Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Remember

I remember when I had the flu back in December 1998.
My boyfriend-at-the-time put me into a luke warm bath to cool my raging fever.
Then he had to rush me to the emergency room as the fever was not coming down and I was shaking violently with cold chills.

I remember Christmas 1999 in Florida.
Same boyfriend and I were very poor in my first apartment in Orlando.
He strung up lights in the shape of a tree and taped up ornaments because we could not afford a real tree.

I remember May 2000 when another boyfriend and I got our first puppy.
The puppy was sweet and smart and we took turns taking care of her.
We had huge dreams.

I remember October 2001 on my twenty-first birthday.
My friend Tom took me to a local bar for my first legal drink.
We played Trivial Pursuit cards at the bar and listened to U2.

I remember March 2002 on my first European vacation.
I was standing on a bridge in Stockholm as the sun was setting.
The first guy I loved standing next me and we were trying to keep warm.

I remember October 2003 trying not to pee in my pants.
A group of coworkers and I were going through some haunted houses around Halloween.
We were giggling so hard at being so scared.

I remember December 2004 standing next to the Sydney Opera House.
It was an amazing day of "flat white" coffee, walking through gardens, and sipping Australian beer.
The warm wind whipping through my hair and on my face.

I remember June 2005 riding on I95 in a huge Uhaul.
I cried leaving my New York City and all my friends.
But I was excited about returning "home".

I remember July 2006. Realizing I was ready for marriage.
I remember April 2007. Buying a house.
I remember February 2008. The happiest day of my life.

I remember June 2009 sitting at my favorite Orlando park with an amazing guy.
I was realizing I could be happy, again.
My heart was starting to go pitter patter, again.

So why in 2010, I am so afraid of forgetting.
I will not forget you, Roger. I must remember that I will not forget.
I do not have to try to remember these other moments.
They are all there.

And if I do forget some small details, it is okay.
It is okay to forget.
It does not mean I do not love you.
It does not mean we were not real.
It does not mean you were not special.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thank you

Dear Roger,

Thank you for marrying me two years ago on this day.
Thank you for making me feel like the most special person two years ago.
I felt so beautiful.
It was the happiest day of my life.
It was worth all the drama and every dollar we spent.

I cannot believe you are not here now.
We are not planning a cool trip together.
We are not fulfilling our five-year and ten-year plans.

You are not here to see me grow.
You are not here for me to show you all the things I am doing.
My photos.
My schooling.

I miss you.
I miss you more than I can express.
I love you.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"All the single ladies..."

I went to a wedding last night.
It was hard.
February wedding.
About three weeks into the month.
It was eerily familiar. Just two years off.
I remember when I found out this couple were engaged.
The last day of my own honeymoon.

I kept my tears to a minimum.
I am pretty sure I hid it well.
At least people let me pretend I did.

It is the vows that get me the most.
"For the rest of your lives" or the traditional "Till death do you part."
And then the first dance.
I remember how happy I felt.
How on top of the world.
Only to come crashing down six short months later.

Then I get hit in the gut.
The fucking bouquet toss.
"All you single ladies come out to the floor," the DJ announces.
Followed by: "Those of you have never been married or have been divorced for at least six months."
Well, neither of those fit me now do they.
I bet the MC/DJ does not even think there may a recently widowed person there who might be slightly offended and annoyed.
I did not really want to go.
My friends insisted. I just wanted to sit there.

Two years ago I was tossing the bouquet.
Last night, I stood on the edge of the group of single ladies watching the bride happily toss hers to all the "single" ladies.
My hands behind my back.

I do want to get married again.
But I am not the typical single girl.
I do not want to catch that damn bouquet.
I had my own bouquet.
I am not single by choice.
I did not decide to be single.
And having Mr. X does NOT make it better.

Yes, he is a great guy.
But this is not a replacement game.
This is not "Oh you must be better now because you are dating."
It is like telling a child how a step-parent is a replacement for their missing Mom or Dad.
It is not the same.


Friday, February 19, 2010


I understand associations want to reach out.
They want to help others in a similar place.
They want others to feel less alone and prepared.
And most of the time, it really helps those who are experiencing some sort of tragedy.

On Saturday, the day after the accident, I received a huge canvas bag from the Brain Injury Association.
It had pens, notepad, snacks, some toiletries, a blanket, a camera, telephone card.
And the one thing that did not help me at all - hope.

There were pamphlets of what was going on in Roger's head.
Answering some frequently asked questions.
Describing brain injuries.
And describing how so many people had recovered.
People in car accidents. People who were young.
They told me how Roger was going to recover.
How it would be a very slow process.
How he would have to learn to talk again.
And walk again.
And he may be grumpy.
How he would be discouraged but I had to stay positive.
It warned me how it would be draining and exhausting for me as well.

But they did not talk about what really happen to me.
It did not warn me that Roger would die.
It did not talk to me about what to do when he died.

And guess what...
He did not survive.
He would never recover.
He never got to speak to me again.
He never got to walk around.
Or touch me.
Or hug me.
No, Roger died.

