Lighthouse

I got an email today that made my heart do a little dance. It was from a fellow widow friend of mine, whom I’ve only met online, and who also happens to be a therapist. This was what her email said:

“I was on the phone with a client yesterday, and I asked her where she has found support online. She told me that most of the support sites were pretty useless, but then mentioned 2 sites that she liked, one of them being your blog. “Those are really the only two,”, she said. So, there you have it. Not only one of a woman’s Top 2. But one of her only 2. ”

Talk about powerful. Somebody out there, someone I have never even met, read my words on a page and found “support” in them. And someone else whom I’ve never met, decided to share that information with me, so that I would know it. And now I share it with you, so that you will know it too. Because if we don’t tell people that they have made a difference to us, affected us, shaped us – how on earth will they ever know? All it really takes for isolation to become connection is for someone to say the first word.

It got me to thinking, as my heart was doing pleas in the corner. I started thinking about all of the ways in which everyone is connected. Sometimes you can feel that connection, that bond, like a jolt of lightning that goes through your entire body. Other times, it’s more subtle, like someone reminding you of it in an email. Either way, it is there. That connection. It is always there.

We all inspire hope to someone. All of us. You might not even be aware of it, but it’s true. Right now, right this very minute, you might be striving to get to where someone else is on the path of life. Meanwhile, at the exact same moment, there is somebody else who wants to be exactly where you are right now. You are inspired by the ones who are a bit ahead of you, and others are inspired by you. If you look forward to the ones in front, you think: “I saw that person in total darkness, and now they are no longer in that darkness. If I just keep going, I can get to where they are too.” If you look behind you to the ones who are a bit in back, you think: “I remember what it was like to be there, where they are now. It was awful there. Maybe if I just keep going, they will be able to see my frame through the darkness, and they will know that they can get to where I am too.”

In the beginning, all you can see is pain. Nothing else can get in, because the pain is everywhere. In the beginning, most of us are not capable or do not have the energy or motivation or care to look outside of our pain and into someone else’s. Our own pain is much too overwhelming. Until it isn’t. Eventually, the pain begins to spread itself out, like the end of a morning fog, and it makes some room for more of the sky. In that sky, and in that fog, you can just barely make out the lighthouse that sits far away in the distance. The pain is still there – it is always there – but now you are able to shape it and mold it and turn it into something more than just pain. Like my friend Michele, who took her pain and with it, created a community for widowed people everywhere, by founding the Soaring Spirits Foundation, and Camp Widow. Or my friend Janine, who I met at Camp Widow last year, and have become close friends with ever since. She and her pain packed up their life in Texas, and started a new one in NYC, using her own courage as the building blocks to glue together her new world, after the sudden death of her husband Jim. And there are countless others, each of them a beacon of light, scratching and clawing and finding their way to the top of the lighthouse, always fully aware of the others behind them, still wandering through the fog.

It is the ones in front of us, who offer pieces of what our own future might look like, if we just keep going. It is the ones in back of us, who offer us perspective on how far we have come already, especially when we are feeling like giving up, or feeling judged or like nobody can see us.

Keep going. Keep walking. They see you, in the same way that you see them. They are looking at your every step in the hot, thick sand – and they are saying with their tired and hurt voices: “If he or she can get there, maybe I can too.” You are somebody’s lighthouse. And someone else is yours. And we are all silently helping each other, even when we don’t know it. Maybe, especially when we don’t know it.

Isn’t that cool?

Pictured: me w/ my friend Janine at Camp Widow. Lighthouse in Montauk, Long Island.

My New Husband

It’s been just over 9 months since Don died, and I can now say with conflicted emotion, that I’ve been seeing someone new. He doesn’t do very much in the way of taking me out, giving me compliments, or making my soul feel alive again. In fact, he doesn’t do very much at all. He just sits there. But when I look at him, I feel everything from escape to laughter to noise to another opportunity for zoning out of my new life.

 If I’m being truthful, I have been seeing this guy my whole life, even when Don and I were married. Actually; Don was seeing him too. We watched and enjoyed him together. We had a wonderful little threesome thing going on. It was very kinky. Now I watch him alone, and it feels like I’m seeing someone new, because my relationship with him has changed immensely since my husband’s death. If you want to know his name, I’ll tell you: Tommy Vera. I call him T.V. for short. (he was named for people on television: Tommy for my favorite host Tom Bergeron, and Vera for the waitress on the sitcom Alice.)

