Monday, May 30, 2005

Chicken Soup for the Soul

The more I deny my brain the right to remember and the right to processs, the harder it is to concentrate. From the beginning, I made a conscious decision to work hard to get to the other side and not to be the kind of widow who is still screaming and fighting what happened five years from now. I am entirely aware that there is nothing to be gained by maintaining my grief for a prolonged period of time. The guilt that comes with progress, however, makes letting go extremely difficult and very scary.

What I need to fight, isn’t the grief, rather my reluctance to deal with it. I need to submit to my grief on a moment by moment basis. It varies that quickly sometimes.

Tonight I am sad. Not depressed. Sad. I’m making my apartment-renowned chicken soup, which Chris raved about to his mother and possibly to others...but at least to his mother. I have butterflies in my stomach. I’m nervous. My heart is beating faster than usual. I’m sad. I know how foolish this is. it’s not like ceasing to cook all of the dishes I cooked when he was alive would make him come back. It won’t. Sometimes there’s a voice in my head that tells me I didn’t love him, because how could I continue to cook my chicken soup even though he’s dead? It’s mean. I’m going to hurt his feelings. I still feel like I’m going to hurt his feelings.

Today was so much fun. I woke up, drank some coffee, showered and took off to Malden for the Memorial Day parade that my sister and little niece and nephew were marching in. I adore them with everything I have and I was so proud of them today. The sun was out, finally. It was warm. I was with my father, step-mother, brother-in-law and his mother. Life was grand. The looks on my niece’s and nephew’s faces when they saw that I came to watch was worth the entire two hours that we waited for the parade to arrive. No. It was worh more than that.

As the day wore on, a sense of sadness and resignation began to seep into my being. How could I have had that much fun? How could I have felt that much joy? My husband is dead.

I have love in me. There are still people on this earth who enjoy my love.

Sometimes I need desperately to cry but can’t. The sadness is in me but the tears won’t come. It’s like having the dry heaves. My body needs to purge in order for me to feel better, but it just won’t happen. It’s like emotional purgatory and it’s a most unpleasant state to be in.

I wish he could come back. Healthy.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

In Dreams I Walk with You

Chris was in my dream last night. We were talking and walking in Davis Square. He looked great. Healthy. He was wearing his brown courdorouy jacket and his hair was long-ish. I got that old familiar feeling I always got when I was about to ask him how he was feeling. It was a mixed feeling of hope and dread. Talking with him was so much fun and I could feel him next to me which made me feel very safe. There was a brief silence and I asked him, “ do you feel?” He immediately frowned, sighed and then pointed to his was more like he was trying to point up and into his stomach. My heart sank.

I couldn’t sleep anymore so I got up at 6:20 and began washing clothes.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Little Shneed

The Boston Public Library moved all of their shelves around and rearranged everything sometime between February and now, which I found out when I dropped off a severely delinquent book this evening. The book is Bobos in Paradise and it was the book Chris was reading when he died. I initially brought it back to the library in January but found that I couldn't let it go. Instead, I told the librarian about Chris and asked if I could transfer it onto my library card and check it out. I wanted to know what was inside Chris’ head when he died. It occurred to me that I really never knew what types of books he enjoyed other than David Sedaris. I used to tease him about his choice of books. They were so book-wormy. Chris got excited about reading about JFK, zookeepers, people traveling across the country and so many various topics that I loved making fun of him for it. I checked out Bobos, began reading it (It's actually very entertaining.) but then began reading an onslaught of books on the afterlife and on grief. I never finished Bobos, but kept renewing it anyway because returning it felt like ripping out a piece of my soul and trying to give it away. I even considered keeping it to cherish forever, but my conscience got the best of me and I know Chris would not want me to ruin somebody else’s chances of reading a great book so today, I returned it and had to pay the maximum penalty, which was all of five dollars. When I expressed my surprise and delight, the librarian explained to me that if they just kept adding on penalties, nobody would ever return the books because nobody would ever pay that much for a book that they could just keep for free. Good point.

