Grief Diary: Six Months


When Male first died, I wanted time to pass really quickly. I wanted it to be ten years later, so that the griefhole in my chest would stop trying to suck me through it; so that I could listen to music again without crying uncontrollably and stop smelling his shirts.

Now that it’s been six months, I want time to slow down. I’m not ready for it to be six months later. In another six months, it will be a year and people will expect me to do things without him. People will start saying, “It’s been a year; you need to move on.” I live in fear of someone telling me to move on, partly because I’m not ready, and partly because I think I’ll stab the first person who tells me that.

I want the safety of having only survived one week, one month without him. Nobody bothers you for anything a month after the love of your life, the person you spent fifteen ridiculous years circling the relationship question with, up and dies on you. Nobody tells you to move on after one month.

Nobody has told me that at six months either, but I can see it coming. I can practically see the date circled on my mom’s calendar. Six months from now, she’ll start nagging me to get married again, like she did from the time I was of marriageable age until she gave up on Male and I ever tying the knot about ten years ago. Six months from now, she’ll try setting me up with her friends’ boring and nothing in common with sons like she did before Male and I met.

It needs to stay 2015, the year he died, forever. I can’t handle anniversaries of his death. I’m not ready for a year, but it will be here in the blink of an eye. I’m not even ready for six months, but it’s here. There are certain words that still send me into mini grief fits. There are songs I still can’t listen to. There are movies I can’t watch and books I can’t read. There are stories I can’t write.

Time passes so strangely during grief; fast and slow at the same time and everything else just fades away. 6 days, 6 weeks, 6 months… only the age of children and tragedies are measured in such small increments.

The other day, I ran out of deodorant and went to use his. It was dried up. I started crying. He left me dried up deodorant, and in typical Male fashion, a razor handle for one type of razors and an unopened box of razor refills for another type of razor.

I used all the refills I had for the razor he left, so I went to the store and bought a handle for the unopened box. I bought a razor, deodorant, hand sanitizer and something else I don’t remember now. When I laid all my purchases on the counter, being a graphic designer whose job is mostly color, I noticed aloud, “Everything I’m buying is blue.” The cashier looked at me, looked at my purchases, gave me a strange look and rang up my purchases.

He probably thought that there was someone with stubble waiting at home for that razor. It hurt that he didn’t know the truth. I wanted to scream that I’m buying a razor to fit the cartridges that my dead boyfriend left me, because I can’t just get rid of them. I have to use them, because it’s all I have left. Everything I’m buying is blue!

Maybe when I’ve used up all the razors he left, I’ll be ready to move on. Maybe the tears will have dried up like his deodorant. Maybe then, I can move on. All I know is, today, I’m glad that there are thirty of them in that box.

Grief Diary: A Birthday That Never Was

Male hated birthdays. He never celebrated them and tried to hide the fact from everyone he knew. He really kind of hated celebrations of any kind. His favorite holiday was the 4th of July because it didn’t involve familial obligation, getting dressed up or a sit down dinner.

I’m avoiding Facebook, which I’m sure has tons of maudlin crap on it that I don’t want to see. I really hate how death plays out on social media. The people who were closest to him aren’t on Facebook talking about it anyway. It’s all the others. I don’t want to see the others talking about him.

You know the others: the people who knew him when he was young, but hadn’t laid eyes on him in fifteen years. The ex-girlfriends, the former classmates and coworkers, the friends that drift apart. The ones who don’t invite you to weddings or christenings or parties anymore. The ones you don’t ask to help you move. The ones you don’t call at 3am when your car dies on the side of the 15 on your way home from Vegas.

Male didn’t care about the others either. He said, “I have enough friends” and he did. He was lucky to have a group of friends, his family, made up of people he could call any time, day or night, to help with anything and they would, even if they were in another time zone. Fuck the others. Fuck their Fakebook sadness.

How do you celebrate someone’s birthday when they’re dead anyway? Male wouldn’t want me to celebrate it, alive or dead. He’d want the day to pass like any other, but this year was a milestone birthday. He would have turned 40.

He always said he wouldn’t see it. He knew the odds were against him living four decades. It turned out, he was right and his rightness irritates me.

Just in the last few of years of his life, his thinking shifted from “I won’t live to see 40” to “maybe I can make it to 50.”  He didn’t think he would live to see retirement, but he started talking about 50 as if it was a thing that could happen. It was only in the last few years of his life that he started to think that maybe there was a future. That’s why he went to law school.

