Is There Life on Mars?

jessicalange
“But the film is a saddening bore, for she’s lived it ten times or more.”

Today, I received a text from a beloved, snarky friend who made me laugh. It read “While you’re sitting around bingeing, cuddling your pets and worrying about your bras, can you get a group text going for tonight?”

 

Now, I don’t mind throwing her under the bus here, because I have like 10 coming to me after the epic throwdown she gave me about eight years ago at work … that I still laugh about.

But it might get you wondering: What does Laura do all day now that she is not working?

It’s true. I’ve binged a lot of shows. Mostly British crime drama, yes, but I’m through six seasons of American Horror Story as well. I can tell you I have never appreciated Jessica Lange for the treasure that she is until hearing her sing “Life on Mars” in the Freaks episode. That woman is a goddess.

I also spend an enormous time cuddling my pets, but we all know that’s part of every major therapy. I only worry about my bras when they haven’t been handwashed.

What do I do?

I work on healing. I can tell you, despite my love for what I did at FVS and the enormous respect I have for the teachers, leaving was the best thing I’ve done. I could no longer grieve there.

So I grieved at home … on the couch, in the woods, on the trails, in bed, in front of the TV, at bars, at coffee shops, at friends’ houses, in Los Angeles. I grieved with everyone. I grieved when I was smiling and laughing as well as when I was crying. You don’t see the tears much anymore. They mostly come at night. My sleep schedule is still erratic, and the last thoughts are always of Adam in the hospital. Of his last breath, of the things I could have done better.

Does this surprise you? That after 14 months I’m still dealing with that? It won’t surprise my widows and widowers out there… the ones I’ve met and the ones I adore in an online community. In a recent New York Times article, a woman who lost her child wrote “You never ‘get over it,’ you ‘get on with it,’ and you never ‘move on,’ but you ‘move forward.’”

And that’s what I’ve been doing these last four months: Getting on with it.

It could be the best description ever. You make your choice to live, and you get on with it.

I got on with it by resigning from my job. I got on with it by beginning an exhaustive process of diving deep into the house, the possessions, the memories. Friends will come into the house and might think “it looks no different.” Same wine red disintegrating couch we got from Deb at FVS. Same hodgepodge of decorations.

It’s in the nooks and crannies that the changed has occurred. It’s in the bedroom where I have not just moved some of Adam’s stuff out, but have taken the step of moving my stuff in. It took time to put my clothes in his dresser, as if the emptiness of it was waiting to return. What happens if he comes back and needs drawer space?

I’ve donated thousands of dollars worth of items .. his, mine, ours. I took that Swedish death cleaning approach to my mom’s to help give away the last of Dad’s clothes.

I discovered new hiking trails with Christie. I continued to wrestle with Adam’s computer and files. I scrapbooked hundreds of photos. I found pictures of us where I don’t even remember where we were at. I marveled at pics of Adam when he loved another gal so many years ago… and I scrapbooked those as well, because it was part of who he was.

I tried food I never would have tried. I watched every episode of the Great British Baking Show and found no desire to bake. I followed my nieces and their successes online. I finally moved all my money to one place and have someone guiding me. I lost some weight, gained it back, lost it, gained it and now just miss Adam, who loved me whether I gained it or it lost it, because it wasn’t the weight, it was the way we treated each other and the way we loved.

In January now, I’m taking the steps to re-enter the workforce. Am I done grieving? Hell to the no. I won’t ever be. But I have a better grasp on it than before, a greater compassion for those around me.

I miss my best friend a lot. Every day, every decision I make is because he lived.

I am lucky. I had the ability to take time off from work on my own terms. Other widows aren’t so lucky. They have been fired, they have had to slog through thankless jobs without more than a few days of bereavement.

I’ll end this by saying… We need to do better for our widows and widowers in America. We need to prepare each other from the beginning and stop pretending one spouse isn’t going to die before the other. Women, especially, have to learn to be resilient now while they are still in their marriages. Resiliency starts when you don’t need it yet. Build it.

“It’s chaos. Be kind.” – Michelle McNamara

Take your resilience and shove it.

pattonfbook
It hasn’t been 100 days yet, so I’m not even crawling. But I like this quote by Mr. Oswalt.

Well, I definitely get that whole thing about grief coming in waves now.

I thought I was on a good trajectory, but man did this week hit me hard. Many people asked what triggered it, but there isn’t a trigger; it just is. I had trouble getting out of bed again; I had breakdowns at work; I had to fight through crying through a basketball game I was working (and it wasn’t even a bad game!). I wanted friends to come to help me clean up; instead all I could manage was fried food and changing the bedsheets.

Maybe it’s because I’m having new realizations all the time. Among these revelations:

  • I realized while leaving work that my car was just about out of gas (one of the many things I don’t notice anymore). I thought about waiting to get home so I could go to King Sooper for the discount. Then, I realized I don’t shop anymore; I don’t have double points from Adam’s prescriptions. I can get gas anywhere I want for the same price. So, I went to Diamond Shamrock.
  • I never have to buy cabernet sauvignon if I don’t want to anymore.
  • All shows being recorded on the DVR are his. I just delete them, but I haven’t got the heart to cancel the series recordings (you know, in case he comes back and is pissed that I deleted every episode of every mediocre SyFy show).
  • I joined a closed Facebook group for the upcoming Star Wars Celebration. I wanted to see if it would help me make a decision on what to do with my four-day passes which have sold out (sell both? go alone and sell the other? find someone who loves Star Wars I could tolerate for four days?). All the group does is make me sad. Adam and I had the massive convention game down to a science. We bought a few items only and knew what was worth waiting in line for (and getting there when the doors open ain’t one of them).
  • I had to hire a dog walker in advance for those 12-hour days. I had relied on Adam.
  • I can now choose to watch horror movies 24/7, but I’ve sadly lost my taste for them now.
  • I think I can’t go to the grocery store anymore. I cry every single fucking time. This is no joke. Everything reminds me of Adam. King Sooper delivers, though, and it’s not like I need a lot. I could eat at school for every meal if I wanted to.

I think a lot about this Patton Oswalt quote: “Grief is an attack on life. It’s not a seducer. It’s an ambush or worse. It stands right out there and says: ‘The minute you try something, I’m waiting for you.’”

I went to a presentation today from a guy who focused on resilience. I’m sure it was great for the kids, still struggling with how to bounce back from poor grades, relationship breakups, not getting into their chosen college. I just wanted to laugh, and say to the guy “you asshole, until you lose a spouse, fuck your resilience advice. You have no fucking clue.”

I wish Joe Biden would come to my house.