Resurrection

So, this new ABC show “Resurrection” has already caused me to have two seperate dreams, and has filled my mind with anxiety, and this is before even seeing the show itself. This is solely from accidentally catching a few seconds of a commercial for it. (I will not be watching one more second of this show. Obviously.)

The first dream I had about this show was great. In the dream, my husband, who was dressed in his E.M.T. uniform and had white light around him and was clearly a spirit/soul, kicked down the door and walked onto the set of “Resurrection”, (which, in case you don’t know, is a show about people that die and then ‘come back to life’ for good) in the middle of filming, and said angrily: “Enough already with this premise. What are you doing? I understand this is fiction and all, but you’re hurting REAL people with this shit. Real people, like my wife, with REAL loss. She was trying to get to sleep tonight after a long day in a long week, sat down to watch a bit of TV, and your ridiculous commercial made her cry for 20 minutes while clutching my photo. You are asking your audience in your ads to “imagine the impossible” – their deceased loved ones coming back to life. Well, guess what? It IS impossible, and it’s never going to happen for her or for anyone else that has lost their spouse or their child or anyone they love dearly, so why on earth would they ever want to IMAGINE it??? Don’t you think that my wife has had that fantasy millions of times? That I somehow come back? That it was all some horrible nightmare? But that isn’t ever going to happen, because in the real world, when people die, they actually DIE. So to ask people to “imagine the impossible”, that is just asking for heartache on top of heartache.”

In the dream, he continued his awesome rant on these people: “Film this shit at your own risk, it’s a free country, but just know you are hurting my wife, and millions of others, and I don’t like people who hurt my wife. She is hurt enough already. Good Day. (pause) I SAID, GOOD DAY!!!” Then he knocked over an expensive camera and kicked the door again on his way out, shouting as he left: “And how about casting her in something already? She is massively talented, unbelievably funny, and since I’m DEAD and all, she is really struggling. You asshats!”

Don has visited me in my dreams quite a few times, but this was the first time he came into my dream to communicate with someone other than me. And “asshat” was his very favorite insult term, as was the “I said GOOD DAY!” line from Willy Wonka. So although it was quite a silly dream, it made me feel protected by my husband, who could somehow see that just watching a commercial for this new TV show made me so upset and shaken up. Obviously the producers and directors and creative people involved with this show have every right to make such a show and air it, but I truly do not understand who their target audience would be. It would have to be people who have never experienced death – people who have never felt the trauma, devastation, and intensely horrific pain of losing someone very close to them. I just cannot imagine that anyone who has felt the earth-shattering quake of death, would have any interest in watching a show such as this. I truly cannot think of a premise or TV-idea that would be more painful than this to sit through.

Back to the two dreams. The second one happened last night, and it almost destroyed me emotionally. This time, I had a dream that my husband was alive, just like in the premise of this cruel new TV show. That this was somehow all a nightmare. That he never really died, and it couldn’t be explained how or why he was alive, but he was now alive, and back for good. In my real life, on the morning he died, after I was told by the nurses in a closed room what had happened after I rushed myself to the hospital in a car service, not even knowing WHY I was being summoned there – I sat in the hospital bathroom, after calling our immediate family and a couple friends – and I typed into my phone on Facebook: “This is the worst day of my life. My dear husband had a heart attack and died. I don’t know what to do next.”

In this dream, there was a knock at my door, I opened it, and it was Don. He said: “I’m here, Boo. It’s going to be okay.” I fell to the floor with shock and he picked me up, and we held each other for an eternity. Then I typed on Facebook: “This is the best day of my life. Don is back. He is ALIVE! I don’t know how, but its true. The past 2.5 years were all a big lie. I got my husband back!!!!”

Then I woke up. Shaking. In shock. Feeling sooooo confused. It was so, so, so real – that I actually thought he might be alive, and that he never died at all, and maybe THAT was all a nightmare, the thinking that he was dead. I sat in my bed just baffled and trying to figure out where I was. Those of you who are widowed and reading this will totally get what I’m about to say next – this morning, I went RIGHT back to those first few weeks and months after the death, where each morning you wake up confused and scared, and thinking “Wait, what happened? What is real? Are they really gone, or was that just some weird dream?”, and you have to get up and physically find something tangible that PROVES to you they are actually dead. So that is what I did. I searched for my box that is hidden away in my closet, the one containing the funeral cards and the Death Certificate, and the autopsy report. I was actually saying out loud to myself: “Please be empty. Please be empty, box. Please, please, please …..”

