Saturday, December 31, 2005

Scary Closure

Chris’ Aunt Judy and I exchanged e-mail this morning and since I have been having trouble sittiing down to write my thoughts, I thought I would publish our correspondence:


Hi Robin,
Just wanted to tell you how much you are in my thoughts on this anniversary weekend. I still find myself in disbelief sometimes. Chris will be in my heart every day, forever. I remember so many good things about him and treasure those memories.

Love you,
Hope to see you some time soon.

My reply...

Hi Judy,

I always remember Chris in my heart. I'm learning how to be happy again while realizing that he will always be with me, but it's difficult.

I am quite happy these days, but in between I have bouts of horrific breakdowns. That's just my life, now. I'm doing very, very well, though. Mostly I'm happy.

It seems that with the passing of these important anniversary dates comes a better, stronger ability on my part to put it all behind me. I have guilt, though. Not about my and Chris' relationship. That was the best time I ever had. I feel guilt having fun, going out, befriending HIS friends, doing the things I would have done with him. I feel like I'm leaving him out or ignoring him or being mean to him. I'm working on it with my wonderful social worker (whom I have a huge crush on....probably gay, though...although, I thought Chris was, too....I digress).

Good things are happening. Things Chris would have been proud of. It looks like I NAILED an interview yesterday and will soon be freeing myself from the horrors of administrative support, finally. That's one thing Chris wanted me to do the very moment he got well. But as you know, I'm sure, for the past year it was the perfect job for me as I could do nothing more than work a job at which I was being told what to do all day, because I couldn't think for myself AT ALL. Now I can, though, and things are getting better.

Tonight I'm going to Ellis Paul's show. There has been no doubt in my mind that it's what I NEED to do to close the circle of 2005. I'm sure I will cry tonight. I'm not even going to try to hide it. I don't care.

I grapple more with watching what Chris went through than I do with his actual death and absense from my life. His departure meant the end of his pain which can only mean happiness to me. His pain, though, and his fear and the deterioration of his body remain in the deepest, darkest lonliest caves within my soul and I need to find peace regarding those aspects of his illness. I don't know when or if that will ever be possible, but I just keep trying to talk about it in the hopes that I can gain some closure.

I hope you have a happy new year. There has to come a time when we all stop wishing each other "peace" and go back to wishing each other "happy holidays", again.

Happy New Year.

Love, Robin

I am quite nervous about seeing Ellis Paul this evening. I wouldn't even know who he was if it wasn't for Chris.

I'm afraid to hear all of the songs I listened to during Chris' illness. At the time, though, I gleaned hope from his lyrics and comfort from his voice. Listening to him now is like ripping my wounds open with a jagged knife. I fall down every time.

Still, he's a beautiful musician and I would be remiss to discard such beauty in my ears, in my life and in my soul in burying that beauty beneath the blackness of my own fear and panic of old.

So tonight I face my demons, some of them, anyway and try to welcome one of the scariest segments of my grief back into my life in the form of closure and forgiveness.

Or maybe I'll snap and live out the rest of my days at Bellevue. Vist me, okay?


Monday, December 26, 2005


I’m scared, again. I keep reflecting back to C.S. Lewis’ book, “A Grief Observed” and recalling how he described grief as a feeling of fear. I know that fear. I am one with that fear.

Christmas Day went well. I had a lot of fun miling about with my and my father’s wife’s family. I especially enjoyed the company of my niece and nephew, two of the most loving people I have ever known. I didn’t know people aged thirteen and ten could be so wise beyond their years. They comfort me every moment I am with them.

My nephew approached me and whispered, “Auntie, I don’t mean to bring this up, but did Uncle Steven know Chris?” I said to him, “It’s okay if you bring it up, Sweetie. Did someone tell you not to?” He said, “No. I just don’t want to upset you.” I told him about the times that Steven (my brother) and Chris had met and thanked him for being so thoughtful and reitierated that he need not ever be afraid to talk to me about Chris, that I like talking about Chris.

Later in the evening, I was playing a made-up game, similar to Scrabble, with my ten year old niece. We were spelling words and she was making up the amout of points each of us were accruing as the game progressed. Of course she kept giving herself more points than me, but that’s a story for another day. With our limited amount of roughly seventeen letters, we managed to spell quite a few words. She spelled C-H-R-I-S and said to me, “Look Auntie. I spelled this for you. My heart snapped in two and I hugged her and thanked her, telling her that was just about the sweetest, most thoughtful thing anybody has ever done for me. I gave her 50 points.

Later on, she came over to the couch where I sat and said, “Auntie. You and Chris were the same. You joked all the time. You joked with each other all the time.” Once again, my heart broke out of sheer love for this little girl. Her remembering the way Chris and I interacted meant the world to me. We brought her joy and hopefully helped to teach her what love looks like.

