Tuesday, June 28, 2005

"Precious Romantic Memories"

Do you remember the day we sat on your front steps eating Ben and Jerry’s Waffle Cone ice cream? That’s one of my nicest memories of us. We sat there thinking and talking about how we were moving to L.A.

Your’s was the only mouth I never minded sharing a spoon with.

I loved those few moments. The weather was nice. We were nice. If I’m not mistaken, you ridiculed me for labeling that time as one of my “precious romantic memories.” I loved creating them with you. Only you.

I still remember how Manhattan Beach made us feel as though we could live in Los Angeles forever. Something about that little beach town made everything okay. And I remember how I made you walk to the end of the dock with me in Provincetown and kiss me as part of my “romantic memories” collection. You always laughed, even though you thought I was a sissy for wanting to create them. You always tried, though, even when I tried to make you kiss me across the table at Cafe China on Valentine’s Day and you got stuck halfway and our lips never met. I pulled the table toward me, determined to collect another memory, but you begged me not to make you do it. We laughed. We always laughed.

And you achieved what no man before you could. You made me like baseball.

I’d give almost anything to have you back with me. Anything, except the threat of your cancer coming back.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


...is what I have been feeling for the past two weeks. I have not been able to stop myself from crying every night when I get home. Sometimes the tears come with such force that I can barely make it to my front door before the dam bursts and other times I feel a heaviness in my soul that gives way to tears. I think that spending the day at Bonnie's has something to do with it, along with knowing that, come July 1st, six months will have gone by. Someday, twenty years will have gone by. I'm just sad.

Still, I went to a play and then to the open mike tonight and sang a few songs. It was fun, but it was one of those Cinderella nights where I suddenly had to run, before my sadness reared it's head. I just knew I had to get the hell out of Dodge.

I saw Rosalind, my therapist, today after five weeks of our schedules not syncing up. It was good. Suddenly, I need her again. I admitted that I feel as though I am in danger of griveing pathologically, as of late. I must not do that. I must not give into the silly notion that if I'm sad, I will be honoring Chris. It just is not true. He's dead. His physical self is gone from my life. The real way to honor him, anyway, is to be happy and live my life to its fullest. I know he would agree with that. Sometiems the line gets blurred.

I took a Lorezapam. I have to be careful. I am afraid of becoming addicted. I'm good, though, and so far in this lifetime I have not exhibited any signs of an addictive personality. I just didn't fucking feel like being sad. I know I need to try to stop myself form crying at night. It has gotten to the point where I cry because of some sort of bizarre muscle memory that tells me it's 10:00PM and so it's time to cry just because that's what I have been doing for the past two weeks. It's very important for me to begin to fight those urges...or at least make a concerted effort to remember to decide when and when not to cry. Grief is both tricky and deceitful.

I miss Chris so much. I liken myself to a halved canteloupe from which someone has spooned out the seeds, except that my seeds are my guts, heart and soul. Not always. Just when I'm feeling sad, like tonight...or this morning, as it were.

I finally got back to the gym this morning. It was blissful. My muscles are killing me, but I like it. It's like seeing an old friend. Tomorrow, maybe I'll run.

Good night.

Side Note: Everytime I see a star in the sky, I say, "Star light, star bright, the first star I see tonight, I wish I may I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight." and I always wish for eternal happiness for Chris' soul. And I always mean it.

Sadly, Tiredly,

Saturday, June 18, 2005


A few times each week, I walk home from work. The six-mile walk takes two hours and thirteen minutes for me to complete, which is more than enough time to decompress and entertain the hundreds of notions that drift in and out of my mind along the way. Some of these notions linger. I begin to relax into my walk, entering a zone in which my mind becomes less aware of the task at hand and begins a journey of its own. On these walks, I often think about the great mystery of life. My own spirituality causes me to wonder about life and its purpose, and death and its purpose. Is this life all there is or is there something more, perhaps another place we go to after we die?

My walk has become my sanctuary. I walk along the water’s edge feeling the intoxicating river breeze, like a velvet massage working its way over and through my entire mind, body and soul, and I reflect. Sometimes along the way I call my friends for lighthearted conversation. Sometimes I laugh at silly dogs that are wading through the water and playing fetch with their human counterparts. Sometimes I sit on the stairs leading down to the water and cry until I’m empty; and tired.