Ever since I was a little kid, I have always loved T.V. Always. It was entertainment, and it was a comfort. And even when I was a kid, I always wanted to be ON television. I was fascinated by the whole thing. A box inside my living room that was filled with hundreds of different people. Everyday I’d come home from school just before 3pm, and mom would sit me down with my afternoon snack, and General Hospital would be on in the background. I started to slowly pay attention to it, and became engrossed in Luke and Laura and the Ice Princess and the stupid Weather Machine. I found the show silly and fascinating and ridiculous and funny. Today, over 30 years later, I still have it on my DVR and watch it to wind myself down at night. There were so many shows I loved as a kid: The Muppet Show and The Carol Burnett Show both gave me that same feeling of warm laughter, and that everything would be okay. Brady Bunch reruns made me feel cozy and protected, and Family Ties had me giggling like hell, and gave me one of my first real crushes in Michael J. Fox.

Don and I used to watch a lot of T.V. together. Some people might look down on that or on us or say that it’s “bad” to have the TV on so much in a home or marriage. Those people suck and I dont really care what they think. My husband and I did plenty of things with our lives, and spent loads of time outside discoving the world together. But, after work, most evenings, we would sit in our tiny apartment together in our bedroom, the only room with air-conditioning and computer and a BED, and watch TV.

Like every married couple, we had our rhythms and our patterns and our ways of doing things. Lots of times, I would make popcorn and we would both sit in bed and cuddle up for a great episode of House. Don got me into that show, and then I was hooked by the sarcasm, hilariousness, utter pain, and therefore sexiness of Hugh Laurie’s character. We would always have to pause the show or DVR so he could explain to me in english what the fuck the patient actually had. He used to drive me crazy because he had a short-attention span, and sometimes when we were watching a show together, he would randomly get up and leave the room. He would come back five minutes later, and then ask me “So what happened? What was the diagnosis?” “Where the hell did you go?”, I’d say. “I dont know what the hell the patient has! You always explain that to me. I have no idea what they are talking about!” Or we would watch Cash Cab and I couldn’t even answer the first two questions. “Who the hell knows this shit?”, I’d say. The answer was Don. Don knew that shit. He knew all kinds of random trivia, facts, and things that would just surprise the hell out of me all the time. He loved documentaries. Anything on The History or Discovery or Learning Channel was a show that he wanted to watch. I used to walk into the living room sometimes and there would be some boring thing on the TV that he would be engrossed in. I would mock him: “What is this – a 12 part documentary on the Making of Plywood?” He never missed a beat. “Actually, it’s a 15 parter, and it’s about sheet-rock. Smart Ass.”

We had a lot of shows that we watched together though. South Park was one of his absolute favorites. I miss listening to his laugh while watching that show. Listening to him laugh was sometimes more fun than watching the show for me. His laugh was deep and inviting, and his shoulders and whole body would move. Sometimes he wouldn’t make any actual noise until a few seconds into the laugh; but you’d just see his head drop down his neck and start to shake. We both loved Modern Family, and he had a gigantic crush on Sofia Vergada. We also loved Rescue Me, Men of a Certain Age, Mad Men, Louie, and Intervention. We both had a different approach to that last one. We would take bets on whether or not the addict would survive or fail at the end of the episode. I liked it when they got off the drugs or alcohol, while Don loved a great epic trainwreck. “Oh, this asshole’s gonna fail!”, he would say in the first 5 minutes of the show. Then, when the inevitable text at the end with the sad music would say: “Two weeks later, Joe was kicked out of rehab and now drinks 2 bottles of vodka a day”, Don would scream, “Yes! I knew it!” and be oddly ecstatic at this total stranger’s misery. He was the same way with shows like COPS, Hoarders, Parking Wars, and even The Biggest Loser. He always found it hilarious when the people who had whatever dysfunction, walked away a bigger mess than when they started.

Since I’ve been writing TV Reviews for Poptimal.com for a few years now, Don and I would always watch the shows I’d cover together: American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, America’s Got Talent. I would pause the shows and take notes for what to type into my review later on, and he would make hilarious comments that I would usually end up using in the review. “That’s funny as hell. I’m stealing that!”, I’d say. He loved when I would use his jokes, and he loved reading my reviews. He would sit at the computer, reading it, and quoting me back to me. Then he would say sweetly: “Boo is funny.” He had a major crush on pro dancer Cheryl Burke from DWTS, and we both thought Ryan Seacrest was a major douchebag. We always disliked and mocked the same people, so watching TV together was a blast. So many times, Don’s comments at a show or a commercial would make me laugh harder than what we were watching.

Now; since his death; TV watching has become a whole new experience, and my relationship with television is so much different than it used to be. It used to be entertainment – now it’s a lifeline. The second I walk into this lonely apartment where there is no more noise of a husband, I put on the TV. I need to feel and hear noise. It is necessary for survival. If I can’t talk to anyone while I’m at home, then I need to hear fake characters talking to other fake characters on my TV. More than half the time I have the TV on, Im not watching it or paying attention to it at all. But it’s very important that it’s on. Some people use music in this same way; as soon as they are home, they turn on background music. I cannot do this, because Don was music. Every song on earth reminds me of him in a painful, hurtful, sad way; and since I can no longer hear HIS music when he would strum his guitars for hours; listening to CD’s would only make me extremely sad right now.