At 6:00, I drove my brother, another member of my unbreakable support system, to the Amtrack station. He had come to visit and spend Christmas Eve with me and made my holiday beautiful and filled with love. My plan was to go home from there, but my mood began to sink and as I approached the intersection where I could either go straight home or turn left and return to my father’s house, I chose the latter and decided to stave off the grief which threatened to squelch my holiday lightness. The choice was the right one and in returning to my family, I gifted myself two more hours of love and comfort.

Everybody finallly broke up at around 9:30 and we went our separate ways. I knew that I would eventually be alone, and when I finally got there, I was crushed by despair, sinking to the floor (this seems to have become habitual for me) holding onto one of my kitchen chairs and weeping uncontrollably for the ensuing hour and a half. My heaving breakdown came with force that could crack ribs. I couldn’t move. I was too upset. I just sat there, all too aware that there was nobody there to console me. Not anymore. Who am I kidding? Creej was never very good at consoling me out of a tear fest. I have always been alone in that respect. I became despondent upon my return home to my empty apartment after having spent the day surrounded by people I love, and after having spent the past six Christmas nights with my beloved best friend and husband by my side.

Finallly, I managed to force myself to pick up my phone and “call for help” so to speak. I called my brother, whom I love, and talked with him about how I felt. My sadness makes him feel bad and I try not to do that to people these days, but he really knows what to say during times like that.

I don’t know where he got it. We weren’t even talking about blame, but he said to me, “It’s not his fault, Rob. It’s not your fault, either.” and opened the floodgates, freeing up all of the junk inside of me that was causing me all of the distress I was feeling.

I do feel at fault for what happened to Chris. How can that be? He got cancer. People don’t cause other people to have cancer unless they’re dumping radioactive waste near them. There’s a part of me that still feels as though I could have stopped it somehow. And there’s a part of me that feels like Chris is to blame. Logically, I know neither of those scenarios are true, but deep in my core I am so mad that I don’t get to be with him, anymore. I have to blame somebody and the only two possible people who could be responsible for his illness are the two of us.

I know thoughts like that are absurd, but grief is a process and this grief is MY process and I will handle it any way I choose and I don’t really care if I kick myself around in the process.

Anyway, that was Christmas.

It's Chanukah, today, and I had a pretty good day. I ran four miles this morning, primped, preened, shopped and had coffee with Carol at the Someday. I am on my way out the door this evening to sing at an open mike and I don't care if I'm tired at work tomorrow.

I am climbing back up the slope and creating joy in my life as best I can. At least, I'm trying to.


Saturday, December 24, 2005


For days, I have been feeling one small step ahead of a waterfall of grief. I can almost feel the sadness, the doom and the panic and terror right on my heels, breathing down the back of my neck and I’m trying to figure out whether letting it catch up to me would feel better, or worse than the sense of artificial vigor that has taken me over.

I am crazy. That is how I feel tonight, this Christmas Eve. Crazy. I don’t want to remember but I don’t want to forget. I seem to not want anything. I want this crazy mess to be gone but not in the past. I want the whole sordid event to have never happened. I want Chris to walk through the door and wake me up out of my crying nightmare so we can laugh about how silly I am with my bad dreams. I want him to laugh at me for being so dramatic in my sleep and I want us to make fun of each other over coffee in Malden Square. It’s not the hippest place to have a coffee, but Creej would have loved it.

I have been singing a lot, which helps to keep my grief at bay. Yesterday, I practiced for three hours and today I practiced three times for a total of about two and a half hours.

My “mania” as I am calling it is causing me to feel disconnected on both ends: life and death. I’m not grieving (not in the usual sense) and I’m not really feeling that old joie de vivre that used to come so naturally to me. I feel like the little drummer boy after the big mean guy painted the permanent smile on his face, except that I feel like a big mean wizard filled me with a permanent false merriment.

One of the things I truly appreciate about Clay, my social worker, is his willingness to accept and allow me to diagnose myself. I told him I was manic and he didn’t try to correct my usage of the word or clarify to me the seriousness of manic/depression in it’s actual form. Instead, he paraphrased by saying, “Your own brand of mania?” How genius is that? It’s generous, accepting and shows his willingness to brush off small exaggerations in vocabulary in the interest in hearing my story. He puts me at ease. I confess to him that I am a complete Ativan junkie in every sense of the word because I can’t stop taking one Ativan about three times a month. Instead of boring me with the definition of junkie, he tells me that he understands my fear of becoming one. I see so many qualities in him that I require a soul mate to have. He is understanding, patient, accepting, conversational and basically adorable. Most of those qualities are a direct result of his education in psychology. He must have minored in adorability. Yet again, I digress.

I’m trying to get a grip on my personality. I’m up. I’m down. I need to be right in the middle and I’m not willing to get there by taking drugs. I can ride this bucking bronco until I tame it. I will be not be thrown.

