Is This the First of the Year of Firsts?

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Random photo from summer 2015 after a day at Water World with Ava and Olwyn. I actually outdid Adam. He was D-O-N-E near the end of the day, and I was like “we have 45 minutes! I’m going on some more slides!” This was also one of his favorite T-shirts: Barcode Jesus

Well, I did it. I packed (thanks to Amy who walked me through it via text), I locked the house, left instructions for the house sitter, made it to the airport, got on the plane and successfully made it down to Texas.

It’s Thanksgiving at the Curry home!

I’ve traveled around the world a few times, been on more planes than I can count, but this was the hardest … it was like I couldn’t remember how to be a traveler. Luckily, I wasn’t “that guy” in the security line. I still managed to do everything correctly but without a smile and in some kind of fog. Yes, I did upgrade because it was only $75, but I really only wanted that for comfort. I wasn’t going to take a free glass of bubbly anyway, and I slept through the snacks. I suffered a couple bouts of airsickness, and not having Adam there to feel sorry for me was hard. He would just always pat me on the back as I doubled over, saying “breathe.” This is good advice right now for everything. Probably, eating this morning and not drinking all that coffee would have been a good idea before getting on a plane.

This is my first time at the new Curry house, and it’s beautiful. Adam was here briefly in April and June, but we were never here together. It’s 9:15 p.m., and I can tell you right now if he were here we would be on the deck with the fire and the huge TV on (yes, you read that right … an outdoor deck with a fire AND a TV!). Ten years ago we would have had beer or wine in our hands. This year we would have just had some soda. I would have put my arms around him as we looked up at the stars.

Adam, you should know that Bev and your dad cooked the prime rib to perfection! So nice and rare. But Kay said next time we’ll get a small prime rib for just her and me, and we’ll just walk it by a warm oven briefly and it will be done. There was extra garlicky bread, green beans, some delicious potato product and creamed spinach. Also … they will make green bean casserole in your honor tomorrow.

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Stolen from Mary’s Instagram page: Benny reads Quincy a story on the deck (yes, THAT deck with the fire pit AND TV).

Everyone is here: Mary, Dan, Beatrice, Quincy, Marjorie, Danielle, Jed, Kevin, Benny, Rob, Nigel, Fred, Kay (and Todd tomorrow). This would have been the best with you here. We’d sleep on an air mattress until you would say “fuck it, I’m sleeping on the couch.” We just never were cuddly sleepers! Give me some space!!!!

It was overwhelming to be with so many people, so the first thing I did was nap. Then, I got up from the nap and proceeded to cry, thus being the white elephant in the room for awhile. But the tears pass. You know what the worse thing is? Every time I smile or get distracted for just an instance I feel guilty for not thinking of you, for not being sad. I’ve learned that this is normal and a part of grief. Doesn’t make it any easier.

I started to panic thinking about next week at work and then going back to Central City for his celebration of life. I remembered some wise words heard from fellow widows: “Stop right now. Don’t think of next week or even tomorrow. Just get through this very minute.” I have to say, this did help.

I’m now on my third book of dealing with grief. The second one I read last night while I couldn’t sleep. It was supposed to be humorous, but honestly I think I am much funnier. I know Lisa Johnson Belesky agrees with me. She hasn’t even read the book, but I know she would say “I guarantee you are way more hilarious.” Then, I will remind her she is right because who else would use rolled up placemats for a fan dance in college … just to get her attention because she was ignoring me!

You guys, because I never throw my clothes away, you should know I found an old pair of black jeans that fit. I will wear them every day for the rest of my life like Zuckerberg. Or like Brenna … she says she has a uniform, too.

Enjoy Thanksgiving. Hug your loved ones.

 

Why did we work?

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We loved the beach. Cocoa Beach 2009

I don’t know why we worked. Adam and I were, in many ways, quite opposite.

I was an L.A. Valley girl. He was a small-town Nebraska boy who once worked de-tassling corn. I used to call him my “juvenile delinquent.”

I grew up loving sports. I WAS sports. I wanted to work in sports. I WAS working in sports when we met. Adam once held the high school pole vault record in Central City and did gymnastics as a youngster, but he was an artist at heart. He was a singer, a musician, a sketcher, a potter, a designer. I always said “of course he likes sports, he just likes hippie sports: boarding, hiking, frisbee, hacky sack.” I think I got him to like sports … we became Olympic junkies, he was starting to appreciate the beauty of baseball (but NEVER basketball), and he was becoming a soccer groupie sort of.