The notepad did come in handy.
To note all the people and business of death.
The camera is somewhere in a drawer.
And I deleted all the pictures of Roger lying in the hospital bed on my own camera.
And I still have the stupid bag.

I will probably have to throw it out when I find it again.
It makes me angry.
That bag was full of hope.
Full of dreams.
But not for Roger.
And definitely not for me.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

Amid the many other reasons I picked February for our wedding month, I wanted a good reason for that ridiculous holiday celebrated today.
I have hated Valentine's Day for a long long time.
Overpriced food.
Overpriced service at restaurants.
Crappy flowers everywhere.
Overuse of the color red.
It just sucks.
If single, if taken, if married, if human, it sucks.
At least if my wedding anniversary resided in the same month, it would not have to be celebrated at all.
I dreamed of the days where I could say, "Our anniversary is in just a few days, let's celebrate then instead."

But I never got to say those words.

In 2008, we decided not to celebrate at all.
We told each other and the billion and one people that asked that we got each other a wedding for Valentine's Day.
We paid for the wedding ourselves so it was a valid excuse.
The most wonderful Valentine's gift ever really.

And this year, even though I have my wonderful Mr. X and he is trying so hard.
I am still a bit grumpy.

Maybe it is that the actual day to celebrate is in nine days.

I just read this entry from last year.
And most of my friends have pretty much forgotten about me.
Even one mass text message from a friend.
Yeah, fucking Happy Valentine's Day to everyone in her phone...

And to steal the words of another widow:
"Cherish your loved ones every day because you never know when their next breath may be their last....And this Valentine's Day, to really show your love, instead of buying flowers or candy, make sure you have a will and life insurance."


I loved the priest who married us.
He was a cuddly old man who you just wanted to hug.
He felt grandfatherly.
He was also humorous.
He made fun of Catholics.
To top it all off, he had a brilliant idea right before the wedding.

I was walking myself down the aisle.
I was independent. I could do this myself.

Father Ed told Roger to meet me about one-third of the way from the alter.
So then Roger would escort me to the alter.
As a couple we would approach our wedding ceremony.
As a team we take our vows.

The day of the wedding, Roger met me with his gentle smile and loving eyes.
He looked so cute.
His hair a little messy.
All dressed up in his morning suit with his tux tails.
I did not have to take those last steps down the aisle alone.
He offered me his arm. And I willingly accepted.
Roger was by my side.
We were doing this together.
I was no longer alone.

P.S. Just FYI, clicking on the photo brings up a larger version

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Peace" Lilly

When Roger died, I got flowers and plants.
Which was nice and I realize people do not really know what to do, so giving plants and flowers is what they do.
But the flowers died.
And I do not have a green thumb.
Now I am down to two plants from that week.
One small peace lilly in the kitchen that hates me and will never bloom.
And one plant also in the kitchen that is actually kinda cool but it never blooms either.
But it is semi-healthy.

The latest round of plant deaths actually happened a few weeks ago.
Maybe a month ago now; time sucks.
Florida had about a week of below freezing weather.
I covered all the plants I could with bed sheets.
I had no idea what else to do.
I covered Roger's banana trees, the crotons, and some other random plants.

After the first morning, I realized I made a grave mistake.
I forgot the peace lilly plant outside my kitchen window someone gave me.
It hated me too for the last eighteen months.
It never bloomed and would always have some leaves turning brown constantly reminding me of Roger's death. Maybe I should have planted it somewhere else.
That first morning it looked awful.
Like I had murdered the damn thing.
I wanted to cry.

I tried covering it up the next few nights of miserable cold.
It did not help.
The plant is pretty much dead.
I see a few specks of green on the main stem but I do not know what to do know.

The crotons are dead.
All their leaves dropped off.
Damn them!

The banana trees... I am not sure.
I know for sure that some of them are completely gone.
But there are a few specks of green on a few of them too.
They really make me sad. I cried as I heard the wind ripping through the dead leaves.
Roger loved those trees.
We even moved them from the old house to our new home.
And now I pretty much have killed them too.
Even his aloe plants look like they are sick.
I am hoping they survive me.

I have no idea what to do to help possibly save these sick plants.
But why can't they live?
Why do they have to die too?
Why do they have to be so much work?


Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Good Fighter

I was a commitment phobe to say the least when I first met Roger.
And well into our dating.
And when I felt the two of us getting really close, I would pick a fight.
Over something super stupid.
Just to put something between us.
I did it a few times.
It was really mature of me...

One particular time, I cannot even remember what it was over, I just got up after having some heated discussions back and forth.
I grabbed my stuff and my keys and stormed out the door of his house.
I looked back as I was headed toward my car and Roger was just standing there watching me.
With these really soulful eyes knowing what was really happening in my head.
He gently asked me not to leave and come back inside.
But I was stubborn.
With tears streaming down my face I left him standing there.

I cried the entire way home back to my apartment.
I walked into my dark bedroom and crashed into my bed.
But I could not sleep of course.

Roger waited for me to make the next move.
And there was no way I could wait till morning.
So I called him.
I cannot remember what we exactly said to each other but I apologized for leaving like that.
And he understood.
Like always.

