Michael, I already miss you. I last saw you on July 10th, and somehow the time went by, and I didn’t come to see you again. Even though I knew you were in stage four lung cancer, I always believed you were going to recover. Oh how I wished and prayed, as all wish and pray for their loved ones who have terminal illnesses.
I started writing this the day you died, Michael, but then I couldn’t continue. The grief of losing you and the life we live continuing on, merging, converging to create confusion. You died on Saturday, July 21st, and one week later your 12 1/2 year old dog Kobe was diagnosed with diabetes.
Your wife, my sister Karen, stayed home for two weeks, but then returned to work. It’s so hard for her, but it’s a good thing that she did. I am working from home now, so I volunteered to spend time with Kobe a couple of days a week, and my other brother-in-law Doug did, too.
I have been so glad to be there for Karen, for Kobe, for you, Michael. I like to think that you would be proud of me, or happy at least, that I stepped up and helped your family out. You and Karen were there for me in so many magnanimous ways. Even when you didn’t think I deserved your help, you still helped me. I can never repay the kindness, so I don’t try. I just do what I think is right, now.
It’s now been over seven months since you have passed. We have not forgotten you, but think of you each day. It feels like you were just here, and it’s so weird that you are not.
I haven’t written anything since Mike died. It seems I have just been drifting day to day…just trying to get through it. Get through what? Winter? Sadness? Life?
My cat Cherie died in January. Doug came to help me take her to the vet. She had not left the apartment since I took her to be spayed when she was six months old. Five years later, I picked Doug up at lunchtime, so he could catch her to put her in the carrier and we could take her to Dr. Levine’s. She wasn’t eating. She was losing weight, and appeared to be panting and thirsty. She had to go, but I knew she would be difficult to catch. Doug cornered her in the hallway, wrapped her in a towel, and she was dead before she reached the carrier…I think so. I think she was dead even before he put her in there. The carrier door fell off, and we were fighting with it, trying to get it back on. I worried she would try to scratch her way out, but she didn’t move.
I knew then she was dead. I started freaking out, but Doug, in his constant pragmatic way, said, “I think you’re right, but let’s not panic. She may be in shock. Let’s just get her to the vet, and see what they say.” We got in the car and started driving the few blocks to the vet. I called Karen to tell her, and I was thinking, “Oh my god, I’m in the car with Doug and my dead cat, pretending that there’s a chance she’s just in shock.” We got to the vet, and I knew she was dead, but I was still upset that someone was not coming NOW to help us. That was about a three-minute wait that felt like forever.
We went into the examination room, and the vet, she was amazing. She was yelling for tubes and sticking a tube down the cat’s throat and blowing in it. It was shocking and there was a minute there when I thought, “She just may bring this cat back to life”, though even while I was thinking it I knew it was a silly thought. I knew the cat was dead and she was just being valiant, because it was her job.
Sharon was diagnosed with Non-small cell lung cancer just about the same time as Mike. Sharon, my best high school friend, the Lucy to my Ethel. The love I had for Sharon was incomparable. We used to dream we would be rich wives and lunch and shop together everyday, but as usual, life had other plans and we drifted apart, but always apart and back together, until one day we didn’t drift back together.
Sharon died on March 1, 2013. I found out because Ricky posted a message on Facebook saying that he was so sad that she had passed. What? She passed? I don’t know why, but I always thought I would be one of the first to know. It just felt that my love for her was so strong, so lasting that everyone would know that I needed to know. Another silly thought, because honestly, I wasn’t a part of her world when she finally left it. When she left it though, I lost it.
It was so hard to deal with because she was so young, and Mike was so young. It was so hard to deal with because 2012 had been a year of loss, and I had such high hopes for 2013, then we lost a bunch of loved ones again. It was so hard because I had these really awesome memories of Sharon and I, and I could never tell her again, “Do you remember…?” I think that is what is so hard for so many of us when dealing with loss.
Sharon’s wake was hard, it was so hard. I couldn’t believe it was her in the coffin, and I said, “She doesn’t look like herself”, but her cousin Marie said, “Meg, they did such a good job. She was so sick, she looked so sick. She looks pretty now. She’s wearing her favorite suit and necklace.” So, I looked at her again, and she did look so pretty, and so at rest. My poor little Sharon. God, I loved that girl.
The funeral was even tougher, because I knew that this is it. It’s over. You will never see her again. But, it was funny, too. It was held at Our Lady of Sorrows, the church Sharon and I used to go to for Midnight Mass, and yes, we were stoned. One time we got the giggles in church, because we were amazed that the ceiling didn’t fall down on us heathens. It was times like that, and there were a lot of them, that I would really miss. So I was standing there next to Harry, Sharon’s high school boyfriend and lifelong friend, while the priest was talking about Sharon, and I was thinking about the ceiling falling in on us, and I was laughing to myself. And I was thinking about how Sharon would feel about me laughing, and I laughed again.
It’s like that with loss. Laughter does ease the pain, and as we are further removed from the immediacy of the loss, the laughter becomes even more important. Now, when I think of Sharon, I think of the fun times, and I smile. I smile when I think of my brother-in-law, my best friend, my mother, my father, and all of our loved ones~so many~that have gone before. Loss is life; the end of it. It’s inevitable. Laughter is a device life gives us to face the loss. I miss each of them so much. I just hope to be of such character to be missed as much when it’s my time to leave you, and you will laugh; oh god, how you’ll laugh.
Note: since I began this post, I have been laid off…yes, an unemployed bum, again. It has taken me ten months to finish this story. A tumultuous and sad year, but summer is almost here, and the promise of a new life. Another new start for this old life. And I remain forever grateful, to those who have passed on, and those of you still here on this orb, offering love and encouragement. I love. I love. I love you all. Thank you.