We’ll get through this

She’s gone

Alison’s gone.

She was supposed to get 28,871 days here; she got less than 13,540. It’s so damn unfair.

Someone wrote a public FB post after his own wife, Sunday Dennis, passed from a GBM. Sunday’s last words were, “It could be worse, don’t worry about it.” Her husband said that at the end, people are simply their truest selves, because there’s no reason to be anything but that.

I agree.

One of the last things that Alison said to her mom was when her mom sat on the bed and Alison felt the room spin. She asked her mom, “Are you OK?” because she was worried her mom was going to fall.

And in the last real interaction Alison and I had, she heard me sighing and reached out to me to take my hand.

She said, “Don’t worry, Logan. We’ll get through this.”

Even at the very end, she was worried about her mother and me.

Which isn’t to say she wasn’t still witty and charming; when we told her brother’s birthday gift to her was a surprise visit, she grinned and said, “Send it back.”

That’s the essence of Alison and why she is the only woman I ever truly loved. Because she was everything I ever dreamed of: beautiful, smart, witty, neat as a pin – the importance of which you would understand if you ever saw the bachelor version of my pad – and, most of all, kind.

So incredibly kind.

Kindness has always been one of the things I’ve found most attractive in people. Because people value what’s rare and true kindness is so very rare.

After those interactions, Alison simply slept more and more until she could no longer speak. But when we said, “We love you,” she would mouth the same thing: “I love you too.”

In her last days, she’d feel around with her right hand for our hands. When she found them, she’d smile slightly and squeeze our hands, as if to reassure us that we’d get through it.

I hope she’s right. She was the brightest thing my life and I struggle in darkness without her.

I’ll love her until the end of my days.

But you knew that part already.

Me: I promise that I’ll take care of you until the end of my life. Because I love you and, even more, she loved you. I’ll never choose anyone or anything above you.
Son: (stares at me, smiles)
Me: We’ll get through this life together, you and I, OK? Your mamma said so.
Son: (laughs, runs away)

There will be no funeral, wake, nor memorial for Alison.

We didn’t have a ceremony for our engagement, wedding, pregnancy, or Nate’s birth so I’m not gonna start with a funeral for her.

If you want to do something for her, consider re-posting this or sending a donation in lieu of flowers.

DONATIONS FOR NATE

For those of you new to our story, the start of it is here although our life together really started here.

And the start of the cancer part of it is here.

Location: misery
Mood: hollowed-out
Music: none
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Why she was my person

She was perfect for me

This is probably my favorite picture of her.

It was taken the day we got married. That’s what she wore. It perfectly encapsulates what our marriage was all about.

She didn’t wear white. There was no ceremony, we just got hitched in the local courthouse. She’s holding her phone because there was some last-minute thing at work she had to answer. She was always helping others.

We took the money that her parents and my parents gave us for the wedding and invested it in Facebook instead.

Similarly, when we got engaged, I bought her an engagement ring but it wasn’t a diamond. Instead, she told me to put the money I woulda spent on a diamond towards our mortgage.

I never wore my wedding band but she never had a problem with that.

Said it before, love is two people looking at the world the same way.

She was my person and I was hers because we were always more interested in doing stuff that was actually important to us rather than all the stuff that was supposed to be important to us.

What was important to us was each other and each other’s happiness. That was it. It was us versus the world.

Me: We’re team McCarthy-Lo – see, I gave you top billing.
Her: (laughing) You and me against the world.

As an aside, that investment in Facebook and mortgage payment came in handy when everything went to hell.

In any case, we had dinner together almost every night the entire time we were together. I think that’s why she never cared about the wedding band.

Because she knew that, at the end of the day, there was no place I’d rather be and no one I’d rather be with than at the dinner table with her. And I knew the same was true of her.

We didn’t care about any symbols or metaphors about relationships, we only cared about the relationship itself.

That’s the truth and the truth is a powerful thing.

The only thing missing from our idyllic life was the kid. When he came, we thought it was finally our time. But it never was.

At some point, I know that I’ll have dinner every night with only 2/3 of my family once again.

She’ll never have dinner with us again.

The thought of it is almost too much to bear.

