Adam the Artist

Adam won a Colorado Springs ADDY Award for this design. He loved his personalized copy and was proud of the poster and the logo.

For the last week, every time I go to the Gazette’s home page on my phone, I have seen the headline that says something like “Important People Colorado Springs Lost in 2016.”

I haven’t clicked on this post. After all, Adam isn’t on this list. But for me, he is the most important person that should be on this list. Of course, I get that he’s not on the list, but I get irritated just the same.

Adam mattered.

Many of you know how talented he was as a graphic designer. Maybe you hired him. You can see a lot of his work on his website, which is still live:  For the last three years, his top priority was updating this site, but he never got around to it.

Adam and I met because of graphic design. He worked at Gowdy Printcraft in town as a prepress operator with his friend Steve. He would do these wild designs for some of our Air Force Academy posters, and the guys and I would laugh and say “what was he smokin’?” Of course, I loved them because they were absolutely out of the norm for the academy.

When I left Air Force for U.S. Figure Skating, I brought Gowdy with me, and he worked magic on media guide covers. Eventually, it became clear to my co-workers that I was always “volunteering” to drop stuff off at Gowdy’s. I remember Dave distinctly pushing his chair back in his cubicle to look at me and say “Does this guy know you’re stalking him?”

A feature story for Evan Lysacek in SKATING magazine. “White space” was Adam’s thing.

When we started dating, I was probably one of the only people ever to religiously sign the conflict of interest form at figure skating every year. Adam moved on to work for a web design company and helped design an early version of the U.S. Figure Skating website. Later, when he decided to freelance, Amy Partain hired him to design SKATING magazine. Amy and I both loved his clean, white-space design. He won a Colorado Springs ADDY Award for his Marshall’s SkateFest poster, designed the logo for the Four Continents Championships, and created some beautiful layouts in the magazine.

He left freelancing to be the graphic designer at the USOC. In many ways, I look at the USOC job as the pivotal moment in his life. He loved the job, loved the people he worked with, and getting the chance to be in Beijing for 2008 and designing USA House was truly his proudest moment in life (after marrying me, right?).

But working for the USOC also had a dark side for him (doesn’t Olympic land have a dark side for all of us who have worked there?). He was hired by a guy who wanted Adam’s type of creativity and style, but I think his boss left in less than a year to take a major job overseas. His next boss was a “sweater vest” guy, and I don’t think he and Adam (and then a subsequent boss) ever clicked. For the first time in our life together, Adam developed sometimes debilitating anxiety from that job. He loved it; he hated it. And when he was part of the massive USOC layoffs in 2009, he was devastated, and his confidence was shattered.

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-7-28-57-pmOver the next eight years of his life, he ran Gas Giant Design and also taught at Pikes Peak Community College. He was overwhelmed with his first teaching job … unprepared and frazzled. But he was a natural teacher and grew to love working with students.

Side note: The original name of his company was Designature Graphics. He changed it to Gas Giant Design in honor of my dad, the “rocket scientist at JPL.” Adam learned a lot from my dad and grew to love the spacecrafts Dad worked on, learning all about them. So Gas Giant Design was sort of named after the Voyager, Galileo and Cassini crafts, but I always teased him that people would think his company name was about farts. He would just smirk at me with the look that said “maybe I named it after you.” True love that is.

Adam was my go-to design and computer expert. U.S. Figure Skating and FVS benefited from his expertise, often getting hours of free design work and problem solving. He wanted to help me when he could. He’s the one who found the answer to compress the photos on the homepage so they loaded quickly; he built most of the banners on the site.

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-7-26-04-pmHis last project was for FVS. I am proud to say he is the one who put together two of the “All In” videos last year. Sure, our office had the idea and did the filming, but he spent hours lightening and adjusting the videos, editing sound, working with music and graphics. These videos were a huge success, and he was a big part of it.

Adam’s designs have been seen in athletic venues across the country (and the world if you count China!), he has helped bring in Annual Fund dollars for FVS … a school he loved because I loved it. If you follow U.S. Olympic sports, you probably have seen his designs in your lifetime, and you didn’t even know it. You might have the team pin or memory book he designed. He created Sky Sox media guides, worked on the military papers, and so much more.