Sometimes I feel like I’m nuts when I watch TV alone now. I pretend he is sitting on the bed with me, or at the computer desk, and I will talk to him during a show. Sometimes this helps; most times I just feel incredibly silly and start to cry. Watching the season premiere of Mad Men last week made me sad. He would have loved it when Roger said: “Is it just me, or are there a bunch of negros in our lobby?” I can just hear him busting a gut over that line. I have 4 episodes of South Park and 5 of House all sitting on my DVR, unwatched. I haven’t been able to bring myself to sit through them without Don’s commentary. I got through the first few minutes of the season premiere of South Park, and then burst into tears. I also haven’t sat through very many Yankee games without my husband. He died right in the middle of baseball season, and so I went from watching every single day, to not watching at all. That was one of our favorite things to follow together … baseball. Now I just sort of “keep an eye on the game” while doing other things. If I find myself totally paying attention, I will be sobbing within seconds. I still can’t believe Don doesn’t get to know that Andy Pettite is back, or that Posada retired, or that Chamberlain is out for the season because he injured himself JUMPING ON A TRAMPOLINE! I don’t know how long it will be before I can go to Yankee Stadium again. I just don’t know.

TV has become something new in my life since losing my husband. It has, in a sense, become another relationship. There are times when I am watching something, anything really, and I will just start crying. Sometimes it is due to what’s happening on the show or even the commercial, because I have become extra sensitive and now cry at the drop of a hat, or at Kodak camera and Oreo ads. But other times. the tears have nothing to do with what is being said on the screen. Sometimes, I am just using the TV to zone out. I am watching something mindless so that I don’t have to pay attention to it, so that I don’t have to be a widow for an hour or two. Sometimes it’s a form of escape, and sometimes it’s another reminder.

I feel like an old lady, sitting at home with my afghan, waiting for my “stories” to come on the TV. Are Jason and Franco brothers? Who will be the next Bachelor couple to get engaged and then break up 3 months later? Is Lisa Lampanelli gonna punch a bitch on The Apprentice? Does anyone else but me realize that Wendy Williams is actually a man? How many more years will The Office continue to pretend it’s relevant without the genius of Steve Carell? Why are there 200 violent shows about cupcake making? How many cities will get their very own CSI? Wouldnt it be ironic if Chris Hanson turned out to be an internet pedophile? I wonder if he likes cookies and juice. Do the people at 20/20 really think we dont notice they are using some sort of weird technology to fade out the wrinkles and creepiness of Barbara Walters hands, skin, and face? How will House end? Why do they keep giving Rachel Ray more shows, even though her voice sounds like she swallowed a cheese-grater?

All of these things are distractions, and reminders, that my life is completely different now. Some people use drugs, alcohol, and other destructive things to dull the pain that life can bring. I’m not cool enough for anything like that, and in my attempt to NOT use food as my addiction of choice like I have in the past, I have turned to good ‘ole Tommy Vera. My new love. My new husband. He is a lazy, no good, piece of shit who needs to get off his flat ass and get a job … but at least he makes enough noise to trick me into thinking I’m not always alone.

 

Please Allow Me to Feel Like Shit

If there is one thing I have always known about myself, it is this: I need to be able to feel my feelings. Much like Madonna, I need to express myself. This is why I write, why I create, why I perform. All of these things are an expression of my thoughts, my feelings, my heart. Sometimes it comes out in the form of a stand-up comedy routine, or a silly Youtube video, or a short play, a poem, a song, or something much more fluid that you can’t really put a title on it. To me; the deepest thoughts that are inside of our souls are what make us who we are. To take those away from someone is just about the worst thing I can ever think of.

This is why I never got into drinking or doing drugs. Even 25 years ago, back in high school and college, I would drink now and then, but never anything crazy. While most of my friends were either getting high or making plans on the best way to “get wasted” on a Friday night, I was always the one who tagged along and stayed sober. I never saw the point in it. Most people act like complete assholes when they are drunk, and most people are complete bores when they are high. They are bores who are under the false impression that they are interesting. The few times I tried pot when I was younger; I felt paranoid, sick to my stomach, and just generally awful. The handful of times I drank too much in college; it made me super emotional, clingy, and sleepy. I never understood the purpose or the “fun” in going out with the specific intention of getting drunk. “Dude, we’re gonna get soooooo wasted, man!” is a sentence that confuses me and makes me roll my eyes like some out of touch grandmother.