Afterwards, I began looking for the Dennis Lehane section, but couldn’t find it. After circling the floor, I realized the BPL had moved a bunch of shelves. I found myself in the “G” section and upon further investigation, found that the sections descended alphabetically back to the “A’s” but I couldn't’ find sections “H” and up.

I caught myself thinking “Maybe I’ll find an author that I like in the “C” section.” which caused me to chuckle. That’s exactly the kind of thinking Chris would have laughed about. Instead of finding the “L” section to find the book I wanted, I was ready to settle on some unknown author because I didn’t care enough to look for the section I wanted. He would have laughed and said, “Little Shneed.”, which was one of the most endearing things he ever said to me. God, I miss him.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Back on the Mountain

Last night, I informed my landlord that I will be leaving this apartment in August. It’s time. It’s my next logical step in the process. I must admit I didn’t expect to move through the big stuff so quickly. I believe there are several factors that have and continue to help me immensely and they are my friends’ absolute patience and understanding for everything I feel, the fact that Chris and I had an extremely healthy relationship, the fact that I began grieving way back at diagnosis #1, my own built-in resilience and my ability to see and realize that I don’t want to be one of those widows who is still screaming and crying six years down the road. I didn’t kill Chris. It’s not my fault that he’s dead. But he is dead and remaining in a perpetual state of grief will not help him and it certainly won’t help me. Oh, the grief is there, but it’s my intention to take carfeul care of it and not foster it into a pathological state of being. I must keep my eye on the future and Chris in my heart. What happened sucks and that doesn’t even begin to convey the horrorfying reality of the events of the past year and a half. My lacking ability to describe my feelings is frustrating and I hope that as I move forward, eventually I won’t feel the need to describe it.

I did have a conversation with a man who lost his wife to cancer after a three-year battle and his knowing how I felt and what I went through was quieting to me, though very sad. For him, the loss of his wife was more painful than her illness. For me, Chris’ illness was enough to shatter me to my very core and his death destroys me on a daily basis, but at least I can be certain that he is no longer in pain. Of course I would rather that he never got sick and was still here to share my life with me, but that’s just not the way things turned out and my hope is that someday I will be able to completely let go and move into my future. I believe that will happen. Completely letting go and moving into my new home is a step in the right direction. It’s going to be a sad one and I’m expecting my heart to join me in my new home around September or October, but it’s a right step, nonetheless.

This place is much too big for one person. Five and a half rooms to occupy. Five and a half rooms to scour for intruders every night when I get home. Five and a half rooms to clean. I don’t know what’s worse, cleaning five and a half rooms, or actually finding an intruder in one of them. It’s a toss-up, I think.

So, I have laid the groundwork, given my notice and soon I can begin to search for a nice place to live, preferably right, smack in the middle of Davis Square or in North Cambridge, right behind Porter Square. I crave peace and quiet, but I also crave hustle and bustle and since the rising costs of New England real estate are ultimately going to drive me out of the city, I may as well live in it until I buy my own home.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Fiery Pits of Hell

Disclaimer: I wrote this particular entry on May 10th and did not post it right away because I felt that many people would worry about me. This blog was not created to induce worry and pity in the minds of my friends and readers. Its purpose is to paint an accurate picture of the grief process from my point of view; the point of view of a young widow who watched her spouse suffer from cancer and die. Though, as a rule, I do not edit these entries, I did cut one thing out of this one. In the original, there is a bulleted list of what I witnessed throughout this ordeal. I see no reason to plant its horrifying and sad images in the minds of those who knew Chris and so I have left it out of this entry.

Also, I feel it is important to point out that during this week, I rehearsed for my play every single night from 7:00-11:00, woke up and went to work, I hadn’t taken my anti-depressant for a week (very stupid idea, but I felt like I could go on without it), I got my period, I had a horrid cold and was out of work for 2 days with nothing but unstructured time on my hands AND as though all of that wouldn’t cause ANYone to feel what I felt during this week, I suddenly felt it was time to pack up Chris’ clothes, which I meant to do with my friends by my side, but as it turned out, I was home alone.

