The Loss of the Middle

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Bixby at Sondermann today

I think a lot lately about one of Richard Bach’s books. I can’t remember if it was Bridge Across Forever or not. But the female protagonist talks about how the male always wants to stay in the “beginning” of the relationship. That many are like that; they move from person to person to keep finding the spark and excitement of a beginning. And like a symphony, they never reach the beautiful middle of the symphony.

I am a middle person. I think Adam was, too. Those early days/months, maybe even years of “beginning passion” that you live in for awhile, are not what I hold dear about our life together. They are fun, sure, but they are distant memories when it comes to Adam because it was the least important time in our lives. It’s like the quote I mentioned in a previous blog—how true love is not gazing into each other’s eyes, but looking in the same direction. It’s the partnership that I miss. People talk about “keeping the romance” in the relationship. Whatever. The romance is in the everyday things; it’s wherever you want to look.

I remember our first Super Bowl together. We got a ton of junk food and spent it at his apartment in the attic on Wood Avenue. I ate too much and got that sick feeling and had to use the bathroom…and I was in there for a while. I was mortified as this was only three months into our relationship and of course I didn’t poop! Adam came to check on me. Even more mortified.

That’s not romance to me, pretending you don’t poop. You know what is? Leaving the bathroom and telling Adam, “You should have seen the size of the poop I just took.” Then there’s laughter and Adam saying “I love you so much.” Love was laughing at farts … because if you don’t think farts are funny, who are you? Love was laughing at bathroom mishaps (oh like you have never had one as an adult!). I’m probably shocking someone right now. Love was one of us going to sleep in the other room because the other was snoring and not being offended.

The kisses we shared in the 17th year of our relationship didn’t have the same fire they did in the first year. But they were better. The one millionth time he said he loved me was better than the first time.

Romance was the fact that we had no jealously between us. We weren’t worried about always reassuring each other. He would often go out with friends downtown without me. That was fine with me. I would go to events for nine days with figure skating and we’d talk maybe three times. We didn’t need to always speak. I had a favorite work-husband … you know who you are, Greg … and there wasn’t any need to worry that I went to lunch every day with him. Adam and I were confident in our love.

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The lonely road ahead, with a dog on the side

I wasn’t perfect in our relationship. Adam didn’t do well with sarcasm, I failed to realize that, and I hurt him a lot with what I thought was humor. I had a tendency to shut down when I was angry. But I also wasn’t afraid to talk about anything.

The reason I know Adam had a disease was because he lived life fearlessly … except when it came to alcohol. We didn’t lie to each other, except he couldn’t tell me the truth about alcohol. He was honest to his core, but this disease destroyed him.

I don’t even recognize myself anymore. I took the dog to Sondermann Park, picked up lunch, and then realized I hadn’t looked in the mirror all day. I have no idea what I must look like.

I made it until 3 p.m. before my first cry today. The emptiness is so real. Walking Bix was hard; it always is because Adam and I would have some of our best discussions on walks. Sondermann had become our “go-to” dog walk. It wasn’t really a hike, just beautiful and uncrowded so we could let Bix run off leash. Adam loved Sondermann; I’ve found so many pics he took of Bix at the park on his phone. In fact, his phone is filled with dozens of photos of Bix and Chance over the last year. I didn’t realize how much he loved taking photos of the animals.

The dishes have piled up. The paperwork is scattered. I haven’t unpacked since last weekend. There is no motivation, excitement or anything. I did get a new audio book; another post-apocalyptic nightmare book where people just survive. Usually they try to survive for revenge. I don’t even have revenge to look forward to. I want to get drunk but the thought of alcohol makes me ill.

Fuck. This really is hell.

 

 

That Fuckin’ Tooth

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THAT FUCKING TOOTH!

Back when I was in the seventh grade, right before I was due for braces, the dreaded “bad hop” in softball nearly derailed my career.

I was playing first in a Saturday game at Sunland Park, and during warmups a ground ball skipped straight into my front teeth. I spit out the crumbs of my right front incisor, and by my memory I just walked off the field without crying. Dad was there … the game was over for me before it started.