But here is the real issue … I like to have control. When you drink or take drugs, you lose control. I do not like that feeling. To tell you the truth, the idea of not remembering something I did or said, or of not feeling like myself due to a chemically-induced evening, scares the shit out of me. There are so many things in life we cannot control. Like waking up one morning to your husband being dead. I had no control over that. It just happened. So why on earth would I want to give up the control over my own mind and body by pouring alcohol and chemicals into it? Why would I want my thoughts to be altered or numbed or just … gone? Some people want that. Some people want to escape the pain, and those people don’t understand that I need to feel whatever the hell I am going to feel. I need to feel like shit and laugh and cry and scream and punch the walls and write and tell jokes and curse profusely and bang my fists on my steering wheel and say goodnight to my dead husband and be exhausted and feel hopeless and want to die. It is the wanting to die and then getting through that, to see the next moment, that makes me feel alive. How can you ever feel joy again if you don’t feel the pain? How can you grieve if you are hiding your feelings in a bottle? You can’t. But everybody wants you to.

People are so quick and willing to push medication or alcohol on you when you are grieving. “Have a glass of wine”, people keep telling me. “It will take your mind off things, relax you.” No it wont. I hate wine. It is not relaxing. It gives me a splitting headache. “If you dont start feeling better soon, you should think about going on medication. Something to help level out your emotions.” No! I don’t want to level out anything. I want to feel it. Why are people so afraid of intense sadness? Why does everyone feel the need to put a timeline on my feelings and what’s inside my heart? Why are some people so terrified of total, brutal honesty? It has been suggested to me by some that perhaps I shouldn’t always post such gut-wrenching, sad thoughts or status updates on Facebook. Some have eluded to the idea that people don’t want to be reminded every two seconds of my loss. Other people worry about me when I post something “sad” publically; as if it’s somehow strange that I would be feeling an intense range of emotions after MY FUCKING HUSBAND DIED!!!!!!!

I don’t understand this thought process. I am not going to censor myself, or only post “positive” things. If I am feeling positive, I will say so. If I am feeling like shit, I will say that too. Let everyone else on earth continue to deal with grief in “steps” and “process” and “journey” and “paths.” That is not for me. For me, it is messy and confusing and horrible and inconceivable and like an elephant lying on your back. I haven’t read one book about grief, or seen one movie, or one anything, that totally gets it right, or that is 100% honest like I am. I will make it my job to be brutally honest about what this is really like. I am not going to sugarcoat it, or say only what people think I should say, or keep silent because it makes others uncomfortable. No. Fuck that. I’m sorry that you are uncomfortable for a few minutes out of your day. This is my life. My life is uncomfortable. I will not pretend otherwise because society thinks it’s better for me to just numb it or take a pill or have a drink because that is what makes them feel better. It will never be better. It will only be different. I am here to tell the truth. This will be the one book on earth that tells you the truth. If I dont tell the truth, why write anything at all? Why be alive?

Last night I saw a local NJ production of the rock musical Next to Normal. My friend Debra played the lead role of Diana, and she was absolutely brilliant. She has one of those singing voices where you just listen to her and start to tear up. Not because you are sad, but because the sound is that beautiful. Only a few voices make me tear up that way. Barbara Streisand. Burnadette Peters. And my friend Debra. The show won all kinds of Tony Awards on Broadway in 2009, and it’s about a wife and mother who is bipolar; and what happens when her son dies; and how it affects the entire family. She is sent to therapy immediately, and put on several drugs to help her cope. The play is very powerful, and poses the question “what is worse; the symptom or the cure?”, and “Who is the crazy one? The patient, or the doctors who keep shutting her off from her own feelings?” The only medication I have taken since this whole thing happened has been Tylenol PM, to help me sleep. I dont even like taking that, because it makes me so damn groggy that I dont feel like myself.

I will not medicate my emotions. I will not stuff them into a box or fit them into some timeline that other people find appropriate. I will just be me; because really; in the end; what else do I have left? If I lose myself and become a shell of nothingness; then there is no reason to be alive.

Please allow me to feel like shit, so that I can stay alive.

You Could Be a Foot

Social Media is fantastic, and social media is awful. Being a comedian, actor, and writer; Ive been able to communicate, meet up with, and befriend some pretty famous or well-known people, simply by talking to them on Twitter or Facebook. I would have never had the opportunity to talk with these people, if we didn’t banter back and forth in a Facebook status update, or if I didnt post one of my YouTube videos / characters like Maggie Bubbles on Twitter, and have it retweeted or shared by someone I admire. Hell, my biggest Twitter claim to fame to this day is making a comedy video a few years ago that mocked the Twitter popularity of Ashton Kutcher (he has over 10 million followers and he tweets stuff like: “I’m drinking coffee.” Its mind boggling.) I tweeted the video link to Gregg “Opie” Hughes from The Opie and Anthony Show, he tweeted it to Ashton Kutcher on my behalf, and then Ashton Kutcher posted the link; giving me instant semi-Twitter fame. Of course, half of the people that watched the video were Ashton fans, so they hated it, and really hated me.