So, without further adeu, and with all of that in mind, I give you what is probably my most honest entry to date. It’s all part of the grief process and if you are feeling what I felt that day, just know that you are not abnormal, it’s a normal part of the grief process and I am living proof that you can get through moments like this, too.

Disclaimer 2:
I mention in this post that my friend, Carol, missed my signal. If I don't mention that I didn't give her a signal, she will kill me and I won't have to worry about doing it myself. Here is how our conversation went that night:

Carol: Hi.
Me: Hi.
Carol: So how are you doing?
Me: I'm good.

So, as you can see...though I wished she was clairvoyant and could sense something was wrong, she is not superhuman. She missed nothing. There was no signal. Hee hee.

The Fiery Pits of Hell

May 10, 2005

I don’t know how to ask for help. I feel like I’m burdening my friends. Tonight, could feel the Ativan telling me to take all of it. I could feel it, tonight. That’s scary. I don’t want to kill myself. I want to die, though. I think I want to die.

I’m trying very hard to envision my life with a different man in it. It’s impossible. I’d just want him to be exaclty like Chris. I can’t imagine ever loving another man. I’m such a fucking basket case. I’m just so sad. His clothes are gone. The clothes that I used to wash, fold and put away for him. And he would always say, “Aw. You didn’t have to do that, Smoosher.” I told him I didn’t mind and it was true. I didn’t. He gave me so much. What’s a little washing and putting away? It was nothing.

Isn’t it ironic that taking one Ativan tonight is what’s going to stop me from thinking about taking ALL of them? Oh, the irony.

I just want him to come to me and tell me not to do it, but he’s not going to. I just want somebody to pay attention to me. Carol missed my signal tonight. Teri hasn’t asked me how I am in weeks. Dad hasn’t talked to me since Teri’s.

I have to turn this around. This isn’t like me. Saying good-bye to him is so, so hard. I feel like I can’t do it, but I really don’t have a choice. Packing up his clothes was almost too much for me to take.

I guess “almost” is the key word there. I did it, didn’t I? I almost wanted to take the whole bottle of Ativan. But I didn’t do it. Again, “almost”. It really doesn’t count.

There are things that are too painful for me to handle, like:

  • The songs Chris wrote about wanting to kill himself.
  • The way he cried in pain all night long
  • His worry and disgust that he wasn’t able to go to the bathroom for weeks. Weeks.
  • The way his stomach became so distended that it looked like he was going to burst.
  • Not being able to see his ankes anymore when he became so swollen that they disappeared.
  • Seeing his enlarged liver protruding from his back.
  • His baldness.
  • His chemo-induced hazes.
  • Finding out that he felt really bad when he didn’t remember seeing me at all during those hazes.
  • How he looked in the ambulance on the ride home. His last ride home.
  • The way there was nothing I could do to asuage his anger.
  • The way he said. “Mmmmm. That’s GREAT.” when I gave him a sip or root beer.
  • The night he lost control of his bodily functions and had an accident all over the bathroom floor, walls, rugs, cabinets and didn’t wake me up to help him because he was too ashamed.
  • The way I walked into the bedroom and caught him standing there with the sheets in his hands because he was too ashamed to tell me the same thing happened in there.
  • The screams coming from the bathroom every half-hour throughout the night.
  • The way his self-esteem dwindled when his hair fell out.
  • That he thought he was ugly. (He was soooo very beautiful to me)
  • How completely helpless I was to hlep him.

The pain I feel is very, very intense. The guilt I feel is just as intense. How could i just pack up his clothes? I feel like i erased him.

My doctor felt a lump on my breast today. It’s an old lump. It first appeared about 12 years ago. I was sent to New England Medical Center to have an ultrasound and there was nothing there. Then again about 7 years ago I was sent for another ultra-sound for the same exact lump. The doctor there saw nothing unusual, but asked me to come back a week later. It was gone. It’s just the way that particular lump is. It’s a cyst. It usually appears during PMS and goes away after I get my period. I’m used to it. So today, it alarmed my doctor and I told her about the two other times and she wants to check it out again next week. Well see what happens. My point is that I wasn’t afraid. If I have cancer, who cares? Big fucking deal. It already claimed the one person in this world who meant the most to me. Big deal. Maybe it will claim me, too. I really don’t care.