Back at home, as we looked for a dentist who would lay out his shingle on a Saturday (yay Dr. Ellis!), I sat on a chair in the living room with some ice. Mom was beside herself; she stood between Dad and me saying how ugly it looked and that she would never let me play again. Dad stood behind her rolling his eyes in exaggeration. The two of us knew we’d be playing again. Does anyone else remember I had to spend a month walking around junior high school with half a front tooth? My sister was mortified to know me. Whatever, I didn’t care.

I’m still paying for that bad hop 35 years later. The ball broke one front tooth, which later died, received a root canal and cap … I’m sure a handful of people remember the figure skating event in Binghamton, N.Y., in about 2000 when the cap fell off! A local dentist helped me out for $50 and a set of four tickets to the International Figure Skating Challenge (incidentally, this is also where I recognized the off-ice brilliance of Katarina Witt, but that’s another story).

Anyway, the OTHER front tooth also took a hit. I don’t know what the exact issue it has, but it’s yellow from the inside (as in Crest Whitestrips won’t help). I have hated that tooth with a passion. I used to ask Adam to please use his mad Photoshop skillz to whiten it on any picture. He would say “I don’t even notice it; nobody does.” I did. I have always hated my slightly yellow tooth.

There is a point to this.

Today, I made a dentist appointment. My old dentist retired and I haven’t had a check up in a year and a half or so. This time, besides a cleaning, I asked for a cosmetic consultation. I want to fix that fucking tooth.

I am feeling enormous guilt for this. I have realized for a couple of years I put off taking care of myself a lot. I saved money, scrimped on hair and the like, because I was saving money for us. Adam was unclear what he wanted to do with his career. I wanted to support him, so I left myself out of the equation. I had holes in my underwear, stringy hair, and just put aside what I needed.

I hope you understand that I do not mean this against Adam. We make sacrifices for the good of the partnership. I have no regrets. (SEE I CREATE GUILT FOR MYSELF EVERYWHERE!)

But now, five weeks after his death, I’m fixing my tooth. I am feeling guilt for moving on and spending money on a cosmetic procedure). But as I learned at a grief and yoga workshop tonight, the symptoms of grief are many; they are not linear, they are not rational, they just ARE.

I have lost the man who thought I was beautiful despite the tooth, despite the weight I put on, despite (and maybe because of) the fact I hate shaving my legs, despite the fact that I rarely wear makeup, have no fashion sense, walk like I’m always wearing cleats, and am covered with moles and freckles. Despite the fact I do not a graceful bone or muscle in my body.

This is a panic of “who will ever love me now?”

So I’m getting my tooth fixed. At least, I will love the smile staring back at me.

Glittens, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

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I have so many pictures of Adam sleeping with his beloved “kidder” aka Chance.

It’s cold today. Snow starting to fall. I pulled out some gloves to go out … gloves I haven’t worn in a while. They are those “glittens” … you know, the gloves are cut off on the finger and then the top comes over onto your fingers for the mitten part.

These glittens are old. I remember buying them for figure skating events, so I could type when needed by the rink and then cover up for warmth. I specifically remember having them rinkside at some sectional championship, pre-Ice Network, when we were creating a fledgling live stream network. It might have been one of my last years at skating, and I traveled a lot due to our video plans. I remember that rink, where I sat, how cold it was, these gloves … and the times I called Adam so frustrated with how things weren’t working correctly. He would listen, offer technical advice, soothe me.

I don’t know why I thought of this. Maybe it was because today I couldn’t get our printer online at home. Or maybe because the microwave went totally on the fritz. He’s no longer here to solve those problems. I need a new microwave I think. He would have been on Amazon buying one already (gleeful for the excuse to buy a new gadget). The driveway will never be shoveled again. I’ll just park on the sidewalk until it melts. It’s not that I can’t solve these problems by myself. It’s that I don’t want to. That’s what a partnership was about.

It’s been a disastrous 24 hours. Once again, my small step forward resulted in a huge setback  I am trying to remember that I did the right thing by reaching out to friends, who just gave me tea and hugs, and a place for Bixby to play.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m failing. Writing this blog with a subtitle that says “Fighting Through Grief,” yet I feel completely crushed. I’m on a couple of forums for widows, and I realize that every day a new member comes on board. I want to help them deal with those first days, but then I feel like a fraud because I’m a mess, too.

