Winter, 2020 (specifically March 2nd)
Note: Written as homework for therapy.
It’s been hard for me to face the loss of you. You were in my life for 46% of it up to the moment you died. The cats were our kids, and you stayed alive for them as much as for me. It doesn’t surprise me that you were dead 6 months after Brubeck died. Your death day was very close to the day your cat Damien died, back in 1993 before I knew you. You didn’t mention him much in the later years, but I think he was on your mind.
You added to my abandonment issues by leaving the world so brutally. You didn’t care that it would be a much tougher journey losing you and not having my family. At the end, you painted me and my family as horrible and alienated me from them. All we tried to do was love you and take care of you as much as we could for as long as we could. I know a lot of times it was not wisely, but too well, but my parents did more for us than your father ever did. In fact, the best thing your father did was die, because I gained another level of understanding of you that helped us for the 7 years you were alive after that. It still pisses me off just how big of a mess you left when you died; and it’s part of the reason there’s still a lot of emotional pain associated with your memory.
I miss listening to music, our jokes, our cats, visits from our favorite clients, “cat TV”, making dinner, making love, the way your smile made my heart leap for joy, playing poker or 21 with the red Snoopy cards in your bathroom while you took a bath to try to make your back feel even the tiniest bit better, the different ways you’d tell me it was Bongload Time, when you’d call me Moniegirl or Lucky Charm, our dreams for the house, working on Minimoogs, the way you could cheer me up in the depths of depression, My Show, which was when we’d sit down and go through the folder you kept things you wanted to share with me (when did that start? 911? 2nd gulf war?), hearing you test out synths in front of clients and have them complement your playing, the nerdy as fuck projects you’d come up with, cuddling, hearing you say “I love you”.
Sense memory is still hard to deal with. A lot of times now, it’s songs I don’t hear often but they’re ones that you loved. A recent example is Journey’s “Send Her My Love.” It makes me anxious when that happens. That anxiety often makes me worried about my present life. All that because I can’t bear to miss you. I loathe, detest, and despise missing you.
I think of you when I smell vanilla or plumeria. I tell people at the dispensary about “starving lungs in Jamaica” when someone didn’t finish their dabs. So many songs still remind me of you, but a lot of them aren’t as emotionally painful as they used to be. Like “Everything Counts” by Depeche Mode. That used to be an emotional beating. Yet other songs are now emotionally painful because I’ve used them to process the emotional pain related to your loss. The most notable is “Cousin Kevin,” from The Who’s Tommy. The lines “Maybe a cigarette burn on your arm would change the expression to one of alarm” hits hard. The scar from you aiding me in burning myself (even though I was not completely serious about actually doing it) has faded a lot, but oy vey, my soul mate!
Looking at your handwriting isn’t always easy, so I don’t do it too often. But I just moved out of the place in Victorville in early February, which meant having to open boxes I haven’t opened in more than 6 years. Evidence of the life we had together. The padded envelope that has all of our wedding stuff in it. All the CD’s and VHS tapes and cassette tapes. And your pictures! I sent a bunch to Audrey, as I think it’s time to start making sure evidence of your existence is not only in my hands.
The catalyst for finally forcing myself to deal with how painful it was to lose you was our friend Bruce’s death. Losing Golden Ears was such a loss. He was a huge connection to you, and losing him was like losing you again. He’d be glad that his dying of cancer on 4/20 prompted me to grow as a person.
I want to tell you about my life right now, because your death is directly responsible for the life I have now. I know part of the reason you hung yourself was to free me from the burden of you. We both know just how much of a burden it was at the end. You’d suffered enough, and I’m glad I was able to accept that at the very end. You said people would help me and take care of me, and it’s true. My soldering and wiring skills have come in handy to a wonderful group of friends I have now. There’s this cool new event called Neotropolis, and I’m the repair tech for all the LED neon light signs and light bars. I even have my own group, known as a faction, which I named The Light Nerds. I’m running a repair shop, so of course I need to pay homage to you. I made money selling the T1 boards, and the money often came in exactly when I needed it.
I’ve been mending fences with my folks for about four and a half years now. I always knew they never stopped loving me, even though you tried to convince me they didn’t. They let me move in a year ago last December so I could get the job I have now, which was 14 months ago. I just changed departments from Customer Service to Logistics. It’s a better position, though I’m not getting a pay rise just yet. I’m still training, and it’s going well. I built myself a great reputation in Customer Service, which helped me get this new job. It’s a great place to work for, and the benefits are ones I longed to get when you were alive.
I have an actual relationship with my nephew Harry, and I’m so glad. I’m the aunt who knows about stuff like memes and Anime. We get along and even had a dual birthday lunch last year. He’s a great kid, and you were wrong–my sister and parents have done a great job raising him. He’s also got a stepdad named Danny who is by far the best brother in law I’ve had.
In my romantic life–I’ve been in a wonderful relationship with Stephen for nearly 5 years. We spent the better part of 4 years living and working together, and maintained a place together until recently. Stephen is amazing. He loves me the way you claimed to love me. Yes, I’m not his wife, but he doesn’t try to make me into the kind of partner he wants. He wants me to live my own life the way I need to. He lent me his car to go on the interview for my job, knowing it could mean me moving back in with my parents. It’s not that big a deal, because they love him. He’s spent holidays with us, and has helped them around the house a bunch. He loves me and he knows that my parents are wonderful, so he treats them with the respect they’re due.
When it comes to my relationship with Stephen, I’ve taken all the good things you did for me and combined it with the way I wish you’d loved me. As a result, I know Stephen is the love of my life. It’s so easy to love and support him finding his path in life. I taught him how to solder, and we built those boards together. That’s been a good source of income. There’s so much art he’s shown me that I’d never have known otherwise. It’s great. My not dealing with the loss of you has caused problems in my relationship with him, but now that I’ve figured out what’s going on, I’m determined to deal with feelings as rationally as I can.
March 1st came and went, and I did my best not to focus on the fact that it was the 24th anniversary of me finding you on AOL. I spent the weekend with Stephen, which was fantastic. I was sore from our outing on the 29th, and as we were in a hotel room, I opted to take a bath. It felt very odd to be the one soaking in the tub and asking someone to load me a bowl. Then, on the way to lunch, “your songs” kept popping up in my playlist. I skipped most of them, because I wanted to focus on the present. But it made me miss you.
So that’s where I am in life, in a place you probably knew I’d be in because of the tremendous faith you (usually) had in me. I love you still, and a part of me always will. I just need to process this grief a bit more so I can move on. It’s not easy, but I need to do it in order to succeed at this new phase in life.
I miss you, I love you, and I’m pretty sure you’d be proud of me.