Here is another nasty secret I am here to share with you. Life is measured in paperwork. Paperwork spills out all your secrets, all that you have loved, hoped and dreamed. It’s all there in crinkled, musty receipts, and notices and letters. Paperwork is memory. Paperwork is painful.
But here I am, once again elbow deep in my previous life. Because it’s not my life anymore. My life only includes memories of those times … purchases, laughter, headaches.
I break through the piles one by one. The shred pile, the recycle pile, the “I’m not sure if I need to keep it” pile, and the worst of all… the “I’m not sure I can part with it” pile.
This pile contains dumb things sometimes. A bit of paperwork with his writing on it. A doodle on the corner of an overdue payment notice. Or my name in his handwriting.
I am in the conundrum pile. I don’t want to go through these piles alone, but I also don’t want any help. I don’t want help because you won’t understand the last pile. Maybe I’m a hoarder now. A hoarder of the last remaining bits of my husband.
Hi. I’m back. You miss me? You should because I’m awesome. Being awesome doesn’t help grief, though. So why bother, you know? Here is a picture of Murry. Because kittens go with hard truths. I have shit to say.
It’s June, so I’ve been seeing a lot of anniversary posts. June brides and all. I’m happy for you (if I like you). If you are just on my Facebook page because I haven’t deleted you yet and you are celebrating your anniversary, then fuck you because I hate you and why do you get to be happy?
Kidding. Sort of.
I’ve seen a lot of variations of the following in these posts: “I can’t imagine living without you.”
I am a snowflake, so this triggers me. I’m actually not sure if Adam and I ever said that to one another. As I’ve said before, we didn’t like the term “soulmate” or that shit, and basically, if you use the term soulmate in the sense that there is ONE PERSON for everyone I want you to go fall off a cliff because you know what you are saying to ME? You are saying “Sorry, Laura, you got fucked, but your life is over and you had your chance and it just didn’t work out with your ‘soulmate.’ Sorry about that, short end of the stick and all.” Seriously, people, rethink this nonsense about one true soulmate. It makes you look cruel. Oh wait, maybe it’s because Adam wasn’t my soulmate, is that what you are saying? Well, that cliff is still waiting for you.
I’m off topic. Sort of. You “can’t imagine your life without that person,” eh? Well, luckily, and I mean luckily, the brain is amazing and you have the luxury of NEVER thinking about it. It’s easy. If we thought about it too much, we would go crazy. But I’ve got news for you.
In the absence of catastrophe when you go down together on the Lusitania, it’s going to happen. YOU WILL HAVE TO LIVE YOUR LIFE WITHOUT THAT OTHER PERSON FOR SOME AMOUNT OF TIME. It is inevitable. Listen to me. It’s going to happen.
Be prepared. I keep talking to people, and it’s not making a difference. Couples still tell me they haven’t made out their wills, or checked their beneficiaries, or discussed what the other person wants when they die, or looked at life insurance.
I just learned that Adam didn’t list any beneficiaries on his Colorado PERA account for his time teaching at PPCC. Now, in my case, it’s going to be easy to get that money, as there’s no will to contest and I have the small estate affidavit. But seriously, Adam, we had been together for 11 years and you were too lazy to write my name down? Why, you ask? Because “we couldn’t imagine one of us not being there.” Who the fuck needs beneficiaries, because no one will die, right?
You know who didn’t think like that? My dad. Because of that, my mom is set, and things were much easier for her. Dad, thank you for being an amazing husband and father.
If you have not done this for your spouse or children and made sure everything is in order, I am judging you. Do you understand? I AM JUDGING YOU. Be a better person.
Adam didn’t have life insurance. We didn’t think we needed it because we didn’t have kids. You know, that advice is sometimes given to people without kids? Well, let me tell you, had he had life insurance, my options in dealing with grief and bereavement would have been so much better. Instead, I had to go through endless, mindless days at work to collect a paycheck when I was in hell.
I have these cats now. Well, they are kittens. Rambunctious, playful, purring, loving balls of fur. Meet Run-PMC (Purry-Murry-Curry) aka Murry, and Jyn. These are mine now. Did I want a kitty? Of course. Did I get talked into two? Yes, because Jen is convincing. And two is better. I feel less guilty about being away from them all day.