He and I both lived in what I call survival mode, running from day to day, only thinking about today or maybe tomorrow–never next week, next year, next decade. What do I need to survive now?

I was never quite as fatalistic as him with a hard and fast deadline like 40 or 50, but that’s mostly because I just don’t worry about how long I have. All I know is that I have today and maybe tomorrow if I’m lucky.

His shift to 50-thinking was contagious. I began thinking it, too. Maybe there is such a thing as a future. Maybe when he’s graduated law school, we can settle down somewhere new and have what passes for a normal life for people like us. Maybe there is a 50. But then, he went and died on me without giving me a future. It was only a mirage. There is only today and maybe tomorrow if I’m lucky.

His 50-thinking was never realized. He never even made it to 40. The fact that he was right about not seeing 40 pisses me off; not at him, but at a world that would take that away from both of us.

The last time I saw him, he said the rest of his life, until 50 as he saw it, was mine. I don’t think either of us thought that the rest of his life would measure less than two months from the time he said that.

Still, I am glad that he got to see the horizon before he died. I like the notion that, even briefly, he was able to believe in a future that was never meant to be for either of us.

Grief Diary: Shattering Worlds


When I found out that Dave–author, artist, blogger, and Rarasaur‘s husband–died, my heart didn’t shatter. It had already cracked the day after I found out that Male died (the first day was only haze), and it shattered a day or two after that. It took that long for the news that the love of my life died to really sink it.

My brain processed the news of his death like this droplet of water, only much, much slower:


It just hung out, desperately trying to break surface tension and mostly failing, creating successively smaller droplets before it ultimately blended with the rest of my heartache. My heart didn’t shatter when I heard about Dave, because there was nothing left to shatter.

The human brain is so slow sometimes. It’s absolutely astounding how unhurried it is about processing certain information. Nearly four months later (it will be 4 months in 3 days), my brain still feels like it needs to remind me that he’s gone and never coming back.

Heartbreak is measured in months and days. It has been three days, three weeks, three months… we measure in time chunks to keep going. I made it 3 months, I can make it one more.

Four months later, my brain is still processing the information. So slowly.

When I heard about Dave, I thought of Rara. I thought of how she would now have to walk through the same ground that I had just covered. She had to mark three days, three weeks, three months. Her brain would remind her ‘he’s gone’ over and over, and a hole would open in her center that would try to suck her through it. She would break down crying mid-sentence, because of a smell, a song, a memory that surfaced without permission.

I hate that anyone should have to go through that. If I could take on all the grief of all the people in the world just so no one else would ever have to go through this, I would. Carrying everyone else’s grief can’t possibly be much worse than carrying just my own.

So, I wrote her a letter and said that, when she got out, we would meet in person, and we would talk and cry. It was all I could do for her.

I didn’t think that through. It meant that I’d someday have to actually meet her in person, thereby, shattering the safe, insular world that I’ve painstakingly built between me as a person and me as a blogger. I envy those of you to whom it is the same thing.

Meeting in person means your barriers are all gone. People can see your body language and hear your tone of voice. You can’t edit what you say after you say it. You can’t hide the introvert/PTSD terror on your face when a waitress leans in way too close to do a triple take at your glowing, red, demon eyes. Nothing makes a bit of sense these days, so perhaps your lot in life now is demon. Okay then.

Then you realize that your eyes are actually glowing red, because they’re reflecting a nearby red umbrella and you’re not a demon after all. Some small part of you is disappointed, because being a demon would at least give you a sense of purpose.

Since Male died, the people I’ve wanted to talk to the most are the people who are going through this themselves, because they understand. I have a feeling that Rara would understand regardless, but the fact that she is going through it made me feel like it might be okay.

We didn’t talk about death and grief and terrible things all the time, but when we did, we talked about it with the ease that only people mired in the same damn muck can have.

Grief Diary: 3 Songs For Male


A few months before Male died, he asked me to come up with three songs that always remind me of him.

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Music was as important to Male as it is to me and he was a huge fan of the mix tape. He made one for me when we started dating and many others over the course of the fifteen years we knew each other.

He liked themes. His latest project was to collect songs from his closest people to form a musical landscape of himself. As far as I know, he never finished it, but since I’m still waiting for his computer four months later, I’m not sure.