I didn’t really care though, since I started up conversation and banter with Opie, which then turned into me doing a comedy video on his YouTube Channel (@OpieRadio) where I walked into a McDonalds and ordered the McLobster, which then turned into being featured in a second video called “Occupy Wall Street: I Need Attention”; which ended up being reposted all over the place and getting some minor “viral” status. Now, in a weird way, I consider Opie a friend. He has continued to be supportive of me and my comedy, and what can I say, I like the guy. The fact that my brother and I both listened to his radio show since we were teenagers back in Massachusetts, just makes it a thousand times cooler. The fact that Opie is a genuinely nice, hilarious, real person is what makes it go from cool to pretty damn special.

I also met my good friend Jay Such because of this Ashton Kutcher video. He also found it funny, and had me call into his comedy podcast “The Some Guy Show”, to talk about it on the air. Now, all this time later, we have become friends, and I have driven out to South Jersey 4 times now to be a guest on that very same podcast. Honestly, it is one of the few things that I actually look forward to and enjoy doing right now. Most days lately, its pretty hard for me to try and figure out a good reason to keep waking up in the morning. But whenever we do that podcast,We laugh so much, that for an hour, I can almost forget that my husband is gone and I’m scared out of my mind for my future. Almost.

My friendship with comedian Elayne Boosler began much the same way … on Facebook. I had posted a silly video called “I Love You Cat”, of me talking to our cats and crying in their faces; begging them to please never leave me. Our cat Autumn gave the best double take look into the camera that I have ever seen from a pet. Elayne is an avid lover of animals, like me, and one of her proudest accomplishments is her rescue animal foundation; Tails of Joy. She loved my video and shared it on her page, and we just hit it off. Before I knew it, we were messaging one another, calling one another, and even meeting up for dinner at a NYC diner with some other comedians after her comedy show. Elayne was one of the first people to come forward after my husband died with her support and genuine words of comfort. I am so grateful for her friendship, and I only wish that Don could have been around to see it further blossom. He really loved and respected Elayne; for her comedy but especially for her pure love of animals. He used to tell his overnight EMS partner while at work: “My wife is hangin with Elayne Boosler tonight and Im stuck here with YOU!” The last time Elayne and I hung out before Don died, I told her how much Don wanted to meet her, and we talked about the four of us (Don and I, and Elayne and her husband) getting together for a dinner party in August. I went home that night and told Don, and his eyes lit up. He said: “Boo is hangin’ with the elite now! Couple more years and I can quit my jobs and live off you forever!” He always joked about us getting rich one day from me becoming famous. “No more Little Debbie Snack Cakes for me! We rich now! I’m eatin’ Hostess!” Unfortunately, our foursome dinner party never got to happen, and Don never did get to meet Elayne. I wish like hell he did, because I truly think we all would have ended up becoming wonderful friends.

 So, for these reasons and many others, I really can’t knock Social Media. It has helped me greatly in furthering my career and networking with a gigantic array of people from all over the place. However, sometimes people act like idiots when using social media, which can create a lot of problems. People are always talking about how “Facebook” broke up their relationship or marriage, because their spouse had an affair with an ex-girlfriend from high school or some shit after contacting her on Facebook. In my eyes, if you are going to cheat, you are going to cheat. Things like Facebook just make it a hell of a lot easier to do so. But its not the website that is evil … its YOU. It’s the person doing the cheating, or the lying, or the hiding. And in the case of posting stupid-ass things on Facebook or Twitter; it is the act of the person posting; who doesn’t THINK before they type.

Since Don died, there have been a number of tiny “incidents” involving postings on Social Media. I say tiny, because in the grand scheme of things, they don’t REALLY matter. But I say incident, because, they do affect me and make me angry or upset, so therefore, they are valid. There are too many to count, but a few of them stick in my mind. One insensitive jerk on Twitter sent me a tweet that said: “I get that you are hurting, but why does EVERY tweet have to be about your husband’s passing?” It really pissed me off. First of all, every tweet is NOT about my husband’s passing. I have actually tried pretty hard to still throw some jokes in there, and keep things with a bit of variety. But guesswhat? My fucking husband just died. So yes, I am going to talk about it. It JUST happened. So fuck off.

