Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dear Dairy,

One of the main reasons I started blogging again was that I thought my experiences could help anyone else who is grieving. Well, that didn't work out. I think I depressed people more than anything else. For once, the genius switch was turned off.

I went through Gwen's wallet today, because I have to, along with the rest of her stuff.

As I went through her wallet, a movie played out in my head. I see it almost every day, usually late at night. In the movie, I'm standing at the gate of a long white fence. Gwen has passed through the gate and walks down a dirt trail that leads down into a valley. Halfway down, she turns and waves at me, a big smile on her face. I don't smile back. I am filled with fear, of the loneliness will I have to endure and all our plans that will never come to be.

Gwen walks on until the path curves to the left and she's out of sight. I want to call for her to come back but my voice won't work. I pull and kick at the gate but it won't budge. Darkness comes, but I stand at the gate hoping Gwen will walk back up the path and through the gate. I stand there a long time, waiting.

If I could only get through the gate. Then I could find where Gwen went and we could be together again. I could give her a hug, because I didn't do that enough when she was here. I could look into her brown eyes and see the love there.

I know she's gone forever. I have to keep telling myself that. I have her wallet, a closet full of her clothes, and lord knows how much paperwork she left behind. I have everything but Gwen.

And with that, I think I'm done blogging.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dear Dairy,

My heart goes out to the people in Colorado. I worked in TV news and I still have that news gene in my blood, so I've been glued to my set. I wish somebody could figure out why people go to so much trouble to kill random people. I can't say anything new because it's all been said. But always, the big question is WHY?

I feel the need to change things. I have thought about dying my hair red, an impulse that I've had before over the years. I have bought some new clothes that are somewhat different than what I usually wear. Lots of superficial changes.

The big decision is that if we can wrench my inheritance away from the crooks, I'm going to build the house Gwen and I designed. We took an existing set of Mediterranean plans and modified them to our needs. (My youngest now insists that I put in a secret room, which I might actually do.) I did put in a small saltwater pool that I think will help me with the fibromyalgia.

It's a big house for one person, but I may have one of my spawn living with me and going to college nearby. I hope someday I can find someone special who will share the house with me. I'm in no hurry, and I know I can't replace Gwen, who will always be a part of me. But I don't think she'd want me being lonely all the time. I hope the Fates will give me a break in the future and let me find some security and happiness. That's assuming there are Fates. If they exist I'm giving them a one-finger salute.

Building a house is stressful but it will keep me busy (but not too busy to write, Carwash!). I've been buying things for this house, little decorative things for the most part. There is a huge photograph of the Chicago skyline and a painting of a geisha (they fascinate me) looking through a Viewmaster. I had to explain Viewmasters to my kids. Their reaction: "No video games? Wow, did you ever have fun?"

Anyway, as the days go by I think more and more about the house and I think it's become a symbol of a new life for me. Or I'm being a complete idiot.

In other news, I pitched a PB idea to my agent and she seemed enthused. It was originally an email post but I started thinking, this is fun story. With some work it could be a real book. I'm not mentally ready right now for the complex process of editing, but that will come, sooner rather than later.

Last, and in no way least, I want to thank everyone for caring. I had no idea I had so many friends who cared so much. I wish they were nearby but you can't have everything. I met Gwen on the Internet, by the way, but I never dreamed we would become partners. That was nearly 14 years ago.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dear Dairy,

Note: I thought I posted this. Maybe I did. Maybe I didn't. Only Randolph Mantooth knows.
Other note: SAO, I cannot write you if you don't provide a valid email address.

So here's probably the same blog entry again. Blame it on the Buddhists--nobody ever blames them for anything. It's about time.

Okay, this was one of those relapse days they told me would happen. Believe me, I'm ready to get back to the funny. Making people laugh brings me joy. I think it's probably my best talent. But the day wore me down and I got a letter from Gwen's mom, which she wanted posted--you can see it below. 

Went to the grief group at the hospital. Four women and a "bereavement counselor." I think I gave as much good advice as I got. Anyway, the 90 minutes went by fast. I'll probably try it again next month.