Son: (smiles)
Me: (gently) It’s you and me, man. Us versus the world. We gotta take care of each other.
Him: (laughs)

 

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Location: at the foot of her bed
Mood: agony
Music: say why don’t you and I get together? Fly to the moon and straight on to heaven
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I’m here

Our first date, revisited


We went on our first date together almost nine years ago today.

Went on other dates that week, but I don’t remember them. I remember Alison’s in particular because she was late.

She emailed me to tell me she was going to be late because she was working to get a generator for a village in Africa – which wasn’t an excuse I’d ever heard before.

She worked at Helen Keller, you see. She spent almost her entire professional career trying to help other people.

She set herself apart from the beginning.

With her education, she coulda gone anywhere. But instead she worked long hours for little pay trying to help others. She was always flying to Africa or Washington to try and make a difference.

She made such a difference in my life as well.

Just one of a million reasons why the world and I are better because she was in it.

That night…

Her: Hey, I’m here.
Me: (laughing) You were getting a generator?
Her: Yes – I was waiting for the donor to confirm.
Me: Did you get it?
Her: (beaming) Yep!
Me: Great, let’s drink to that.
Her: You’ll drink to anything.
Me: (nodding) This is true.

Last week…

Me: (waking up in the dark) Are you ok?
Her: (weakly opens and closes her right hand)
Me: (takes her right hand and sits beside her) I’m here.
Her: (squeezes my hand)
Me: I’m here.
Her: (squeezes my hand again)

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Location: at the foot of her bed
Mood: numb
Music: Don’t like reality, it’s way too clear to me
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Fancy meeting you here

It was supposed to be someone else

When I ran into my wife outside years ago and asked if I could take her picture.

Years ago…

Her: (smiling) Hey!
Me: Hey, pretty lady! Fancy meeting you here.

Every once in a while, I’ll see someone that looks a little like Alison walking outside. She was always perfectly put together.

Some of the happiest moments in my entire life was when I bumped into her and she’d smile the most beautiful smile at me.

That that will never happen again is enough to make me cry in a subway station by my lonesome. It’s so goddamn painful.


Alison’s been sleeping all day and night. She’s only awake for a few minutes a day now.

On the other hand, I’ve not been getting any sleep. The unfairness of it all keeps me up.

The thing is that horrifies me is what should horrify you: It wasn’t supposed to be us.

It’s never supposed to be us. It’s always supposed to be someone else.

  • I wanted three kids, she wanted two.
  • I wanted to stay in Manhattan, she wanted to live with green grass and shade.

That was pretty much the extent of our major disagreements.

We were supposed to have time to work those things out, to have a life together. She was supposed to finally be able to have her own family.

She was athletic. She ran almost every day. Played soccer for years. She ate healthfully. Took care of herself. Didn’t smoke. Rarely drank.

It’s never supposed to be us.

It’s always supposed to be someone else.

And now – like that story Button, Button – we’ve become your someone else.

Me: (quietly, by her bed) Hey, pretty lady. Fancy meeting you here.
Her: …
Me: (nodding)

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Location: at the foot of her bed
Mood: still broken
Music: been searching a long time for someone exactly like you
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Mother’s Day 2017

Thank you Mrs. McCarthy


Went to yet another hospital ER room this past weekend – and it wasn’t even for Alison. One of my other two atomic bombs went off again.

This was on top of another indescribable weekend. There’s not much to do but bear it.

I’d like to say that this was Alison’s second Mother’s Day as a mother but it really wasn’t. She barely registered anything.

Bought her this card months ago, hoping to give it to her. Never got a chance to. Doesn’t make it any less true though.

Alison is nothing if not extra-ordinary. Sometimes, though, I wish she was just ordinary. Perhaps then, she’d be able to stay with me.

I’d give anything if she could just stay.

Speaking of extra-ordinary – I haven’t really mentioned it because I try to keep as much of the lives of those around me as private as possible – I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that, during the past 18 months, Alison’s mother has been here with me almost every single day and night to take care of her and the kid.

She came here with four days worth of clothes right when Alison gave birth so that she could help out for the first few days. And then everything went to hell.

And she just stayed. There is no way that I could have possibly taken care of Alison and Nate without her. And she has been far stronger than I, which humbles me.

Whereas my pain is deep, I cannot imagine the pain of a mother watching his/her child go through what Alison has gone through. Wouldn’t want to. But she has, somehow. Stoically.

Alison’s parents are a major reason I married her.