I have to keep telling Bix he’s still my number one. I’m not sure whether he wants to love them or eat them. We’ll see.
I’ve been waiting to get “my own cat” again for 12 years. When Adam and I met, I had just gotten Patches … a roly-poly beloved 9-year-old calico … and he had Chance. Patches died shortly after we got married in 2005. And Chance ruled the roost. Adam didn’t want to bring another kitty into the house. I mean, as you all know, Chance was born in a Wal-Mart battery shed, and she just didn’t like much for most of her life.
Chance warmed up to me over the years. In fact, in her last years, she spent more time sleeping on me than Adam. But Chance died, too. Because my life is fucked, and in the last three years I’ve lost Dad, Bailey, Chance and Adam.
Sometimes I think Chance didn’t want to live without Adam so she just went first.
Getting these cats is the first major decision I’ve made in 17 years that was my own. I didn’t have to discuss it with someone else first. I just did it. I’m terrified I made a mistake, that I won’t be able to love them.
Grief really is love with nowhere to go, but I feel like it has gone nowhere for so long that I don’t know how to let it out anymore. At least with something new.
Adam and I never wanted kids, but we named them in our heads anyway. I preferred Zoltan and Gar (after a dead fish we found walking in the low Platte River. I said “what’s that?” Adam said “that’s a gar.” I said “That would be a great name for a kid.” He said “Who are you?”)
He liked the name Murray. I said “Murray is an old man’s name.” But we started naming the local fox in our backyard Murray. Murray even had kits in our window well, if you remember. Murray was a bad mom, and the kits were starving, so the wildlife man came and saved them. Soon, any fox we saw was named Murray.
So I got a kitten and I named it Murray. But I’m spelling it Murry because it works with Purry and Curry. And, Jyn, well that’s after Jyn Erso, the greatest ever Star Wars hero.
“That’s it Johnny, take a good look. No matter how cleverly you sneak up on a mirror, your reflection always looks you straight in the eye.” ^ Angel Heart
I was thinking recently about self-worth.
Then, this morning, I came across a cartoon with a frame that read “I’m depressed because I don’t know who I am.”
And I thought about it some more. I thought about it while eating all of the breakfast sandwiches I had bought for the next three days. I thought while I watched TV, petted the dog and made coffee, and wondered what I would wear to a show tonight.
I’m not breaking any new ground here, but I see why Americans are so depressed because they don’t know who they are. I hear it all the time. I heard it from Adam in many silent and not silent ways. And I didn’t get it with Adam, and that was my failure.
You see, because even if I always didn’t understand who I was, I knew what I wanted to do, which was a product of who I was, even if I didn’t realize it. I shot straightforward out of the cannon until I came to rest like a flopping blue gill ready for slaughter.
First I wanted to be a Dodger.
But then I realized I was a girl and probably wouldn’t ever be good enough (oh god, please don’t rant in the comments on that shit).
Then I wanted to be a sports reporter on ESPN.
But then I realized I wasn’t aggressive enough to be a reporter, and I looked terrible on TV and would always want to eat cheese and bread more than I wanted to look good on TV.
Then I wanted to be in college sports information. So I did it.
Then I got offered a dream job at U.S. Figure Skating. So I did it.
Then I saw my time and purpose ending there, and frankly, I wanted to be more with Adam. So I left.
Every choice I made of what I do was because I have been clearly aware of who I am and what I wanted. (Except for the part where I thought I was an introvert all this time because I liked to watch movies by myself, read alone, and a million other things by myself. Yeah, not an introvert. I don’t need three days to recover from talking to people. I love my introvert friends, and I am here for you when you are ready to face the world. As you know, I will talk.)
I knew I was a writer for as long as I can remember. I always knew I was an overachiever who wasn’t necessarily as smart or as talented on the ball field as others, so I made up for it by working my ass off.
The only question mark is animals. I always thought I was a cat person. I think I’m a dog person.
I think about Adam and his addiction, and I wonder how much he ever knew who he was. I think he did once. I think he did growing up, and in the years we were first together. He loved animals and art and music, and by all accounts he was a creator. He was a fixer and a helper and a traveler. He didn’t want to stay in one place too long.