Finally picked up Gwen today. Gwen's mother called yesterday howling that Gwen hadn't been cremated yet but I knew better. Paid my $5300.00, if you're curious about what these things cost, and now she's sitting in the family room. I will probably cry later but right now I'm comfortably numb, as that Archies song goes. Or was that a Cowsill's song. Beats me.

The bad thing is that I saved my last check for the funeral home. I ordered more, but they haven't shown up yet. Until then, I ain't paying no bills, as they say around here. I heard enough of that when I owned a couple of apartment buildings. I must have had every deadbeat in the world.

David's MacBook Pro laptop fan is making horrible noises, so I hope someone knows a fix for it. I don't do hardware so I hope it's not something awful.

Still no rain and a high of 99 degrees today. I haven't mowed in well over a month. This is getting really bad, the worst since 1956 according to the news. The county where I keep my farm has been declared a disaster area. Maybe I'll get a few bucks from the government but I'm not holding my breath.

Listening to Macca's new CD,, Kisses from the Bottom. It's soothing but the love songs are starting to hurt. I'm going to gut this out. I love Macca and the old standards he does on this CD are great.

I promised I would post this next letter. It is from Gwen's mother, who does not have a computer. She wrote it six days after Gwen's death:

Dear Gwen,

I was so happy to hear I was going to have a baby--your father and I went to dinner to celebrate. When you were born the nurse put a yellow ribbon in your thick black hair.

You went to school and Sunday school. I remember our minister at the Congregational church saying you would make a good minister someday. Life went on and you went into the Air Force. You married and gave me a wonderful grandson.

I hope you found happiness in your life. When you called me you always seemed to be so happy with Melissa and her children. I hope you will find some peace now that you have left us. I'm sorry you were so ill--I wish you would have called me.

I will miss your phone calls and all the funny and lovely cards you sent me. I still have them all of them. I told Melissa about the Easter card, the one shaped like a big egg and when you opened it a chicken on a spring popped out. You and I laughed about this one many times.

I love you and I will miss you--my heart is aching and I have cried every day since you left us. I wish I could have kissed and hugged you before you left us.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dear Dairy,

The Celebration of Gwen went well. Almost everyone on our end of the street came, plus some other friends. I did most of the talking, telling about how we met, what Gwen liked to do, and hopefully a few funny stories. One of neighbors gave me a single red rose. I told the man next door that I called him Mr. Bushida and I'd blown up his house in my writing at least half a dozen times. Thankfully, he thought that was hilarious.

I still have the attention span of a gnat. Got up this morning, made a pot of coffee, and when I came back ten minutes later, I discovered I had made a nice pot of hot water. And after congratulating myself on getting up and making it to Champaign to my doctor appointments with time to spare, they told me I'd missed the first appointment by half an hour.

While I waited to make new appointments, the old man standing behind me in line made a angry face at me. "You think this line is long?" he muttered. "Wait until Obamacare gets here." I shook my head and told him I wasn't getting in any political arguments with strange men in baseball caps. That hasn't stopped my son and for blaming everything on Obamacare, like we ran out of toilet paper and I spilled a bamboo vase. Our pizza could have been warmer at dinner, so we blamed that on Obamacare too. I'll bet that's why my knees hurt so bad. Obamacare!

Forgot to eat again today. The neighbors wanted to organize a "Make sure Melissa eats campaign." I'm not too torn up about losing some weight so I'm not worried. Obamacare!

The UPS man brought a lovely teddy bear from my Net Mom, the woman who watches over me. And it was from FAO Schwartz. Classy.

Today was a wash for getting things done but I do need to do laundry, cleaning, and some purging. There's no big hurry with the purging, I know, but it seems like I'm moving forward a tiny bit.

Thursday is the Grief Group meeting. If it's a room full of people sobbing, I'm outta there. I don't see that being helpful.

