Grief Diary: Shattering Worlds

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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:

falling-water-drop

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

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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:

porkpie

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.

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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

Grief Diary: The Ultimate Break Up

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I didn’t get dumped. I did not get divorced. We didn’t break up. We aren’t taking a trial separation. We didn’t even fight.

Normally, when two people in a sort of quasi-relationship of fifteen years finally part, there are fights that escalate into fireworks, or conversely, the fire slowly dwindles until it silently goes out with a tiny puff of smoke coupled with the realization that you aren’t in love anymore and maybe you had nothing in common in the first place. How did fifteen years go by and you didn’t even notice that? How did you spend fifteen years with someone who maybe wasn’t even right to begin with?

I got no fights. No fireworks. There was no breakup. There was no arguing it. There was no driving by his house. There was no stealthily stalking him. There were no drunken late night text messages trying to regain what we lost. I got none of that.

There was no pleading, bargaining, convincing, winning or stalking. He just disappeared forever with a tiny puff of smoke. Having the love of your life die on you feels like the worst break up imaginable times ten.

The last thing I ever said to him was, “90 degrees in March. Fuck LA.” I’m not even sure he saw that text. He was probably already dead.

When he visited in January, had I known it was the last time we’d circle the subject of our relationship–that it was the last time I’d see those blue eyesthings would have been different.

When he asked me what I wanted from him, I wouldn’t have said, “I don’t know.” I would have said, “I want you, dumbass,”

When he asked, “What’s going on with us?” I would not have said, “Is there an us?” It was hurtful, stupid and cowardly.

When he said, “The next 3 or 4 years are yours. I can’t promise anything after that,” I would have told him that he’s an idiot. I already had everything he had to give.

I didn’t get 3 or 4 years after that. I didn’t even get 3 or 4 months. When he said, “I love you and I always will,” I would have forced him to mean it for more than two months.

I can’t argue or plead with him to take me back. I can’t stalk him or talk shit about him on Facebook. This is as final as it gets.

For fifteen years, other than the occasional slip, I never stopped being a chickenshit. Even at the end, I was a coward. I would only dip my toes when I should have jumped in.

He knew what I couldn’t say. He knew, but I wish I had told him.

You’re Fierce, You’re Beautiful & I Love You

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Quotation-Donna-Masini-grief-loneliness-Meetville-Quotes-2190

This is the name of a post that was in my draft folder. There was nothing here but a title dated long before Male died. Those words might not mean much to you, but another piece chipped off my heart and clattered to the ground when I saw it.

When I was at my worst, he took my face in both hands, forced me to look him in the eye, and he said, “You’re fierce, you’re beautiful, and I love you.” He said, “If you kill yourself, I’ll never forgive you.”

It hurt me to see how I was hurting him, so I got better.

He’s not here now. He’s gone away forever.

I have friends. I have you, but you won’t take my head in your giant paws, stare intently at me with ocean blue eyes, and tell me, “You’re fierce, you’re beautiful, and I love you.”

You won’t put your big, warm hand over my heart and tell me, “It’s right here. You and me. Right here.”

You won’t tell me, “Everything is going to be alright,” and make me feel like just this once, even though it never was before, just maybe, it might actually be alright this time.

You might tell me that, but I won’t believe you. It would be hollow and empty like everything else. I won’t believe you the way I believed him.

I don’t know what to do without the big hand on my heart. I go on living, because it’s easier than the alternative. I get out of bed, because it keeps me from thinking, but it sneaks through all my cracks anyway like a dust storm.

It still hurts so very much, this hole in my heart that he left there 130 days ago. It’ll never close up. Not entirely.

Grief Diary: 3 AM Throb

wood-ashes

I wake up at 3 am sideways in my bed, displaced by dog and cat. My mouth is throbbing from my latest dental excursion; visit two of four, replete with scraping and drilling and grinding and prodding and lasers in my mouth. Lasers in my mouth that smell of burning. It’s 3 am. I’m wide awake and in pain. I take some over the counter pain killers and it takes another two hours of fitful thrashing before I fall back to sleep.

3 am is a terrible, no good, useless hour when one has a work-a-day life. 3 am is too early to wake up, but too late to go back to sleep. It’s the hour when all of the terrible things you’ve ever done or said settle in for a good long visit. I call those the cringe thoughts and they always appear in the wee hours when I am trying, and failing, to sleep.

