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.
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.