The hatred of seeing happy people can be overwhelming at times. The fact that there are horrid people living and smiling. The self-pity of “Why me?” The belief that this was karma hitting me because I was the golden girl … I always won. I got the award, I got into the right college, I got the job. I got the man, the sweet, sweet man. So there you go, life says … fuck you, you are done now. It’s over. No more wins for you. You ultimately failed to save the man you loved.

Bixby and I took a walk last night. I thought about what Adam was missing.

The night sky is the same. The sunsets are the same. The trees, the snow, it’s all the same, you aren’t missing that, my love. The TV shows are the same, the books are the same, work is the same, politics are the same.

But you are missing everything nonetheless. While walking, I thought of one my favorite passages from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard. Read it or just watch Gary Oldman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LYDKs480UA (first three minutes)

“Do you ever think of yourself as actually dead, lying in a box with the lid on it? Nor do I really. Silly to be depressed by it. I mean, one thinks of it like being alive in a box. One keeps forgetting to take into account that one is dead. Which should make all the difference. Shouldn’t it? I mean, you’d never know you were in a box would you? It would be just like you were asleep in a box. Not that I’d like to sleep in a box, mind you. Not without any air. You’d wake up dead for a start and then where would you be? In a box. That’s the bit I don’t like, frankly. That’s why I don’t think of it. Because you’d be helpless wouldn’t you? Stuffed in a box like that. I mean, you’d be in there forever. Even taking into account the fact that you’re dead. It isn’t a pleasant thought. Especially if you’re dead, really. Ask yourself: if I asked you straight off I’m going to stuff you in this box now – would you rather to be alive or dead? Naturally you’d prefer to be alive. Life in a box is better than no life at all. I expect. You’d have a chance at least. You could lie there thinking, well, at least I’m not dead. In a minute, somebody’s going to bang on the lid and tell me to come out. (knocks) “Hey you! What’s your name? Come out of there!”

Because Adam is not out there missing anything. He’s not alive in a box waiting to get out. It is us missing him, us sad that he is missing this. He’s missing my ability to love him … even though he hid so much, he wasn’t perfect, he struggled, he hid pain. I kept loving him regardless. That love is now an ocean of grief, just like all those cliches say it is.

You are missing this, Adam. You never get to laugh when Arthur says “Here’s Excalibur for you” in a goofball voice; when Samuel Jackson gets eaten by a shark in the middle of a speech; when Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson keep saying “on the line;” when Marshall Bell says “We’re all gonna die!” when Padme says “Hold me like you did on Naboo;” when I make up songs about housework; when I create new nicknames for the pets. I’ll never give in and watch Johnny Dangerously with you again.

I leave all my readers these words of warning: If there is something you haven’t said to your loved one, do it now. If there is something you guys have been meaning to do, do it now. Don’t leave the house angry. Always say I love you. I realize they are things you have been told a million times, but maybe you will listen because it’s coming from me. You are a fool to worry about “things.” None of it matters a goddamn bit. It’s only just people you love.

The last thousand words Adam and I said to each other were almost all “I love you.” This is what I hang on to. We knew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farewell, Central City

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The Hord House, as it is known, was the house the Currys lived in while we were together. I loved this place.

Central City, Nebraska.

Who would have thought that a town with a population of 3,000 would become a second home to this girl from Los Angeles?

Well, it did.

Back in 1999, Adam and I had been dating for two weeks when he mentioned to his dad that he had met someone. His dad said “bring her home for Thanksgiving.” Adam jokingly asked if I wanted to come. I had no other plans, so I said “sure.” Now, Adam was really stuck! He didn’t think I’d say yes.

But I did, and on that eight-hour drive, Adam and I discussed our histories, our past loves, our beliefs, our dreams. When we arrived at the Hord House,  (yes, it has its own Wikipedia page) where Adam’s dad and stepmom, Bev, lived, I was amazed. It was right in the center of this tiny town, a gorgeous house listed as an historic place. It wasn’t the house Adam spent his childhood years in; I don’t think they moved there until late high school/college. We laughed that two weeks into the relationship we were immediately put into the same bedroom. 🙂

Over the next 15 years, we went back for various Thanksgivings, Christmases and fourth of Julys. I was entranced by small town America (as a place to visit, that is). There were ice cream socials, county keg parties (the Fireman’s Ball), and an awesome Christmas parade where they threw candy at the crowd! I was all over this. In fact, one Thanksgiving I was invited to be a float judge for the parade. Adam said he thinks they were a little overwhelmed with how seriously I took it … I mean, I took copious notes and explained my reasoning.