I’m not sure he ever had the confidence in his abilities that he should have had. He was amazing. His Photoshop and Illustrator skills were second to none, and I have never, ever worked with a graphic designer with more attention to detail. He could mask anything!

He is a great loss to the Colorado Springs community. He had so much more to give.




Is 1:45 a.m. the new 3:15?

Just one of my favorite photos Adam took. 

At 1:45 a.m. exactly I woke up suddenly last night. There’s no particularly meaning to 1:45 a.m. It’s not like it was 3:15 in the Amityville Horror. But it was kind of horrific.

You see, I was awakened by sirens, but more disturbing, the chugging sound of a fire truck and paramedics heading up the hill. At first, I had that “where am I and who am I” feeling we get when awakened out of a deep sleep. Then my first thought was “Adam, where is he? Is he OK? They’re here for him, finally. It will be OK now.”

I thought maybe, just maybe, this trauma had passed. After all, it’s been more than two months since the last time the paramedics came to our door. It’s stupid, I know. Two months is hardly any time at all. So I was awake, reliving every moment of both 911 calls.

After the first 911 call, I was so relieved and thankful that the system worked the way it did. Adam had a seizure. For a long time, I couldn’t get the sound of the “seizure breath exhalation scream” out of my head. It mostly has faded now unless I think too hard. I remember the woman on the phone, how incredible she was to calm me down and make sure I was doing the right thing. He was out of the seizure by the time the paramedics arrived.

I was so stupid then. I knew it was a withdrawal seizure; I had stayed home that day from work because I had caught him drinking the day before. For the first time in my life I felt like I had handled it correctly. He was scared I would leave him. I held him and told him it was OK; we would work through it and keep trying. But he was fragile, and I wanted to stay with him that day so we could talk about next steps.

I thought it was just the first step on a withdrawal process again. That’s it. I thought “damn, I haven’t showered today and these firefighters in my house are hot.” Because I’m still 16.

I got Adam to agree to go to the hospital. As he was being packed in to the ambulance, our neighbor came out. I just gushed out, “Adam is an alcoholic. He had a withdrawal seizure.” I’ve never even gone over there to tell them he’s dead now. They were always so nice to our dogs; so patient with our lack of yard work. I think they had a son who was figure skater, so we had a connection. I should tell them. I can’t. I don’t want to cry like that.

I called Kathy to pick me up because I didn’t think I could drive. At the hospital, the ER doctor said “Why are you here? We have people who have seizures all the time and don’t come to the hospital.” I wanted to say “fuck you, asshole, if it was your wife, what would you do?”

The second and third times he went to the ER I didn’t call 911, and just took him in. Let me tell you this … call. Use the ambulance and the fast track into the doctor. It’s less stressful than seeing your husband collapse at the ER door.

The fourth time was in October. I couldn’t wake him up. When I did, he only talked to me in gibberish. I knew it was a severe H.E. episode. I didn’t know what to do. Give him his meds and wait it out? No, I called 911.

I had to leave him in bed to open the door when I heard the lumbering sound of the trucks. Suddenly, there were five people in my bedroom with clothes and bras strewn across the floor. Watching them go through the motions with Adam. Later, he told me it was so frustrating. He understood what was being asked and responded, and couldn’t get it when we didn’t understand.

Words again jumbled out as I spoke to a female paramedic. “We have end stage liver disease (yes, I used ‘we’), this is hepatic encephalopathy. I know it is. We’re going to be evaluated for a transplant next week. It’s going to be OK. This happens. This is normal. But I didn’t know if I should give him his medicine or he should go to the hospital.”

This woman knew what questions to ask me. She had some familiarity. I wish I knew who she was to say thank you.

Is this what PTSD is? To have a sound send you spiraling back downward?

I think everyone thinks I’m better now. I engage more. I argue at work. I laugh every once in awhile. I tell morbid jokes (which is the right of every widow). But it’s not that I’m better. I have “better” moments. I have “better” days. I made breakfast this morning. I am going to try to clean the house again today. No, really. At least I’m thinking about it. The Bix and I will go get cold and muddy at the park.