I do find myself wondering about souls. Do they exist? Do our loved ones watch over us? That would be cool but I don't want my parents watching me take a dump or do some other things I won't mention. Maybe it's souls that make humans different than African TzeTze flies and Rush Limbaugh.

I'm thinking about the new house a lot. My youngest spawn is now demanding a secret room. Come to think of it, that would be pretty cool. But now he wants a secret tunnel to the next lot. I don't think so.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dear Dairy,

Gwen's obit appeared in Tuesday's paper. They put a flag under her picture because she was a veteran. And they said "she served her country with distinction," which I really liked.

Wednesday is the Gwen Celebration for the neighborhood. I was happy to find two of my father's caregivers whom we got to know well. In fact, one of them told me it was a recommendation from Gwen that got her a new and better job after my father passed. The other caregiver is rather timid and was bulled constantly by my father's nurse. The nurse was an ass. A major ass. She had a police record and attacked a cop. But:

1. When the nurse bullied the woman in my presence, I told her very seriously that I would rip her rotten head off if it happened again. Geez, did she go pale in a hurry.

2. The nurse kept a notebook full of everything that went on in the house. My sons got a hold of it, drew a picture, and wrote underneath, "We just drew a picture of a pirate in your f@cking notebook and there's not a thing you can do about it."

3. When the nurse showed up (in a pink tracksuit) at my father's house while it was still burning, a sheriff's deputy asked me what I want to do. I said, "Throw her out of the neighborhood." Two deputies escorted her to her car and told her to stay at least five miles from my father's house. The next day, she posted a weird announcement in the newspaper about how much she missed my father. Get over it lady! My father couldn't stand you! He wanted a wild dingo to eat you!

I had no idea I had such clout! I wish Gwen had been there but she was helping some firefighters push my father's car out of the garage. It was already covered with wet plaster and looked like the world's biggest bird has taken a dump on it. When I did tell Gwen, she about busted a rib from laughing.

We've been cleaning out the refrigerator. So far, we have discovered 654 new life forms, many of which are mean and have teeth. My son had to Taser one of them to get it inside the garbage disposal.

I don't know where I am with grieving right now. I think the meds have built a wall where the horrible images of that night still pop up, but they don't hit me as hard. I can't take meds the rest of my life, so I'm hoping to learn how to grieve on my own. We'll see what Thursday night with what I call the Grief Group at the hospital. I'm worried it will be a room full of sobbing people. That I don't need.

Can't either of my sons interested in the Straight No Chaser concert at the Chicago Theater in December. The tickets are bought, so maybe I can find somebody up there who wants to go. I'm pretty sure I know a few writers up there. (I'm mentioning this because the tickets fell off my desk today. There ain't no way it's December, not around here.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dear Dairy,

Weird thing. I couldn't shake the idea that I wouldn't be around for Gwen's birthday in late October. Lots of morbid thoughts about my demise. So I started ordering birthday presents so she would have presents to unwrap. Now I have all these unopened boxes sitting in my den. One is really cool: a Starbucks white-gold travel mug with a ceramic interior. I finally opened it today and it's gorgeous.

Also opened a fake antique sign that reads "Books" in vertical letters with a old-fashioned hand pointing to the right. It's heavy and substantial and has a glass front, which I didn't expect.

I got her a Dalek key ring that lights up and threatens to exterminate you. I have no idea where it went. Maybe it exterminated itself. Oh, and an Abby bobblehead from NCIS. Gwen watched that damned show every day on one channel or another. Why don't they just make an NCIS channel and be done with it.

Looking at Gwen's stuff in the bathroom. I'm not at the point of throwing it out yet, or maybe I'll just use it. But the important thing is that even though Gwen owned my heart and soul (and still does), she never really owned the material things. She is gone but her stuff remains. Now it's mine, and when I go, my stuff will go to my children. We're really just renting, when you get down to it. Sometimes, if you have good stuff, the person who sums your life is an auctioneer.

I wish I could control my emotions better. I started crying at the grocery store when I saw something Gwen liked. People tell me it's normal, but that doesn't help, plus women bawling in stores tends to frighten other shoppers--well, more than I usually frighten them.