It wasn’t empty. Of course it wasn’t empty. Saw the certificate and collapsed into sobs. Dreaming that my husband was somehow alive, was probably the most painful of all the dreams I have had so far since his death. Because at two and a half years, I KNOW he is gone. I know he is dead. I know and live inside this reality every single day. But there are STILL flashes of moments in my life, seconds or minutes, where my heart and mind just doesn’t want to believe it. STILL. Ever. So all it takes is a silly premise from a new show to place my exhausted and stressed mind back into that place of “Well, just maaaaybe ….”

Since the next 6 months of my life are unbelievably stressful with overlapping jobs, gigs, writing projects, my book release, and too many things to name here – I’ve been having LOTS of horrible, awful nightmares lately. Caitlin, my counselor, tells me that is VERY normal and that because Im so stressed and busy, that is when the PTSD-related stuff from “that day” and other days will come back just like it was yesterday, because sleep-time is the only time that my brain has to process everything going on inside. I called her 2 weeks ago, frightened, because I had a VERY REAL nightmare where I was in a Christmas tunnel with Don, like a Disney ride with all Christmas-themed things, and then suddenly a dark cloud pushed us into this room, and he collapsed right in front of me and died. Then I was forced to WATCH as he was burned and cremated, and it was VERY violent and graphic. I couldn’t stop sobbing on the phone with her, and one of the things she told me was that, even though it feels incredibly awful and terrifying, it is actually a GOOD sign that I’m having these types of dreams now, because it means I’m processing things and working through them,and that my heart is now ready to work through them. So if we take each dream and break it down and talk about what feelings I’m processing with that one, I will be able to let go of some of the guilt and the fears that I have always had, surrounding the time around his sudden death.

The cremation dream was the most frightening dream I’ve ever had, but dreaming that he was still alive and that his death was all a big mistake – was so much worse. For a few minutes and hours today, I was living in complete torture, not knowing what was real, and yet not wanting to find out and realize, all over again, that my husband was actually gone. How many times must I be forced to realize, again, that he is actually, really, truly gone?

F**k You, IKEA!

This past Monday, just two days ago, was exactly 22 months since Don’s sudden death. For most of this time, I have coped with my all-over-the-place emotions and often dark feelings by writing, writing, writing. Whatever I feel, I write. It’s a release. A grief purge. It helps. It hurts like hell to write sometimes, but it also helps. Except that recently, I havent been able to write. The last time I wrote in here was when I returned from Camp Widow. I felt so hopeful and filled with optimism. I felt so loved and understood, after spending a few glorious days surrounded by others who were exactly like me – where I never had to explain. The problem with Camp Widow, though, is that eventually, you have to come back home.

Lately, something strange has happened inside of me. A shift of sorts. All of the pain and all of the hurt and all of the grief and the loss and the heavy, weighted, intense emotion – has disappeared. Kind of the way that my husband disappeared from my life on that horrible, awful day. Except this is much different. My husband is never coming back. These feelings will be back. The sadness and emptyness and the fear will all be back, and I feel them right around the corner. Lurking. Scaring me. But for now – right now – they wait.

The only way I can think of to explain what is happening is that my heart is overwhelmed from too much hurt. 22 months of hurting is incredibly tiring, and, to put it quite bluntly, I just need a break from feeling all this pain. I’d like a month or two paid vacation from being a widow. Can somebody make that happen? About 6 months ago, one of my other widowed friends that I met in the small support group my grief counselor put together, told me that she tries not to think about her fiance – that she just keeps as busy as possible and doesnt like to talk about him or dwell on him too much or for too long. When I asked her why, she said “because it hurts too much.” At the time, I was shocked that anyone would feel that way. I couldn’t imagine not wanting to talk about my loss or my husband or our amazing, short life together. Not talking about him or honoring him felt like a betrayal, like I was pretending he never existed, like society seems to sometimes want for me to do.

