But People Want Happy Posts

I know it. When people read a blog on WP, they’re looking for happy posts that make them feel good. And I try. I post memes, jokes, stuff that might bring a smile.

But I don’t feel that way. I rarely feel that way. And as the pain in my neck and back from the accident refuses to subside, creating a feedback loop of pain>stress>anxiety>more pain, I feel even worse.

Yesterday I was overwhelmed with this thought: Everyone that you know and love will die. You will watch them die. You will suffer for them and mourn them but there is nothing that you can do but watch as they disappear. And then you will slowly forget them. First you’ll forget their voice. Then their face, the things they wore, good and bad times that you had, everything, it will all disappear like a sandcastle during high tide. All that will be left is a gravestone that people step over to visit other gravestones.

I know this for a fact. I can’t remember much about my grandfather, who died 22 years ago, when I was 18. He’s a mirage, a glimmer in my memory. I can’t remember my mom’s voice. She died 5 years ago. I’m having trouble remembering Valerie’s. She died four years ago. Soon they will vanish as if they never existed.

And the best case scenario is that we die first, so that we don’t have to endure those losses.

Anyway, here’s a funny meme.

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Guilt or the Void: Facing a Lover’s Death

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On Tuesday it was four years since Valerie died. I admit, it’s getting easier to accept, though I still had a good cry on the way home from the grave. Certain songs still trigger tears, and I dream about those days around her death several times a week. I live them over and over: a twisted Groundhog’s Day with no conceivable end. There is no end to Love when it’s snatched away.

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On Turning 40

(This is a bit introspective, but it’s my party and I’ll kvetch if I want to).

I keep telling myself that it’s just a day. I’m one day older than yesterday, no more, no less. But that’s not true. A birthday isn’t a day, it’s a milestone, a click in you lifetime that doesn’t mark time, but experience. It’s a scenic rest stop on the highway where you get out of the car, stretch your legs, and look at where you’ve been.

I have experienced 40 years on the highway, and I’m looking back. And the road behind me is not impressive. It’s gunk and potholes and endless, endless construction. It’s like driving through Northern Jersey.

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When you’re young, you love birthdays. They’re about excitement and joy and parties with friends. I’m not having a party. I have panic attacks when there are too many people around, and I don’t have many friends any more. I don’t really like bars. I don’t have room to have people over. When my dad turned 40, we threw him a big surprise party in our house…we had a house! I only know a few people my age that have houses.When my mom turned 50 we threw her a party at a hotel. I always thought that I’d have the same. I wanted what my parents had. Family, friends, and a place to celebrate with them.

Anyway, when you’re young, it’s about celebration. When you’re old, it’s about introspection. I think about my life: where I’m at, my successes, my failures, my flaws and things left undone. I think about the roads not taken, and whether they would have made a difference. I think about “what ifs” and whether I can back track with what I know now.

It’s why people have mid-life crisises. They’re not about “oh my god, I’m getting closer to death.” It’s about “oh my god, why didn’t I make the left turn at Albuquerque?”

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I have a lot of regrets. I wish that I could’ve been there when my mom died. I wish that I was able to save Valerie’s life. I wish that I didn’t waste so much time. I wish…I wish the world would slow down so I can catch up. But I don’t wish for a sports car or anything cliche like that. I wish that I could’ve done more Good. I wish that I made more of a difference. I wish that people didn’t suffer because I didn’t act. I wish I had the power to make a difference.

I don’t. I can’t even help myself.

I can’t say whether I’ve had a good or bad life. There are hundreds of millions of people who have it far worse than I do, and just as many who have it better. I wasn’t dealt the best hand, what with all of my medical problems that keep me from living a “normal” life (whatever that is). But I haven’t been homeless in a few years, and I don’t have to beg doctors for medicine anymore. Whether that changes in the future, whether the bottom drops out and I live out my life in a group home or a cardboard box, I don’t know. Whether I’m dead in five years, I don’t know. But right now I’m alive and in a good place. 40 is not an age that I ever expected to reach, so I’m ahead of the game.

I hope that on the road ahead, I can do more than the road I’ve left behind. But the car is getting old and rusty. The shocks are going, the radio doesn’t work, and a dog peed in the back seat. And that road goes on forever, with or without me.

But I’ll have some cake. Cake will make it better.

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She Smoked Menthols…

She smoked menthols. Newports, I think, but they might have been Newport Lights, or 100s. It’s been almost four years, and these details have faded away.