It won’t though. As I stated, it comes and goes and it will be gone the next time I go to the doctors.The only thing I’d be sad about if I had cancer would be that Chris wouldn’t be here to help me through it. But that’s a double-edged sword. I also would NOT want him to be there because I always hated seeing him in pain. This really wouldn’t be any different.

Lately, I’m finding that I’m just marking time until it’s my time to go. I don’t know if I’ll be able to change that. I’m so stuck on remaining in limbo in order to prove my love for Chris.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


There are things we do in our lives that are so second nature and that have become so routine that we barely know we're doing them. There were many of those things in my own life. When Chris died, the day of his death became a measure of time for me. I knew people talked about all of the "firsts" you have to go through following a loved one's death, I just didn't know how miniscule some of those firsts would be...or that there would be so many.

Of course there are all of the holidays, anniversaries and such, but even so I didn't realize that the anniversary of his death would occur every first of every month.

There was the first time I solved a problem without him, the first time I sang with him gone, my first train ride, my first return to my apartment, the first time I cooked again, which by the way, I wasn't able to do until two months later. The first Law and Order episode, the first spring, summer, winter, fall, and the list just goes on and on.

I'm sitting in Pizzaria Uno in Copley Square waiting for Meira. i didn't expect to feel panic walking down Boylston Street, but then I didn't expect to realize that this was the first time I stayed in Boston for dinner without Chris. I remembered one particular day when I told him I was walking home from Boston. He wanted the exercise so he decided to walk with me, except that ten mintues into our walk on that hot summer day, I developed and unyielding craving for a tall, cold beer. We stopped into the Pour House on Boylston Street and sipped together, talked together, laughed together and I looked at him. I always looked at him and when he became uncomfortable and said, "What are you doing, Shneed?" in that shy, embarrassed, you-better-cut-it-out manner that I found so endearing, I would simply reply, "I'm enjoying you." It was true. I have felt nothing stronger in my life than the passion I felt every time I layed eyes on him. It was an all encompassing and overwhelming euphoria that began in my heart and took me over in a tidal wave of emotion.

My husband was that awesome. He was my first love.

I ask myself how I can be sad when I have that much love in my heart; that much love in my life. I believe the old saying rings true; that it is, indeed, better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

My husband was that awesome.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Sticky Kisses

Every morning before I left for work, I would use a 3x3 post-it note to blot my freshly applied lipstick so as not to get it on my teeth. One day, I realized what a waste of paper that was. From that day on, each morning, I kissed the post-it note and stuck it to the computer monitor for Chris to find when he awakened. It was my morning kiss that I would have given him had he been awake to receive it.

One evening, I returned home from work to an empty apartment because Chris had gone to do his radio show and our paths had not crossed on our journeys to and from our apartment. I entered our office and the first thing I saw was a blank post it note stuck to the monitor. Written on it was the following note from Chris, “Kiss mark with no lipstick.” What a sweet, cute, fun and thoughtful way of returning my gesture.

Each day at work, I blot my lipstick on post-it notes and throw them into my trash barrel, wasted, directionless kisses for the man that I still love. Wherever he is, he knows they’re all for him, even if they’re going straight into my trash bucket. Each time I throw one away, my brain tells me that it’s a kiss headed straight up to heaven. May every single one of them reach his lips for the rest of eternity.

I still have that cute little note he wrote me safely tucked away in our “us” box that Chris created. I used to laugh at him, teasing him by calling him a little pansy for keeping an “us” box to begin with. He would grit his teeth and say “One day, you’ll be happy that I kept this “us” box.” He was right. I am.

I love you, Creej.