I have never been lonely in my entire life until now. I have certainly been alone but never lonely, but I sort of get loneliness now. I lived with Adam for 14 years. We spent lots of time apart because we had our own lives, but in the end, we were always there for each other. God, I hate saying I’m lonely. I feel so fucking pathetic. The one thing I never have been.

But what are you supposed to do when the worst things happens, and the person you always talk to about the worst things actually was the worst thing that happened. Try that on for a brilliant sentence, eh.

Anyway. It’s Saturday. Is there football on?

Sharing the Story

Adam and I at the gardens in Kanazawa, Japan, in 2007. 

Tonight, I was invited to a meeting to share my story about Adam and our struggle with his addiction. I had actually made it all day without crying, which I sort of knew meant I was going to fucking lose it at the wrong time, but I kept it together (mostly*).

My friend who asked me to speak told me she considered me one of her angels. It doesn’t matter what I think of the term, but I was moved that our story could have an impact on her and her own struggles. I’ll take being anyone’s angel right now.

I believe I spoke well and touched on my important points, but truthfully, the people in the room gave more back to me than I could have given them. I know I opened up a moving discussion on addiction and compassion, with tears from other people as well, but in turn I found an outlet for all this love that seems so bottled up inside me.

Of all the grief memes people have sent me, the one that touched me the most is the one that says “Grief is just love with no place to go.” That’s exactly how it feels. When every day you used to be able to express love, share love, do something for someone you loved, and then that gets taken from you, it’s a sadness in your soul.

When you are in grief, suddenly it’s the opposite, you are only taking, which isn’t a bad thing because you need to take right now. I get that. But I want to give, and that’s why I agreed to speak, even though the already-bleeding wound of my heart would bleed some more.

You just gotta plow on sometimes.

I hope I can start giving more love again, but I might start and stop for awhile. I might give a little and then take about 10 times as much in return. I’m not even talking about romantic love, though I can only hope I could be so lucky to have a chapter two in my life (boys ARE cute after all) someday. Laugh at me all you want, call me a walking cliche … but I know it now … love is what makes it worth it … love is better than Kirk Gibson’s 1988 home run, than getting Admiral Piett’s autograph on our Star Wars poster, better than getting a photo with Katee Sackhoff with Adam, Paul and Michelle, and you guys, it’s even better than Michelle Kwan’s free skate at 2003 Worlds.

I look back now and see how Adam and I pushed each other to be better; he taught me patience; we walked each other through bouts of mental illness, learning how to deal with our issues even when fear seemed to overwhelm both of us. We encouraged each other because this life is fucking hard. Having someone next to you to face this shit sometimes is as good as it gets.

*I’m really hoping someone out there read “mostly” in Newt’s voice from Aliens.


Village Nostalgia

Christmas 2014

Nostalgia, I expect, is a funny thing, different depending on what’s going on in your life.

For me today, nostalgia was just numb.

I needed to move. I grabbed my iPhone and headphones, and headed up Alpine Way for a simulated Huff n Puff Express. The ‘express’ term was originally coined by our neighbors, the Winnies, and it was the journey up the steep hill in the Village and down the other way.

Immediately, I realized my mistake. I have about five songs on my iPhone. There is no fucking cell service still here. In fucking 2016. So I walked around the neighborhood, passed the (most former) homes of the Steins, the Englishes, the Andersons, the Flemings, the Mays. I went up the “other” Dellmont, passed the Ealys (now an ugly shade of green), and over past the Robinsons. I thought, “the Robinson house now has a wrought-iron gate.” Then I was confused because there are two houses with long driveways. I couldn’t remember which one was theirs. This made me sad.

I tried walking up one of the ditches by the Robinsons. This was much harder than I remembered. I hoped the path would lead back down to my house. Alas, I met a fence with a homeless encampment on the other side. Thus, the bars on windows and wrought-iron gates.

I thought about being kids in the village … no fear of going anywhere, playing hide n seek in the cul-de-sac until the parents forced us in. There doesn’t seem to be as many good hiding places anymore. Maybe it’s just because I’m not small anymore. I look at kids now and think “yeah, have fun assholes, because life is going to suck. It just does. You will get an A-minus in a college class and throw up nine times outside of Lisa Johnson’s apartment at Stafford Gardens. You will lose that big game on a three-base error, but know it’s your fault because you let that bitch hit that pitch in the first place. You will get dumped. You will watch the Dodgers lose another playoff game. Your pets will die. Your dad will die. Then, to top it off, your husband will not win his addiction battle. He will die as well. So, go ahead and play tag now, because that game will be outlawed soon you special snowflake.”