I can feel myself involuntarily moving forward. I don’t want to leave Chris but the image in my head as I feel better is that of our hands holding onto each other, slipping, slipping, slipping until I am holding only his index finger between my own index finger and thumb and then, all in one second, he slips from my grip and he’s gone from my life and my memories. I don’t want that to happen. Ever.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Unsolicited Advice or “You’ve GOT to be KIDDING me.”

The other day, while riding in our company van between building locations, I and my very sweet, sixty-something year old coworker, who is currently battling colon cancer, very generously offered me her unsolicited advice. Her opinion followed my admission that my eyes well up every night on the train on the way home and that I cry every single night at one point or another.

“You can’t cry about the memories.” she said.

I told her it’s not the memories I cry over (at least not all of the time). “It’s the memories I’ll never have with him.” I clarified. Just writing that sentence gave me a big old lump in my throat.

“You know what you should do, “ she continued, “Instead of thinking of those things and crying, you should think about what you ‘re going to eat for dinner, instead, get your mind off of it.”

First of all, I have a real problem with people telling me what I should and should not do. Almost immediately, my blood was brought to a rolling boil. I bit my tongue and told myself, “She’s 60. She’s grappling with cancer. She means well.” (YOU try saying that with your teeth clenched tightly on your tongue.) as I tried to lower the intensity of the heat which threatened to increase my blood’s activity to an emulsion of boiling rage.

I should think about what I am going to eat for dinner, instead??!! THAT’S PREPOSTEROUS! I could not wrap my brain around that thought any more than I can wrap my brain around the fact that my life’s love died right in front of my eyes as I verbally eased him into the next realm.

I immediately began formulating a name for her theory.

Last winter, I helped Carol shovel out her driveway during all of those consecutive snowstorms. She had been gracious and caring enough to invite me to stay with her every single weekend after Chris’ death because I could not be alone. The least I could do was help her clear the mounds of snow which dropped from the heavens all winter long. As we shoveled, it became apparent to me that my grief could be put on hold, as long as I continued to work. Equating my grief to mounds and mounds of snow was helping me to see that eventually I would be able to dig myself out of my grief just as I was digging myself out of white, mountainous walls.

The name I gave that theory last year was “The Murphian Theory of Grief Redemption though Hard Labor. “ Carol and I then founded “Murphy House”, a halfway house for grieving widows to go perform arduous, physically taxing feats in order to assuage their grief. It really worked as long as I shoveled. But shoveling can be exhausting and inevitably, I would end up in her guest room in tears, screaming inside and out from the gaping hole left in my very being. Still, I left there with the knowledge that as long as there was work to be done, I could find refuge from my despondence.

After the coworker comments of this past Monday, I coined another theory. This theory’s name changes with the entree du jour. For instance, Monday night the theory was called, “The Pork-choppian Theory of Grief Recession through Meal Planning” and tonight I called it “The Cheeseburgian Theory of Grief Recession through Meal Planning”. My friend, Robby, isn't’ even grieving anybody’s death, but he joined in the fun as well, founding “The Meatloafian Theory of Grief Recession through Meal Planning”.

Anyway, that’s the way this particular theory works, proving once again that unsolicited advice can lend itself not only to inducing rage within my very core, but also to some pretty silly humor.

I’m angry with her for offering her advice and oh, so thankful to her for leading me to discover my second theory on grief.

Monday, December 19, 2005

My Love

Guilt is threatening to take me over tonight.

Having gone Christmas shopping this past weekend and this evening has made me feel as though I have completely disrespected Chris’ hatred for the holiday. I never hated Christmas, but Chris hated it so much that it was always difficult for me to feel good about buying gifts for people. He didn’t hate the holiday, itself, or being around his loved ones. He was only against the commercialism of Christmas. I am not. So why do I feel like I have done something wrong?

It isn’t fair that on top of the grief, sadness, loneliness, trauma and anger that I feel, that guilt seeps into the mix wherever there is room. When I’m feeling guilty, which is usually the case, I have butterflies in my stomach, I feel like crying but I can’t and I hate myself. I feel as though I am going against Chris’ wishes and I can no longer explain to him that I actually enjoy the holiday season. W/hen he was here, I could do that and he understood. He was so good. Now, I feel like wherever he his, he’s mad at me. I don’t want him to be mad at me. I don’t know how to stop feeling guilty.

I still view my money as “our” money. That’s six years of conditioning I can’t break. I don’t want to break it. I want Chris to come back and hate Christmas. I want him to come back and worry about money.

I hate being alone. I cry too much. I can’t help myself. Everybody keeps telling me that it’s still early, it’s still going to take time, it’s still new.

I t d o e s n ‘ t f e e l n e w.

I hate this. I’m losing sight of the reasons I usually gave in to Chris. I loved him. That’s why. There are no words to describe how I felt when the stress went out of his face and was replaced by a smile. I possessed the ability to calm Chris and seeing him calmed, in turn, calmed me. I don’t want anyone to ever think he was anything but wonderful to me. He was perfect for me. My perfect man.