I'm having a lot of trouble concentrating, except for one thing: early this morning (2:50am),  it was exactly one week since I lost my Gwen, at least according to the coroner. She died sometime before that. She kept making gurgling noises at first and I took that I took to be a good sign. I remember yelling at the 911 lady about the gurgling. I've since been told those were death rattles, and I don't want to know what those are or why they happen.

It would be romantic if she had died in my arms. But I couldn't get her up so she died with me on top of her nude body, pounding on her and yelling for her to wake up. A policeman dragged me off of her and took me to another room while the paramedics did their thing.

This is weird in a way, I'm angry that my world has stopped but the rest of the world goes on. Hearts beat, hearts stop beating, people laugh and cry, the birds sing their song, men drive semis full of meat down the Interstate, the yard turns more yellow from the drought, now the worst in 56 years.

So, this week seems like forever. Will the hurt ever end? It's not for lack of trying. Last night I stood on the front porch, looked up at the cloudless sky, and told Gwen how angry I was that she left me like this. Just when things started to turn in our favor, she went away to wherever people go. We worked so hard to beat the crooks--it was time to drink the wine, so to speak.

Found out today from someone who secretly overheard a conversation between the crooked lawyer and the crooked accountant I've been fighting since 2008:
Lawyer to accountant: "You better not do this. Melissa will find out and destroy you."

You bet your ass I will. It's already started. We're bringing down the Illinois Attorney General's office on your greedy *#&(*&#@s.

Come to think of it, the same lawyer told my ex: "Watch out for Melissa. She's really intelligent."

Yeah, intelligent people are dangerous. Especially if you're a crook who stole from me.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dear Dairy,

First things first. Gwen and I had two rescued dogs: Scooter, a huge Stafforshire bull terrier; and Thor, an Australian terrier. It would make them happy if people honored Gwen by sending something to the Cumberland County Pet Connection Charity, P.O. Box 1, Toledo, IL 62468. We know one of the people who run the charity and they are always strapped for money. It's tax deductible, so do it. Or let me know when you first joined Al Queda.

Bought a book from Amazon called "How To Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies." And a Micky Dolenz CD. And two Ruff Hewn tops at Carsons. The retail therapy didn't really help. At least the tops fit.

I'm purging, I guess. Washed some towels today and threw out all Gwen's undies I found in the laundry. There's not much else to do with them. I donated her glasses to the Lion's Club. They refurbish them and give them to people who can't afford them.

The fridge needs to be cleaned out. You don't want to know what the head of lettuce I found looked like. Thankfully, the garbage disposal is still working, but it sounds weird. The sink was hideous until I found some Barkeeper's Friend at the store. The kitchen was Gwen's domain. I had no idea things had gotten so bad.

Rummaged around her desk and found some unpaid medical bills. Now that she's gone, I will lose my insurance, since I piggybacked on hers. That's scary. Maybe AARP has something.

I have to pick up Gwen today, I think. I know I have to give the funeral home a bunch of money. Her obit didn't show up in the paper today. I thought it would, but maybe the funeral home wants the money first. Makes them sound nasty but it is a business. The man who owns it was a class behind me in high school.

Wednesday afternoon the neighbors who knew Gwen and having a quiet celebration. They are shocked at what happened. I have to tell the same story over and over--today it was the lady at the alterations shop who Gwen befriended. She just kept saying, "Your father just died and now Gwen is gone? No no no no."

Let's see...has anything good happened? I think this is making my youngest grow up, since he's almost my parent at the moment.

Oh! I talked to the family geneologist who has become something of an expert on DNA. Part of our family came from the O'Neill clan in Ireland. As it turns out, the two guys--the white cop and the black professor who had beers with president Obama--turns out that the professor carries the same DNA bits as me. So he's a relative of sorts since we came from the same clan and DNA pool. And I guess he would be not an African-American but an Irish-American. So of course he would drink beers with the president! I was drinking one (Blue Moon) when I found out (really). Ha ha! Stereotypes!