Profiles

Broken me

Heart Graffiti in New York City

Gradgirl: I’m reading your online dating profile book. You can be my dating coach!
Me: (laughing) Sure.
Her: Do you think you’ll ever do it yourself? Get back out into the regular dating world?
Me: (shaking head) I’m not ready for anything like that. I’m gonna stop wearing black in 2018. So maybe then.

If I ever did write one, it’d probably sound a lot like this:

Wish list
Works in a non-profit or just likes to help people. Highly educated with at least a masters degree and two foreign language skills. From a good family, preferably military, with close ties to them. Likes to clean and hates to cook. Wants children. Eats chili. Strong resemblance to Jennifer Aniston but with green eyes (preferred). Self sufficient. Likes to sing to me almost every night and never comments on my constantly singing off-key. Ideally, always wants to have dinner with me. Loves children – and adults – that eat predominately peanut butter. Kindness a major plus.

Non-negotiables
Must love broken things.

 

Location: In front of a mountain of dishes
Mood: indescribable
Music: Mama’s pearl, let down those curls
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So, I’m not ready for weddings

Especially not her wedding

Rose: So, did you clean up at the wedding?
Me: No, not even close. I *grossly* underestimated how emotional it would be to (a) go to any wedding, let alone (b) the wedding of the woman that came every Wednesday to give Alison food.

My goal has been to cry less than five times a day. Most days, manage to keep it under three. Some days it’s just once. Those’re rare but welcome.

Cause a body gets tired of crying all the goddamn time.

A few months ago, told you about a woman named Annabel that cooked for us every Wednesday for over a year. Well, she just got married this past weekend.

It started pretty well. Hopped on the metro and sat next to a young lady wearing all white. I’ve been wearing all black since the day Alison passed.

Asked her to take a picture with me.

Lady in White, Man in Black

Then I got to the place in pretty good time and pretty good spirits.

But promptly lost it when Annabel saw me and gave me a hug. She looked beautiful, of course.

Reminded me of Alison on our wedding day.

Lemme tell you: I coulda died the day I saw I Alison on our wedding day and woulda died a happy man.

Wedding ceremony in Brooklyn

But I digress. Annabel sees me in the middle of taking pictures at the front of the ceremony and gives me a hug.

So there’s Annabel in her wedding gown – and she’s like the only soul I know there – hugging me in the middle of everything and I lose it.

Like I’m 10 and someone took my security blanket away. Which, I suppose, is kinda what happened.

Anywho, her entire family came over to try and console me.

Her mom: We pray for you.
He: I don’t believe he listens.

Turns out that, my max for not crying was about 30 minutes at a time. And I didn’t think to bring tissues so I’m running to the bathroom every half-hour.

Pretty sure some attendees thought I had food poisoning. (Food was great, BTW – I may have cleaned off an entire tray of steak myself)

After all that, I needed a drink. But it was a dry wedding. So I went with two people I met there for a beer around the way.

Beer at a Biergarten

Later on, another woman, who caught me during cry number six or so, told me she had whiskey in a flask and gave me some of that.

Told the bride and groom that I wished them every good thing, which I did and do.

Me: (to groom) My married life was the happiest time in my life. (choking) I hope it is for you too.

Jon, Annabel, and Logan

Left early and made it home by 11PM.

The next day, a friend of mine – who just got married herself not that long ago and knows about my single life – asked me how it went so I told her, per the convo above.

Rose: You need to meet some old family-money type girls. Like trust fund babies.
Me: Yeah, these looks aren’t gonna last forever – especially in my advanced old age. I’m time limited.
Her: (laughing) Botox.
Me: I’ll have to botox my entire head. 

Wedding arch in daytime in Brooklyn

The truth is that that’s not the entire story of the night.

And Gradgirl stopped by over the weekend but these are other stories for other times, I suppose.

Waitress: Do you want to start with some drinks?
Me: Oh, yes.

Picture of a Polaroid
That’s sweet tea and whiskey, courtesy of a prepared young woman.

 

Location: home, drinking again
Mood: back to being heartbroken
Music: all out of love, I’m so lost without you
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My Bobby Pin Monster

Being hit all the time

Have you ever been hit in the solar plexus?

When I was a kid, got hit there a buncha times. What happens when you get hit there is that your diaphragm spasms and you can’t breathe at all.

You get lightheaded and double over, fall to your knees, and/or pass out.

Find myself regularly feeling something similar for a variety of reasons.

When I got those emails from my neighbor, for example, I had that feeling.

Just got it last night while (still) trying to clean up.

Alison used to joke with me that I’d never just put things back where I found them when I took them out.

I’d retort that I was always finding her long hair as well as random bobby pins everywhere.

There’s a table we have that still has Christmas decorations on it. Finally found the strength to start cleaning it when I found two bobby pins behind a basket.

And I felt that same hit in my solar plexus I felt as a kid and had to sit down. I haven’t seen her hair anywhere in over a year.

This was probably the last time I’d ever find bobby pins from her ever again.

So much for cleaning any more that day.

I can’t handle all the unexpected hits all the time.

Can’t handle being hit all the time. It’s slow torture.

 

April 2014…

Her: Is that a jar of peanut butter next to the bed?
Me: … No?
Her: Why is there a jar of peanut butter in the bedroom?!
Me: It’s probably the same creature that sheds bobby pins all over the place.
Her: (laughing) Great, we have a peanut-butter eating monster made up of bobby pins somewhere in the house.

\’

Location: in front of a donut and rum, the breakfast of champions
Mood: struggling still
Music: taken more hits than a world war blitz
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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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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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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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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.

\’

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.

\’

Location: at the foot of her bed
Mood: indescribable
Music: Everyone knows I’m in over my head
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I already promised her

She is my person

Alison McCarthy on the Brooklyn Bridge

My birthdays have sucked lately.

We went in for an emergency MRI on Friday, despite all our plans.

The cancer is growing stronger and bigger while she’s growing weaker and sicker.

And I die a little every minute.

That picture above was taken after my buddy’s wedding years ago. Knew at that moment, she was my person.

That she loves me as deeply as she does is worth more than anything you might imagine. And I love her so. I would do anything to take this from her.

I would do anything.

For those of you that have read me for years, you know I struggle with depression and dark thoughts. I struggle now.

The people in my life know that too. So I called my mom last night.

Her: …and you? Will you be ok?
Me: No. But I’m not going to hurt myself if that’s what you’re asking.
Her: I am.
Me: I have to raise our son. I won’t let him grow up alone.
Her: Promise me.
Me: Mom, I already promised her. 

\’

Location: the saddest place you know
Mood: absolutely f_____g crushed
Music: And oh my love remind me, what was it that I said?
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