In a lot of my grief books, people mention that when a spouse dies, a common behavior for the widow is to place her deceased loved one on a pedestal and talk only about how wonderful her husband was. I’m not doing that. My husband really was wonderful. Wonderful in his hatred for Christmas, in his fear of running out of money, in the way he got angry with me about my fear of bugs and in the way he got annoyed with me for having too much energy. He was wonderful in his technilogical know-how, his many voices, his appreciation for utter silliness. In his adorably shleppy walk, in the way he loved cooking shows and documentaries. All of those facets are gone from my life now. There is nobody to appreciate my offbeat humor and I am terrified that there never will be again and I'm also terrified that there might be again, someday and that I'll forget who my sweet Creej was. I'm caught right in the middle. Those things were real. They sometimes hurt, but I would give anything to know that he was in the other room fuming because he had to kill a centipede for me to stop me from freaking out.

I hate cancer. I know there is a part of me that still doesn’t understand that he’s never coming back. HE IS NEVER COMING BACK. Why is that so difficult for me to grasp?

I’m so empty without him. I can’t figure out what my purpose in life is. I would endure a lifetime of Christmas hatred if only to have him by my side again.

I am physically uncomfortable. My skin aches. My throat hurts. I’m exhausted but I’m unwilling to go to sleep. I will though, once the Ativan kicks in.

I sat on the couch for most of this evening, thinking about things I wanted to be doing. I didn’t do any of them. I couldn’t. I felt overwhelmed by the few things I wanted to do. I usually feel overwhelmed these days.

I want him back.

I just want him back.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Dimensions of Dimentia

I dreamed about Chris again, right before I woke up this morning. This dream was a dream about letting go, I think. Chris was in the room with me, but he wasn’t mine. There was another woman in the room with long, straight, brunette hair. I never saw her face, just what she looked like generally. She was pretty. Chris belonged to her. A couple of times, I reached my hand out to touch his but pulled it back before we connected because it wasn’t right. He belonged to her.

I guess my dream mirrors my reality. I constantly reach out to touch my sweetheart, but he’s no longer in this dimension with me. He's in another dimension or I am in my own dementia. own, sweet, soothing dimentia.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


I e-mailed Chris’ friends from Vermont shortly after Thanksgiving and his birthday just to check in and see how everyone was handling the anniversaries.

Good morning, everyone.
I'm just checking in to see how you're all doing and how Chris' birthday went for all of you.

I found the day and Thanksgiving to be extremely lonely and very difficult to get through, which is why I knew I couldn't spend it with you as I had originally thought I would.

As it turned out, celebrating his birthday was not the best idea. I realized part way into it that I was just waiting and waiting for him to show up to his party.

Very hard.

Live and learn, right?


Hey there Robin,

Sorry the day(s) were so hard.  I was thinking about you.  My grandmother called me that afternoon (Wed.) to let me know she had dedicated the 9 AM Mass in Chris' honor at her local parish - she set it up last January, I was impressed she remembered - but that's a grandma, right?  :)  I spent the day thinking a lot about him, "talking" to him, thinking about the last week I spent with him.  My boss at work here has been super supportive, and knows this is on my mind.  She clipped a newspaper article about coping with grief at Christmas.  I couldn't find it on line, but will try to photo copy it and send it your way.  Thought you might enjoy my response to her:

"The funny thing about Chris is that he HATED Christmas.  The commercialism got to him, and he never had very much, so he always bashed it, which was amusing, because he wasn't truly nasty about it, he just expressed his objections freely.  The irony that he entered the hospital Christmas Day was not lost on us.

Mindy did a double take when she realized that the entire Christmas week through NYE will be anniversaries of Chris' death/dying, and that my Mom's birthday is NYE (12/31/44).  She thought that was a lot at once.  Maybe, maybe not.  I think while my mom is still here it doesn't feel overwhelming, but when she does pass on...I guess I don't think about that much.

Attached is a picture Chris' mom sent around on his birthday (11/23).  I don't think I've shown you one where he actually had hair.  And I still remember sitting with him that last week and him scratching his head and saying how happy he was his hair came back, and he hoped it would stay.  I told him I didn't think he needed to worry about that."

Mindy (social worker) had told me that it is common for people to relive these experiences on the first anniversary of it, and told me to be prepared that I would be re-running the events as they happened.  And she's right, I know it already.  The car breaking down on our way.  Waiting for the tow.  The tow.  The trip down.  Missing "the Vermonters".  Seeing him for the first time and thinking he looked so Hispanic, I didn't recognize him immediately.  The daily visits, his thinking we ordered pizza, having a smoke right there in the living room, talking to/sitting with him...and then NYE & the next day.  I'm still sort of amazed that it gets to me the way it does, though I understand it's normal.  Guess I just didn't expect it.