Yesterday, as I walked I gazed up and became mesmerized by a cluster of clouds filling the sky overhead. An opening in the middle of the clouds allowed for the sun to peak through creating a burst of white light, which gave way to streaming rays of translucent beams stretching over the Boston skyline and reaching to the surface of the Charles. The sight was humbling.

Throughout my life, whenever I have witnessed clouds and sun rays of that nature, my brain has automatically told me that God was peaking through the opening, reaching down and spreading love and healing in the hearts of those in need of it. I remembered that yesterday as I walked along the water, transfixed on the clouds, and I became filled with comfort, reassurance and peace. I became completely enveloped in self-love, love for God, love for my husband, Chris, love for life and for all humanity. In the midst of that love, I was filled, simultaneously with great sadness and resign, all consuming euphoria, and forgiveness. Once again, I gazed at the burst of clouds and softly spoke the words that had filled my consciousness and my entire being, relaxing me to my core and outward over my entire body and throughout my soul.

“I forgive you, God.”

Five minutes later a brilliant sun shower illuminated the Esplanade, soaking the grass and walkways and creating ripples on the Charles. I stood watching from under the safety of an immense weeping willow tree for the duration of this ten-minute sodden interlude, all the while reflecting and pondering the events of the past year and a half.

I contemplated the anger I have been feeling about all that has passed and about all that is to come without Chris by my side to share my life. I thought about the horrors of disease and sickness for those who have witnessed them and the sadness and helplessness of those who have experienced them first hand. I know bad things happen. I know they always will. I know I had my husband, my best friend in this world, exit my life at the very point in my life when I learned I had the capacity to love wholly and selflessly. I now know that I have the capacity to bestow divine forgiveness.

My heart is still broken. I still laugh every day. I still cry every night. I still love Chris with every fiber of my being. I’m still scared. I still wonder if those we have loved and who have loved us remain in our lives in some way, guiding us, helping us make choices and decisions and keeping us safe from harm.

Last week, on my twin nieces’ 7th birthday, their grandmother (Chris' mother) went to their house to eat birthday cake with them. She was helping Emily, one of the twins, send electronic greeting cards from Hallmark.com . On the card, was a drawing of an empty pizza crust that Emily could dress with various ingredients to complete her virtual pizza. When the card was finished, Bonnie decided to print a copy of it. She clicked the "print" button which loaded a page entitled "Instructions for Printing". Under the title were form fields labeled “to” and “from”. These fields are normally empty, but this time, instead of being empty, the “from” already contained a name and the name was "Christopher". Everyone stood and stared in disbelief, Beth and Bonnie in tears, and nobody could think of a valid explanation for the appearance of Chris’ name on the card. Even Bonnie's generally skeptical husband, Robert, was impressed. Although Bonnie deleted the name several times and refreshed her internet browser, “Christopher” kept reappearing in the box. She typed Emily’s name over it one more time and printed the card. The page emerged from the printer with the name “Christopher” still on it.

The following night, I dreamed that several of my family members died. After taking their last breaths, their souls rose out of their bodies, drifted upwards and disappeared. Later in my dream, knowing their souls were okay, I kept seeing these family members materialize. I ran toward their outstretched arms and found myself surrounded in the most peaceful, filling, all-encompassing embraces I have ever felt in my life. I awakened calm and peaceful. Nobody knows what happens to us after we die. Can the deceased reach back to their loved ones? Can they reassure their families and friends that they are okay and that they still love us or do they simply cease to exist for the remainder of eternity?
Nobody knows.

A fact is that Chris’ name appeared on a birthday card to his two beloved nieces on the exact date of their 7th birthday, their first birthday without their Uncle Chris in their lives (at least not physically). A fact is a fact, even if it cannot be explained.

Yesterday, walking along the Charles and gazing into the clouds, my “God-clouds”, I learned that I still have room in my heart where I previously believed there was none, to forgive God and to accept that he did not cause Chris’ cancer and then take him away from me, rather, he saw Chris’ cancer and welcomed him into his healing Kingdom.

And God, bring peace to our stormclouds and calm to our fears.
-Scott Sarabia (my sweet, beloved brother)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Bonds of Grief

My heart is breaking tonight.

About a month ago, a woman about my age at work lost her husband to brain cancer. He was sick for a very long time. I only met her once and I was told by a co-worker that she requested that she never ask her about her husband and never to ask her how she’s doing. I never did, because it was very important to me to respect her wishes.

