Best friends forever

I married Alison for her money

When we chatted about my theft, she noted that the amount that was taken was almost exactly the sum of what she had at the time.

Told her that the thing that bothered me most about the theft was what the money represented. Being a busboy in a Chinese restaurant. Walking home instead of spending the buck it took for the bus. Going to the library for textbooks instead of buying them.

And I told her that knowing that she had money made me like her more. Because she lived simply. She drove a Civic. She had roommates. She still used the same television she bought in college – something I mocked her for, relentlessly.

That’s when I told her that I thought she and I would be great together if we got serious.

Her: So, you want to be with me for my money?
Me: (laughing) Sure. It’s not the money but what the money represents. Self-discipline, planning, priorities, etc. (winking) I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ll spend our entire relationship trying to get at it.
Her: (smiling) At least you’re honest.

The kid came back on Sunday so I’ve been sober since then. Yesterday, gathered up the courage to go to her bank and close out her account.

Thought about what I said her all those years ago and felt gross. So gross that I took a shower and broke down in it.

Afterward, created an online account for everything from her that I’m gonna use for the kid. Because I want none of it.

He’ll get everything she worked so hard and sacrificed for. Because her money represents the sum of her life’s effort and sacrifice.

And the kid represents the sum of all her hopes and dreams.

Even in death, she’ll take care of him. Cause she loved him even before he existed. It’s why I married her.

Right after he was born…

Her: Oh, I love him. Look at all that hair! (beaming) Isn’t he beautiful?
Me: (solemnly) This whole thing is beautiful.
Her: (looking at him) We’re gonna be best friends, you and me. Best friends forever. (kisses him)

I’ll be shutting down the YouCaring page soon. It’s time to try pull myself together and put myself back into the stream of life.

No idea how I’m gonna do it, but I will. It’s what she woulda wanted.

Location: Soberville. It sucks here.
Mood: heartbroken
Music: people always wave goodbye and say hello
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True Love is Gravity

I try to float but I crash


Write this as a general response to everyone that asks me how I’m doing.

In my sleepless nights, I’ve come to conclusion that true love is most like gravity. It’s something that we don’t really think about, but it’s there to anchor us to the world. Both true love and gravity gives things weight and heft.

If either goes away, you’re unmoored. Adrift. Everything floats.

Since Alison’s left, found myself … fuzzy. It’s probably also the insomnia. Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy. My head feels like a balloon on my shoulders.

I further help the floating by forcing myself to not think about the loss, and self-medicating.

But it comes back. And – as you’d expect when gravity suddenly comes back after being off – everything comes crashing down.

Went to pick up Alison from the cremation place the other day.

Went alone. Took almost 90 minutes to get to her. 90 gut-wrenching minutes.

I’d been floating for the past 48 hours or so. But it all came crashing down when I walked through the doors of that place.

They told me to sit down and wait. So I took a picture of my sneakers cause I didn’t know what else to do. Another funeral was taking place.

Then someone called out “Mr. McCarthy?” I looked up and he handed me a heavy box. When I realized what, exactly, I was holding, started weeping so hard I could barely see.

Thought pure agony was setting up cremation services for your 38 year-old wife you love more than life itself.

No, man. Pure agony is what happens when you pick her up.

Somehow made it home 90 minutes later. Don’t remember much of it but I stood outside my door with this box, trying to will the ability to open the door and bring her home.

Remember laughing with her when we got married about whether or not I should carry her through the door.

Now, I carried her through the door one last time and fell to my knees.

I’m so sorry, I said, and kissed the box.

So, how am I doing? Not well. I float. I hear you and see you but I’m not really here.

Part of me is in a fucking cardboard box in my living room, so I’m not well at all.

I’m fighting gravity and trying to bend time and space with pharmaceuticals and fine, aged spirits.

Please don’t ask how I’m doing, cause you know how I’m doing. I’m struggling to make it to the other side.

I’m so sorry I couldn’t save you. I’d kill myself a thousand times over if I could bring you back as you were.