I met amazing people… the Ryans and the Websters come to mind. The house was right next to the Lincoln Manor steak house, where we always ate at least once per trip! At Woody’s Bar, a local once pointed at Adam’s eyebrow ring and said, I quote, “Jesus Christ, did that hurt?” in a country twang.

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I remember seeing the very terrible “The World is Not Enough” at the State theater in Central City.

I went to fireworks at the football stadium, walked in the dry Platte River bed, took Bailey out to the Ryan’s farm, where we learned she was a herding dog as she went after some cattle. Meka used to make himself at home on the nice furniture at the Hord (Curry) House. I slept through the sounds of trains booming through the town nightly. We chowed down on breakfast at Waffles ‘n’ More. Adam and I would sit outside in the twilight so I could watch the fireflies; he would tell me amazing stories of his wild youth growing up in the country. We would crowd in the kitchen as Bev created magnificent meals; Adam and I would stay up late in the TV room hanging out on the recliners and be the last ones up the next day–only aroused by the smell of bacon filtering up through the back staircase. We’d walk the dogs down to the enclosed ballfields to let them run joyously free.

He showed me the schools he went to, the places he hung out. We ran across the highway to the Central City Mall … aka the grocery story, in the freezing cold to get more beer or chips or candy. We bought fireworks, and I had a blast learning how to set them off, always saying “you’ll shoot your eye out!” or “don’t stand so close!”

The long road trips gave us time to talk, to sleep, to listen to audiobooks and music. To stop and have Crisp Pinto Burritos at Amigos, and have my personal discovery of the Runza.

And so it was that the first celebration for Adam was at the United Methodist Church in Central City. It was crowded with people who watched Adam grow up, with friends and family. Ed, the man who married us, led the service. Adam’s high school music director, Clay Blackmore, led a reunion choir of Adam’s classmates to sing “For Good” from Wicked. Ed used three Yoda quotes from our wedding to talk about Adam’s life … that Adam lived without fear and made the most of his life. That he lived “do or do not” as best he could. His pastor from youth, Denny, shared memories of Adam. Adam’s mom read a moving poem she wrote about her darling son.

Ed sang  “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” — a song he said was the only song he could sing when his son died at the young age of 21.

Mary put together a video of Adam’s life … it was beautiful and I hope to share it soon. We let balloons go for him. I got up to speak. I don’t remember what I said exactly because I didn’t prepare it. But it’s the message I have for all of you:

“Don’t let Adam’s life be defined by his addiction. He was such a wonderful man. I don’t know what the answer to addiction is, but I know it starts within each of us … that we have the courage to ask for help, and that we all have the compassion to give that help. I don’t want others to go through this, and I just want to give someone a chance to live, to reach one person.”

I know I also said what I really know now: I would live my life with Adam all over again, even if I knew what the ending would be; even if I knew the pain it would cause; even if I knew my life would be shattered.

Thank you, Central City. I will always remember you with love.

Grief Revelations

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This photo has nothing to do with the blog. This is us with Daniel Logan, who played young Boba Fett in the prequels. We got his signature on our autograph poster and he was so awesome!

Over the last few days, I have a some certain revelations and steps in my grief.

I’ve read about four books on grief since Adam died. All of them by women, a couple more story-like and based on personal experience, a couple that have been a combination of stories and tenets/steps. What I realized is that I was actually becoming confused by the consortium of stories. Was I doing this right? Was I following a good path to steer myself from “complicated grief” (yes, this is a thing…)? Am I spending too much time in one stage?

I know the only right way to grieve is my way, but these books can be confusing as you judge yourself against others with different experiences. I spoke to my therapist about this, and she told me that she was advised not to recommend grief books to grievers for about six months. The reasoning? Exactly what I was experiencing…confusion about wondering what is right and wrong. Six months or so out, she said, it’s easier for a griever to get a handle on where you are.