 But now – now – I get it. Now, that same favorite wedding picture of us that I keep on my nightstand; the one where he is looking at me with such pride and love; the same picture that used to make me feel a sense of calm whenever I walked by it – now, I find myself ignoring it or flipping it over sometimes so I dont have to look at it. Sometimes I try and pretend that Im someone else, and that I never had a husband that I was so in love with, and that I lost forever. Sometimes it’s easier to act as if what I had never really happened. That maybe I imagined it all, and I can just put it away into a box and close the lid forever. Sometimes I cant look at our life together, because it did happen, and now it’s gone, and it will never happen again – and sometimes I need to shut down from having feelings about my wonderful husband, the love of my life – because it hurts too much to remember.

Mom and me at “The Sharing Network” Organ Donor Reception

So that is where I’m at right now, and when you are a writer by nature, like me, it is very foreign to not want to express everything that is inside of you by typing it out furiously for all to read. It feels so odd and so wrong that I no longer want to marinate inside of the hurt and sit with it. Im sick of sitting with it. I want it to go the fuck away. These past few weeks since returning from Camp, I would sit down to write, and nothing would come out. I never think about what Im going to write ahead of time. It just flows out of me, like water from a stream. But now, my mind and my heart and my brain are packed with too many things, and I have no focus. There is too much that has happened. Should I write about what it feels like to be told by your roommate, just 6 months after I moved in, that “we are not a good match”, and that I need to be out in 3 months? Write about how awkward it is to continue to exist in the same space as the person who basically said “you aren’t wanted here anymore” for 2.5 months? The sheer relief and exhaustion and fear of finding a new place and a new roommate and moving out of there with practically nothing of your own, no savings, no furniture, no security? The feelings of rejection and self-doubt that come from someone treating you like you’re not good enough? Maybe I should write about the “crash” feeling of living my reality after returning home from comfortable, safe camp. Or what it was like to attend a reception where Don was honored along with other organ and tissue donors for his gift of life. How my mom and I cried when we heard his name read or saw it printed along “The Wall of Life.” To know that a piece of him lives on, and his name will be there forever on that wall, yet I will never hold him again. There were too many things to write about, and whenever I get overwhelmed, my response is to do nothing. So I did nothing. I didnt write at all. Until now.

Wall of Life. His name is 4th from bottom.

My new roommate and I took a trip to IKEA last weekend so that we could begin the process of furnishing our new apartment. For me, specifically, I was in desperate need of a small computer desk, because up until now, I had been typing with my keyboard and monitor sitting on top of boxes and things. Now, my only memories of the hell that is IKEA, are from the apartment that my best friend Sarah and I shared together in Forest Hills about 14 years ago. I remember we bought, among other things, a tiny end table called “LACK”, and it lived up to it’s name in every sense of the word. We also purchased a small dresser for Sarah’s bedroom, which she was hoping to use to put her clothing and undergarments into. Well, since IKEA specializies in crushing people’s hopes and dreams, the dresser turned out to be about as large as a Weeble Tree House, and I think Sarah was able to fit her nailfile and one sock into the microscopic, horribly designed drawers.

For any of you who have not had the honor of shopping or buying from IKEA – you should know that almost everything you buy there has a sign that reads “some assembly required.” Anotherwords; what you are sent home with is a large cardboard box filled with endless screws, european pieces with names that you’ve never heard uttered or printed anywhere ever in your lifetime (it’s a Swedish company), instructions that have NO WORDS IN THEM but only pictures that involve lots of circles and big X marks drawn through things, stick figures of people with question marks above their heads, and endless arrows that lead to absolutely nowhere. It is a cardboard box filled with confusion and mind-games, that leaves you a baffled, frustrated, manic-depressive mess on your floor, screaming at the universe to please let lightning strike you now, so that you dont have to put this goddamn desk together. It taunts you and it laughs at you and it mocks you with it’s Swedish pieces with names like “divet”, that are supposed to somehow fit into other pieces that they never actually fit into at all.

