5 years

Today marks the 5th year anniversary of my fiance Valerie’s death. I don’t have the spoons to really talk about it. Maybe tomorrow.

I always have nightmares about it, but for the past week, I’ve been having daymares too. I’ve been living and seeing both worlds, the present and past. On Monday I caught myself saying to a friend: “I find her today. Tomorrow she will be pronounced brain dead. Wednesday she will die.”

The past is in the present tense. So am I.

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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.

Guilt or the Void: Facing a Lover’s Death

craig-and-val-jan-14-2013

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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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

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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