He was so patient with me.
As I came to terms with how much I loved him.
As I came to terms with the idea of being married to him.
He kept loving me.
With all my silly flaws and quirks.
He loved me.
It was the greatest feeling.

I miss him so much.
My best friend.
My helper.
The one who made me better.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I Hate Jerks

I really hate when bad people win.
I guess who does love when bad people win.
Other bad people maybe.

On Monday, my ecology class went on a field trip to a cemetery.
Not my idea of a fun or enjoyable field trip but I am just in pretend everything-is-normal mode.
Pretending that a cemetery is just another random place.
Pretending that I do not know Roger's ashes are lying under six feet of soil somewhere.

It was hard to bite my tongue as people talked about their experiences.
I just could not imagine sharing my story with these people.
They barely even know that I go by my middle name.

We took university buses over to the cemetery about thirty minutes from campus.
I sat near the front and took my motion-sickness meds.
No need to make this day any worse by throwing up.

Then there is this kid.
Sitting behind me.
He is probably twenty-two or so.
A know it all.
On the way over, he talked and talked and talked.
It was 8:30 in the morning.
And he would not shut up.

On the way back, a different kid sat next to him.
Obviously, the first guy was sick of all his chattering.
He starts to brag how he never pays tolls on the Orlando toll roads.
"Fools pay those things. The road is paid for. Why should I pay my money?"
He gave this guy about ten tricks to get away with not paying the tolls.
When I warned him about how they could suspend his license for that kind of thing, he gawked. "Only if I get caught."

His next topic: "How to get around the UCF financial system".
Now, I understand I am "lucky" and I do not have to worry too much about paying for my school and making ends meet.
But this kid was taking it to an extreme.
He talked about how he lied on the FAFSA.
How he just added a year to his birth date along with a few other things.
He started bragging about all the money the school gives him.
How he has not paid for a course ever and he actually gets paid to attend school - $3000 per semester.
He talked about how he milks the fact he was in the military for anything he can.

I kept biting my tongue.
I kept my hands to myself.
But it was hard.
I wanted to punch him.
I wanted to slap him.
I wanted to yell at him.

I hate when bad guys win.
And I know people say they will get what they deserve but I am not sure.
What if they don't?
What if good guys (people) really do finish last?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Days Like This

Days like this make me want to pretend I do not exist.
To go home.
Take off all my clothes.
Crawl into my bed.
Pull the covers over my head.
And sleep until it is all "better".

It is not one major thing.
It is a million tiny things.
Nothing that most people cannot handle.
Things that will resolve themselves but in the mean time really drain all the energy from my being.
Things that must be taken care of as soon as possible.
Things like these that remind me of how fragile I still am.

One of my cats is a little sick.
I am sure she is fine.
Or will be fine.
But the thought of her not being fine rocks me at my core.
I cannot lose either of my cats.
I heard a few weeks ago that cats are great because they keep us in a routine.
And when that stability this morning was rocked just a little it has a pendulum like effect on me.
A little rattle at the top has a huge impact on the swinging mass.
I cannot take this rocking.
So I cancelled my long overdue massage and made a vet appointment.

Then there is the rain.
It is dreary and gloomy.
I was caught out in it.
No umbrella which is not unusual for me but annoying nonetheless.
It was not just a sprinkle.
It was a downpour.
And I was almost late to class.
In true Florida fashion, it turned to a slight sprinkle about sixty seconds before I got into the classroom building.
After soaking me.
Upon leaving the class, same thing. Reverse order.
Starting sprinkling and then started to downpour.
Ninety minutes later, I am still wet with no reprieve in sight.

And on top of all this, it is exam week.
Third week of class and I have two "lovely" exams to prepare for and take.
So add another wonderful stresser on top of the growing list of normal stuff.

Then, three weeks to my anniversary I realized this morning.
I can already feel it creeping into me.

It is only halfway through this day.
And two days into this month.
And I cannot disappear.
I must continue to pretend to be okay.
To put on the mask and smile.
Make small talk with my peers.
Do my various chores and jobs.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Simple Pleasures

For some reason, years ago I got on some lists for charities.
I must have donated to one and they sent my information to everyone.
So every couple of months, like magic, I would get free mailing address labels.
Turkey ones.
Christmas ones.
Flower ones.
Summer ones.
It was great.
I loved them.

When I got engaged, I could not wait to get ones with my married last name.
To see my new name all printed out with a Christmas tree next to it.
To be able to peel them off and send them in the mail.
To make paying bills a little more fun.
I was excited.

So once I changed my name, I threw the old ones out.
I did not need those anymore.
They had my old name.
But I had a new name.
Mrs. J.
I patiently awaited my new charity address labels.
And waited.

And then, Roger died.
And the labels never came.
I figured they forgot about me. I figured I would never see those labels.
Another reminder of life's little pleasures ripped away from me.

And then last week I got a surprise in the mail.
I do not know which charity sent them and I probably should have donated some money to keep them coming but, but I got my mailing labels.
With my current name.
With Roger's last name.

They brought a smile to my face.
Finally my labels.
Finally I could proudly address my envelopes.

Silly simple pleasures.
But oh do they feel nice.