After her husband died, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I had a nagging feeling that she might want or need to talk to someone who had a similar experience. I didnt' want her to feel alone and I knew I wanted to offer some help to her if she wanted it, though. I just couldn’t sit by idly knowing how much pain she was in and how lost she must feel. I sent her an e-mail simply stating that I was thinking about her and wanted her to know that I was welcoming her to contact me anytime at all, now or in the future. I left it at that, satisfied that I reached out to her and that she may or may not contact me. She did, about five minutes later.

Two weeks ago, we met in a conference room at work and talked, sharing parts of our stories with one another.

Yesterday, she sent me an instant message telling me that she was very sad and asking me to please tell her that it was going to get better. My heart broke for her. I promised her that things would get better and told her to hang on, hang in there, and I reassured her that she would get through this. I reminded her that she has to get through this part of her life in order to get to the other side of her grief and I told her that I will be here for her and that I will make myself available anytime she needs support. I reiterated that I would drop everything the moment she needed me. And I will. I ordered three books from Amazon.com that helped me tremendously and had them shipped to her so she can have something to hold onto that might ground her the way I was grounded by the books I read.

Offering my love, support and understanding to another person who has suffered a great loss has reopened my wounds and helped me to look inside of them again. I have been purging my feelings for the past forty minutes, which is astounding, since I haven't been able to cry, really, for about two weeks. The heaviness has been there but the tears haven’t been able to come. Tonight they came.

I cried for Chris and for all that he had to endure. I cried for this woman’s pain and all that she is faced with and her uncertain future. I cried for my loss and for the loss of the “Chris and Robin” entity, for the loss of our private jokes and for the loss of his sweet lips, smile and that distinctive voice. I cried about cancer and the fact that it exists and I cried about the memory of finding out that Chris’ cancer was incurable that horrible day at the hospital; that awful surreal, dark, dark day. I’m not finished crying yet. I know the tears are going to continue into the night until I fall asleep. I know that those tears will help me to heal.

And I hope I can help my newly widowed friend to heal, too. God bless her.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Back to the Start

Everything turned out so wrong. Nothing is the way it’s supposed to be. It’s 1:18 am and I’m sitting on my bed writing this on my laptop. I would never have been sitting here, in my bed, writing a journal entry if Chris was alive. I would have changed, quickly and quietly, washed my face and crawled into bed next to him to await his arm draping over me upon his next rollover.

I’m not supposed to be a single woman. I loved being married. I loved being married to Chris. He teased me. I teased him. We had so much fun. I don’t understand why it had to end.

I sang at the open mike tonight. It was a whole lot of fun. One of the songs that I sing regularly is Frank Wildhorn’s “When I Look at You” from The Scarlet Pimpernel. It’s a beautiful ballad (I always counter them with an upbeat). I felt such a part of the song tonight. My voice is back in shape from all of the singing I have been doing. The last line of the song is “...because I miss him so/When I look at you” When I sang that lyric, tonight. I looked up toward where I felt Chris is and I was no longer a part of that room; no longer at the open mike. I floated into the depths of my desire to be with him and it felt so beautiful. He has made me a better performer. I feel so much love for him.

I got sad tonight. On the way home from the open mike, I was going to do a little bit of grocery shopping at Star Market. i thought it was a 24-hour one but when I got there, A handicapped man wearing a Red Sox hat, driving one of those motorized “I’m handicapped” drivey-things informed me that it was closed. Instead, I went to the 24-hour CVS in the same shopping center because I had called in my prescription the other day and I thought that since I was there, I may as well pick it up. I paid with my bank card, requesting $20.00 back, but when the register opened, the pharmacist realized that there was no money in the drawer. It took some doing to get a store manager to come with some cash and the pharmacist was getting antsy. I said to him, “I’ll just take a seat until he comes. I’m not in a huge hurry.” and then I corrected myself, saying, “I’m not in a hurry at all.” It was one in the morning and I wasn’t in a hurry to get home. I used to always be in a hurry to get home, to be with Chris. I loved nothing more than the time we spent together, even when we spent it in two separate rooms; him watching the Sox and me watching some cheesy made-for-television movie. There was still always the comfort that he was home.

Singing that ballad felt immeasurably beautiful, but it messed with my brain. Feeling that level of emotion while singing was orgasmic, but it’s there because my husband isn’t. It’s the good that comes out of the bad, I guess.