Thus, I decided not to read the next book on the Kindle, and at the airport, I picked up an LCD book … a Lowest Common Denominator book … which is my acronym for any mass market paperback (yes, I’m being judgmental here). I picked up “Inferno” by Dan Brown. Aside: I read the Da Vinci Code during the week up to my wedding. I was exiled to the bedroom often to rest because I was so sick I couldn’t speak.

Anyway, about 100 pages in, the writer describes Florence, Italy, in great detail, and specifically Boboli Gardens. I immediately thought “I would like to go there.” The next immediate thought is the resounding sadness that I had actually been thinking of going there with Adam. I had to rearrange those thoughts in my head. My next thought was “Well, I guess I’ll never go there, then.” I couldn’t even entertain the thought of going alone or with someone else. And … cue the tears on an airplane again.

Grief is surprising at every turn. You are hit hard with reminders of what is not to be, even though every other minute you already know your life has changed irrevocably. It’s like you know, but you still keep forgetting.

That’s two things. The third is more personal. I’m in Central City, Neb., watching football (of course) after the celebration of life today (I’ll talk about that in the next post). But last night, around the table, we talked about Adam, addiction and his illness. His dad told me that while Adam was in the Texas hospital last April, he was flat out told “If you drink one drop again, you might as well call hospice right now.”

I did not know this. This was one of my own personal bits of anguished guilt and regret, thinking that I didn’t push doctors hard enough to tell him he could never drink. But someone did, and he drank anyway.

This gave me some sense of peace. It’s hard to explain why. Maybe it’s because it seems to be greater confirmation of the fact that he had an illness that affected his ability to make rational decisions. It wasn’t about loving alcohol more than he loved me… or loving alcohol more than he loved life … but whatever was going on, he struggled with making a completely rational decision not to drink… and there is science behind it. It’s not just willpower.

From the recent Surgeon General’s report on addiction:

… substance use disorders are said to involve compromised self-control. It is not a complete loss of autonomy—addicted individuals are still accountable for their actions—but they are much less able to override the powerful drive to seek relief from withdrawal provided by alcohol or drugs. At every turn, people with addictions who try to quit find their resolve challenged. Even if they can resist drug or alcohol use for a while, at some point the constant craving triggered by the many cues in their life may erode their resolve, resulting in a return to substance use, or relapse…

I guess my thought is, I’m still trying to work my way around the guilt I feel. Even in the above paragraph, there are phrases that trigger my guilt … Adam had triggers … they were our house, our city, our friends, our routines. We probably would have needed to uproot our entire lives to help conquer this, and we were talking about it. As I’ve said, we just ran out of time.

My therapist asked why I was continuing my sobriety. I first said “it would dishonor him.” She asked me “how would it dishonor him?”

My answer finally was…”Having a drink means I no longer have to be/need to be/want to be sober. I no longer have to adjust my life willingly for the person I love. Drinking means admitting Adam is gone. That I have no one to support anymore.”

 

Drinking means going on with my life. Going on without Adam.

I guess I’m not there yet.

Songs in My Head

I looked for songs that had lyrics like “All the lights are on in the house because dark corners are sad” and “I have so much cheese in my refrigerator” but there aren’t any that I know of. Also, here’s a pic of Bix.15170860_1363179543706301_5978077271499093714_n

Random songs that hit me in my grief. And you know, I am not a music nerd. But shit, these tunes are in my head all the time. It’s been one month exactly since Adam died.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes by Asia (yeah, 80s friends, bet you haven’t heard this one in awhile!)

Wait by Alexi Murdoch (I just discovered this song and artist in a random playlist last week)

Horses are Faster by Ian Munsick

Overkill by Colin Hay (because I can’t sleep) “Ghosts appear and fade away…”

Texas Morning by Mike Nesmith (was one of my songs with Dad, so it’s hitting me now)

Of You by the Monkees (written by Nez) … because this song was a private love song I had for Adam in my head all the time. I never told him that.

Carlisle Wheeling (Conversations) by Mike Nesmith (this song is about real relationships … the middle, which I think is way better than the beginning)

Can you tell I go to Nez in sadness? Because he’s a genius.