 

\’ FOR NATE

Location: home with her
Mood: dark
Music: I’m all messed up, I’m so out of line, yeah. Stilettos and broken bottles
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Alison Music: Oh, I’d better learn how to face it

The light has gone out

Friend: Sorry to call. We’re all just worried about you. (pause) Ridiculous question but: How are you?
Me: Drunk and heartbroken. You?
Him: It’s 10AM.
Me: I like to get an early start on things.

Teddy Roosevelt made a few appearances in this blog in the past. The entry I wrote about Xenophen wanting to die with his feet facing home, is one of my favourites and that picture is a statue of Roosevelt.

And I wrote another entry with a quote from him about daring greatly.

Always had an affinity for Teddy, but I’m hoping that it’s not because we will share similar fates.

See, Roosevelt was a New Yorker, like me. He lived walking distance to my pad, not too far from where I went to law school.

He was 25 and in Albany when he heard that his wife Alice gave birth to his daughter. So he rushed home – partly to see his daughter, and partly because his mom was sick.

By the time he got home to 6 West 57th Street, it was too late. His mom had died.

But the sick twist is that his wife died just 11 hours later from a completely unforeseen kidney issue. She was only 22.

Teddy kept a diary where he simply wrote a large black X and a single sentence: The light has gone out of my life.

I remember hearing that story as a kid and it affected me enough that I remembered it. But not so much that I truly appreciated what it must have meant to Teddy.

He couldn’t handle it. He gave his daughter to his sister to raise, put away everything that reminded him of Alice, and moved to North Dakota.

And he never spoke of Alice again and wouldn’t allow those around him to mention her name again. She didn’t even appear in his autobiography.

While that’s a bit much, I understand it.

After seeing my dad, spent the last week putting away as much of her things as possible; donating and tossing what I can. There are pictures and reminders of her everywhere.

They’re like constant papercuts over my shattered self.

Soon, everything will have been put away. And at some point, I’ll have to put Alison away.

Partly because, in the back of my mind, I worry that my other atomic bomb will go off. Mainly because my kid and my dad need me. Won’t be able to function if I don’t and they need me to function.

But, unlike Teddy, I’d never put Alison away completely.

Because, she was the best part of me and I need to give Nate the best of me. So that means keeping her here for him.

I just need a little time.

\’ FOR NATE

Location: in front of some rum
Mood: the same
Music: Now I can see love’s taken her toll on me
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No rest

You’re kidding me, right?

Me: Hi, dad. How’re you feeling?
Him: (tearing up) I’m so, so sorry.

Alison’s mother finally went home the other day. She came here with such joy, expecting to stay only a few days. She left heartbroken almost two years later. I grieve for myself, for Alison, for Nate, for her family, and for her.

I just grieve in general. But I don’t even have time to do that properly.

See, she took Nate with her for a week because I needed to attend to a completely new catastrophe.

It’s about time to tell you about one of the other two atomic bombs in my life: My father has Stage 4 Lung Cancer.

Do you read me and think: You’re kidding me, right?

Cause that’s pretty much how I’ve been going through life the past five years. Wake up and think: You’re kidding me, right?

The kicker’s that he’s never smoked a day in his life. Just like Alison didn’t fit the profile of a glioblastoma. These two tragedies hit us from far outta nowhere.

And there was a third atomic bomb I’ve still not told you about.

In any case, it was him I went to see in the ER last week while Alison lay dying. Saw him again yesterday.

My heart gets no rest.

Couldn’t stay long. Can’t bear being in hospitals anymore. Spent too many goddamn days and nights in them these past two years.

It’s a good thing that my brother’s in town – he came to see my dad and check in on Alison. He was here when she passed.

He’s here right now and staying over most nights, I suspect to keep an eye on me. Don’t blame him. If I were in his shoes, I’d do the same.

Then again, life seems determined to break me. I won’t let it. Can’t let it.

At least my brother provides some much-needed levity from time-to-time.

Mom: For Nate, you need to find help you can trust.
Him: (to me) Well, all that time you spent looking for untrustworthy help was a complete waste.

 

\’

Location: in bed for the first time in over a year-and-a-half
Mood: heartbroken
Music: Hopped on the metro and I make my way home
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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 it to someone in lieu of flowers.

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)

 

\’

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)

\’

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)

\’

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.

\’

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.

\’

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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