I still think that if you even toy with the idea of celebrating Chris' birthday, either start at his last one & count backwards, or pick a random date to celebrate each year.  Do something silly like celebrate his 14th birthday or something.  Or just take the time to remember him, and screw the cake (chocolate's OK though).
Anyway.  Take care of yourself, and make good on your promise to get up here when the snow is gone.


I'm not really into birthdays and generally don't keep track of them. So, one side effect of that attitude was that the milestone of Chris' birthday didn't have much effect on me. I thought maybe I was fine. But now, as I set up my rehearsal schedule and setlists for First Night and start to make plans to go back home for Christmas and do a gig (Dec. 21) at the Skellig I can feel my heart get heavier.

Now, it's starting to come back. I'm remembering a hairless Chris with his Red Sox winter hat in the "audience" (pretty much just Chris, my sister and a few barflies) at my Skellig show last year. Remembering that surreal last visit as he was in his words "just cancering out."

Remembering playing in Rutland and feeling so far away from him and from everyone and driving home on that clear cold night knowing there would be a phone call coming with the final news...

Oy, the holidays suck sometimes don't they?


I've tried to respond to you a half dozen times, and each time I become bogged down in sentiment (which I despise) or morbidity. Chris' death and my father's are all mixed up in my head. I hadn't finished mourning one when I had to begin mourning the other.

His birthday was tough, but Thanksgiving was worse. Almost like it being past and over was more depressing. Frankly since the weather turned cold, I've been pretty down with the memories of this time, last year.

I'm not looking forward to the coming holidays. I don't usually anyway, but this year, I'm doing as much as I can to avoid them. You know, Burrage was the only other person I knew who felt about Xmas as I do, the only one who"got it" if I said anything negative about this sacred secular gift-fest.

I miss him in so many ways, not just for times past but all the current and future things, too. When you guys moved back from L.A. I was so psyched, cause I'd really felt like I lost touch with him out there, and now we'd have a chance to reconnect. And with my kids, who take up a lot of my time, I still thought, well, when they get older, it'll be easier, we'll have time. And of course, we didn't. It's so stupid and I don't know why I'm dumping this on you. You see why I've deleted all the previous attempts to respond, this is where they always lead. He was unlike anyone else I knew, and I drank him a toast and ate a grilled cheese sandwich on his birthday.

Anyway, we'll all get through this, all these firsts, and the seconds, and I don't know if it gets easier, maybe we just get used to living with it. I do hope you can come up where the spring returns. I'd love to see you.


I sort of thought about Chris' birthday for sometime. I have a tough time remembering birtdays but there are always those that stick in my head. Obviously Chris' was one of them, along with my other roommates. I had just recently talked to Mike Dziura, in early November, to find out about his newborn baby. Also I wanted to wish him a belated Happy Birthday. This got me thinking that Chris' was coming up. But what made me really think about missing Chris is when Dziura told me that he named his child Gabriel Christopher, in memory of Chris. I thought that was really great and a nice memory. I miss him and on that day, all I could do was wish him a Happy Birthday and toast him.

Thank you for sharing.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Yesterday at an executive meeting, everyone was under extreme stress and very tired. Emotions were running high and some people were arguing.

One of the executives made an interesting statement that caused everything to pop into perspective again. He said, “Well it’s not the best day of my life, but it’s not the worst day, either.”

I took a breath and found that I could breathe easily again. That’s a nice statement to keep in my back pocket in case I ever need to whip it out and breathe again.

However, the thought also sent me on a trip through my memory and unlocked some of my terrors. A fast train of recollection began speeding straight at me as I broke the thought down into fragments.

“...not the worst day, either.”
“...not the worst day...”
“...the worst...”
“...the worst day...”

The worst day. The worst day of my life. The worst day of my life. The worst day of my life.

The thought occurred to me that the question, “What was the worst day of your life?” used to be a difficult question for me to answer. I can distinctly remember thinking such thoughts as, “Well, there was that time when I had to work thirteen and half hours straight, but then again there’s the day I dropped out of school. No, wait. The worst day of my life was when I had to push my stupid moped home in the 85 degree heat wearing my long-sleeve white button down shirt.”

The worst day of my life. I thought, “Was it the day that Chris died? Was it the day he got diagnosed, or the day he got re-diagnosed? Was it the first day without him in my life?”

No. The worst day of my life wasn’t any of those days. The very worst day of my life was the day the doctors told Chris they were going to stop treating him and send him home for “comfort care” which really means “to die”. Doctors sugar coat the term to maintain any semblance of denial the doomed one’s loved ones might be feeling. I say, “Who cares?”, the shock’s going to come, might as well be sooner as opposed to later, just give it to me straight. Instead, I became confused. Was he going to die? I still didn’t know the answer. Nobody would tell me how long he had left to live. Nobody, until I finally found a social worker who was willing to let me in on the big secret. I was in the family room with Bonnie, Robby and Carol and I told her that nobody was being straight with us.

