Look at How Happy I Was…

cheerleading
I’m going out on a limb here and saying this is the best picture of me ever taken. Also, I’m going to pretend I was thinking “The fucking things I do to pad my resume for college.”

“When everybody is running in the big race
And having a good time
Who am I to cast a shadow
Who am I?
I looked Death in the face last night
I saw him in a mirror
And he simply smiled
He told me not to worry
He told me just to take my time”  ~ Oingo Boingo

Apparently, I need to put disclaimers on my posts—this is not a suicide note.

However, I know Karen reads this so I’m giving her this song because it’s been my earworm today … this first verse especially. She also put it on one of my favorite mix tapes when we graduated high school. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xF2F88q0YDc  I’m pretty sure we thought this was a fun, bouncy song and that’s about it. Because we were 18. We had the world ahead of us.

So, high school has been in my head a lot. One, I’ve decided to go to my 30-year Reunion (shit!). Two, it’s been astonishingly beautiful to recognize the support I have received online from “friends from home” — meaning Tujunga. I won’t say “friends from high school” because some of us were closer in elementary school or junior high. Three, I posted 24 FVS Faculty Funky Facts today for work, and mine was “I collected NHL autographs in high school.” Karen will know this is code for “We stalked famous hockey players to their bus, paid off ushers to get into the tunnels and meet these dudes, um, and sometimes kiss them.”

Then, this song gets in my head, and I think of how lucky I was to grow up in L.A. in the 1980s. Here me out. Sure, we had fabulous bangs, and Karen had fabulous airplane earrings, but shit, we grew up with KROQ—the best era of KROQ I have to say. I mean, we knew the bands first before anyone else did, right? L.A. was practically home for Depeche Mode… who else was at the Concert for the Masses in what, 1988? Thomas Dolby, OMD and some other group… help me here.

I certainly had lots going for me and a golden future, so it seemed.

softball
I feel it’s only fair to post this picture of me … terrible form.

That’s what I always found so interesting about falling for Adam. We could not have grown up in more different environments. He used to say “I would have had a crush on you, and you wouldn’t have given me the time of day.” Maybe. His hometown had 2,000 people, and his options for fun that didn’t involve alcohol were probably limited (hey, I’m not naive enough to think that many of you were drinking during our school years, I just know that Karen and I weren’t… like I said, too busy stalking famous athletes.) Adam was a free spirit and artist in a conservative town; I was more conservative in a big town … I don’t mean conservative politically, but let’s just say I was the opposite of a free spirit. Never been me whatsoever. #typeA

But I went on to my perfect life. And now, recently, I’m finding out how much people around me are/were struggling. I talked to someone today who has been down a mighty dark path, and it’s not the first time in the last two months I’ve heard similar stories. What I find interesting is none of these dark times involve death for them. They feel fucking awful and want to kill themselves and nobody even actually died to make them feel that way. I lived in a bubble.

That’s right, I had no idea how lucky I was; how Adam and I, despite having problems in the last year due to his addiction, were pretty fucking happy. When we we lived in the 800 square foot house with two dogs and two cats and one bathroom, we were happy; we were happy in the big house when we had to scrape by when money was tight.

Anyway, so looking back at life. You can have it all and it’s gone in an instant. You can have all the breaks in the world, and it crashes down.

pumpkins
Karen, why are you holding a pumpkin?

I grew used to success. But with Adam’s death it feels like none of it mattered. You can take back all the success, I’ll just take him back. Now, a success is getting a check for the money that was mine anyway.

Except for the part when I talked to the bank teller, the woman who was there when I first went in December. She sought me out to see how I was doing.

I said: “It’s going to happen to every one of us. I’m here to tell you it’s survivable.”

Survivable. That’s where I am now.

A far cry from success.

But I still have Karen to lav …. and we close our eyes, and the world has turned around again.

Glittens, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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