Later in the morning, my phone starts buzzing and beeping every three seconds. It’s Facebook Messenger, an application I never use, but I just got a new phone last weekend and forgot to turn it off.

“This message is for anyone who spoke to me directly about being there for the final dissolution of Male’s remains.”

What does that even mean? It takes a minute and more reading the conversation to realize that they’re talking about spreading Male’s ashes. The message is from one of Male’s oldest friends.

I know Male was cremated only a few days after he died. I know that some of his ashes were already spread in Philadelphia, where he grew up half the time. Male was the child of divorced parents who got along so terribly that living on opposite coasts of the United States seemed like the only reasonable solution. He really had two hometowns.

It hadn’t occurred to me that something eventually needed to be done with the rest of them.

Since Male died, all the arrangements have been made without me. Some through Facebook conversations I wasn’t privy to; some at the memorial, where I ran away screaming as soon as I could.

I feel like an afterthought. I wasn’t even added to this Facebook Messenger conversation until another friend said I should be included, so I missed over half the conversation that happened before I got there.

What is this “anyone who spoke to me directly” business? I didn’t give my opinion as to whether I wanted to be there for this spreading of ashes, because I didn’t even know this was a thing that was happening.

“I think you left the memorial by the time Male’s mom mentioned that I would be handling final disposition of his remains. Some of his remains were spread off the coast of Maine, some in Philadelphia and some released in balloons in LA.”

Wait, Maine? What the fuck does Maine have to do with anything? And what’s this about balloons? When the fuck did that happen?

After I left the memorial, they put some of Male’s ashes into balloons and set them loose over Los Angeles. How absolutely hokey. Male would have thought that was the dumbest idea ever. He would have hated that (and the bagpipes at his memorial). I can hear him saying, “Why not get some white doves while you’re at it?”

The more I read of this conversation, the less involved I feel in Male’s life after death, so to speak. I’m starting to get pissed, which is just masking the hurt that I am not involved in any of this except as an afterthought.

His friend continues:

“Male and I had a conversation back in the day about spreading his ashes on the ocean in northern California. If he expressed something different to you more recently, please, say so.”

Male didn’t give two twats about his remains. He believed that once you’re gone, you’re gone. There’s no more of Male in those ashes than there is of him in my little finger. He’s gone.

“I had no idea that any of this happened or was going to happen. I didn’t speak to you directly about ‘being there for the final dissolution of Male’s remains,’ because this is the first I’ve heard of any of it. Speaking of not hearing things, who has his computer? I’ve asked for several things he wrote for months and months now, and I still do not have them.”

That and many other questions went unanswered. I’m pissed. I’m hurt. I’m left out. In keeping with everything else regarding Male’s death, I was only added to the conversation later. His mother never even called me. Apparently, to his mother et al, being someone’s life partner for fifteen years counts for squat compared to people he knew from the time he was a teenager, yet rarely saw. I am the last person he talked to; the person he really talked to. It counts for nothing.

So, now I have to decide whether I want to drive hours and hours to be a part of this ash spreading business. Part of me wants to tell them all to fuck right the hell off. Some small control freak part of me wants to have a little tin of Male’s ashes all to myself, but then I think it would be creepy to keep my dead boyfriend’s ashes in a Folger’s can on my mantelpiece. Then, I remember I don’t even have a mantel. Death’s a bitch.

Grief Diary: Week Birthday

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I don’t have much to celebrate this year besides my new teeth and the fact that I am still somehow stubbornly alive. Today is my birthday, and as I’ve done every year since I could write, I write.

I started this tradition many moons ago, before the internet existed. I could quietly write my thoughts in my journal (alright, diary) and no one would see it. Most people didn’t even know it was my birthday at all. With the exception of my family and the odd human resources employee who would spread the rumor at work, no one would even know.

Had I known then that I would eventually write these birthday hubrises on the internet where literally the entire world could see it, I never would have started this dumbass tradition. Alas, here we are. The introverted misanthrope who generally dislikes birthdays publicly posting about my birthday.

Other than these stupid birthday posts, I don’t go around announcing my birthday. I don’t like the attention and I’m a member of the Bad Birthday Club. There are no membership dues or anything. All you have to do to join is have multiple bad birthdays. Highlights from bad birthdays past include an arrest report, a car accident, a black eye, the death of a pet and more arguments than you can shake a stick at. So, is it any wonder that I like to keep my head down?