I was goal-driven, ambitious, knew what I wanted; I ticked off my accomplishments one by one. Adam was a free spirit. He buckled under bureaucracy and flow charts, where I thrived. He liked to be his own boss. I preferred working in the office environment. He searched for meaning, what he wanted to do; I had it all planned out.

He loved lizards and snakes and all reptiles. I was ambivalent, but thankfully not terrified.

I remember he invited me to a party at his place before our official first date. This is where I meet this incredible group of friends (many who visited in the hospital and have guided me through this grief) … they were all totally unlike me, it seemed. They had long hair, smoked pot … they were just SO COOL. I showed up from an Air Force volleyball game with a ponytail and bangs, wearing a windbreaker with a plate of brownies (just the normal kind!). I felt so out of place.

Adam had on his red jeans (did I ever love those!); he was the long-haired artist I was fascinated with… earrings in both ears, a tattoo (!) and an eyebrow ring. This was not me.

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We loved Kevin Smith movies, as evidenced by our first movie together: Dogma. Years ago, we were a great Jay and Silent Bob for Halloween.

Later, it was just the two of us, and we talked for hours. I said goodnight at the door to his apartment, and he awkwardly said “I would kiss you, but I’ve had a cold, so uh…” and he shook my hand. He would kill me for publicizing that story. But he stole my heart forever with that.

I used to be irritated with people who would insinuate that I “wore the pants” in the relationship. I felt that to be a misunderstanding of our relationship and what worked for the two of us. I was just the “out there, demanding, difficult” person (Cal Poly softball friends would call this “moody, snippy and opinionated”). Adam went with the flow. I was not in charge of the relationship nor of him. I wish I had been because maybe I wouldn’t be here writing this.

Adam loved music. He was way more hip than I could ever hope to be. He loved the Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl (he was thrilled I went to see the Foo with him last year!). About two years ago I surprised him with tickets to Fitz and the Tantrums in Breckenridge. I didn’t know anything about them; I just knew he would want to go. I listen to 80s music, the Monkees, Garth Brooks and Broadway musicals – he could name all the modern, cool bands.

He’s the one who got me to try sushi and ethnic food of all kind, though a bean and cheese burrito is still my No. 1; he introduced me to beer beyond Bud, he convinced me to watch Starship Troopers, which is the ultimate cult bad movie. He got me on skis and a snowboard, though I never got the hang of it. He got me to love car camping and hiking, even though more than three days without a shower was too much for me.

He introduced me to so much … and I miss him more than I can say.

 

 

Remnants of Hope

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St. Mary’s Falls hike. Uphill. Seven miles. Out of water. We did it. 

Coconut water. Low sodium V8. Six Triscuits and six dried apricots in a Ziploc bag. A half-eaten roll of SweeTTarts. Low sodium pasta sauce. These are the things I stare at; the things I have to throw away. The remnants of the last hopeful part of my life. When Adam and I were doing everything to keep his body going. It didn’t work.

Maybe it gave us some weeks.

Liver disease is full of complications. It is these complications that usually kills. I started following Cirrhosis Remedy on Twitter, among other liver accounts, but just had to stop. The reminders of the complications and the anxiety were too much.

Jaundice. Ascites. Portal hypertension leading to variceal bleeds. Hepatic encephalopathy. Muscle wasting. Fatigue. None of these were a surprise to me as they came as I knew this disease. I knew it for Adam so we could be prepared. We fought through every symptom. Now I have to throw away the remnants of our hope. Perhaps in many ways that is good because that’s not who Adam was or what we were about.

Is it fate that the surgeon general came out with his big report on addiction this past week? His message is mine. Addiction is a brain disease, not a moral failure. The full report is available here: https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/. I haven’t read it yet either, but I just gave you the summary. We need to help people with addiction with a full frontal assault, not judge. I can only hope that this is a step toward saving another husband or wife or parent or sibling from the pain and despair I am experiencing.

I can’t get the sounds of the hospital out of my mind. There are three distinct beeps. The IV. The respirator. The blood pressure. Each one different. I learned to sleep through the occluded IV sound. The respirator beep just meant someone was maybe moving him. The BP sound was the harbinger of death.

It is the one that haunts me.

 

 

Rogue One

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Queuing for the JJ Abrams panel at Star Wars Celebration VII in Anaheim, April 2015 (through a fish-eye lens!)

I am aimlessly on my phone and computer all day and most of the night. I hope for some new story on CNN or Slate or any outlet even thought it’s just been five minutes since I checked the last time. I am trying to find more people to follow  on Twitter so my feed keeps moving. I don’t eat most of the day but then can’t stop eating at night.

A friend came over today. The refrigerator got fixed. The dog got walked. I brushed my teeth. Showering was too much to think about.