“I don’t know how long I can expect him to live! Nobody will tell us! Do you know? Please tell me how long.”

The next minute was the worst minute of my life. Her words freed me from my prison of denial.

“About four days.” she said, stripping me of the last shred of fight I had left in me. I can still remember the fortress of strength I had built for fourteen months come crumbling down. There was nothing more to be done.

I can’t remember whether the social worker told me about the four days before of after the doctors surrounded his bed and delivered the news to Chris. I just remember Chris looking at me, stroking my arm and saying to me, “You’re taking this very well.” It was his way of saying “Thank you for not falling apart.” I said to him, “Well, I’ve known for a while.” which leads me to believe that I was told about the four days before he was told he was being sent home. I don’t know, though. I can’t remember.

On the worst day of my life, I had to make phone calls to every single one of his friends and deliver the news. I had to hear them all break. I only remember fragments of their reactions. Crying, disbelief, shock.

I don’t even remember what day that was. I suppose it must have been December 29th.

Then to add further confusion to my inability to recall the timeline, Bonnie called me on my cellphone, but she had misdialed and when I answered she said, “He’s dying, Renee.” and I yelled at her. I said, “He’s NOT dying. They never said that.” because they hadn’t said it. No.


I remember that whole day as though I was watching it through somebody else’s eyes. I can still remember what i looked like from down the hall. I have vivid memories of seeing myself way down the hospital corridor, sitting on the gurney, making my phone calls and then sitting on the floor making more phone calls. That’s really scary. I think that was part of the shock, an out-of-body experience.

I had been wearing the same clothes for four days. I had never removed my hiking boots the whole time I was there. I slept in the family room and in the chair in Chris’ room wrapped up in my winter coat and I couldn’t get warm, no matter how wrapped up I was. At the end of his four-day stay, somebody, maybe my sister, brought me a change of clothes. I remember throwing my socks away. There was nothing more I could do for them.

I only slept outside of his room once. Bonnie said he asked for me during the night and when she told me, I felt so guilty, so horrible for not being there. I was beyond exhausted though, and I had to sleep. Chris was eating nothing buy popsicles and root beer by that point raving about how delicious they were. Oh, my heart.

This entire flashback took place all because of a statement one of the executives said at yesterday’s meeting. A positive statement.

Ah, sweet triggers.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

We Will Meet Each Other after the Show

Last night was exceptionally tough for me. Actually, the entire day was really rough. I stayed home the entire day, except for a short stint spent at Target shopping for household cleaners and such. I’m considering staying home all day, today, too.

For the past year, I have been running, running, running in a half-conscious attempt to run away from my own thoughts. The thought of spending two days with just myself has filled me with terror since last January. I have often dreaded my first head-cold when I have to call in sick to work and play hostage to my symptoms. I spent my last head-cold packing up Chris’ clothes and considering my bottle of Ativan as a delicous afternoon snack. Bad times.

I dreamed about Chris last night. Right before bed and after using almost an entire box of tissues on my steady flow of tears, I begged him to come into my dreams and just like a Christmas gift (although Chris would not appreciate the analogy) there he was.

We were going to a play together at a theater which held the same status as Boston’s own Huntington Theater. (In life, Chris and I liked to go there, using our free tickets that StageSource gave out regularly.)

When we got there, we split up because he had some technical things to take care of backstage. I found a seat right up front, center stage but realized that because the stage was so high, I was going to have trouble seeing the actors. I decided to move to the balcony, center stage. When I got there, it occurred to me that Chris didn’t know where I was and I didn’t know how he was going to find me. Suddenly, I relaxed, knowing that he would find me. He always did. Then it occurred to me that it didn’t really matter whether he found me or not, we could both enjoy the play and talk about it later. I stopped worrying and blanketed myself in the trust that we would meet each other after the show.

At one point, I had left the balcony and I was sitting at floor level, falling asleep in my chair. My vocal coach (whom I am extremeley fond of in life) showed up crouching down next to me. I felt instant warmth and smiled at him. I’m not sure whether we exchanged words or not but his being there comforted me.

Eventually I went back up to the balcony and there was my Creej, talking with a group of techie-friends, wearing dark pants, a tee-shirt, his brown courdorouy jacket, glasses and a baseball hat, just as in life. He was a sight to behold, so adorable that my heart inflated to triple its normal size and I was filled with euphoria which brought tears to my eyes.

That’s the way Creej usually made me feel. It was nice to dream about that feeling again.