This year, for the first time in fifteen, I get to “celebrate” my birthday without Male. I get to mark the anniversary of another year on this crummy planet and he isn’t here. I find that extremely unfair. The grief is particularly acute today and I don’t feel like celebrating. So, fuck birthdays. Instead, I made myself a ridiculous cake:

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Go on. Have a slice.

And if you haven’t yet, go read Rara’s unintentional birthday present at Stories That Must Not Die. It made me cry.

Grief Diary: Week 13

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A lot of you are getting engaged, getting married, having kids, going on vacations, doing coupley type things, enjoying your lives.

I can’t read about any of it.

It’s not personal and I certainly do not begrudge you your happiness. In fact, as much as I’m able, I’m very happy for you. I’m glad someone is happy, because that someone is not me.

Whenever I see a blog post about your happiness, I either skip it or I read until my heart hurts too much to read more, which is usually only a few sentences.

I don’t envy, resent or even mind your happiness; I just can’t be a part of it.

My heart still hurts. A lot. It just doesn’t seem to be getting any easier. The grief pangs are less frequent and piercing, but not any easier.

For the first month or so after Male died, I couldn’t look at his stuff. I couldn’t listen to music that reminded me of him. I tended to avoid anything related to him, even obliquely, which was a lot of things. Things that made me think of him were off limits.

Now, I’m missing all the things I should have gotten from his apartment. Going through my books, I’m pissed that I don’t have his books, his favorite Eagles jersey, his hats, etc. These are belongings I should have and I don’t. I want all of his things and I only have a few. The items I have of his are not especially sentimental. They’re things he purposely left me like his bed, television, and ugly lamp; or they’re unimportant objects he left at my place at random. I have a book on acing tort law.

Right after Male died, I told everyone who asked that there were two things I wanted of his: 1) a story he wrote about the two of us 2) his music collection. It’s been thirteen weeks and I still have neither of those things and I have no idea what happened to any of his belongings. Perhaps it’s for the best that I don’t have more of his stuff. Living in a dead man’s things isn’t all that healthy I suppose.

Still, I want that story. I want his music. I want more of him. I want to roll around in his stuff and wallow and weep, because there hasn’t been much weeping going on. I’ve shut down and my mind is busy building another wall around my heart, supposedly to protect it, but really, to trap us inside. There’s not much I can do about it.

Stuff is just stuff, even if it is, or was, his stuff. An ugly lamp, a PS3, a bed, a Damned shirt. That’s all that’s left of him. That’s all there is and all there ever will be.

Grief Diary: Week 8

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Yeah, so I skipped a week. Sue me. My shrinky dink wants me to write every damn day and I can’t even manage every week.

It’s been 8 weeks since the love of my life died. Dead. Gone. Forever. I’ll never get another hug.

Those sentences there are my personal test of my pain threshold. Writing that didn’t make me cry this time, but I did have a mild stab in the chest.

The searing pain of weeks 1-3 have been replaced by a mild soreness in the chest region. I’m still amazed that grief physically hurts. There are physical symptoms to losing your life partner. Who knew? I certainly didn’t until it happened to me.

Not a day goes by when I don’t think of him. My brain still factually reminds me every day that he’s gone. I’ll be brushing my teeth, doing laundry, or worst of all, waking up first thing in the morning, and my brain will chime in with, “He’s gone.” Yeah, thanks, brain, because I almost forgot for a millisecond that the person I love the most in the world is gone forever. Thanks for reminding me.

I am alone. There is no “us;” there is only “me.” In some ways, it’s kind of nice being single with an excuse. I don’t have to hear people nag me about being single. “When are you going to get married?” “Never. He’s dead.” I wonder how long it will take for people to start bothering me about singledom. I figure I’ve got at least a year before anyone tells me I need to “get out there again.”

The reminders are becoming less painful. There are still a few songs that I can’t hear at all and skip the second they come on, but for the most part, I can listen to about 90% of my music again, even music he gave me or is in some way associated with him.

I’m still avoiding Facebook, because fuck Facebook. From what I hear, the posting of pictures, stories, etc., is still going on, and some jackass even posted pictures taken at his memorial. Who does that? A memorial is not a damn party. I just don’t think it’s appropriate to take pictures of people grieving and then post them on Facebook. I don’t even know if I’m in any of them, because I don’t want to see that. I don’t really care.