I did all this while listening to Journey’s “Only the Young,” Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lines,” Jimmy Eats World’s “The Middle” and Kippi Brannon’s “Daddy’s Little Girl.” These are the only songs I had, and I just listened to them over an over. I still do not know how the Jimmy Eats World song got on there. Oh, the damn U2 album that was put in everyone’s iTunes account was available, but fuck that shit.

I paused to look down at Little League fields. On April Lane, I thought about heading up to the very top. A few Christmases ago, Adam and I discovered the Rim of the Valley Trail. Yes, I have never been on it. We walked a mile on it to stunning Valley views.

Back at home, I wandered the house. Upstairs, I remembered the way Adam and I would have our laundry and clothes strewn everywhere; how we would start the night in the queen bed, but Adam would move to the couch half the time because a) too fucking close! or b) I’m snoring. We loved the shower, which had great pressure and would get extra hot.

On the walk

I’d get out of the shower and Adam would have Star Trek:TNG on the TV while I got ready. Sometimes, he’d go down and talk to mom, make coffee. He learned to appreciate reading a good newspaper here … the L.A. Times.

We would think about what we wanted to do.Was it time to take the requisite beach trip and find a new brewery? Go to Hollywood for the Museum of Death? Sushi at Tori-Yen? Maybe this year we would have gone to the Harry Potter world at Universal Studios. We’d find a bar that looked cool, have a drink and just talk. Together all these years, and we never ran out of things to talk about. If a silence went too long, I’d say “want to get married?” Because our joke was that was the only reason people got married because a couple couldn’t stand the silence in a conversation.

I loved showing Adam L.A., just as much as he loved showing me Central City. We thought about moving back, but only if we could live by the beach. And we couldn’t afford that. Also, where would the dog be able to go?

I think if we had made it to retirement, we would have found a small shack somewhere near the beach. We didn’t need much. Just the Internet, cable, our pets, a big TV and a place to cook.

Nostalgia’s a bitch.




Dogs can also help.

The newscaster just finished his report on the death of Debbie Reynolds, calling it “mind-boggling” that she died just one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher.

Hey, doofus, don’t go off your teleprompter. Only someone who has never experienced massive grief would ever think this was mind-boggling.

For me, it was not surprising. I have spoken about this before. Ms. Reynolds’ son said that his mother was under a lot of stress since her daughter’s death, and she “just wanted to be with her.”

Been there, done that. Sometimes still am there. I am so sorry for Ms. Reynolds’ loss, so sorry for her son and her granddaughter who are still living and now must grieve doubly. Are she and her daughter together in the afterlife? That’s nothing we can know. Trust me, if I thought death would mean Adam and I would be reunited, you would not be reading this blog.

There is a real phenomenon called the Widowhood Effect. Others have written about it more eloquently. Here’s the gist: one definitive study says that a widow or widower has a 66 percent greater chance of dying than a person with a living spouse in the first three months after a spouse’s death. This study only looked at people over 50, but the researchers (in this article at least) suggested that percentage may be greater with younger widows (jury is still out because there is less of a sample size).

Of course, the researchers also couldn’t account for what causes this increase.

Obviously, those researchers have never lost a spouse. Based on my own experience, this death can happen from any of the following:

  1. Suicide
  2. Car accidents because we simply aren’t paying attention like we used to
  3. Tripping on cords, stairs and pebbles
  4. Bleeding to death from chewing on your cuticles too much
  5. Dehydration due to tears; malnourishment due to not eating; obesity due to too many chips and pop-tarts
  6. Leaving appliances on and dying in a house fire
  7. Serious illnesses because we haven’t taken care of ourselves; been to the doctor; or given a flying fuck about ourselves
  8. Broken-heart syndrome (I suspect this might more likely happen to older spouses, but it’s real. Read the link).

Although Ms. Reynolds had a stroke, I do not doubt it was related to broken-heart syndrome.

