Thursday, December 30, 2010


My therapist (can I say that, if I've only seen her twice and do not currently have another appointment? well, why not.) asked me, the very first time I saw her, if I was feeling anxious, now. Worried that something else might go wrong, that I might lose someone or something else. I frowned and thought for a second and said no, no I wasn't thinking those things.

Well, as it turns out, that's because it was too early still. I had just finally finished all the funeral, visitation, burial ceremonies. I had just finally spent a couple of nights in a row in my own bed. I was still processing. I was still in utter and complete shock. So there was no room in my brain to be anxious, to be worried about everything else. I was still trying to pack up his apartment.

Now I am constantly worried. I remember driving in icy doom, and now I'm afraid of anyone else driving in any conditions. It rained all day today and now it's getting cold again; I don't want anyone I know to leave their houses. News reports about accidents and weather make me tense. The other day, my sister and I both left her apartment to go to our parents' house; Pam left about a minute and a half before me. I got home before she did, and when she still wasn't there after five minutes, my mind went dark places. Instead of assuming she stopped for gas (which she did) or took the long way home (which would have been plausible), I instead thought, simply, "Oh shit." Of course, she showed up, and all was fine, but this is what my brain does now.

I suppose I should schedule another appointment, eh?

Or I could just put everyone I know on house arrest. If no one drives, everyone is fine. If no one leaves the house, everyone is safe. Right?

(Please don't point out my faulty logic here. My delicate sensibilities can't take it.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Another week. It feels like a day; it feels like a year. Time seems so random right now, so arbitrary, so fluid. Complicated at the moment, of course, by the holidays.

Despite everything, I did manage to have a good Christmas. I baked many cookies, I hung out with family (and I actually love and get along well with my extended family), I smiled for pictures, I ate much foods, I got nice presents, my presents were well-received. I wore black. I made perhaps the best batch of meringues I have ever made. I got some good after-Christmas-clearance deals. Mostly the family, though; my cousins are terrific.

At one point, my grandma held my hand and said, "I'm sorry about Eric." Hugs, sad eyes, and the words 'I'm sorry' make me cry instantly. I nodded, trying to keep it together. She continued, "It always happens at the wrong time of year, doesn't it?" I whispered a 'yeah' and nodded, squeezed her hand, and walked away to breathe. But, really? Is there ever a good time of year for your boyfriend to kill himself? No. No there is not.

Eric and I had talked about what to get for his brother and sister-in-law for Christmas. He ordered some games online when they were having a big sale, with recipients to be decided when said games arrived. I don't know if he had decided on something for mem (he never says "mom," it's always mem, even written in texts.). But he had my gifts.

Over his birthday weekend, he gave me a couple of them, since they were there and we usually get too excited to wait to give each other things. I got a nerdy board game with 100 wooden camel pieces - very similar to my birthday present of a nerdy board game with plastic camel pieces. He gave it to me and said, "You have a new collection, that only I add to, apparently." The other gift he preceded with a warning: "This is just a toy. It cannot be used in gameplay. It's just for fun, a joke. Okay? It cannot be used in the game." Then he threw a blue plush Carcassonne meeple at me. (Standard game meeples are wooden, about a half inch tall. My plush meeple is, I don't know, eight inches? And plush. And adorable.)

The third present actually arrived in the mail on Friday the 3rd. He had the day off of work, and we were lounging about his apartment when his buzzer rang. He went down to grab the package, and immediately brought it into his room and out of my reach. Naturally, I hounded him about it. "What is it? Where's it from? Is it for me? Is it pretty? What is it?" I had told him previously to buy me something pretty, and pointed out some things in the Kohl's black Friday ad that I liked.

The first time I went back into his apartment, after, it was there. Sitting on the edge of the coffee table, edges of the box lined up with the edges of the table. It had a post-it note on it, "For Cindy," and a tiny, handmade Christmas card.

In the Kohl's ad, I showed him simple necklaces, some blue topaz, "diamond" stud earrings, dangly earrings. I showed him the topaz and said, "these are pretty, I like blue, but I prefer sapphires. Sapphires are my favorites." Mem eyed my finger and asked what my ring size was. I laughed and told her, "Four and three quarters, but yeah right!" He ignored that exchange, my sweet robot. He told me on black Friday that he was able to get some shopping done online that day, despite having to work. "I think I did good. I hope I listened to things right."

In the box was a pair of beautiful sapphire studs. I put them on the next morning, and haven't taken them off since. They are the best Christmas present, and I can't even thank him. He did good, though. He did good by me.

Monday, December 20, 2010


It's been two weeks.

I picked out a casket. I wrote a letter to be read at the funeral. I picked out clothes for him to wear. I proofed the memorial folder (apparently the little paper cards that are at every funeral ever have a name. I wish I didn't know that.) and made a couple of changes. I called pallbearers. I picked and printed pictures for photo boards.