I went to get some food for dinner, and the cashier noticed my R2D2 wallet as everyone usually does. He started talking about Rogue One coming out next month. I played along as if I still had the excitement for the movie I once did.

When Adam first got really sick at the end of August, I would tell him he needed to keep fighting because Rogue One was coming. We were going to see that together … he promised me.

In April of 2015 we went to Star Wars Celebration VII in Anaheim. I think I’ve only missed on celebration. The first was in Denver in 1999, which I went to by myself. Adam and I traveled to Indianapolis, Orlando, L.A. and Anaheim for subsequent celebrations. We absolutely loved them. You spend so much time standing in line it’s crazy, but worth it.

In Anaheim, we randomly met and talked up Oliver Steeples in a bar. Oliver was an ordinary member of an R2 Builders Club and was plucked to work on Force Awakens.

Because we liked to sleep, we didn’t spend all night waiting in line for the JJ Abrams panel, but we did get there early enough to get in an extra room. So we didn’t see JJ live, but we were there for the first Force Awakens trailer. We both cried when Han said “Chewie, we’re home.” What a feeling.

Later we got in the panel for Rogue One. Filming had not begun, they had nothing to share, but they did anyway … something they just created for those of us there. We’ve been waiting for that movie forever because of this little fake trailer. Yep, we were in that audience. Now, he’ll never see it. This is breaking my heart.

I had already bought tickets to Celebration in Orlando in 2017. Have hotel reserved. We had hoped to be there and then spend a couple days in our favorite spot in the world where we were engaged: Cocoa Beach, Florida. I haven’t decided about those tickets yet. Maybe I will go by myself. Maybe I will sell those tickets for big bucks. Maybe there is a friend out there who doesn’t mind aimlessly wandering hallways and the vendor room, standing in long lines, losing terribly in the Bounty Hunt. Adam and I were just always on the same page about what we wanted to do at these events.

Fuck. I miss him.

My first complete panic

The saga of the email servers.

This was the first thing that had me completely at a loss. Could not figure out why/how I couldn’t access our emails suddenly. I was up till 3 a.m. calling all sorts of 24/7 help lines. Today, a wonderful woman named Christine at Insider Hosting spent an enormous amount of time tracking things down for me. I have access again. I know what to do in the future (I think).

This was horrifying. I kept thinking “I’ll just ask Adam and he will help.” Then it would hit me he couldn’t help and I panicked. Hysteria. Thank you all who offered advice. I feel like this was my first real accomplishment. But it made me want to die all over again. I just am so lost. What do I do with Adam’s business website? How do I save the files? What do I save? What do I delete? This horror is too much to bear. I hate this life.

But thank you to the people who have reached out. Those who have sent food or gift cards or gotten me to eat: Andy N., Mickey and Robyn, Andy G., Amy, Kelly, Christine and Dave, Mark, Dan, Hollie, Lisa, Molly and Angus, Steve, Laurie, Jen, the Coffee Club, Brenna… who I am forgetting? Amy texts me to remind me to take my meds. I have received every card and read every txt and email, listened to every voicemail. The energy to respond is too much.

I feel like I’m becoming every woman I didn’t want to be. Feeling hopeless and sad and empty. I didn’t want to be broken. I wanted to be strong. I want to tell Adam’s story. I want to help others in addiction. I don’t know who I am anymore.

Don’t leave wings where the dog can get them…

usAnd I thought the Bix just stayed on the bed with me for 12 hours.

Nope, left two boxed chicken wings in reach and found the box on the living room floor. Bix knew he did something “bad” and was scared. I was just scared he was OK. I mean, those bones could kill him and that sauce could give him the runs. I told him it was OK. Probably not the best idea in dog training but it was MY fault for leaving them in reach, right?

He seems fine.

Today, it’s early episodes of Law & Order! Yay the Ben Stone era!

I thought getting out last night would help today. Nope. Didn’t get out of bed till noon. I did fall asleep at midnight which was good.

That fucking movie last night: Arrival. It was good, but spoilers here. Don’t read if it bothers you.

 

So much of the point was “If you knew the future, would you still do everything the same, even if there was pain?”

Last night the answer for me was yes. Of course, if I knew what the end would be I would still do it all over with Adam. But in my sadness moment today I thought “no. Fuck that.” That is how hard this grief is. I didn’t mean that of course. My 17 years with Adam were awesome. We had some hard times, but we stuck together. I don’t know who originally said it … but the first time I heard it was from Ossie Davis about his wife Ruby Dee.  But this was what I said to Adam all the time in some form:

“Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” 

Further reading now says it came from a French novelist named Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

That’s the way I felt. I always felt life was often full of some shitty things (though all those shitty things seem trivial now), and marriage was about having someone to deal with it all of it together. The person you could share thoughts and jokes with that you wouldn’t share with anyone. The person you could do with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEh3IxROChU.