I signed the lease for my new apartment last night. I’m moving to Malden, the city I grew up in. I was dead set against Malden at first because I grew up there and it felt weird, but I was also drawn there because going home gives me the sense that I’m returning to the familiar, to a safe haven, and starting over from scratch, again.

The apartment that I found is the most unbelievable apartment I have ever lived in. It’s on the 3rd floor of a huge Victorian home, it has air conditioners built into the walls, a washer and dryer right in the kitchen, a bike rack to hang my bike on, a 10x4 storage space, a built-in butcher block in the kitchen, huge closets, a private entrance, plenty of parking and peace and quiet. There are trees outside every window. There’s a loft big enough for my Chris chair, A TV and a small table. You get there by climbing up a ladder. It’s a 2-bedroom, so I will have a guest bedroom for when people visit. It has skylights and it’s extremely sunny. I am so in love with this apartment.

The new landlords seem to have taken me under their wing. I told Rita about Chris when I called to see the apartment. I told her I was moving because it was time for me to move forward. She was very, very nice. I told her that I had been supporting the two of us and that I can afford the rent, that I have been with Fidelity for 10 years and that I was looking for some peace and quiet. We bonded immediately. She is waiting until August for me and giving me the month of July for free. She wasn’t able to reach my bank, but she said, “I don’t care, though. I want you” She and her husband met me two days ago and they told me they trust me to be in their part of the house. They and their two children occupy the bottom two floors. I won’t ever go in there when they’re not home, but they trust me.

I have been very worried about the move because it’s going to be a mind-fuck, I think. Ripping myself away from the home I shared with Chris is going to be extremely difficult. I need to, though. When I look around, now, I feel anger. I remember all of the people being over during that week. I remember Chris being there, at the computer, in the kitchen, on the couch. I’m caught right in the middle of wanting to leave and wanting to hang on. It’s time though, and you can’t argue with time.

I hate that at one in the morning, after the open mike, I had nowhere to be. That’s not like me. I wanted that feeling of having to get home and crawl into bed next to Chris so I would be chipper enough tomorrow morning to get up and have coffee with him, or go food shopping with him. But it doesn’t really matter now. It doesn’t matter when I get home because there’s nobody here to care.

This move is stirring up all kinds of shit for me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Theater Benchmarks

I have been feeling choked up lately.

I keep thinking about Chris and how he is really gone. Somehow it doesn't penetrate my brain entirely. I can't reconcile my life and his absense from it. I usually feel as though I'm going to see him again, and then I realize that his body was cremated. It's strange that it would take that realization to bounce me back into reality. It's like as long as I know his body is no longer there, I know he won't be coming through the door again.

I auditioned for a production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street this evening. It was my second audition since Chris died. The first was The Secret Garden. I can't help making comparisons between the two experiences. At the first one, I was still in a strange grief-fog, not really there, not really aware of what I was doing. I did it just to get myself out of the house. I didn't feel nervous. I didn't feel anything. I couldn't. I got cast and did the show, but I don't really remember a lot of the rehearsals. I was still in shock, I think. I was much more present for the second one. I was slightly nervous, which is a good way to be. I felt bad being there. I wanted to be home with Chris...who's not home at all anymore.

Sometimes I can get so confused. He's gone. I was once married and now I'm not anymore. I'm extremely angry about that.

I guess I'm going to bed extremely angry tonight because I can't even think anymore.


Saturday, June 4, 2005

Too Cluttered to Think Up a Title

My longing and yearning for Chris has been particularly strong since I spent the night at Bonnie’s house. I had never even gone to Bonnie's without him until he died. Also, as my impending move date nears, I’m forced to realize that I’m about to say goodbye to the home I shared with Chris. We had fun here. It’s a big place. I don’t even know what I’m saying. I have been wanting to write this entry for days, but I’ve not been able to corral my thoughts. Confusion, disorganization and procrastination (though, even as I write that word, I realize I really have plowed through many of my goals) are some of the toughest symptoms of my grief that I have grappled with. It’s difficult to think and even more difficult to get motivated.