Second, I hate the term “passing” when talking about death. I just loathe it. It’s one of those words people always whisper when they say them: “Oh yes .. her husband … he passed last month. So tragic….” He passed. Passed what? It makes it sound like he passed a kidney stone or something. He DIED. My husband died. That is what happened, and it’s okay to say the word. And stop with the whispering. I am AWARE that he died. There’s really no reason to whisper. Lastly, this Twitter douchefuck doesn’t know me at all, and didn’t know my husband or anything about our relationship. So for him to sit there and pass judgement and tell me how to run my Twitter page, really annoyed me. I wrote him back, telling him that his comment was very rude, and if he doesn’t like my tweets, stop following me. His response was even more dumb: “I wasn’t being rude. I just was wondering when you are going to get back to normal.” Get back to normal. Normal. This is when I knew I was dealing with a moron of epic proportions. This is someone who has obviously never felt real love, and never lost that real love in a split second. This is someone whose biggest problem in life is that he ran out of beer that night and the liquor store is closed. Because if this asswipe understood anything about grief or death, he would realize that there is no such thing as “getting back to normal.” It just doesn’t exist. There is “new normal.” That’s the new reality you now live in, after your husband dies way too young. There’s that. And thats not something anyone can possibly understand unless they have gone through it. People are such idiots. I mean, what do they think? Sometimes I think that people ACTUALLY think that when you lose your husband, who was only 46, and who died in seconds with ZERO warning, that you have a period of being upset and sad, and then one day you simply wake up all sunshiny and bright and go: “Well there it is! Im BACK TO NORMAL!!!!” Doesn’t work that way, asshat.

Months ago, I posted this status update on Facebook: “Today is my last day in Massachusetts. Headed back to Jersey and the kitties in the morning. Not looking forward to being in our apartment without Don ..but need to attempt this thing called “life” again. Wish me luck!” A lot of people did wish me luck, told me I am strong, to hang in there, they are here for me, and a bunch of other really nice and helpful things. And then there was this comment:

“Be glad you have your health, Kelley. Remember some of us are living with diseases which make it difficult to just get out of bed. I’ve got rheumatoid arthritis, but some have way worse.” Well, alrighty then. What the hell is THAT supposed to mean? What does your rheuumatoid arthritis got to do with my husband’s death, or ANYTHING for that matter? Nothing. Disease …. losing a spouse. I’m sorry. I don’t see the connection. BECAUSE THERE ISN’T ONE! They are two completely different issues. It makes zero sense to bring up one when talking about the other. I suppose the purpose of saying something like that is to make me feel “grateful” for all the things that I COULD be dealing with , that Im not dealing with. But honestly, I never saw the point to that argument. Its like when you were a kid, and you didnt want to eat your vegetables, and your mom would say: “Now, eat everything on your plate! There are starving children in Africa!” Yeah. So? Whether or not I finish my green beans, they will STILL BE STARVING! Me eating or not eating my food has absolutely nothing to do with them being starving. Starvation will always be a problem, and the only way to combat it is to help them! Send money, help solve the issue of them not having enough food supply. And guess what? These green beans are still fucking disgusting and Im still not eatin’ em.

So if I tell you my husband just died and you say, “Well, at least you don’t have rhuemotoid arthritis!”, I’m going to look at you like you’re fucking nuts. Unless you leave it as a comment on Facebook. In that case, I will just THINK you are fucking nuts and say nothing, and then write about it in my book later on. No, I don’t have arthritis. I also dont have AIDS, lupus, lyme disease, or a weak bladder. And hey, at least I’m not headless! You know, some people are walking around earth without a HEAD. So be grateful you have a head! And legs. There are some people who have no legs. And if they grieved the loss of their legs, would you say to them: “Well, be grateful you’ve got a torso! You know, some people don’t have a torso! Or eyes. At least you have eyes. I know a guy with no eyes, no torso, no legs, no arms, and no face. He’s just a foot. So be grateful. You could be a foot.” I mean where does it end? Your problems are your problems and my problems are mine. THIS is what I happen to be dealing with. I lost my husband. He is gone forever. I’m sorry if, at the moment, I’m not feeling very grateful for my lack of rheumatoid arthritis.

How To Annoy People In Love On Valentine’s Day (from a bitter Widow)

Ever since losing my husband to a sudden heart attack on July 13, 2011, I have had hard days; and really hard days. There are days that I wake up after only 2 or 3 hours of sleep, and I think to myself: I might be okay today. And then I might be for a few hours. And then I’m suddenly not. Okay. On other mornings I get out of bed, go to work, or do whatever else needs to be done that day, and the whole time I’m thinking to myself: I can’t wait to get back home again and just sit in my bed and cry. It is a pretty sad state of affairs when you actually can’t wait to get home and cry.