“Forgive me my dear, if I seem preoccupied, if the razor edge of youth-filled love is gone. But we’re a both a little older, our relationship has grown, not just in how it’s shaped but how it’s shown.” 

 

 

Nerd Shirts

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Adam’s all-time favorite T-shirt

Had to ask for help tonight. I needed someone to get me started on laundry and cleaning out the refrigerator, so I texted Kathy. Of course, she was here with dinner and Tom, her very handy husband!

But the most important task was moral support. My friend Laurie plans to make a quilt out of Adam’s favorite T-shirts, and I needed someone there as I picked them out. His favorite “Nerd Shirts.” I probably picked out too many, but here they are (NERDS!) in no particular order.

  1. Blue Sun
  2. Mal and Cobb as Calvin and Hobbes (They aim to misbehave)
  3. Black Marc Ecko Stormtrooper motorcycle design
  4. Stay-Puft Marshallow Man
  5. “Blink”
  6. Jesus as a barcode
  7. Starfest Star Trek shirt (from our last Starfest!)
  8. Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Klingons
  9. Romulan Ale: Legalize It!
  10. Spanked (I honestly don’t know what this was, a band?)
  11. His most worn Team USA shirt (because he was so proud of his work with the USOC)
  12. The aberrant “ou are the result of 3.8 billion years of evolutionary success. Act like it.” He had two of these because this one, ironically, came without the opening “Y.”
  13. The design of the “Trojan Rabbit” from Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  14. Wocka Wocka Wookie

Oddly, these are hard to part with, even though I would never wear any due to our, um, chest size difference. Lauri is planning to get flannel backing that matches the color of his Clan Currie tartan used for the wedding kilt.

Going through his closet was difficult, and I’m glad I had a friend. Every shirt, pair of shorts, pair of pants, has a memory associated with it. Also, for fuck’s sake, Adam, you absolutely refused to throw clothes away. So many. I just had to shut the closet when I was done. I’m not ready to go through this stuff yet.

Is anybody?

A Well-Loved Man

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Texas sunset

In many ways, this day could be counted as a microcosm of grief.

It started when I went to bed with a slight headache and woke up at 1 a.m. (yes, I had fallen asleep, on purpose, at 10 p.m.) with one of the most astounding headaches of my life. I really did wonder if it was a tumor, or the precursor to a stroke, and I couldn’t decide if I cared or not. Was this it? If it was, I was at peace.

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I found some aspirin, I used a cold compress. Alas, I didn’t die.

Managed to eat half my breakfast at Denny’s; managed to not cry when leaving Steve and Bev; managed to successfully avoid all three FVS students on my flight until I got to baggage claim when I inadvertently stood right next to one. Quick small talk escalated into me saying “my husband died three weeks ago” with tears starting. I don’t know what I was thinking; it just came out. I feel like an asshole … like this kid deserved my grief.

My evening got worse. I keep telling myself that when I am driving, I have to “be driving.” I didn’t make 100 yards before I wasn’t driving but thinking and I crashed into a curb, destroying a front tire. My first thought was to call Adam, who would have then told me to “call AAA.” I skipped the first step, but you know what, I told both the dispatcher and the tow truck driver that my husband died. I just wanted to give them an excuse for why I crashed into a curb in the daylight on my own. I am assured this is normal behavior and that eventually I won’t tell every Tom, Dick or Harry that my husband just died. It’s not going to work as an excuse for stupid behavior in six months anyway. Though, it should.

So, on my donut wheel, I went off to continue my new tradition of Chipotle for dinner, but I couldn’t find a parking place. Settled for Wooglin’s. I’m wondering how long I will be going out for dinner. I hear there are “Cooking for One” books out there.

The mail was a mixture of good and bad—a book from my college friend and softball buddy Christy, who has been down this road as well; a letter of condolence from a nurse at UC Health; and Adam’s autopsy results.

I had thought when I received the autopsy results I would throw them in a pile and never look. But I opened them. It was clear to me that Adam was probably out of luck the minute he took his first drink (his first relapse), after rehab. Scarring was present … and the results said it was probably scarring from five years or more (we knew this). His pancreas showed damage, his spleen was enlarged, and of course, he had enlarged veins in his stomach and esophagus. He was living on borrowed time. We didn’t know it.

