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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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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Thanks, George

Let’s hope 2017 is better

Clocks in a New York City flea market

As a break from my usual tales of woe, lemme tell you some stories.

In sixth grade, the girl I had a crush on wore a shirt that said GO GO. Had no idea what it was about but, of course, I had to find out. No internet meant asking the popular kids, who just rolled their eyes because I never heard about WHAM!

Got my hands on a tape of them and I thought that they were ok. They were no Beatles but not altogether terrible.

Found out later that, as a child, George Michael was a fat and lonely son of immigrants that wore glasses and couldn’t get a girl to talk to him.

And here’s why it matters to me that he just died: It was honestly, the first time I really thought that the trajectory of my life might be different than it was. That even though I was a fat and lonely son of immigrants that wore glasses and couldn’t get a girl to talk to me, that it didn’t always have to be that way.

So I kept listening to him, impressed that he wrote and produced almost all of what he sang.

Enough that, when I had scraped together enough scratch from busing tables at the local Italian joint, the first two CDs I ever bought were Sting’s Nothing Like the Sun and Wham’s Music from the Edge of Heaven.

That girl that I had a crush on and I grew up together so that, when Faith came out, we were pretty good friends. By then, I’d decided that George was the coolest guy in the world. I bought shiny aviator glasses like he wore in the video. Because that’s what kids do.

The crush girl told me I looked like a bug. Told her that if it was good enough for George, it was good enough for me. He was old news, she said – but not to me.

Listened to I Knew You Were Waiting by George Michael and Aretha Franklin as I wrote my college essay. It was one of the few songs he didn’t write but that didn’t matter that much to me.

When I got to college, the two albums of my freshman year were Naughty by Nature and George’s Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. Dude never released Volume 2. I woulda bought it.

Discussing music, my first freshman writing teacher said George wasn’t that great. He was no Beatle and, to her, somewhat terrible. I said she should give it a chance. She gave me a B+ instead.

It was always Waiting for that Day from that’s meant the most to me. Don’t think he ever even released a video for it but there’s a part that goes:

I just sit here on this mountain thinking to myself
You’re a fool boy
Why don’t you go down
Find somebody
Find somebody else
My memory serves me far too well

It dovetails nicely with a Chinese story I told you once about a man who sat on a mountain waiting sixty years for a flower to bloom as penance for betraying the woman he loved.

Suppose we’re all waiting for someone and someday. I heard that the man George loved the most in his life died just six months after he met him, which I always thought was terribly sad. His mom passed from cancer when he was just 34.

That’s the thing with tragedy, it gives you depth, but at such a price.

Maybe that’s why the songs I loved from him the most were about waiting and longing, two things I knew well growing up and, unfortunately, even now.

As it turns out, the person that I was waiting for in my mountain of brick and mortar was Alison. I wait for her still.

But I digress. Rumor has it that he died overweight and alone. That really bothers me. Perhaps it’s because that’s how I imagined I’d be now when I was a kid.

I could go on for a while. Just lemme say: George, you were the soundtrack to my childhood and you gave me hope that my life might be different for the better. And it was. In some ways, it still is, and others, far worse than I could have imagined.

Thanks for the hope, man. As for me, I hope you find the love the next life that eluded you in this one.

Me: I think my very favorite song from him is I Knew You Were Waiting for Me.
Her: I don’t like that song.
Me: How are we married?!


Crap, Debbie Reynolds died also. It’s like all the little bits of my childhood are determined to go before the year’s out.

This song sums up my thoughts as to her:

Here’s to 2017; let’s hope its better for everyone.

\’

Location: lying on the floor, listening to George, trying to get some relief for my @#$@#$ back
Mood: nostalgic
Music: Seems to me the peace I search to find ain’t going to be mine
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Goodbye, Bobby

A man’s dying is more the survivors’ affair than his own.

Clock in Upper West Side, NYC
An old friend of mine passed last week.

He was the first person I ever met in college. Met him outside of the dorms queuing for one thing or another. He was from Virginia.

Never met an Asian kid from Virginia before. At that point, I’d never really been out of the City. Don’t think I’d even been to the Bronx or Staten Island yet.

We became pretty good friends through the years. Bombed my econ class because a group of us were playing cards late into the night.