I’m not numb anymore. I’m something else. I’m not sure what. My shrink called my mental state “brittle,” which is as appropriate a term as any. The dictionary defines brittle this way:

hard but liable to break or shatter easily

That’s about right. Hell, that could describe me in general. And my best friend sent me this:

263-c-happens-for-a-reason-card_1024x1024And this is why she’s my best friend.

The only person I want to spend any time with is imaginary: “One foot in front of the other, primate.” And so it goes; one step at a time.

Birth, Death & Weddings

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A friend of mine said that he’s willing to excuse most behavior under three circumstances: giving birth, getting married and during grief. I’m not so sure I agree.

This past weekend was incredibly awful for me. It was the memorial weekend of the love of my life. I’m partly relieved that it’s over and partly sad, because it means it’s over.

Friday night, I went to a pre-memorial family gathering of all our closest friends. When I got home in the wee hours of Saturday, the day of Male’s memorial, I took my dog out for a walk and found an envelope at my door.

It was a save the date announcement for a friend’s wedding. I opened it, saw what it was and threw it on the dining room table. It still sits exactly where I threw it.

Since then, I’ve asked a few people for their opinions on the matter, since clearly, I can’t be objective, but I haven’t asked you yet, so let me lay out the facts as unemotionally as I can.

I live right next door to one of my oldest and best friends, and his girlfriend of some ten years. Half the time, they’re not even in the same time zone. The other half the time, they’re arguing and making up in a sickly sweet manner–repeat to infinity. They’ve broken up a few times and one of them even moved out for about six months.

I am not too fond of her, but I don’t necessarily dislike her either. We just have nothing in common. We never have been and never will be friends. We tolerate each other, or at least I thought we did.

The night she dumped the save the date thing at my door, her fiancé was with me at the family gathering that she didn’t attend. Her house guests, who flew in specifically to attend the memorial, were also with us, so there’s no way that she forgot about the memorial. She knew exactly where I was and why.

She knew my relationship with Male, maybe not all the nit grit, but she certainly knew that we were very close and that when he visited, he stayed with me, because she lives right next door.

Other than being so obsessed with her own wedding that she somehow completely forgot that everyone in her fiancé’s life, especially me, was mourning a very deep loss, I can see no explanation for the timing of the delivery besides intentional hurtfulness.

Had she had dropped it off on Sunday, I would have thought it gauche, but I also might have understood wanting to hand them out in person to people who were here for the memorial, as long as it was after the memorial.

If the wedding was next month and therefore time sensitive, I might have understood, but the wedding isn’t until November–195 days from the day she dropped the save the date. One hundred and ninety-five days.

Had it come in the mail, I might have been able to excuse it with her not thinking through the date that it might be delivered.

But, none of that is true. She intentionally hand-delivered a save the date announcement to my door knowing full well that I wasn’t home and that I would receive it on the very day of the memorial for the love of my life–a man I will never, ever get to marry.

What am I supposed to make of that? What do you think? How would you handle it?

Grief Diary: Week 6

Male's oldest and most prized t-shirt gifted to me after his memorial.

I survived the memorial thanks to Klonopin and friends.

Klonopin, the only way to not lose you shit at a memorial.
Klonopin, the only way to not lose you shit at a memorial.

This week was terrible. The closer it came to Saturday, the day of the memorial, the more anxiety and the less control over my mental faculties I had. By Friday, I was a whirling mess. And of course, this week at work happened to be the week that a big wig from corporate headquarters came in to assess the goings on. I made two faux pas with her, and two more in front of her.

I asked the big wig where she was from because she had what I took to be a Philadelphia accent. I was right. I said, “I thought I recognized it. My boyfriend’s from Philly.” With the contraction, she couldn’t determine if I meant was or is, which was probably subconsciously intentional on my part, so she asked, “Is this your current boyfriend or an ex?” “Well, he died a month ago, so… um… both, I guess?” Awkward.

Six or so months ago, my company was bought by a company that also bought the company I worked for before that. I was sold with it. In the new fold, there was my former boss who still thinks he’s my boss, even though he isn’t anymore, and my actual boss, who is former boss’ mom. Not-my-boss and mom have been conspiring since day one to get me gone. They even wrote me up. The Get Rid Of Goldfish Plan got put on hold when Male died.