I went to the apartment. (His apartment? Our apartment? It feels like home to me, anyway.) I packed boxes. I sorted through piles of mail and receipts. I took possession of all of his clothes, most of which are dirty. I took the sheets off of the bed, threw away our pillows, and left the bed by the dumpster, where its slantyness can hurt my back no more.

In a weird way, going through his apartment, sorting, packing, was like a girlfriend's dream. All of his stuff at my mercy, and it's not even called snooping, it's just something I had to do. I got to read his scribbled notes, throw away his melted utensils, fold his towels the right way. His clothes are mine to wear or throw away, the toothpaste cap will stay clean, the heat will no longer be a point of contention. I finally have a set of keys to his place.

It still doesn't seem real. I still cannot wrap my mind around the fact that he's gone. I still talk about him in present tense. I planned his funeral, I emptied his apartment, I did all of these tasks and I still don't believe it.

I wish it were just a dream, instead of my living nightmare.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Right before Eric and I started dating, we were brought together by our mutual friend's birthday celebration. There's much to be told about that weekend, but let me start with this tidbit. There was construction happening on Leah's road, and when I arrived in the afternoon, I had to drive directly toward a huge pile of dirt. It looked like I was going to meet a dead end, but I found her road, and all was well.

Later that evening, Eric was driving a couple of us drunk ladies back to Leah's place. He saw the pile of dirt and panicked, wondering which way he should go instead. I assured him that he should, in fact, drive directly toward the huge pile of dirt, where he would find the road, and all would be well. It turns out, though, that construction changes throughout the course of a day, and the pile of dirt was in fact an obstacle.

While we dated, this little incident came up often. I'd tell him a piece of misinformation, or assure him I was right about something, and he'd just scoff and say, "Sure, drive right into the dirt. Trust me." This morphed into Rule Number Two of our relationship: Trust me always.

For the last twelve days, I have avoided the elevator in Eric's building. I have gone into the apartment, I have laid in his bed and cried, I have sorted through papers and cleaned out the fridge; but I have not gone into the elevator.

Until today. Today we moved furniture, we took out many loads of garbage, we emptied the fridge, we made sure every cabinet and closet was empty. Today I had to go into the elevator, because I just can't carry a bed down three stories, can't move most of an apartment's worth of stuff with only stairs. So I faced the elevator. And it was fine. But it did remind me of our Rule Number Three: Always kiss in the elevator.

When we first started dating, Eric still lived in Duluth. Our schedules happened to be such that we both had Thursdays and Fridays off. Given our living situations and the fact that I drove a fuel-efficient hybrid, I made the trek to and from every weekend so we could see each other. At the end of the visit, as we said goodbye, he'd tell me to drive safe, he'd kiss me, he'd nod awkwardly and say "yup," and he'd say two words that quickly become our Rule Number One: Don't die.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


internment - noun. 1) the state of being interned; confinement. 2) the act of interning or state of being interned, esp of enemy citizens in wartime or of terrorism suspects. 3) as modifier - an internment camp

interment - noun. 1) the act or ceremony of interring; burial.

Very close, and often confused. I myself had to look them both up, after seeing "interment" all over at the funeral home and figuring they of all people wouldn't spell that word wrong.

I'm not convinced the difference really matters anyway. They both seem like torture to me.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I'm feeling very selfish. I want every scrap of clothing. I want every dish I saw him eat out of, every mug he stirred his Swiss Miss in. I want to be the last one to touch his face, the last to look at his casket. I don't want anyone playing his beloved nerd games, for fear of losing even a single piece.

Today, in his memory, we were supposed to have a post-funeral luncheon with games. Yesterday we went to his apartment to gather a selection to play. We left with three boxes and a duffel bag full, and we didn't even take them all. Unfortunately, thanks to a massive snowstorm, most people ended up simply heading home after the funeral, and some of us came over to Chris and Alicia's, Eric's brother and sister-in-law. We did play a couple of games; some people played dominoes, four of us sat down to play Pandemic.

I have never played Pandemic without Eric. I didn't know how to set up the game. I didn't know the best move to make. I didn't know which character I should play as. And we couldn't even win the game, despite trying our best against it twice.

I sat with his family at the funeral. I was mentioned in the obituary, and multiple times during the service. There was a section where they read letters/thoughts from his immediate family members: Chris, his mom, his dad, and me.

This family has taken me in, claimed me, adopted me, turned me into the daughter-in-law they thought I would eventually be. It's amazing.

It's not enough. I need more. I need everything. I need Eric. His smile, his clear blue eyes, the face he makes after he makes a pun (hey guys, look at me, I'm funny!). The shirts that smell like him, the socks that are still dirty, the comforter I hated a week ago.

