What you’ve missed…

mysterymachine
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…

100_3299
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.

 

 

Is This the First of the Year of Firsts?

waterworld
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.

15178994_10209857504008462_5942477450914116526_n
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?

beach
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.

jay-and-silent-bob
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

stmarysfall
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

queue-celebration-vii
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.