Cause, when you marry someone, you don’t just marry them, you marry their family. And these are people I’m truly honored to call family.

Despite my losing so much money and being as old and broken as I am, they have never been anything but wonderful to me.

While this may reflect badly on their own parenting skills, I’ll take what I can get.

When Alison and I got married, I promised them that she would be safe. Part of why I’m so heartbroken is because I feel I’ve failed them. Yet they never say anything negative about anything I’ve done, even though I constantly doubt every decision I’ve made.

Alison’s mother asked if I would keep them in Nate’s life in the future, a question I found very strange.

Me: Are you serious? You’re the only family he’s known for the past 18 months.
Her mother: Things change over time.
Me: (shaking head) I want Nate to know his mother. By knowing you two, he’ll know her. That’s what she’d want. That’s what I want.

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Location: at the foot of her bed
Mood: so very broken
Music: I’m fragile. I try not to be
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Alison Music: Her Diamonds

Can’t take no more


Essentially, the entirety of this song lays out what last month has been like.

Can usually make it to the part that goes: “She tried her best and now she can’t win” before I have to stop playing it.

Everything we do now, we do with the goals of (a) providing Alison some comfort and (b) fulfilling what she would want most if she couldn’t make it.

For the latter, it’s to make sure that Nate is going to be ok.

As I mentioned to you in the last entry, between the theft, the fertility treatments, and the past 18 months of expenses, the donations you’ve provided for her will also help me raise him the way she would have wanted.

That’s all we can do now.

She’s been sleeping almost all day these days. So we – her mother and I – sit and wait with her.

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Location: at the foot of her bed
Mood: dazed
Music: I sit down and I cry too, but don’t let her see
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Cary, Carey, Kari

Some more of the story

A shocking number of my friends and family have never met Alison, or met her only once.

We gave a million reasons why. But the whole story starts like this: A decade ago, a family friend stole my life savings.

When I met Alison, was still struggling to get my life back together again. But she loved me anyway.

She could have had anyone and she chose me.

That’s part of why I was so busy. Was trying to make back 30 years of savings first. But she was busy too.

After we got married, we immediately tried to start a family. And failed. Repeatedly.

Ultimately, we went to several specialists and spent a huge chunk of our savings, including what I had saved up since the theft, trying to have a kid.

She was essentially pregnant for four years straight. And she lost six pregnancies. Six.

People are often crushed with one. You cannot imagine the heartache that comes with six. In a row.

Four were miscarriages. Two were ectopics. If a miscarriage is traumatic, an ectopic is devastating. With an ectopic, you’re in the horrifying position of praying for a miscarriage.

This is after sticking herself with needles every single goddamn night for years.

But it got worse. As I said in an entry I wrote about our very last loss, there’s always room for more down. That loss almost destroyed us because we heard a strong heartbeat only to lose it a few days later.

And the close friend in this entry was Alison. She had to have surgery due to another failed pregnancy.

Whenever we did go out, people would inevitably ask, “Are you planning on having kids?” And what do you say to that? When she actually was pregnant and she didn’t drink, people would always ask annoying questions.

We were tired of it all. So we either turned down all invitations or she just stayed home and I went out. This was for four years.

It’s funny but I have three good friends named Cary, Carey, and Kari; one has never met her and the others only met her once or twice in a all these years.

We never told anyone. Because we just kept hoping that someday, we’d have a family.

When she finally gave birth to Nate, we thought it was over. All the heartbreak, fear, dashed hopes, and loneliness. What we got instead was much, much worse. So much worse than our worst nightmares.

She deserved so much better than this. Her birthday is in a few days.

You wanna know the craziest thing? That’s not even everything. There’s more. But I don’t even think our story up to now is believable.

Her: We were finally supposed to get a good Christmas.
Me: (quietly) I know. I’m so sorry.

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Location: at the foot of her bed
Mood: Guess
Music: Go to the ends of the Earth for you
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Alison Music: Everyday is a Holiday with Alison

The crescendo to that melody I love


Broke my own heart yesterday. I’ll tell you more about it when I patch it up some. Gimme a bit, cause it’s a mess.

It’s all such a mess.

———-

Esthero’s Everyday Is a Holiday starts with the lines:

Met him on Sunday, loved him by Tuesday afternoon.
Woke up on Friday, changed my whole life to make some room

Which is much like how my relationship with Alison started off – at least the second time when we had more than a few words with each other.