I stupidly, wrongly feel that other people's grief takes away from my own. Friends that I never got the chance to meet have stories from years, decades ago; I want them to be mine. People who barely knew him shed tears; my eyes go dry. Or maybe I just want to be strong in front of others? I barely cried at all yesterday, even during the hours-long visitation. Today was not so strong. Today I broke down, sobbed at the front of the chapel, had tears on my face the whole service (except during the part Eric would have hated). But again, when the crowd gathered at the house, my eyes ran dry. As soon as everyone but family left, I started crying again.

I still can't believe he's gone. It doesn't seem real. How can it be? How can the man I hugged and kissed a week ago be impossible to touch now, forever? It just doesn't make any sense. Does not compute.

Is it wrong for me to blog about this? It's therapeutic, anyway. I've been so lost, bearing my grief in silence, that it feels good to get some words out, any words. I can't talk to anyone. How can my grief compare to that of his mother? His mother, who lost her baby boy. His mother, who raised him and loved him and let him go to live his independent, adult life. And how can anyone else's grief compare to mine? (I know this is not true. I cannot know the depth of anyone's grief. I am positive he has friends that are hurting as much as I am, if not more. But these are my selfish thoughts.) So there is nothing left to say. (Also not true. I could talk to anyone, I could say anything, and they would listen. But this is my irrational grief.)

Things. I'm so fixated on things. I want to hold onto every piece of him I possibly can. Why? Why am I so fixated on things? What I really should be doing is recording memories. The time he looked down at me and said, "Oh, how do I not tell you you're beautiful?" The first time I saw him bowl. When we stumbled into his living room on October first, and he pulled me down onto the couch with him, and I suddenly got nervous and asked what other stories he had, and then he was kissing me for the first time. When he pulled me close and kissed me well, for the last time. When I came into his apartment and the pocket door was closed, and I walked around to find the table set, a candle lit, dinner cooked on the stove, and a fake mustache on his face. When I spent the day puking my brains out at his mom's house, and he came in, knelt by the bed, and brushed the hair off my forehead.

These are the things I should cling to. These are the moments that will comfort me.

For now, I'll wear my new sapphire earrings, cling to my plush meeple, and find a nice shirt to smell.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


There are no words, and yet I have so much to say.

My incredible boyfriend, Eric Kessler, passed away unexpectedly on Monday.

My heart hurts. More often than not, my whole body is shaking. It feels like my sternum is collapsing in, like there's a black hole inside of me. I stop breathing. For about an hour yesterday, I shut down. I reached the saturation point of my grief, and there was nothing. No words, no talking, no thoughts, no tears. Just staring into the pattern of the rug, with a sweet cat curled in my lap, licking my fingers, trying to help.

And then, after a few brief hours of numbness and anger, it all came flooding back.

Sometimes I go for hours, making decisions, contributing, crying, but plowing through. And then he pops into my head. I see his face. And I remember. This isn't some stranger I'm talking about, not some distant friend. This is Eric. My Eric.

And I break all over again.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

True story.

Scene: Team gingergirl and brunette versus team gingerboy and blondie. Gingergirl has pizza in one hand.

Brunette and blondie both have to take shots in course of game.

Gingerboy wants to high five gingergirl, for non-shot-taking-win-ing-ness. Gingergirl winds up for high five. Gingergirl sees pizza in other hand. Gingergirl withdraws proffered high five hand, knowing she cannot at this time double high five.

(Gingergirl has need of high fiving with both hands every time a high five is given.)

(Gingergirl is exceedingly ocd.)

Gingergirl falls to ground laughing at her own ridiculosity.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I am a huge nerd.

Guys, if you like Harry Potter (the books) at all, even just a little bit, do me a favor and read this: Mark Reads Harry Potter. He reads all seven books, chapter by chapter, and posts reviews. Of each chapter. And he is cracking me up.

Starting shortly into book two, he does a daily dose of "The Most Depressing Sentence(s) in the English Language," courtesy of J.K. Rowling, which I find tragically hilarious. Mostly I love his reactions to everything.

Apparently I just can't get enough of other people reading and reviewing books I love. He's also just started RE-reading the series, which I think will also be interesting to read about. Read read read read.

Well over a year ago, I learned how to knit. I started making a scarf out of some castaway yarn Jess had sitting around. I got a few inches in, decided the width was ridiculous, and started over. A couple of... er... weeks? months? I have no concept of time. An unspecified amount of relatively short time ago (does that even make SENSE?), I finished it. All that was left was to weave in the ends, which I naturally promptly did not do.

Today, I weaved in my ends. Today, I proudly wear my first ever fully completed knitted item. I feel proud.

Harry Potter and knitting.... I think Jess and I may veeeeery slowly be becoming the same person. Except opposites. But opposites that are the same. You know?