bras, can you get a group text going for tonight?”


Now, I don’t mind throwing her under the bus here, because I have like 10 coming to me after the epic throwdown she gave me about eight years ago at work … that I still laugh about.

But it might get you wondering: What does Laura do all day now that she is not working?

It’s true. I’ve binged a lot of shows. Mostly British crime drama, yes, but I’m through six seasons of American Horror Story as well. I can tell you I have never appreciated Jessica Lange for the treasure that she is until hearing her sing “Life on Mars” in the Freaks episode. That woman is a goddess.

I also spend an enormous time cuddling my pets, but we all know that’s part of every major therapy. I only worry about my bras when they haven’t been handwashed.

What do I do?

I work on healing. I can tell you, despite my love for what I did at FVS and the enormous respect I have for the teachers, leaving was the best thing I’ve done. I could no longer grieve there.

So I grieved at home … on the couch, in the woods, on the trails, in bed, in front of the TV, at bars, at coffee shops, at friends’ houses, in Los Angeles. I grieved with everyone. I grieved when I was smiling and laughing as well as when I was crying. You don’t see the tears much anymore. They mostly come at night. My sleep schedule is still erratic, and the last thoughts are always of Adam in the hospital. Of his last breath, of the things I could have done better.

Does this surprise you? That after 14 months I’m still dealing with that? It won’t surprise my widows and widowers out there… the ones I’ve met and the ones I adore in an online community. In a recent New York Times article, a woman who lost her child wrote “You never ‘get over it,’ you ‘get on with it,’ and you never ‘move on,’ but you ‘move forward.’”

And that’s what I’ve been doing these last four months: Getting on with it.

It could be the best description ever. You make your choice to live, and you get on with it.

I got on with it by resigning from my job. I got on with it by beginning an exhaustive process of diving deep into the house, the possessions, the memories. Friends will come into the house and might think “it looks no different.” Same wine red disintegrating couch we got from Deb at FVS. Same hodgepodge of decorations.

It’s in the nooks and crannies that the changed has occurred. It’s in the bedroom where I have not just moved some of Adam’s stuff out, but have taken the step of moving my stuff in. It took time to put my clothes in his dresser, as if the emptiness of it was waiting to return. What happens if he comes back and needs drawer space?

I’ve donated thousands of dollars worth of items .. his, mine, ours. I took that Swedish death cleaning approach to my mom’s to help give away the last of Dad’s clothes.

I discovered new hiking trails with Christie. I continued to wrestle with Adam’s computer and files. I scrapbooked hundreds of photos. I found pictures of us where I don’t even remember where we were at. I marveled at pics of Adam when he loved another gal so many years ago… and I scrapbooked those as well, because it was part of who he was.

I tried food I never would have tried. I watched every episode of the Great British Baking Show and found no desire to bake. I followed my nieces and their successes online. I finally moved all my money to one place and have someone guiding me. I lost some weight, gained it back, lost it, gained it and now just miss Adam, who loved me whether I gained it or it lost it, because it wasn’t the weight, it was the way we treated each other and the way we loved.

In January now, I’m taking the steps to re-enter the workforce. Am I done grieving? Hell to the no. I won’t ever be. But I have a better grasp on it than before, a greater compassion for those around me.

I miss my best friend a lot. Every day, every decision I make is because he lived.

I am lucky. I had the ability to take time off from work on my own terms. Other widows aren’t so lucky. They have been fired, they have had to slog through thankless jobs without more than a few days of bereavement.

I’ll end this by saying… We need to do better for our widows and widowers in America. We need to prepare each other from the beginning and stop pretending one spouse isn’t going to die before the other. Women, especially, have to learn to be resilient now while they are still in their marriages. Resiliency starts when you don’t need it yet. Build it.

“It’s chaos. Be kind.” – Michelle McNamara

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