Your wife,

Monday, May 9, 2005

Please Kill Me

I just took all of Chris’ clothes out of his dresser and closet and put them in boxes and bags to bring to Hadley, MA. Bonnie wants to put them in her basement.

I have never felt so completely alone in my entire life. I began crying with the removal of the first article of clothing and I haven’t been able to stop, yet. My apartment looks strangely like that of just a woman’s apartment. No sign that any man ever walked these rooms, much less my own husband. I hate this life. It’s cruel. I feel sick and I’m hungry but I not fucking eating anything. I wish I could not eat anything ever again until I died from it. I wish I could do it. I wish I could do it.

I hate Chris more than ever right now. I hate him for leaving me. I hate him for meeting me in the first place, for asking me out for coffee, for ever smiling at me and for coming into my life only to leave me fucking alone. A L O N E. I hate him for never coming back, for getting cancer, for wasting away for his body “beginning to shut down”, for craving popsicles and root beer in his last dying days. I hate him for moaning in pain while I lay next to him feeling completely helpless. I hate him for getting stoned every night because it was the only thing that took the chemo edge off. I hate him because I now know way too many terms associated with cancer. I hate him for being perfect for me.

I wish I could die.

I sat in the closet with my arms around his clothes, sobbing, trying to breathe in what he smelled like. His clothes don’t smell that way anymore, but lucky for me his smell comes packaged in a little white and green container called Speed Stick. I keep it in my cabinet and breathe it whenever I want to remember, which is always.

This level of love can’t ever happen for me again. Chris was my perfect guy. There’s nowhere to go but down, from here. Maybe I’ll end up with someone a little less cute or a little less funny; maybe a little less smart or a little less patient and understanding; a little less tolerant of my silliness. Oh, I about a little less EVERYTHING? Oh, what I wouldn’t give to stop hyperventilating.

What a mess. How did everything get so bad? How did I become so undeserving? WHEN did I become so undeserving? I don’t understand this. I have tried a thousand times to figure out why Chris deserved to die. He should have lived. They got all of the cancer out of him. That should have been it. and now I feel as though I’m spiraling toward a lifetime of living in my past. That’s what I should do...just grab a bottle of vodka and take to the curb so all of the junior high and high school kids can point and say, “Hey, there’s crazy Robin!” whispering about how I was once married and working with a promising hobby in community theater. “And now look at her.” they’d say. “She just walks around mumbling about how unfair life is; about how she was shortchanged. How sad.”

Grief. What a royal, fucking pain in the ass.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005


I can’t believe I met a man
I can’t believe how perfect we were for each other
I can’t believe I moved away with him
I can’t believe two years went by
I can’t believe SIX years went by
I can’t believe four months have gone by
The only thing I CAN believe is that there will never be another quite like him.
And that I will cry every day of my life for the rest of my life.
And that we will meet again...and again...and again...and

Sunday, May 1, 2005

A Creejless Birthday

It'll be here in an hour and a half. I'll be 38, an age Chris never got to see. My birthday was always so special just because I knew he loved me. We never really exchanged gifts, unless we saw something small that the other would appreciate, like a book, or a free movie pass, or one of those hand-squeezie devices that guitarists use to strengthen their grips. More often than not, Creej and I would walk somewhere, get a drink and toast to each other. "Here's to you." Of course I would always say, "Here's to ME." And defeated, he would say, "I know." or "Again?" and heave a heavy sigh.

Tomorrow's going to be a tough one. I lived to hear his happy birthday wish. I lived to see the card on the table in the morning, when it hadn't been there the night before. I wouldn't have minded at all if it wasn't even there, because Creej was special and I knew he would have meant happy birthday even if he didn't get to say it until we saw each other that night.

You know what's really hard? Saying good bye to the presence of someone in your life with whom you shared a silent language. We just knew each other. We knew what each other meant, what each other thought and what each other needed. I guess that's just what comes from enmeshing your life with someone's whom you love.

So tonight, on my birthday eve, I'm taking the night to remember my beloved husband and how happy he made me. The six years we shared together are my birthday gift evermore.

Thanks, Creej. It was just what I always wanted.