You know what lessens the chance of bereaved people dying?

You do.

“You” meaning friends, family and any support system available. This is why you can’t stop thinking about me and helping me … I NEED IT. I am thinking about Adam and my sadness just about every minute of every day. But you guys can help me move forward. You guys can keep me from being a statistic.

The Princess

Reaffirming our vows in the Star Wars Commitment Chapel at Celebration V in Orlando, 2010.

The fact is, Princess Leia was never a role model for me.

I didn’t grow up thinking I needed a female hero. I didn’t grow up thinking she was a maverick character; a hero who was unlike women who came before her.

I was all about Luke Skywalker. It’s just the way it is. I was boy crazy I think from birth, and I liked NICE guys. Han Solo, that rogue and scoundrel, wasn’t for me. I liked the fresh-faced farm boy. How apropo, huh? Because that’s what I got in Adam (although yes, I know he got into a wee bit of trouble in his youth).

The thing is about Princess Leia … I hadn’t grown up thinking girls and women couldn’t be heroes. In 1977, I think I still thought I could actually be a Los Angeles Dodger. My mom and dad taught me through their love, trust and support that I could do anything or be anything. I didn’t need Princess Leia as a hero for that. But many girls did, and I’m glad girls today have Jyn Erso and Rey.

I preferred male heroes anyway. It’s just the way I was. Luke instead of Leia, Hicks instead of Ripley, Rico instead of Dizzy, Jamie Lannister (yes, Jamie, at least book Jamie) instead of Arya, Star Lord instead of Gamora.

It wasn’t Princess Leia who I loved, it was Carrie Fisher. As I grew older, struggled with my own depression here and there, I admired her candid nature. I like to think that maybe I’m a little like her. I say what I want to say; I’ve always been open about my mental health struggles to those who asked. I went out in my life and tried to kick ass. I knew what I wanted and I got much of it, perhaps a little like Princess Leia. I like to think maybe that’s something that Adam loved about me. Who is that sent me a birthday card that once compared me to a Mack truck with an “I need a hug” sign on it? I sort of always relished in that.

With Steve Sansweet, the greatest Star Wars fan, who performed our commitment ceremony.

In Orlando at Star Wars Celebration V in 2010, we waited a long time for autographs with Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill. Ms. Fisher was pleasant and generous, and shook hands with each person; she looked them in the eye. We freaked out like Laura Linney in “Love Actually.”

That Celebration, we also reaffirmed our marriage vows in the Star Wars Commitment Chapel. How lucky were we that we got Steve Sansweet, the greatest SW fan and collector in the universe, as our officiant. Margie Halloran was our witness and took these photos for us.

With Carrie Fisher dying, a little of our passion in Star Wars dies. Sixty is too young, just as 43 is too young. Adam and Ms. Fisher both struggled with addiction. She conquered hers, and she has pushed to make mental illness an everyday topic. I like to think Adam may have conquered his at the end as well. I think of him as a success despite his death.

Show compassion for your friends and family with addiction and mental illness. Have courage in dealing with it. Make the lives of people like Adam and Ms. Fisher matter by passing on what they have taught us.

May the Force be with all of us, but selfishly, especially for me right now.


Gratitude is What I Have To Give

I say thank you, Adam says “fuck off!” One of our great costumes … Clare and Bender from Breakfast Club.

You don’t have to believe in god to understand the winter holiday spirit. It’s one of love, memory, gratitude.

This is my gratitude post. I know I’ve done this a little already. I know you have made it clear that I don’t have to say thank you. But I want to. Because I don’t feel I have much else to give.

Because, the thing is, you all have saved my life. This is not an exaggeration. In fact, it’s not over yet … you are saving my life still. To use the most overused word— you are “literally” saving my life. I would not be here anymore without you. The pain is too great, but you help lighten it. I feel like somewhere along the line I did things right in my own life because there are so many of you who have cared.

Every text, call, email, hug, card, gift, bit of help is keeping me alive. Keeping me from giving up. If you have experienced what I have, you understand the truth here.

There’s another reason I’m writing this. To share what is needed in times like this. You want to know what helps a woman whose life has been irrevocably altered? It’s all the things below. The gestures you think are worthless are not. They are everything.