Yesterday, I cleaned my entire apartment from top to bottom, which has already alleviated some of the chaos, confusion and stress in my life. Today, I’m going to continue to memorize my monologue for next week’s lesson, and begin and possibly complete my online GoLive class, which has been another source of great stress for me. I may or may not make it to the gym, but it doesn’t matter at all. Methodically checking off my list these past two, very emotional, very productive days has really helped to clear my mind, my plate and put me back on the road to being okay for a while, although I know that road is a winding, twisting one.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

More Tears

I think I may need to find a support group with other women who have been through what I have been through.

This has been exceptionally tough on me, especially over the past month. I think it’s because the one-year mark is approaching. I can’t believe that in just two weeks, Chris will have been dead for a year. How can that be? I keep hearing myself ask that question over and over again and tonight I realized that for the past year I have been fighting the truth, telling myself that it can’t be, that this can not have happened. With the one-year anniversary, the truth is hitting me with enormous force almost too powerful for me to handle. Almost. I must be crazy. Nobody cries this much. I have been erupting into fits of tears for over a year and a half. I’m so tired.

Maybe it’s time to talk with others like me. I’ll find somebody. Bonnie suggested a professionally-run grief support group. It’s important that the mediator be someone who can prescribe extremely heavy medication for me. Just kidding. It is important that he/she knows what to do with my grief, anger, sadness and self-pity when they rear their ugly heads.

I have been fighting being initiated into what I have come to call “the widows club”. I don’t want to be one of them. We have nothing in common. They cry all the time and feel sorry for themselves and can’t get off the couch and out of the house, and they’re not married. Except that sounds a lot like me. Not all of it. I do cry all of the time and and I’m no longer married, a fact that is k i l l i n g me, but I do go out and I have returned to school. Marriage was important to me, but it’s gone now. I was such a good wife and I’m so loyal. Why did my husband have to die?

I already know the answer. This isn’t, nor was it ever about me. That’s the answer and it doesn’t make me feel one bit better. I know this wasn’t done to me. It just happened. But I still feel like God could have stopped it, changed it, fixed it.

I don’t know what my purpose is supposed to be in any of this. I just know that I feel like I don’t have a purpose anymore. Chris was my purpose. Every time I cry, I feel like he’s watching, feeling sad for me and wanting to comfort me. It’s a crock. He’s dead. D E A D. Gone.

At least that’s how I feel tonight.

Thursday, December 8, 2005


Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of Chris’ second diagnosis. I remember it as if it happened yesterday. I was at work, awaiting his phone call, certain that his doctors appointment was going to result in the knowlegde that his pain was being caused by adhesion from his recent surgery.

In hindsight, I think I may have been in denial. Adhesion was the safe bet to go with but even so, I think I remember being terrified that Chris’ cancer had come back. I didn’t want to think about it so I convinced both of us that he was suffering from scar tissue.

I don’t even remember what time he called me. The entire timeline from the past two years is nothing but a big blur. I can’t remember whether things happened before the surgery, after the second diagnosis, after Chris died, before Chris died...I simply can’t remember.

I know he called sometime in the afternoon. I was at my desk at work. When I answered my phone, I asked, “What’s going on?” and Chris replied, “Well, it’s not good.”

“What?” I asked. “Just tell me. I’m tough. I can handle it.” I said. Chris told me, “I have tumors on my liver.”

We talked a bit more about it and what it meant and what our next course of action would be. He was slotted to begin chemo treatments the very next day and for the first time since he got cancer, Chris asked me if I could come with him. I did. A year ago today, I was sitting with Chris at Dana Farber while they pumped that poisonous chemo through his veins.

I remember his doctor stopped by and said, “I think it’s working. He looks great, doesn’t he?” I said, “Yes he does!” beaming at the doctor’s words. He wouldn’t have said that if Chris wasn’t going to live. Except that he would say it. And he did say it. I understand why. If so much of cancer recovery is based on the patient’s belief that he or she will live, then it makes perfect sense to try to pump them up in any way possible.

For five days straight, I drove Chris to chemo, sat with him, stayed with him, loved him, took care of him and hoped against hope that he would be okay.

When his first round of treatments was finished, I drove him home to begin recovering from it. I didn’t go back to to work. He needed me. I did leave the apartment once to rush out and get my flu shot for Chris’ protection. For fourteen months I did everything for Chris’ protection. I got a flu shot, sanitized the bathroom, the doorknobs every surface and the air. I changed the sheets constantly, washed my hands obsessively and tried to make sure he drank enough water so that he wouldn’t become dehydrated.

Three weeks after that round of chemo, Chris still had not recovered. He reported feeling dizzy abd being short of breath. He couldn’t walk across the room without running out of breath and becoming exhausted.

Bonnie e-mailed the doctor to ask about experimental treatments. He told her that Chris would be a good candidate but in order for it to happen, the chemo would first have to have some effect on Chris’ tumors. He typed, “...and frankly, I’m very worried.” He knew. He constantly tried to make Chris believe he was okay, even though he knew the truth. Chris really trusted him.