I went to Mt. Auburn Hospital the other day to have a mammogram and ultrasound that my doctor ordered after finding a lump in my breast. I was slightly panicked in the days leading up to the testing. It all had such a familiar flavor; testing, hoping, panicking, knowing I had no control over the outcome of the tests.................cancer? No. Still, before I knew that, I could hear the words coming out of her mouth in my mind, see the formation of that fucking word on her lips; that evil, fucking disease. I thought all the same things I thought when Chris was going through his testing. “It can’t be cancer. It’s a cyst, I'm sure. I’ll have to have chemo. I’ll lose my hair. I’m not wearing a wig. Will I die?” and so on. I was simultaneously certain it was cancer and certain that it wasn’t. My brain kept flipping back and forth between the two, and all the while I was ready for the needles, the hair loss, the lost quality of life and for death.

She found nothing abnormal. I’m scheduled to see a breast specialist in a few weeks, anyway. You can’t be too safe.

On my way back to Harvard Square after my appointment, I felt different. I felt extremely happy. I didn’t realize it at first but as I walked, one single thought passed through my mind repeatedly. “I want to live.” I realized that despite my death wishes as of late and despite the loss I will undoubtedly feel for the remainder of my life, the truth is that I really want to live. I’m so happy that I don’t have cancer. I thought of all the things I keep wanting to do but not doing. Running. Lifting. Singing. Helping others. I’m ready now.

Walking home from Davis Square, yesterday, I had a thought. I used to be petrified at the thought of forgetting Chris and who he was, but on the way home, I realized that I won’t ever forget Chris; not the man I knew. Even so, my memory has already dimmed in regards to what everyday life was with Chris. I can remember a sense of it. Intellectually, I know we had fun together. I know we annoyed each other. I know we watched our spending together and saved our money, cooked dinner and all of the other components of our lives together, but I can’t quite latch onto the feeling of knowing he was coming home. It’s hazy, now, the same way it’s hazy trying to remember what it was like to have to ask your teacher if you could go to the girl’s room or trying to recall what it felt like to ask your parents’ permission to go out with your friends. I can’t remember what that felt like, anymore. I’m losing my sense of that familiar feeling of knowing that Chris was coming. Eventually, he was always coming. I don’t remember that anymore. That’s sad for me. I have seen so many pictures of him from so many sources and so many times throughout his life since he died, that I can’t even decide which Chris is in my memory, anymore. Not really. Sometimes he has hair. Sometimes he’s bald. Sometimes he’s wearing his old glasses and sometimes his new ones. It’s a very liquid memory of his physical appearance. I almost have to look at his pictures, now, to really remember what he looked like and I’m so thankful that pictures exist. But even looking at his pictures I feel a disconnect. It’s tough to reconcile the fact that the guy in those pictures once stood next to me.

So, this week, I’m a little bit freer and a little reflective. I’m happy to be alive, even though I miss my husband. I’m ready for the next push forward. There has been another shift.

The Truth Shall Set You Free

Yesterday, one of the executives in my office asked me how I’m doing. Lot’s of people ask me how I’m doing. Some of them really want to know and others really want to hear that I’m doing well. I understand that. It takes a lot of courage to ask a widow how she’s doing. I appreciate the concern and I understand if some people are hoping that my answer will be a positive one.

I typically give generic answers such as, “Not too shab.” or “Pretty good.” or even “I’m well. Thank you.” I mean, it’s scary for me, too, to go into too much depth about how I feel on a day to day basis, or even an hour to hour basis. My grief changes my mood on a dime more often than not these days. It’s no wonder I have taken to listening to Frank Wildhorn’s “Jekyl and Hyde” CD again.

Yesterday, though, we were behind closed doors, there was nobody else around and I could sense the genuine concern in this man’s voice and see it in his eyes. I told him that I’m coping. It’s true. I am coping. I said that I had never experienced death in my life before and then the person I loved most in this entire world died. He said that I have been amazing and that you wouldn’t know at all that it bothers me at work because I seem to be the same old Robin I have always been. I told him that it doesn’t bother me at work. I feel great when I’m around other people. I love helping others and that’s what I do all day long and when I’m doing my job, I feel great. It distracts me from the darker side of my world, these days. I then told him that I have my moments and that I am definitely grieving and that I know it’s going to take a long, long time to get through this, if there is a “through”, but that I’m coping. I mentioned that more often than not, I turn it in my mind so that I’m remembering and being thankful that I got to spend six beautiful years with the most wonderful man I ever met and when I remember everything I gained by being with him and not think about everything I lost, I feel euphoria. He said that was a wonderful way of looking at it and that he should try to remember that more often in his own life.

It felt so good to give an honest, detailed answer about how I’m doing. It was a release of sorts. After I left his office, I felt lighter and more reflective. I felt freer.