Life in the Coronaverse: Days 47 & 48




doge in space card redux


Ghosted By My Best Friend

One of the most important people in my life, one of my best friends and a former lover, a person I love more than myself, ghosted on me a few months ago. I keep looking at pictures of us and her daughter around my apartment. The tears come every time.

I will never see her again. I will never see her smile or hear her laugh. Her daughter, who I love as my own and even included in the dedication to Cold Iron, will never play with me or show me her stuffies and their life stories. I’ll miss every giggle. I’ll never push her on the swings. I’ll miss every birthday. In time I’ll be little more than a faded memory, and that’s if I’m lucky. Maybe in her world I’ll cease to exist.

I think that I know why she ghosted. Her current boyfriend doesn’t want her contacting me because we dated for so long, and our love is still palpable, even if it has turned to friendship. I’m the enemy. I’m a threat. And she loves him enough to do that. She doesn’t want to be alone anymore. And I understand because I know her so well. She needs him because he can give her what I cannot.

Nothing will repair this slash through my being. The heart heals when it’s a romance, but what about a friendship? I’ll miss her forever. I’ll miss her when I’m dead. And that’s how I feel inside.

I’ll miss her when I’m dead. I know because I’m already there.

doge in space card redux

Happy 40th Birthday Val

Friday would have been my fiance Valerie’s 40th birthday. She passed away suddenly on January 24th, 2013.

It still haunts me. I don’t think that you ever get over something like that. I don’t think you should.

I visited the grave, as I do every other month or so. I brought her a cake. I sang Happy Birthday and left a toy on her grave, this time a Wonder Woman figure. It suits her.

I know that it means nothing to her. How could it? If she could talk, she would tell me to stop. She’d tell me to let go.

Fuck letting go.

Happy Anniversary Katie!

Two years ago today, I went for a late evening cup of coffee with a woman that I met on Okcupid. It was spur of the moment, and I am the type that needs planning. There are no spurs in my moments, but for some reason, that night was different.

I’m glad that I wore those spurs…not literal ones, metaphorical.

Two years later, we’re still together. I am forty years old, and this is the longest relationship that I’ve ever had. I’m not an easy person to stay with, but Katie has been by my side though everything, health scares, failed novels, surgeries, and the every day worries that every middle-aged person has. She is there for me, and I am there for her.

I joke that “I’m glad that she settled,” but she didn’t. She just found the person that fit. I’m a lucky man that it’s me.

Katie likes to say that I take care of her, but the opposite is true. She keeps me sane. She lets me be myself. She keeps my mind from kiting me off somewhere, and tolerates my massive geekdom, horrible puns, and bad habits. She’s not put off by my idiosyncrasies (even when I am), like “book brain,” where I get lost in a story idea mid-conversation. She gets me.

I love her madly. I want to spend the rest of my life with her. If I’m lucky, I will.

Happy anniversary, my love.


guinea pig card

Guilt or the Void: Facing a Lover’s Death


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 Love, Or, Love On

I had a conversation with a friend of mine the other day. She is in a new relationship and madly in love with this guy. While talking about him, she said “I thought that I knew what love was with ____, but now I really know what it is with ____.”

I didn’t say anything at the time, and it wasn’t until later that I realized that something didn’t click with me. It’s about love.

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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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A Beautiful Day, A Hard Day

Today Mercy College’s English Department has its induction ceremony for the English Honors Society, also known as Sigma Tau Delta. Part of the ceremony is an award called The Valerie Z Lewis Award for Excellence in Creative Writing. I will be there to witness this, as I am and will every year.

Valerie was my girlfriend. She passed away very suddenly and tragically in January of 2013. Even after 3 years, the wound is fresh. I doubt that it will ever truly heal. Val was a fantastic writer, published in many literary journals, and a lecturer at Mercy. After her death, I compiled her published works into an anthology, where the proceeds go toward this award. Mercy is also considering setting up a lit magazine with some of the money. I know that Val would love that. She would be humbled, maybe even embarrassed, at the award, but she was always dedicated to her students. Giving them a chance to see their names in print, that’s something she would be proud of.

Valerie on fire escape from below

I have so much gratitude that they set up this award in her name. All people die, but something like this gives a slice of immortality. To be mortal, yet live forever. Can anyone hope for more?

I’ll be there, and I might cry. I’m always on the verge there. But I feel no shame. It hurts, it will always hurt.

Sometimes hurt is beautiful.

doge in space card redux


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