This was the man I fell in love with. But as he aged, and perhaps as the drinking increased (which comes first, the chicken or the egg?), did he lose who he was? Did he forget? Did he try so hard to keep up with me that he forgot why I was in love with him in the first place … because HE WASN’T ME?
He wasn’t me. He was a sensitive soul. He should have worked with animals. He shouldn’t have tried to work in a cubicle.
Did I not tell him enough that I just wanted him to follow his dreams? That I didn’t care about the money? That the time it was me, Adam, Chance, Patches, Bailey and Meka in 800 square feet was as glorious as I could ever hope for?
Did Adam know who he was?
Did he once? Did he forget? Was it the drinking? Was it me? Was it just this fucked-up world? Did he fake happiness? Was he happy but frustrated? I was with him for 17 years and I don’t feel like I know the answers to these fucking questions anymore.
In one of his rehab journals, he wrote he was “inherently lazy.” Upon reading that, I suppose I realized he had forgotten who he was. “Inherently lazy” wasn’t Adam Curry. But addiction made him something he wasn’t it.
I honestly am not sure if Adam ever knew who he was. But I think he was learning, and it’s never too late.
I walked through the resort quietly. Maybe not so quietly. It was Wednesday night, and with the accoutrements dangling from my backpack, I jingled around the pathways. I can’t remember if it was 2010 or 2012 that we stayed here for Celebration. I suspect 2010. I suspect it because I remember we were drinking.
I remember where our room was. Sort of. The resort is under major construction now, so I can’t be sure. But I walked by every place I thought it could be. Through the lobby, through the restaurant and to the left. We went to Cocoa Beach first on that trip, and stayed in a cheap hotel in a crappy room. When we arrived at this place on Thursday morning, I remember we just flopped onto the bed which seemed so luxurious. There was a mini fridge, and we packed in the alcohol for the trip. I was raring to get over to the convention center, and Adam was like “Just give me five more minutes in this air-conditioned room on this bed.”
The moon was out as I walked the paths in 2017. The celebrations merge together in my mind, but I remember this one because we annoyed the doormen by choosing our own taxi instead of waiting for them to call up the next one. The taxi driver gave us his number and he drove us anywhere we wanted that trip. That one night it was to the Funky Monkey, where they just happened to have one table left for the Star Wars drag show.
I’m looking at some info now, and I see that Ian McDiarmid’s first celebration was 2012 in Orlando. We would have gotten the Emperor’s autograph. I wonder now, a year after we first realized he was sick, was he already drinking that much again? Were we limiting it? Had I become his mother along with his wife, frightened, but giving “permission”? Am I conflating my memories? I might be.
Without Adam, I didn’t get up at 4:30 a.m. to stand in line for panels now. I suspect that Adam would have agreed with me about that.
On Friday at the con this time, I wandered the Art Show area. Adam and I loved this part of the celebration, and we would wait for a particular limited edition print to jump out at both of us … one we had to have. I remember the last time there weren’t any we both loved.
This year, I was almost through the gallery, disappointed that there were so few Rogue One prints, when I came upon this one. I said to the artist, “I always walk around waiting for the one to jump out at me, and this was it.” He said “Can I ask why?” I said “Do you want to hear a short and sad story?” “He put his pen down and gave me his full attention, as I explained how Rogue One figured in our fight for Adam’s survival, how “I am one with the Force, the Force is with me,” was so important for me.
He cried, he hugged me. He later asked for a selfie so he could remember my story. He said that I was the second person who had come to him sharing that his artwork had meant some sort of survival, or friendship, or gratitude On the poster, he signed “The Force is with you … both.” He asked to hear Adam’s name.
Here is the poster. I dedicate it to all of you as well.
I’m going to share something I’m not very proud of. Big surprise, but I’m not perfect. Sometimes, things go through my head that are cruel.
Over four months ago, when I decided to direct memorial contributions for Adam to the American Liver Foundation, I also offered my time as well. The good folks there immediately signed me up for their biggest fundraiser of the year: Flavors of Denver. At the time, it seemed like an awfully long time before that would happen. But happen it did, and I drove up to the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum last Thursday, camera in tow, podcast keeping me company.