I told every single woman I met during my dating years that, “I’m looking for my person. I suppose you are too. Let’s figure out if I’m yours and your mine.”

With Alison, though, I figured out that she was my person almost immediately – in fact, I broke things off with a few people because just meeting her made things a bit clearer for me.

I’ll say “When I think of you, you’re like my favorite song
Or that melody, that melody I love”
And it goes, La da da da da da da da

If every thing I love in my life is a series of songs – moments, family, friends – then my time with her is my favorite melody.

And if the rumors are true, I can look forward to
Some better days and getaways, so nice
‘Cause when I am with you, you’re the crescendo to that melody
That melody I love, yeah, da da da da

For us, the rumors weren’t true. We only had a few better days and getaways, but at least we had them with each other. I am forever grateful that I met her in this world.

And she and the kid have been the crescendo to that melody, that melody I love.

Years ago…

Me: It’s like that song from Esthero: I met you on Sunday, loved you by Tuesday afternoon, and changed my life on Friday to make some room.
Her: (amused) How many times have you used that line?
Me: Just this once. It’s a one-shot line – and if it works, we’ll get married and have our better days and getaways.
Her: (laughing) OK.
Me: So, you love me too?
Her: (nodding) Like a fat kid loves cake, Logan.

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Location: at the foot of her bed
Mood: Take your saddest moment. Multiply it by 10,000. Then double that, because I have two people I love dying. And all I can do is f______g watch.
Music: Around a quarter to two, I have remembered all my lines
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Selene, Alison, and me

Am I being selfish?

I’ve talked about Selene a lot in the past. She was the Greek goddess of the moon. When I was single, in my late night insomnia, she was my constant companion.

Used to look up and ask: “OK, who’s our lucky contestant tonight?

Story goes that Selene loved a mortal and begged Zeus to give him everlasting life. He did, but there was a catch – there’s always a catch – the man would live forever, but only if he slept.

A report came out a week ago that said lots of thinking – essentially being awake – could lead to a spike in brain cancer for those that had it.

Anecdotally, we think that part of the reason Alison survived so long is because she slept for months after the surgery.

Always felt it was selfish of Selene to keep her love asleep to simply keep him with her.

How is that love?

Wonder if I’m being selfish now. It’s easy for me to say to Alison that she has to fight. She’s the one fighting.

And she’s been fighting for 18 months straight. That’s actually not true – she’s been fighting things for five years straight.

However brave and strong you think my wife is, you only know half the story. She is stronger – and the story, more tragic – than you know. I’ll tell you about it soon.

Because you should know how very special she is.

Back to Selene: To what kind of life did she condemn the one she loved most?

And what of me to Alison?

Her: Can I go to sleep?
Me: Yes. I’m right here.

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Location: at the foot of her bed
Mood: indescribable
Music: Everyone knows I’m in over my head
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Are you a religious man?

I’d rather it be the other way around

New York City church
Alison’s more confused and vomiting constantly. We decided to keep her home for as long as possible.

Oddly, ran into someone from the hospital the other day while I was out running an errand.

Him: Mr. McCarthy, how is your wife?
Me: The same. (thinking) Worse.
Him: (pause) I’m sorry. We talk about you two, you know.
Me: You’re all surprised she’s still alive.
Him: (sighing) Yes, that’s true. But also that you both keep fighting.
Me: She keeps fighting. I’m just support staff.
Him: I’ve been doing this over 20 years. Seen a lot of men just put their wives into hospice and move on.
Me: Why would anyone marry anyone if they weren’t in for the full deal?
Him: I dunno, people do. (later) Are you a religious man?
Me: Once thought about being a pastor. A fleeting thought. But I went to and volunteered for church for years.
Him: So you believe in God. You have that to lean on.
Me: I do believe in God, this is true. (pause) I just don’t think he likes my family very much.
Him: (long pause) I don’t know what to say about that.
Me: Nothing to say. My wife’s not even the only one dying. I had two others in my family with terminal illnesses. And that’s not even everything.
Him: (sighing) It’s like Job. (hopefully) He survived.
Me: Yeah. His family didn’t. I’d rather it be other way around. I’m sure he woulda too.

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Location: with my family
Mood: gutted
Music: Stay alive, here we go
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