I know on Adam’s last night, he asked some friends to take care of me. You have done that, and he would be happy. I miss him so much.

These are in no particular order. There are people I am forgetting. I am sorry.

To Buckley, for helping me change an air filter and plugging in a new microwave. And for introducing me to carne asada fries at El Super Taco.

To Czopper, for taking the old microwave, helping me clean and buying a new Swiffer.

To Jeanne, for going above and beyond by taking over my job, for giving me a safe place to cry in our new shared office.

To the Coffee Club, for making me get out of the house six days after Adam died. For keeping their promises to always be there. For making me laugh. For never pressuring me to drink.

To Kathy Drevs, for organizing the help in the first weeks. To Tom and Christian and Sean for coming over to help on the deck and fix up other things.

To Lisa Johnson Belesky, who didn’t know her trip to Denver would coincide with the worst week of my life. Can you imagine having your best friend magically be there during this time? You were a calming presence. I love you so much.

To Webb, for always checking in.

To Paul and Michelle Harvath, for sending me multiple notes, and for the ring, which I am already wearing down because I touch it so much.

To Brenna Payne, for continuing to organize the folks, for always listening, to offering to keep your phone on so I could text you at 2 am if I felt suicidal. For never forgetting #mh370 (I had to).

To Christy Punches Resmondo, who simply said “Call me” when I reached out. You are the first person to give me hope that I can make it through this, and I have held on to your words every day since then. Cal Poly softball forever. We are always still there for each other.

To Andy Nelson, for stopping by and offering me hope from your own experiences.

To Shane, for quietly sitting with me while I stared at the TV.

To Andy Gipe, Laurie and Pete, for making sure I keep coming to Tuesday Movie Night. Laurie and Pete, you were just beginning to know Adam, and hardly knew me, but you have helped keep me afloat with your inclusion.

To Laurie again for making the quilt and getting me much needed coffee.

To Andy G. again for listening to some horrible things I’ve said and understanding them.

To Mike Carsten, for leaving a thermos of coffee outside my door and helping me find a place for Adam’s party. For bringing Bixby up.

To all of Adam’s friends I’ve never met but who have thought of him, shared a spot with him for Rogue One.

For Carrie Hansen, and fellow Central City choir members who sang in his honor.

To Cristen, someone I have never met, who reached out through FB to give me an ear and understanding.

To the Kimlickos, who just moved to sit with me during Winter Celebration when I broke down.

To Amy Windham, shit you have gotten me through a lot. Without you I’d have really high blood pressure and be so depressed, and I would never have made it to Texas for Thanksgiving. Plus, you are you.

To Kallie, who texts me once a week to check in. And also, how lucky am I that one of my AFA cadets from 20 years ago is now my friend?

To everyone at Fountain Valley School. You have no idea the gift that this place is. This is why I am passionate about it. If I could bottle this feeling, there wouldn’t be a family in the world who wouldn’t want to send their kid to FVS. These people love. These people care. They are a safe haven.

To the folks from my time at U.S. Figure Skating … people I have not spoken to in more than 10 years … your notes of condolence, gifts to the Liver Foundation. I have felt so much love from you.

To Jessica Patterson, who convinced me to go to grief and yoga therapy, where I learned how far I am from being alone. You have given me so much wisdom in these few weeks.

To everyone who has ever read this blog, liked a status, listened to me share another story about Adam. He lives on when we talk about him.

To my nieces, who keep checking in on me as I sit alone with my computer, too anxious to join the celebration in the next room. They have been raised well. They have let me cry, they have said Uncle Adam’s name.

To Avery, who has listened patiently as I rambled on, helped me sift through cards, who moved everything from one refrigerator to the next when I thought mine was broken (and to Brenna again who just suggested I unplug it and then plug it back in!)

To everyone who sent me cards, food, flowers, plants, gifts of any kind. I have broken down with each one because the thoughtfulness in the world can be overwhelming at times. You don’t know the beauty of the world until grief hits you. I have eaten more cookies, chips and pop-tarts that I thought were possible.

To Hollie, for her help with my thank-you notes.

To Alea, who has given so much love to Bixby and kept him calm through the stress.

To Charlie, who sadly shares trauma of her own, but has opened up so I feel less alone.