Ended up going to the same law school, just at different times. We also ended up living in the same neighborhood so we constantly either met up or ran into each other.

But in 2001 we had an argument and stopped talking. It wasn’t a terrible argument, per se. Just the kind where both people’re irritated enough to stop talking for a while.

Your typical super-important argument about nuthin.

We met up a few years later at a wedding where I was a groomsman and he was the best men.

Me: Hey, your tie’s crooked. (fixing it)
Him: Ah, thanks. I was worried it’d be weird between us.

We sat at the same table, and were pleasant. We said we’d reconnect again but never got around to it.

That’s the thing with old ghosts; you always run into them in the big City. Figured I’d just run into him again one day, like I do the rest of the world. And we’d be cool again.

But I never did. Now, I never will.

Every time someone dies, I think of that Thomas Mann quote, A man’s dying is more the survivors’ affair than his own.

Right now, I’m on an email list filled with names I’ve not seen in years.

Some people are heading down to the funeral, some are sending flowers. My friends and I are sending an arrangement.

Can’t really imagine what his parents are going through. Don’t want to. When I heard he died, after the initial shock wore off, I thought of my own parents. I’d never want them to have to go through that.

What a thing to bear.

I wish I did actually give him a call. Or he gave me one. Or we did run into each other like people do here.

Life gets in the way. That is, until it gets out of the way.

I’ll add my not meeting up with him to my list of ten thousand regrets.

Goodbye, man. I’m so sorry to hear that you left us.

Me: Why would it be weird? We had an argument. People have arguments. We should meet up some time.
Him: Sure, that sounds good.

Location: in my head, back in college
Mood: sad
Music: Yesterday I got so old, it made me want to cry
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From the Archives: Safe, Grace, and Mercy

Sal, a letter, and the difference between Grace and Mercy


My best friend’s granddad is a fella named Sal. He and his family have always been kind to me. I remember we once discussed Dean Martin. Good ole Dino. Good ole Sal.

Sal just passed yesterday so I’ve got to dust off my black suit and say goodbye. I’m sad, not so much for him, because he lived a good and long life, but for those he left behind.

After all, A man’s dying is more the survivors’ affair than his own.

I wanted to write more but I think I said it best already in the two posts below.

Safe
I thought of my own grandma when I heard the news. We were close because she lived in Taiwan and I’m an insomniac. When I was up at 3AM, I had someone to speak to. After she passed, when  3AM rolled around, found myself just sitting in the dark by my lonely. So I wrote her this letter.

 

Grace and Mercy
And in that entry, talked about the difference between grace and mercy. One is when you get the good things you don’t deserve; the other is when you don’t get the bad things you do deserve. You can read which one is which here.

Back on Monday.

Location: in front of my closet
Mood: sad
Music: don’t remind me to forget
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Useless / Outta time

I feel so useless these days

Sorry, those of you that read me know I’m pretty regular about my postings but this week’s been…hard. Don’t think I had one sober night this week. Heartgirl took me to a fine restaurant, PCD took me out and made me carrot cake, and BEG rang me. They’re all such good people. It’s funny who contacts you and who doesn’t. Slept about four hours a night.

Told you before that A man’s dying is more the survivors’ affair than his own.

I think I’m fairly quick-witted. Rain’s faster on the draw but I hold my own. S’what happens when you read as much as a nerd like me. But I dunno what to say to my own mother. Isn’t that a kick in the head?

Sucks when you realize a particular talent you have’s only good for entertainment purposes.

The irony of this whole thing is that my mom just came back from Taiwan two days before my grandma died. Now she’s gotta go back.

Her: I didn’t know she was gonna go. (pause) I woulda stayed if I knew.
Me: One of us (kids) should go back with you.
Her: No, it’s useless. She’s gone. You called her all the time. That meant a lot to her. (pause) You’re a good kid.

She doesn’t know that I stopped calling her after the theft cause I didn’t want her to worry. Stupid. I thought we had time. Goddamit, I thought I had time. No one told me we were outta time.

Gonna add that to my list of ten thousand regrets.

Gonna need more damn paper.

Location: my office, beat tired
Mood: beat tired
Music: you wake up in it One fine day