She liked to wear black, but she had this tan, plaid skirt that she wore a lot. It looked good on her, but everything did. I loved how she did her makeup: dark eye shadow against pale foundation. It made those dark eyes stand out, but even on sleepy mornings, makeup free, long hair a mess, yawning and staggering out of bed in her Pac-Man pajamas that said “Eat Me,” her eyes always stood out. Maybe it was an illusion because I loved her so, but I don’t think it was. She was real, and her love held me together at a time when I was crumbling apart.

Tomorrow is Valerie’s birthday, and she will not be around for it. Val died in January of 2013. She is forever 35. She will not grow old like me. She will not grow old with me. She is permanently young in my memories, getting smaller in my rear view, details fading away.

But I know that she smoked menthols.

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Cabin Fever in the Springtime

Because of my recent medical troubles, I’ve been stuck at home. It’s killing me. Usually I love to be at home. I do my writing and editing here. It’s comfortable. My easy chair fits my ass perfectly. I have all the coffee I could want. Yet, it’s still killing me.

Normally I go out in the morning, either to the gym or too the park. I also walk dogs and do some obedience training at the local shelter, or just pick up trash along the road (I have a grabber, I don’t use my hands). But I can’t do that until I find out what is wrong with my heart. The doctor doesn’t want me doing anything strenuous, especially in the heat. Did I mention that something is killing me.

My heart has been acting all wonky. It starts out fine, but by early afternoon, my heart is pounding so hard that I can feel it in my fingertips. My blood pressure shoots up (usually 140/90, with a rapid pulse). I don’t know what’s going on. It’s like having a panic attack without the panic.

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I have a fear of death. I think most people do. My fear comes from worrying that I will die before I finish all of my stories, though I know that I inevitably will. With every story I write, a new one brews in my head. A day will come where I die without that story finished. It’s terrifying. Like all writers, I am an egomaniac. I feel that I have something important to say, even though I realize that my words are no more important than anyone else’s. Yet I keep typing away, and that fear of death before completion haunts me.

I like to think that my heart, my metaphorical heart, is good. But the real one isn’t. I was morbidly obese for many years. I’m on a ton of medicines, and more medicines to fight those side effects, leading to more side effects, etc. And I am not happy. I am not calm. I am nothing more than a morbid bit of flesh, and when I die, I will leave behind a few stories, a grave stone, and a pine box.

Being homebound isn’t just killing me, it’s making me think about death against my will. I want to be outside. I want to help at the shelter. I want to pick up trash. I want to do my service to the community, to repay all that they do for me. It seems that the universe has other plans.

There’s a Yiddish proverb: Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht. Man plans and God laughs. Maybe a better quote is from Robert Burns. The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, / Gang aft agley. That’s exactly how I feel. I am the man. I am the house. A house mouse.

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The Things You Forget

I wrote this yesterday, but I wanted to share it because it’s still hurting me. I expect that this will only get worse with time.

January 24th, 2013, 3 years, 3 months, and 3 days ago, my partner Valerie died. There was very little warning. She had just started her PhD in Writing at Binghamton, and I went up to visit her. The change from seeing her several times a week to rarely was getting to me. Our plan was that as soon as my lease was up, I would move there with her.

When I got there, she was seizing on the floor. She died 2 days later. It was a drug interaction between on old medicine and a new birth control.

I was visiting her to propose.

I’ve been an emotional mess all day, and I can’t stop weeping (there’s so more pathetic sound than a grown man crying). I think that today was some important milestone for me and Val, but I can’t remember what it was.

I’m losing my memories of her, one precious moment at a time. I have trouble remembering her voice, her scent, even the little giggle-dance she’d do when she was happy. I can’t remember which tattoo was where. She’s becoming a dream, where you wake up in the morning and only recall wisps and ideas. She was real, but she’s becoming imaginary, and there’s nothing I can do.

The things you remember hurt less than the things you forget.

Note: I think that I remember what that milestone was. Four years ago yesterday was the day that I first told Val that I loved her. I still can’t remember for sure. It doesn’t matter, she’s still fading away.

doge in space card redux

Happy Birthday Valerie

Tomorrow would’ve been Val’s 38th birthday. It’s still her birthday, even though she’s not around to celebrate it anymore.

It’s been a while since I talked about her. It’s still hard.

Valerie was my girlfriend, serious enough that we both knew marriage was our future. She died suddenly on Jan 24th 2013, due to complications from medicine. I was the one that found her. I was planning to propose that night.

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