The morning that I ran out to get my shot, I was in a complete and utter panic. I couldn’t leave him but if I didn’t leave him, I risked bringing the flu home. I had no choice. I sat on the floor next to the couch Chris was lying on and told him I would be right back. I remember his lips were covered in blood. I was really scared and told him. Chris said, “Yeah. That happens sometimes.”

Because I had not gone to past apointments with him or stayed out of work, I had missed so many horrors during Chris’ illness. I still can’t believe what he had to go through and that he chose to go through it alone. It was his way of holding onto as much independence as he could.

I got to the doctors office twenty-five minutes early and freaked out. The thought of waiting there while my Creej writhed around in a chemo-induced haze was way too much for me to bear. I walked up to the window and pleaded with the clerk to take me right away. I told her my husband was home alone enduring intense chemo side-effects and begged her to send me in right away. She did. I was home ten mintues later.

I spent the next couple of weeks enduring my husband’s pain, his moans, his discomfort and his depression and loss of will. For the rest of my life, I will never experience pain worse than witnessing that and being completely helpless. There was nothing I could do for him. Nothing.

I wished I was in pain, too. That was all I could do. I wanted to help but I couldn’t. I wanted to take his pain and his fear away but I couldn’t . I wanted him to not have had cancer. I wanted to return to happier times, to get married again, to go away together.

Now all I want in this entire world is to feel him hugging me again and to see his beautiful smile and to have his friendship again

If I lost everything else in this world and at least had those three things, I would have everything I needed. I did have everything I needed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

All the Rage

Rage is an emotion that paralyzes me so that I can do nothing but sit in front of the television hoping the sound will drown out the demons in my head. So far it hasn’t.

Wanting the rage to dissipate, wanting to cry but being unable to, wanting it to all go away and wanting Chris to come home and be with me again are some of the driving forces behind all the rage I feel. I am often paralyzed, wishing I never had to see him looking thin, drawn, scary and beaten down by his disease and by the belief and knowledge that he wasn’t going to beat it this time. I wish I didn’t have these memories in my head. I wish I had no memories of sitting next to his hospital bed, wishing the fucking nurses would let him rest.

I remember driving him home at the end of his eight-day stay in the hospital after his surgery. Chris hadn’t seen the light of day for eight days. On the way down Brookline Ave, he said about the people walking around, “It’s such a beautiful day. These people don’t know how lucky they are to be walking around.” I glanced over at him and a tear rolled down his cheek. My heart snapped during that moment and I don’t believe it has ever repaired.

How can the only man I have ever felt completely accepted and loved by be dead?

I hate to sound whiny but life just is not fair. I don’t think I ever really understood that to the depths that I understand it now. Chris death was so final. There is nothing I can ever do to put everything back together.

I had everything I ever wanted and it slipped right through my fingers.

Last night, as I drifted into dreams the tape that played over and over in my head was “All my fault, all my fault, all my fault...” I don’t know why, really. Logically, of course I know it wasn’t my fault. How could I have caused him to have cancer?

I hate that I remenber the moment he told his mother over the phone. I hate the way he looked at me and smiled when he got the diagnosis. I hate so many things.

I may be losing my stand-off with a drug-free recovery. I don’t know if I can go on feeling this way for too much longer. Maybe Clay will have some insight. I wish he had a hug. That’s really what I need.

Right now I have got to stop lashing out at my friends, fighting absolutely everything and getting angry with people for no good reason. I’m acting out and I’m not sure how to stop myself.

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Feelin’ Greevy

For the past few days I have been feeling wonderful, but also feeling worried and a bit at unrest because I feel so wonderful. There has been no grief but plenty of guilt because there is no grief.

Tonight, I grieved and I have to say, grieving does not feel better than euphoria. My guilt was asuaged, though, so that’s a good thing. I keep toggling between guilt and grief. The absense of one summons the other.

I still feel as though I have been punished for something I did, even though I do not know what that something is. I don’t know what I could have done wrong to have the man I love taken from my life. Some people have told me that God is not a punishing God. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. I don’t get to know and I don’t get to be a wife, anymore.

I was so proud of who Chris was that I almost couldn’t stand it. He came to an open mike with me once, maybe twice, but certainly no more than that. I liked when he came because I got to show him off. Now I’m back in the trenches with the rest of the single women and I don’t want to be.

What if I end up with a man who wants to come to every open mike with me? What if I end up with a man who doesn’t laugh as much as Chris did? What if he is nothing like Chris. I don’t want that to happen.

Tonight, as I often do, I imagined myself living with Internet Guy. The poor thing doens’t even know that I’m already living with him, making pizzas with him, ordering out and considering marrying him. Tonight, in my imagination, he wanted to come to the open mikes with me. I got upset and cried because he is not my Creej. Nobody ever will be.

I’m going to sleep. I’m very VERY tired. I’m going on seven days of five hours sleep per night. I need more sleep than that.