My kitties have their moods too. Some days they randomly decide they don’t want to eat anything that I give them, even though they loved that same food the day before. Other days they eat too much, way too fast, and they decide to start throwing up all over the apartment. The best, though, is when they sleep all day long; and then choose the minute I go to bed to start acting like lunatics. Autumn will stare at the ceiling and meow nonstop. Don and I used to say that she sees dead people up there. Now I think maybe she sees Don, and I’m jealous of her because I can’t see him or feel him, so I beg my cat like a crazy person to please tell my husband I love him. Sammy was Don’s sweet boy. Sammy loved Don and followed him everywhere, all of the time. When Don would sleep, Sammy would sleep on Don’s head. On his HEAD! He would wake Don up at insane hours like 4am, by pawing and clawing and giving him love-bites and purring loudly into his ear, banging his head up against Don’s face. He would not stop until Don got out of bed and fed him. Even if you had fed him 4 hours before that, it didn’t matter. If he still had food in his dish, it didn’t matter. This cat would bug the shit out of my poor husband until he got up and fed him. I used to laugh, then roll over and go back to sleep. Well, I’m an asshole, because now I’m the one getting up at 4am to put “fresh” dry food into this cat’s bowl so he will go the hell away and let me sleep.

This morning was different though. On this morning, our sweet Sammy decided to grieve extra hard for Don, by leaping up onto my chest at 5am, when I was finally fast asleep. He scared the shit out of me. I screamed. My arm flung across my chest and flung him off me, and he jumped, his back paw and very large, sharp claw hitting my right eye and underneath it. My cat scratched my cornea, and underneath my eye looked like I had been molested by a tiger. That is how this morning began. Generally, if you have one of those days where you get up, and within minutes, you are thinking: I should never leave the house today and just go back to bed – it is probably a good idea to never leave the house and just go back to bed.

That is what I should have done. Instead; I had things to do. I had to go to the store and pick up some food, cards, detergent … why am I telling you what I bought? You don’t give a shit.  Let’s just say I had to buy stuff. I walked into the grocery store, and the entire store was red and pink. Plastic, tacky heart decorations and large teddy bears holding cheap chocolates permeated the aisles. Love and Hallmark were in the air. Only 3 more days until Valentine’s Day. It will be my first one as a widow, my first one without my husband. I walk by a row of cards, and one says: “Marriage Means Growing Old Together.” Another one shows an older couple and reads: “I Want to Grow Old With You.” My one good eye starts welling up with tears, and I start crying in the middle of the stupid grocery store. There is a bandage over my other eye, so I look like a sad pirate perusing and sobbing over loving cards. People in the store must be extremely confused by my presence. I want to scream out: “ARRRRR!!!!”, but I’m not in the mood to be funny.

When I get to the register, there is a couple in their 70’s or 80’s in front of me paying for their things. The husband is lightly teasing the wife; they are bantering and joking around. It is very sweet, and I am so angry and jealous of them and their time together. As he puts all the heavy items onto the counter for her, she looks at me and says: “My husband is so good at that! He always makes sure I don’t have to use my muscles.” She laughs. I smile with my lips, and cry through my one open eyeball. She looks in fear at my pirate eye and they leave, leaning on one another, literally.

This has turned into one of those days where I should have stayed home, and where I couldn’t wait to sit in my bed and cry. Just about anything and everything can cause it, but on this day, it is the thought that I will never grow old with my husband; and that I could possibly grow old and BE old all alone. There won’t be anyone holding onto me as we go up the ramp to the Golden Corrall for the Early Bird 4pm Fish Fry Dinner. My fears about death and getting old and sick make me instantly hate that couple. My memories of the dinners and the beautiful roses and the lovely, thoughtful cards, and the “I love you, Boo” and those gorgeous blue eyes looking into mine make me hate anyone who gets to have a Valentine’s Day with someone they love. I have grown tired of crying, and grieving. It is so damn exhausting. It is time now to get pissed. Since there is nobody in particular to be pissed at, I will just be pissed at earth and life and humans. As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, I have decided to make a wish list of all the things I would LOVE to do on that day, but cannot, because I would be arrested. Here are my Top 11 Ways to Annoy Those in Love on Valentine’s Day: (Most Lists are top ten lists, but as always, in the spirit of my husband’s favorite movie This Is Spinal Tap and Nigel, “these go to eleven.”

 

1. Go into Walgreen’s, CVS, and other drugstores that sell cheap-ass, stale candy like “Whitmann’s” – and wait for men to pick it up to purchase. Whenever a guy picks up a box, just look at him and say: “Really? This is what you’re going with? Seriously? If I were you, I wouldn’t even bother with the red tacky heart shaped balloon on a stick. Now you’re just being insulting.”