Seriously, we laughed our asses off (pun intended) on that one. Hadn’t been forced to do that with each other yet, but we were like “that’s so coming someday!” I mean, how do you find THAT again? Do you even want to find that again?

Those times when you say something totally mean about someone or something in the world, and then follow it with “I’m so going to hell for that.” And your husband laughs and says “I’ll be there with you.”

 

 

Sorry about this one

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Oct. 31, 2015 at Steve and Claire’s wedding

“There’s a grief that can’t be spoken. There’s a pain goes on and on.” ~ Les Miserables

I know many of you have felt grief. The deep grief of death. I know it will touch everyone, but right now I wish I could protect every single one of you from this. Let me be the last person to feel this while the rest of you live in happy oblivion.

“They” don’t tell you that you will want to die. You will have to figure out yourself that there’s a difference between “wanting to die” and “being suicidal.” Those around you might not understand that difference, but it’s there. You don’t have to go calling 911 on me.

I have been voracious reading about grief. Much of it is not comforting. It’s daunting to realize there is nothing to be done for me to make this part go faster or just go away. I have to “numb slog” it through this part of life. I have to feel guilty if I smile or if I enjoy something. You can say “Adam would want you to be happy” all you want … it doesn’t make it real for me. Not now.

I talked to Adam out loud today. 17 years. That’s all I got with him in this life. I lived 30 years before him. Maybe I will live 30 years after him. Somewhere in the middle was the gold. I talked about our wedding. We made it everything we wanted it to be. Three years later we used a trip to France for his sister’s wedding for our honeymoon.

I really wanted to bring more humor into this blog but I’m having some trouble finding it. I told Adam today I lost those 10 pounds I always wanted to … and then some … actually about 23 since Sept. 1. He would have been mad at me, saying “this is not the way to lose weight. You have to eat.” I really am trying.

In good news, Adam, we finally got a Keurig. Brenna brought it over. I told her she just didn’t want to feel guilty about the landfill. Not surprisingly, I don’t give a fuck about the landfills or the health of the Earth right now; I just want an easy cup of coffee. I then felt guilt about putting away our coffee pot … the pot you made such good coffee in. This is the irrationality of early grief.

I have to walk the dog. I have to go back to work. I have to eat. All I want to do is live the next minute.

Bad Day

familyIt’s 2 p.m. on a Monday, and I’m still in bed. Pajamas on. No food eaten. Reruns of Law & Order: SVU on the TV. No shower. I did have a cup of coffee (the aforementioned last Starbucks Via in the house. I could use another cup but I’m not up to trying all your water to scoop ratio ideas yet).

Bixby is on the bed now. I think he was ignoring me most of the morning. I’m pretty sure I traumatized him last night screaming and crying. I wanted to be alone. Wasn’t sure I was ready for a long sleepless night.

I never imagined I would have experienced so much grief by this age in my life. I’ve lost so many pets. I look at the picture above, the glorious picture at Aly and Peter’s wedding, and am sad at the losses. Cousin Grace, cousin Cheryl, Aunt Marge, my dad, Uncle Jim, now Adam. How happy we all were then.

This was before we had any idea Adam’s body wasn’t going to be friends with alcohol. We enjoyed dancing, drinking, eating, traveling, so much stuff. I’ve spent a million minutes wondering why Adam? Why, with all the drinking going on in my circle of friends, was he the one cursed with the delicate liver? Science has yet to answer that question. Just like a man like my dad could smoke three packs a day for 40 years and not get lung cancer.

There was an answer for Adam… stop drinking. He tried. He tried so hard. He fought every day, and every day he drank added to his anxiety, which added to depression. He wasn’t sharing with anyone. I used to beg him to call family, friends, anyone. Just to do something beyond me.

Adam being defined by his disease is what scared him. I share his struggle because I want to help others. But he was NOT Adam the alcoholic. He was Adam the designer. Adam the creative thinker. Adam the gentle soul. Adam the caring friend, son, uncle and brother. Adam the thoughtful husband, who would create homemade cards to cheer me up. Adam the science fiction lover. Adam the dancer. Adam the musician. Adam the snowboarder. Adam the goof. Adam the joker. Adam the lover. Adam the fighter.

I think he was finally looking forward to conquering the disease. He was thinking of some day helping others.

Fuck, I need more coffee.

Da Bix

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Our first pic with Bixby. Adam quoted Monty Python when posting this “She smells a bit but has a heart of gold.” Bix smelled of the medication from an ear infection. I notice on the mantle in this picture are the ashes of our beloved family members Bailey, Meka and Patches.