But what annoyed me the most was that whoever wrote the letter spelled it “scaring” and not “scarring.” Grammar counts, folks.

Stephanie was our last nurse who mattered at Anschutz. She wasn’t the nurse who was there when he died, but I think she was with us for two days, and is the one who let Bixby in. She sent a card. I wanted to share what she wrote because I think Adam would be proud.

“To the family and friends of Adam Curry… I wanted to personally express my sorrow for your loss. It was a privilege to care for Adam as well as all of you during this difficult time. He was a very lucky and well-loved man as shown by the love, care and support I saw from you. He left an impression here, too (and not just the dog prints on the bed).”

Yes, he was very well-loved. Forever.

P.S. It’s the little things that are sad, like realizing you don’t get to watch the new Top Chef with Adam. He loved the show. He loved crazy food.

What you’ve missed…

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Mystery Machine selfie at Starfest 2015 in Denver

Hi Adam,

It’s been just more than three weeks since you died, and I miss you very much. Just as expected, the world went on. It’s a sad fact. The world went on, and I hate every single fucking person who is happy right now. How dare they go on with life?

The irrationality and truth in grief is right there.

I must pause to say that I just found the Shawshank Redemption on TV. “Oh damn, Shawshank is on.” “Did you find Shawshank?” “Of course Shawshank is on.” Because everything right now in my life is done for you, I’m leaving it on.

Here’s what you have missed.

  1. I was wrong. Donald Trump became president. This would have horrified you, but I won’t say “I’m glad you aren’t here to see it.” I wish you were here to see it, so we you could hold me like you did on Naboo.
  2. I have spent the last five days with your family. I wish you had been here for:
    1. The fire pit at the Cagles. We would have stayed by that fire for hours
    2. Rob suggesting that maybe cream cheese doesn’t go with pad Thai. Do you think I should try this? Because you were insistent that cream cheese makes everything better.
    3. I finished third in poker the first night; did poorly the second night as I lost it all to Benny. BENNY!
    4. Football and fire on the deck with the big TV
    5. You would have told me to bring a swimsuit for the pool. Even if I didn’t want to swim, I know you would have been in the pool.
    6. Walking through the neighborhood to look at the lights
    7. Bacon
    8. Prime rib
    9. Green bean casserole
  3. I know this would have been hard for you … a Thanksgiving without drinking. But we would have done it. I did it, and I would have been there to support you.
  4. I flew first class just because…
  5. I can’t sleep at all. I read that this is normal in grief. Sleep, eating and other patterns are completely thrown off. I roll around crying wishing you were here.
  6. I didn’t realize how much I just liked to be near you. Sitting around in the kitchen, I would always find away to hold your hand, play with your hair, caress your back, give you kisses. That was definitely me.
  7. Bixby is having a good time with Alea. We found a great person to take care of him while we are gone.
  8. Tickets for Rogue One go on sale Monday. I don’t know if I will have the heart to wait in line without you.
  9. I’m volunteering with the American Liver Foundation. I don’t know what I’ll do yet, but we’ve connected.
  10. I can’t find enthusiasm for just about anything. I did enjoy poker though.
  11. If I could, I would spend all day writing about you.

Here is my random memory about you: Two years ago we were here for Thanksgiving. We went to the Cagles on Friday or Saturday, I can’t remember. But you decided I needed a new computer, and it was Black Friday or Cyber Monday coming up. So you delighted in searching for the best deal for me. We were in the living room with football on, and you were just overjoyed to say “I got your computer for you!” Gadgets were your thing. Now I have to figure out how every fucking one of them works: where you kept all our photos (is there a hard drive somewhere? on the Cloud?), the Tile, the Nest, Find my iPhone. Shit all of them. You loved the big Mac announcements, giggled with excitement when the new gadgets were announced, or the new iPhone features. The giggles! You would totally giggle!

I miss you.

About alcohol…

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The wedding (photo by Amy Balbirer Windham)

The alcohol question.

I think about this question often. What is my relationship with alcohol now? What will it be in the future?