2. Stand at the Port Authority bus terminal, or the grocery store, where men go to buy last-minute bouquets of flowers. I would stand in front of the display and just yell out, as if I’m the one selling them: “Get your discounted, nonpersonal, I don’t give a shit about you at all, flower arrangements right here! These flowers are guaranteed to live for your entire car ride home – up to 10 miles. Tell your girl to ignore the weird, musty smell coming from inside the bouquet. We don’t know what it is either. Please don’t ask. She can water these, but it won’t help. These flowers WILL die, suddenly and without warning. Just like my husband!”

3. This next one was my friend Elayne Boosler’s idea, and I love it. Stand outside in the middle of NYC somewhere, maybe in Central Park, where lots of couples would be walking by. As loving pairs stroll by, make rude comments about them under my breath, judging their relationship out loud: “Oh yeah, THAT will last!”, or “Oh, like she isn’t using him for his huge bank account. Please!” or “How original. Your hand inside her jeans back pocket. Lame!” This would make me giddy.

4. Go to a restaurant, put my name on the reservations list with the last name “Widow”, so they will have to call out: “Widow – Party of One. Widow – Party of One???” Get a table in the center, alone, and wait for all the many couples to show up together, celebrating Valentine’s Day. Once the place is filled with happy couples; start loudly talking and giggling to myself as if there is another person there with me. Act extra giddy. Laugh loudly, pull out a rose from under the table, present it to myself, and say: “Oh baby! You SHOULDN’T have! For meeeee?” Bat my eyes. Unbutton the top two buttons on my blouse, look across the table and say: “Oooh! Here? Right now? You naughty, naughty boy!” Then get up, holding hands with my imaginary lover, and exiting the place, leaving them all completely confused and wondering.

5. Start my own line of “Widow Anti – Valentines Day Conversation Hearts”, and replace all the normal ones in stores with mine. They would have messages like:  “Everyone Will Die”, “Love Ends When One of You Dies”, “I Am Completely Alone”, “This Heart Was Made With Real Tears”, “Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m Dead!”, “Will You Be My Valentine … Cat?”, “Be Mine – Until I Die Unexpectedly”, “All We Are Is Dust In the Wind”, “You Might Choke on this Heart and Die”, “There’s a Good Chance One of Us Will Get Cancer Someday”, “Nobody is Promised Tomorrow”, “Enjoy this Sugary Treat Knowing that My Husband Had a Heart Attack!”, “Text Me! No Wait – Never Mind. My phone Is Disconnected Cuz I’m Dead.” Okay, most of these most likely wouldn’t fit onto a tiny little candy heart, but this is a fantasy, so let’s just pretend it does.

6. Get a hold of every single romantic comedy ever made in the history of time, go through and at the very beginning, add a shot of me saying into the camera: “SPOILER ALERT! None of this matters! Everybody Dies!” Then, each movie ends the exact same way, with text across the screen reading: “Two weeks later, they were both tragically killed.”

7. Go through every card aisle of every Hallmark store on earth with magic marker and put sad faces and giant penis drawings on all of the Valentine’s Day cards. Hide behind display and laugh.

8. Pre-chew all of the Valentine’s Day chocolates and then put them back into their little wrappers. Replace identification signs like “Vanilla Cream” and “Rasberry Filling” with signs that say things like: “This tastes like Ass”, or, “Unidentifiable Orange Disaster”, or, “Smells of Poop.”

9. Be the person in charge of the messages that get attached to all of the flower deliveries, and mix them all up so they go to inappropriate people. Send a dozen roses with the message: “I can’t wait to be alone with you tonight. You make me so hot!” to some dude’s mom. Creepy.

10. Crash a wedding. Wait for the priest to say “If anyone here does not approve of this marriage, speak now or forever hold your piece…” (Okay. Nobody actually says that in weddings. Ever. I have never once heard it in my entire life and I’ve been to a lot of weddings. But again … this is a fantasy, so let’s pretend.) When he says that, yell from the back of the church:  “I DO NOT CONDONE THIS UNION!!!” Then drop your pants and blast the Benny Hill theme song over the loudspeakers. When it ends, leave slowly and awkwardly; sans pants.

11. Bring my husband’s death certificate all over the place, and keep presenting it at stores as if it’s a gift card or discount card. “Excuse me, do you offer a Widow Discount? But I have this death certificate …. ” “Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day, and my husband died. I’d like to buy myself some flowers and chocolates. What is your policy on Widow Discounts? Here is the death certificate … ” “Can I just get HALF of a banana split? I have nobody to split it with, since my husband is dead and all. Please give me the Widow Price. Here’s the certificate…”

In reality, I will most likely just sit home on Valentine’s Day and stare at the wall. Or have dinner with our kitty cats and then watch them throw up. But I’m not bitter or anything.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air. And then you’re dead.