To Erin and Aaron, I don’t know what I would have done without you two at all. For everything, but mostly for the night I had to come over and cry hysterically in your house. But also for Rogue One, Iris, and a million other things. I feel like part of the family.

To Kathy Curry, who is helping me navigate this grief, even as she tackles her own. Amazing woman.

To Steve and Bev Curry, who opened their home for Thanksgiving and let me be the worst guest imaginable. To my brother- and sisters-in-laws for letting me still be part of the family.

To my sister, my brother in law, my nieces, my uncle, my cousins, my mom …you all most of all,… you are the ones I know who will always be there.








Airport Musings

Here’s Adam putting Amidala on top of the Christmas tree last year. He loved sticking a stick up her ass.

Somewhere, I read that losing a spouse is like losing your language. Suddenly, you have no one to speak it with.

I feel that way now while sitting in the Denver airport, people-watching while waiting to fly home for the holidays. I watch, and I want to roll my eyes at Adam, give him that knowing look as the rich blonde woman, dressed head to toe in pink headed to Sun Valley for a skiing holiday, thinks everyone wants to hear her rat dog bark in the terminal. I can see Adam’s face right now as she gets down on her knees in front of another dog to publicly coo.

I have no one to look at and share my language with. No more inside jokes, except those inside my head.

I watch couples who are together yet seem so distant. I wonder if that’s why I always spent so much time in the airport with Adam giving him kisses. The terminal often seems to be a place of coldness now; everyone on their phones, snapping at each other; too much carry-on luggage because god-forbid you fucking check it.

I have walked through the over crowded airport trying to keep a smile on my face today; saying “please,” “excuse me” and “thank you” despite having a veil of grief no one should experience. And yet I see wives exasperated with their husbands, yelling at their kids; frustration with gate agents.

Don’t get me wrong. I have done of all of this. In fact, I could be such a bitch that I was banned by Adam from being in eyesight of gate agents if we had flight trouble. I handled things badly while he could smooth talk us on to the next flight just by being him. He charmed everyone.

It’s just with death, it all seems so pointless now. I hope I can hold on to this feeling for a long time, the full realization that our pettiness is a waste of time. I suspect it won’t happen; that years from now I will be once again like the masses. I think that’s the way our brain works.

But for right now, I am sad for those who haven’t realized the full preciousness of what they have.

My wish for you … take a deep breath when you get frustrated this holiday season. It can be gone in an instant. It really can.


The Catching of Breath

Uncle Adam and Coco … 2009? … at the Mango Tree restaurant in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Adam really knew how to eat corn… not leaving a kernel by the time he was done. He was efficient at it, and mocked my poor non-Nebraska corn-eating haphazard style.

Bixby knows.

He knows it’s different this time. When Adam was gone in April and May, Bix slept on the other side of the bed. Now, he’s jammed up next to me at all times. It’s like he knows it’s not temporary anymore, and he stays close for reassurance that all will be well.

Or maybe he’s just cold.

I’m in this stage now where I can go a couple of hours feeling OK. OK does not mean good. It means I can go for a few hours with Adam as a backdrop to my life, always peeking around the corner. But then, my breath catches, my stomach aches and it’s that debilitating fear. That fear you might get if you think to hard about the fact that you ARE going to die.

That fear is closer now that Adam has gone. That I’ve held two people now and watched them leave me. Dad and Adam. Two of the loves of my life. I see death now, but I have to change the word. It’s not fear anymore. It’s just there. It’s closer than ever. But then it’s so far. So far when you factor in grief.

I’m getting a better grip on what I can and can’t handle. I know there are times I can join my friends for something, and times when I know it’s better to just stay home. These hours alone are precious now. They are the times when I can fully envelop myself in Adam’s memory. Sometimes, this leads to tears, but not always anymore. The need to grieve alone can be overwhelming at times. I feel like I sometimes can’t get out of a crowd quickly enough. Then there are times that I am out of the crowd too soon.

I’m confusing. I know. It’s grief.