It’s difficult to separate alcohol from Adam’s addiction and illness. Certainly, alcohol destroyed his liver. But equally as certain, so many of my best memories with Adam involve alcohol. Was alcohol the center of these memories? No. But we enjoyed sitting on the beach with a beer; wine tasting; finding new breweries; tasting crazy concoctions. We liked a lazy Sunday morning on a downtown porch, talking about politics, gossiping, people-watching and eating breakfast with coffee, a mimosa and a Bloody Mary. Certainly, here in Texas, as I sit on the porch watching Air Force football while writing this, Adam and I would have had a beer in hand by now. It’s vacation, it’s football, it was us.

Truth is, I didn’t drink nearly as much before Adam. I drank shitty beer with the occasional tequila shot. True story… Adam probably fell in love with me when we are at McAllister’s downtown (remember that place?) and I ordered tequila shots (right before Jen and I headed to see the Monkees at Pikes Peak Center). They offered training wheels, and I scoffed. Only rookies need the lime and salt. Adam eventually introduced me to “sipping tequila” and I generally left Cuervo behind. McAllister’s was the place we could never leave on a Sunday, drinking beer and playing Golden Tee (that game was like crack) with friends.

We liked the Manitou Springs Wine Festival and Swirl Wine Bar (we were one of the first regulars); the new breweries that popped up in the Springs, camping with cocktail hour; Disa’s gin and tonics at school, blue-cheese stuffed olives in martinis along with carpaccio at the Chop House, collecting 17 plastic cups from Coconuts by the Beach in Florida; pre-made screwdrivers in our backpack at Starfest. The discovery of sour beers … a sour for me and an IPA for him. The Warp Core Breach at Star Trek Experience in Vegas with Paul and Michelle; a glass of wine with Adam’s scallops and linguine while watching the Walking Dead. Wandering up and down side streets in Heidelberg and finding the off the beaten path absinthe bar where we were the only tourists, where we communicated haphazardly through the language barrier with the bartender. Sitting in a square in Cologne, Germany, watching the Germans celebrate because their team had just won a friendly over some other country. Going from place to place in Bruges because I had a giant spider bite that itched so badly I could only sit for about 30 minutes before needing to move to get my mind off of it. Sipping wine on the banks of a river in Germany with a baguette and cheese. Wine in Paris, beer in Amsterdam, and all sorts of weird stuff in Japan.

Lots of alcohol, eh? I didn’t think we drank any more or less than our friends. But of course, I was oblivious to what Adam might have been drinking at home while I wasn’t there. I didn’t know the pain and anxiety he must have felt with the deceit and the lying to me. When he would swear he would never drink again, and a week later I would find the hidden bottle of gin.

To hate alcohol is to hate my 17 years with Adam, and I won’t do it. Whatever you may think an alcoholic is, you might be wrong. Adam was a light in this world; he wasn’t drunk all the time, he wasn’t abusive, he didn’t pass out at bars or say rude things. He wasn’t an obnoxious drunk. He was perfect in my eyes. A perfect man with a perfect illness. An insidious illness we are just beginning to understand.

It was scary for us, more so for him, to think of a future without alcohol. Does that sound weird to you? Everything we did pretty much included alcohol. We had 12 years together before we realized this was bad for him. I could stop after two beers; he could not. He “knew” he shouldn’t be drinking, but at 40, how do you really think you are going to die from liver disease? You just don’t. It’s not happening to any of your friends, so why you?

I haven’t had a drink in about 95 days. That’s the longest for me probably since I went to college. Last night, playing poker, with drinks everywhere, it was hard for me to not join in the drinking fun, get a little buzz. And I’m definitely not an alcoholic. How difficult must it have been for Adam? He said “I’m fine if you drink, I’m fine if my friends drink.” The fact is, he wasn’t. He was terrified of “ruining” other people’s good times, of changing my life so drastically.

That is where my biggest guilt comes in. Why didn’t I realize how hard it was for him? I would have quit along with him. But I guess part of me was mourning the loss of our lifestyle, too. I worried about a lifestyle; instead I lost a whole life.

I would like to toast to Adam again. To taste a new IPA and scrunch up my nose and say, “ewww” and go back to a saison. To sip a great bubbly and say “you would have liked this, Adam.” I might be hypocritical. Fuck you if you think I am. I’m just trying to deal with the loss of my husband in any way I can. My entire life has been ripped from me and I don’t know what to do.

So just try to smile with me and enjoy that IPA.

 

 

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