Thursday, I had a lunch meeting with a vendor, the big wig, not-my-boss and not-my-boss’ mom. I mentioned how the man who sold my company didn’t pay his bills. It turns out that this vendor is friends with him. I also told him about the time I was offered a bribe from another vendor. It turns out that the guy I had lunch with is a distributor for that vendor. This industry is too damn small and I should really learn to keep my mouth shut.

Then, as big wig was readying to go, I said, “Is this your last day here?” She said “Yes, it was great meeting you,” and held out her hand in what I took as a handshake. I guess she meant it as a high five, so in addition to all the other awkward, our final moments together ended something like this:

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Strangely, even after all that, I think the big wig likes me anyway, because, while I may not have been this week, I am generally competent and she saw that through all the awkward. Plus, people are generally more tolerant of weird behavior from us arty types.

Friday night, my best friend had a small family gathering at her place. I didn’t want to go, because I don’t want to go to anything these days, particularly not after the awkward week I’ve had. All I want to do is hide in case I cry; I’m not good at crying in front of people. I forced myself to go, because I still wasn’t sure if I’d make it to the memorial, and if I didn’t, that would be the only time I’d get to see everyone who matters. It was also a test for me. If I could make it through the family gathering, I could probably make it through the memorial.

By the time I got to my best friend’s house, I was in the grips of yet another panic attack. She gave me some sort of homeopathic anxiety remedy, which helped, more like than not because of the placebo effect. Just the knowledge that I’ve taken something usually helps.

When I walked in, two friends who now live very far away were already there. More people started filing in, some of whom I haven’t seen in many years. People came from all over the country for this weekend. One even flew in from London and is flying back today.

I didn’t want to drink a lot because drinking leads to emotion and emotion is something I already have enough of. I had all of four beers from 8:30 to 2:30 when I finally left. I made it through the night with many hugs, tears and stories, and felt like I could probably make it to, if not through, the memorial.

Saturday, I woke up with an extreme hangover from five beers. I don’t drink a lot these days and my resistance is, apparently, very low. One of the reasons I don’t drink much anymore is because of hangovers. I hate them and if I have any more than one glass of wine or three beers, I’m hung over.

I slept most of the day until it was time to go to the memorial, which started at 5. At around 3, I started getting panicky, so I took half a Klonopin that Male had given me for when I get twiggy. I found it strangely appropriate that the reason I was able to make it to Male’s memorial is because of Male’s Klonopin.

It was awful. I’m not going to lie. There were many more people at the memorial than there were at the family gathering the night before, some of whom I didn’t want to see at all. I just kept going around talking to people for no more than two minutes. I couldn’t talk to anyone for more than two minutes. The only exception was his mother. I talked to her for about ten minutes.

I told her that I talked to him on Thursday, the day before he died, and she said that I was probably the last person to talk to him then. She had talked to him on Wednesday and our conversations were apparently very similar. We both told him to “go see a doctor.” He didn’t. He died the next day.

I thanked her for letting me visit him in rehab years ago when I was unemployed; she paid for my ticket because I couldn’t afford it and he wanted me to come. I thanked her for letting him come see me in January since she paid for his ticket to LA. I thanked her for never giving up on him. “What else could I do? He was my son.” She thanked me for being there for him. “What else could I do? He was the love of my life.” She cried. I didn’t cry because Klonopin, but I teared up. We hugged. I moved on to talk to the next person for less than two minutes.

I didn’t cry at the memorial, but I cried many times the night before. I cried when I got home. I’m crying now.

I made it through not all, but most of the memorial. When there were no more people I could spend less than two minutes with, when people started to get drunk and emotional, I left. I lasted from 5 to about 7:30, just a half hour shy of making it through the whole thing. I didn’t attend the after event at another friend’s house, but my best friend texted me with updates. She made it until nearly midnight before she had to leave.

In an hour, there is another gathering at a park near my house. I’m going to go and we’ll see how long I last there. After that, I’m done. There will be no more socializing for me this weekend.

I’m exhausted. It’s nearly over. The weekend I’ve been absolutely dreading since I found out that there would be a memorial is done. I went to the memorial. I’m glad I did, if for no other reason than I won’t regret that I didn’t.

His mom told me about a box of his stuff she brought to the memorial. I forgot to look through it before I left. Everyone decided that I should have his Damned shirt, his oldest and most treasured piece of clothing from his first ever punk show when he was thirteen. I don’t know what to do with it, but it’s mine now, along with his ugly lamp. It’s all I have left.

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At one point, this shirt was black.