I never gave him my selections. It’s not that I forgot. I didn’t. I decided to take the project seriously. I have a massive music collection consisting of music from nearly all cultures and time periods of human history. I’m not overstating; I have some renditions of traditional songs that date back thousands of years, and music from cultures I know nothing about or that don’t even exist anymore. 45,733 songs, 121.5 days, 211.89 GB according to iTunes. That’s a lot of music to wade through for just three songs. I started making a list.

Immediately after Male died, I couldn’t listen to about 90% of my music. Every song in some way reminded me of Male, even if it had no direct correlation. I had to create a playlist of innocuous songs and even then, the occasional memory came flooding back.

When he died, I gave up on the project of finding three Male songs, but I still owe him that. Originally, he gave me the caveat that I wasn’t allowed to use any songs that he already used on a mixed tape, but since he’s gone now, I’m breaking that rule.

Today, I’m doing Male’s list. These are songs that will always and forever remind me of him.

I could pick any Toots & The Maytals song and it would fit. I wrote about another one before when I did the 25 day song challenge.

Male was the one who fostered my love of all things Ska and Rocksteady. While I was a teenager, listening to the most hardcore of hardcores, Male was a rude boy with his red 9-hole Doc Martens, braces, flight jacket, and pork pie hat, which I have:


I was too punk for words and thought anything that wasn’t hardcore was for sissies. It wasn’t until I grew up a little that I realized how dumb I was. Now, I love all kinds of music. Toots is my favorite in this genre and I owe it to Male. Pressure Drop was his favorite Toots song.

It is you
It is you, you
It is you

I say a pressure drop, oh pressure
Oh yeah, pressure drop a drop on you
I say a pressure drop, oh pressure
Oh yeah, pressure drop a drop on you

I say when it drops, oh you gonna feel it
Know that you were doing wrong
I say when it drops, oh you gonna feel it
Know that you were doing wrong

Male put this song on his Mountain Mix. That was a mix he made for when he realized that we should be together, right after this night happened. From that point on, we were together-together instead of half-assing it like we had been for ten years, though we still never really defined our “relationship.”

The Mountain Mix was made expressly for taking me to his favorite place in LA. Somewhere between the valley and the basin of Los Angeles, there’s an old installation that was once used to keep an eye out for Japanese bombers during World War II. Since then, it has been used exclusively by local kids as a place to hang out and get drunk. Every square inch of the lookout is now covered with graffiti.

The panoramic view from the top of the mountain is positively breathtaking. You can see all of Los Angeles from the ocean to the desert. On a clear day, you can see all the way to San Diego. Here’s just a fraction of the view of the valley side.


Some incredibly industrious and crazy individuals carted an old sofa up to the top of the mountain at some point, so Male and I curled up on it as the sun was setting and watched Los Angeles grow dark. We never went there again and now that he’s gone, the way to get there is gone, too.

Male told me 8 through 12 in particular were for me. I sometimes forget that I wasn’t the only one who was terrified of our relationship.

One is a gun with a dart for my sweetheart
Two only you can remove such an ache, so
Three, let me see what you’ve got
what you’re made of
what you’re not
Four is sore, just a ripped and bloody claw
Five is a punching fist that’s within me
Six little stitches thread through my heart
Seven shining reasons tearing us apart
Eight, lose your hate
it’s a game
come on love me it’s your fate
Nine cold crimes in the night
please, forgive me
Ten are the tears that are frozen on your face
Eleven, I know I’m not your favorite man
Twelve, I’ll take you like only I can
Dart for my sweetheart

For some reason, almost all of my friends in Los Angeles are bigger fans of Danny Elfman and Elvis Costello than regular people anywhere else in the world. I’m not quite sure why that is, but it is a fact.

Male was no real exception to the rule, but he wasn’t as big of a fan as some of our other friends. Still, you could pretty much count on one Elvis Costello song ending up on a mix tape.

This song was on a mix tape he made for me right before he moved away to go to law school. I didn’t realize then just how prophetic it would be. Every time I hear it, I cry. And now I sing it to him. Thank you for the days.

Thank you for the days
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me
I’m thinking of the days
I won’t forget a single day believe me

I bless the light
I bless the light that shines on you believe me
And though you’re gone
You’re with me every single day believe me

Days I remember all my life
Days where you can’t see wrong from right
You took my life
And then I knew that very soon you’d leave me

But it’s alright
Now I’m not frightened of this world believe me

I wish today could be tomorrow
The night is dark, it just brings sorrow, let it wait