I did not realize how difficult this would be. I did not expect the flood of emotions that overwhelmed me during those five hours. Later, someone suggested that maybe it was part of the healing process. I suspect it was.
My first job was as “step and repeat red carpet photographer,” a perfect job for someone who has spent years snapping pictures. I just greeted the guests and invited them to pose in front of a banner. Not difficult. But things started to unravel for me emotionally.
First, the “hero” kid came by. This is the young man they were using as an example of what funds were being used for … to save lives. I didn’t know his story; all I knew at the time was that he was a transplant recipient.
And I hated him. I hated this cute little kid so much it was overwhelming. While I was taking photos, I would sneak looks at him and his family, and I hated all of them, all of their smiles. Why was HE alive?
But then, a familiar face came through the line. I had expected it was possible that doctors from UC Hospital in Denver would be there, but actually face to face with one was different. I didn’t immediately remember her name, but I knew it was the P.A. during the transplant evaluation. She was the one who asked Adam “Is it alcohol abuse or alcohol dependency?” “Is there a difference?” Uh, yes there is, and Adam was dependent.
I introduced myself and briefly jogged her memory. She remembered me, remembered Adam’s mom, and said “That all happened so fast.” I told her (with a couple of tears forming) that I was doing OK, that I had survived. She was happy to see me volunteering.
The night wore on. While everyone ate, I perused the vendor booths, stopping at the UC hospital transplant team’s table. I browsed through their brochures with pictures of their doctors, memorizing their faces, recognizing a few.
I headed out to the floor where I would help with the live auction. I recognized those doctors there now, and I silently judged them if they had wine on the table. “Who are you?” I thought, “You judged my husband for drinking yet you sit there drinking. At a fucking event to support the liver.”
And then this family went up on stage to share the kid’s story. I listened, and I cried. I was still angry. I was angry because even if my husband had survived to get a liver transplant, do you think he would ever have been held up as a “hero?” Would he have been set up as a success story? No. Because there are people out there who think he had no right to be on the list in the first place.
Doctors of the world … make a decision. Alcohol-use disorder is either a disease (which is CLEARLY FUCKING OUTLINED in medical journals) or it’s not. If it is, stop the fucking judgment.
And then the P.A. stopped me again. She said, “The doctors who worked on your husband aren’t here tonight [a hepatologist and a GI dude], but would you mind if I told them that you were here, and you were OK?” I agreed. I said “Please do because I was certainly up their asses during that whole time.” Yes, I’m pretty sure I said that. Part of me wanted to say “Sure, tell them I’m OK, no thanks to them, and I fucking hate them and all of you.”
But I didn’t. Because I don’t.
I am having trouble with forgiving the transplant group. I really am. I’m working through it now that I have acknowledged it. But it’s hard. They aren’t responsible for Adam dying. They were just the last spoke in a large wheel, the very last one.
During the live auction, I was floored about the amount of money NOT being raised. I wanted to grab the microphone and scream “What the fuck is wrong with you people? You’re at a fundraiser! You just heard the success story, now hear the sad story … the story of the people who are dying because we haven’t found the answer yet.” Would that have helped, I wonder?
At the end of the night I introduced myself to the mom of the hero kid and the kid himself. I cried and said “My husband died before he was listed.” I told the kid how happy I was to see him alive, that he got this chance, that his life is going to be amazing.
Tomorrow, April 3, means it’s been five months since I lost Adam. Five months. I’ve been thinking about it, and for the most part I think it seems unreal. Not unreal in the sense that I’m denying it happened. The shock has worn off. Now, it more or less feels like I’m walking around in a life that isn’t my own. That I go through the motions of the life, no different from before, but it’s a fake life.
It’s a life that’s sort of in a holding pattern. I’ve gone from “I can’t do these things” to “I don’t want to do these things.” I don’t want to make any big changes. I don’t want to empty his suitcase. I don’t want to change up the house.
It’s like I’m standing still while the world rushes around me. I don’t want to make any plans. I don’t want to think of my future.
While walking today, an old musical song ran through my head…one that Elizabeth and I used to sing loudly together. The song, from “Chess” isn’t about death; it’s about the break-up of a relationship. But as I analyzed the song while walking the Bix, I took it as my own. With the words, for me it was that feeling of caught between two different lives and wondering how Adam would feel if I started, I don’t know, just doing things that closed the book on our chapter. The thing is, he won’t care.