I’m focusing hard on Al-Anon right now. I’m doing it backward without a foundation as I no longer have an active alcoholic in my life. I’ve had confusion being stuck on step one: that I am powerless over alcohol, and thus in an Al-Anon way, I was powerless to do anything about Adam’s choices. The confusion came because there is also an Al-Anon list of Do’s and Don’ts that was discussed. If there are “do’s” and there are “don’ts,” doesn’t that mean that I had some sort of power? If I “did” the “don’t,” did I screw up and contribute to Adam’s drinking?

Someone finally tried harder to explain what Al-Anon is. It’s not about Adam, or whoever is drinking in your life. It’s about “you.” Doing the “do’s” and not doing the “don’ts” is precisely because you don’t have power over the drinker. You are a hamster on a wheel, causing anxiety only to yourself, spending your life focusing on someone else as if your life was less important. Maybe there is someone out there who can help me focus and understand even more … do I have this correct? I really just am stuck on the fact that I was powerless. I feel like I want to have all the guilt for life because it makes more sense. It’s easier to understand a concrete concept like “I did this because I nagged him” than “addiction is a mystery we are all still working on.”

And that’s where I’m also stuck. My life was not any more or less important than Adam’s. I would have taken the risk for my own life, to give part of my liver for him. I would have continued to live in a state of anxiety for him. I wanted to run away from the anxiety; I told him this. But I didn’t. There are still times I wish it was the other way around. That I was nonexistent and he was here for his family. I feel useless to my family. I feel like a burden of sadness.

I’m sorry I’m so messed up, that I put my grief out there. Know that I won’t feel bad if you stop reading. Grief is definitely uncomfortable for people.

You know what’s not uncomfortable? These black jeans. I’m still wearing them … every fucking day. I change my shirt and sometimes the sweatshirt. Sometimes it’s the same soft Dane hockey sweatshirt and black jeans three times in a row.

At least I have washed them…… once.




Christmas 2015. We stayed home last year and went to Electric Safari at the zoo. I remember Adam saying “I am really enjoying this.” When I think of how much anxiety and depression was in his life at the time, this makes me happy.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. I can’t remember what I’ve written and often the same things go around and around in my head.

My favorite horror movie is “The Descent,” and I have always had a favorite part. I wonder if it was some sort of foreshadowing that it was. Spoiler alert, but the movie starts with a woman losing her husband and child in a car crash.

Later she gets stuck in a cave. She panics, and her friend comes to help her. Her friend says “What are you so afraid of? The worst thing that could have happened to you has already happened, and you’re still here. This is just a poxy cave.”

This sums up my life. The whole scene actually sums up grief really well and was probably meant to, and you should watch it (three minutes of your life):

That’s the thing. What am I afraid of? The books all say to face your fear and tackle it head on. But for awhile I couldn’t think of what scares me.

I’m not afraid of being alone. I’d just rather have Adam with me. But that’s not going to be, and the reality hits more as the shock wears off. For me, this is the worst possible thing to have happened to me. You can’t even try to imagine it. Don’t try. It’s depressing. It is often unreal still. I miss him. I miss him so much I can’t breathe sometimes. I shout all the platitudes, “Why me?”  “Why him?” “Life isn’t fair.” And it doesn’t change a fucking thing. He’s just gone.

I’m afraid of not having joy in my life again. I’m afraid of this pain lasting forever, and I’m afraid of the pain going away. I’m afraid if the pain goes away, Adam goes away. Sometimes I can still feel his fingers, his hands. I can feel his hair, and his ears.

I went down to the basement with just my phone light. I shined it on boxes and books and papers. The last remnants of his life. What are these now? They are just things. I don’t feel like I have the authority to do anything with them because they are not mine. They are his.

When you have “things” taken from you, no doubt the grief is real for the loss. When you have all these “things” and it is the person taken from you, the realization of the worthlessness of “things” is overwhelming. “Things” serve as a reminder to a memory. And what about the “things” that were Adam before I was in his life? How do I ever make a decision on that? How do I pass on or throw away what was precious to him?

It’s haunting in the dark, with the dog by your side, to look at memories. To look at your own memories. It’s all that’s left.

Everybody dies. Everybody. You just don’t imagine it will be you. You just don’t imagine it will be your love. Even if you try, you can’t because you can push it away and think of other things. You think there’s always tomorrow. We all do.

Until it crashes.


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