An actual page from the IKEA “instructions”

So there I was – in my new bedroom – my new roommate away at work for the day – the pieces of my new, tiny corner desk and all it’s assembly parts scattered across my bed – trying to decifer and make sense of these directions. I think it was somewhere around the time that I saw the big square with the X through it, next to the other big circle with the square with an arrow through it, next to the smiling stick figure guy with a cartoonish-looking hammer in his puffy hand – that it really started to hit me. My husband, who was soooooo good at this kind of stuff, will never again be able to do this for me. He will never again take care of the stupid instructions that don’t make sense, or change the oil in my car, or check to see what that noise is in the other room, or find the mouse and get rid of it, or kill the cockroach without pause, or take out the smelly trash, or open the door for me, or hold his umbrella over me or give me his coat to wear when its cold, or make sure Im safe and lock all the doors at night, or send me a text to let me know he arrived at work safely, or hold my hair when Im puking and sick from a reaction to percacet. He would never do any of those things, and so many other things, ever again.

My IKEA desk, in pieces, waiting to be created. Cat not included. (although if he were, youd have to assemble him yourself.)

 Of course, I already knew this. I already knew that he wasnt ever coming back. But somehow – sitting there attempting to put together this stupid desk in this stupid new life that was forced upon me because of his stupid death – I really felt it. And suddenly, without warning, the emotional breakdown came. It wasnt the organ donation reception or the moving or the rejection from my ex-roommate or the sheer stress from the past few months of my life that brought me down. No. It was IKEA. It was those damn Swedes and their “do it yourself” furniture that finally did me in.

7 hours later, and with the help of a fellow widowed friend who very sweetly walked me through each step of the idiotic instructions on the phone, my task was complete. I now had a desk. And if anyone reads this and says some shit about how I should feel empowered because I did that all by myself and “Wow! Look at what you can accomplish all alone!” or any of that type of bullshit, please stop yourself right now. Because you just don’t get it. I was 28 when I met Don. I was 35 when I married him, and I was 39 when he died. For all of those years before meeting him, I did everything by myself. I moved out of my parents house when I was 18 years old, and came to NYC to become an actor/performer. So, I have had decades worth of “empowerment”, and by the time Don and I moved in together, I was so grateful and so ready to have this partner, this teammate in life, and to no longer have to do every goddamn thing by myself. Now I had help. Now there were two of us struggling through this mess called life instead of just one. Two of us to pay bills, get groceries, figure out the logistics. And then it was ripped away – just like that – and suddenly, I was back to doing every goddamn thing alone again. Im sorry, but when you have the right person, two is sooooo much better than one. It just is. There are just so many things in life that are so much harder to do alone, and so much easier to do with two of you.

 

The piece of crap desk that took 7 hours to put together and caused me to have a mental breakdown. Empowered my ass.

 

Parallel parking. Changing the litter in the litter box. Carrying a large box or other large items up the stairs. Having someone to shut the light off. Sit in the car when you have to double park it in a city or busy neighborhood. Brush the kitties teeth like the vet instructed. Clip their nails. Locate a foreign “thing” that appears on your body in a place where you cant see it. Scratch an itch on your back. Say your vows. Then repeat. It takes two people to look into each other’s eyes and feel love. Two people to make love. Two to dance a foxtrot at your wedding.

And it takes two people to figure out how the fuck to put together a crappy computer desk from IKEA. One to hold up the piece of wood, and one to screw in the weird-plastic-looking-screwy thing. One to decifer the picture instructions, and one to put them into action. One to light the match to set the whole damn thing ablaze when you finally lose your mind, and one to call the police and make it look like arson.

Congratulations IKEA. Because of your unbelievable incompetence and inability to create items or directions that humans with brains can follow, you have forced me to start feeling my feelings again. You have shoved the grief back into my life, much like you shove those divets into the holes that are way too small to fit them. Are you happy now, IKEA? Have you had your little fun with the widow? Good. Glad to hear it. You should know that your desk sucks and it’s a bit wobbly and thats not my fault. It’s your fault, cuz your furniture is questionable and shady on it’s best day. Fuck you. 

At least I finally have something to write about.