I took Adam to see “Chess” once, in a small theater in Denver. It was always one of my favorites, and I know I was taking a risk by going to see it in a local theater, but it turned out OK. Adam even liked it and wished it was still around on a big stage. That was one of my theater success stories with him. We loved sharing the story of one of our first dates, which was to a show. Although he sang in musical theater in high school, beyond Les Miz, I’m not sure he actually saw all that many. After all, he WAS from small-town Nebraska.
And I was from L.A., and my parents raised my sister and I going to big shows. Dad believed in the best tickets, of course. We saw Yul Brynner in The King and I on Broadway, and back in L.A. saw lots of first-run shows, plus excellent productions from local colleges.
I took Adam to see Cats at the Pikes Peak Center in 1999; it was like our second or third date. I loved Cats (I’m not ashamed!), but this would be the seventh time I’d seen it, and damn, the show had toured so many times, I didn’t know the troupe coming through town would be that bad. There were bad dancing cats and bad singing cats.
Needless to say, I was surprised Adam still trusted me again to ever go to a musical. But I purchased tickets to shows and he went along. Sometimes, he even liked them … I have to say he saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for the first time at the Colorado FAC and fell in love with the show. But he HATED Oklahoma … almost as much as he hated basketball. Or vice versa.
I just went on a tangent, I know.
But if you are still with me, maybe you will keep reading. Tomorrow, baseball season opens for me as the Dodgers play their first game. If you don’t love baseball, I don’t expect you to ever love it. Maybe it’s something you get or something you don’t. But the beauty of baseball lives with me. From the moment of heartbreak I had when I realized I could never be a Dodger, to the happiness of the Cubs fans last year.
Adam learned to appreciate it through me. He learned to appreciate it because of Vin Scully, because of the way he wove such a story when calling the game. Adam had no team, no love for baseball, but it was hard for him not to be part of the crowd and cheer for the Rockies when I dragged him to Coors Field when my boys in blue were in town. We actually got in a fight once over this. I told him it hurt that he didn’t give a shit about baseball but then would root against the Dodgers… MY TEAM, MY BOYS… just because he lived in Colorado. I told him I didn’t care if he rooted for the Rockies any time they didn’t play the Dodgers, but rooting against the Dodgers was too much for me to handle from my husband.
He never openly cheered for them again. I think he also began to realize that the Dodgers also represented my Dad and I. Taking that away, even a little, was painful.
Year after year, as the Dodgers would make the playoffs and fail, he would tell me he was sorry, and he actually really meant it! Once, the Dodgers were playing the rubber match i the playoffs on Nerd Night. Everyone was going out, and we were trying to find a place that would show the game. The nerds settled on that brewery that was in the church downtown for awhile. They didn’t have a TV, but they had cable and a projector. Adam had them set it up just for me so I could watch the game and be with the nerds. I wouldn’t even leave the car listening to it on the radio till it was connected. Kershaw was pitching, and it was a disaster for him, and the Dodgers lost the series. I couldn’t be in the room half the time I was so nervous. I was jumpy and agitated. And Adam consoled me.
Every year at this time, I would say “This is it, this is the year we win the World Series!”
And, I’ve been wrong every year.
Adam died the day after the Cubs won the Series. We cheered for the Cubs even though they had beaten Dodgers in the NLCS. Because, you sorta had to, right?
A friend acknowledged that she knew I was coming up on some hard times. The time of “anniversaries” is here. This is about the time things began to fall apart. This month ahead of me has “Adam falling down and his body being bruised everywhere,” “Adam not answering the phone when I was in D.C. and me having to call friends to find out if he was alive,” and “Adam gets an intervention” and “Adam has his first seizure in a hospital” and “Adam goes to rehab.” It has my second birthday without him.
Shit on the month of April.
I love you guys. Thanks for reading.
“I’d give the world for that moment with you When we thought we knew That our love would last But the moment passed With no warning, far too fast
You and I We’ve seen it all Chasing our hearts’ desire But we go on pretending Stories like ours Have happy endings”