Bixby has not always been in our lives. Our first dog was Bailey, a boxer/pit bull we picked up back in about 2003 outside of Petco. We had dog fever. We had been looking for a dog but had ignored Bailey on the websites because she was listed as a pit. Adam called me at a football game to say he had found the perfect dog. He convinced me to get over my irrational fear of pit bulls. One of the best decisions ever. Bailey was our baby. She wasn’t the perfect dog … we had to learn to be better owners due to her often-unpredictable behavior. But we are glad we learned.

Meka came into our lives two years later. Meka was Bailey’s best friend, and when Steve had to move away and didn’t think Meka would fit in an apartment, we gladly took him in. Bailey and Meka lived happily until Meka passed in 2011. Bailey died in October 2014, and our hearts were broken. It was one of the few times I had seen Adam cry. We held each other for awhile, celebrated her life with friends.

I wanted another dog a few months later. We had Chance the cat, but I wanted to give another dog the chance at a great life. Adam wasn’t sure, but I joked if he didn’t get me a dog I would want a baby. Ha ha! On Jan. 4, 2015, we welcomed Bixby into our lives from OutPaws Rescue in Denver.

Bixby became The Bix. Da Bix. The light of our lives. He is the perfect dog. He is struggling with anxiety now with the changes in the house, but every day he is calmer.

As Adam struggled with his depression and anxiety over the last year or so, Bixby was a solace. He napped with the Bix. He talked to the Bix about his pain. I heard him once when he was out of it and didn’t know I was in the room (had he been drinking? was it the Xanax? was it brain confusion from his disease? I don’t know).

bixby-couchWhen we knew Adam was not going to make it, I begged the docs to allow someone to bring Bixby to Denver. I thank Dr. Abigail Lara and Stephanie the nurse from the bottom of my heart for agreeing to look the other way and sneaking Bixby up the service elevator. I cannot thank Mike Carsten enough for leaving home immediately to pick him up and bring him.

Later, Adam said I was quite sneaky for getting Bixby in. He smiled. Bixby sniffed him goodbye.

Bixby is why I need to make it. I can’t let Adam down.

 

These are the thoughts you have…

  1. Why are all these horrible people still living when Adam is dead?
  2. I don’t give a fuck about Donald Trump being president anymore. I don’t care about politics. I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care.
  3. Wait, I care. I can’t imagine other people being in serious pain because of bigotry or violence.
  4. Nope, right now I don’t care.
  5. Maybe I do.
  6. Is reading The Name of the Wind now after so much resistance an honor to Adam or a slap because I resisted so long?
  7. Does the pit in my stomach ever go away?
  8. This was the worst day so far.
  9. Tomorrow is the 17th anniversary of our first date. Way to get that one out of the way quickly. This was our real anniversary.
  10. Adam tried to break up with me six months after we started dating. I talked him out of it. Literally. Of course I did.
  11. Fuck. I’m stuck caring about Nebraska football for the rest of my life.
  12. I can’t make plans in advance right now. I can’t even plan a shower.
  13. These Pringles are making me thirsty. I need a Coke.
  14. I hope they let me work Air Force football again next year. I’ve really let them down this season.
  15. I’m going to eat this whole can of Pringles. Maybe I won’t need those new pants.
  16. Can I just fast forward through this whole year. I know I can’t.
  17. Please don’t call this a journey. Patton Oswalt is right. It’s a fucking numb slog. It’s not a fucking journey.
  18. Am I going to piss people off my using the word fuck all the time? Well, I guess not if you know me. It’s my favorite word.
  19. Is there crack in Pringles?
  20. Adam finishing the taxes was his last great gift to me. I love him so much.
  21. Seeing life go on around you is very hard. Seeing people smile is hard. Seeing couples happy is hard.
  22. Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? These are the moments that test that stupid cliche. Are only people who have never loved the ones who say that?
  23. I’m still not going to watch Doctor Who.
  24. If I hadn’t decided to be sober 90 days ago, I probably would be drunk all the time right now. It doesn’t solve anything.
  25. I don’t know what my relationship with alcohol will be in the future. I just know now is not the time to make the decision.
  26. I’m going to have to find someone else to drag to musicals.
  27. Adam sort of kept me in tune to hip music. I am going to be even less hip than I ever was now.
  28. Brenna, did they find the plane while I wasn’t paying attention? #neverforget #mh370
  29. Once again, why are shitholes still alive while Adam is dead?
  30. Why did this happen to me? It’s because I got everything I wanted in life, isn’t it?
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