Several weeks ago, I was at our little hole in the wall bar with a girlfriend of mine. We were sitting at the bar and had had a few drinks. Some guy came up to me on my right side trying to flirt with me or something and he commented on my boots. I didn’t miss a beat, I just threw my foot up on the bar and said, “Thanks, they represent my dead husband,” and took a shot of whiskey. I didn’t look at the guy, but my friend said the look on his face was priceless. Apparently I shocked the shit out of him and he just backed away from the crazy lady.
A week or so ago, I was on Twitter with another friend. His mother died several years ago and he was telling me that when people tell him they are sorry, his response is always, “Why? Did you kill her?” I mentioned to him that people find out about Brian and they ask me, “What happened?” I always say, “He died. That’s what happened.” So then we got all caught up in this morbid hilarious exchange of possible responses. “He got tired of the shitty food, so he went somewhere he didn’t have to eat.” ”He just decided to live in a box on my night stand.” ”His contract with the witness protection program ran out.” ”He emerged from his cocoon and flew away.” ”Aliens, man. Fucking aliens!”
I’ve lost a lot of weight since Brian died. I don’t know how much because I don’t much pay attention to scales, but enough that all my clothes are big and the pants I couldn’t even wear in September fall off of me. People ask me what I’m doing to lose the weight. I look them dead in the eye and say, “Dead husband diet. Works 100% of the time and all it costs is the loss of your best friend, your lover, your husband, your playmate, and your life.”
While I was sitting in the waiting room this afternoon as my youngest son was in therapy, I was texting back and forth with one of my oldest and dearest friends. We’ve known each other nearly for 18 years and nothing is off limits. We’ve seen each other through good times and bad. One of the great things about our friendship is that we are often incredibly inappropriate with each other. We all need a friend like that. Anyway, we were texting and he said something about a sandwich shop chain that I particularly loath because they always slather everything with mayonnaise and I really hate with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns.
He was poking at me and he said, “That’s how I hope to go: covered in mayo!”
I replied to him, “Gross. They’d better hose you off.”
He remarked, “Well, that’s probably gonna have to happen regardless.”
“They don’t hose you down when you burn to death because the water pressure just sends what’s left of your skin flying,” I said.
I’ve not said it here before now, but Brian burned to death. It was horrible and traumatic and so complete that I identified him by his wedding ring that they had in a plastic bag at the funeral home. I didn’t get to see him. Not even one fingernail, not one earlobe, not one toe. I have spent countless hours at the place he died scavenging for anything I can find: zipper teeth, buttons, scraps of burned fabric, buckles, grommets, blood. The state still has all of his stuff. Every single thing that survived had to be tested in the investigation for everything under the sun and I don’t have a damn thing. I asked them weeks ago for it to be returned to me, regardless of condition, because it was Brian’s and I want it. I want it ALL. I was supposed to get it two weeks ago. When I called today to see what the hell the holdup is, I found out that the investigator, the only one who can release this stuff to me, is gone until March 3. Are you fucking kidding me? I’m tempted to go light a fire under his ass.
Yeah. I said it. I say a lot of things these days. I have always had a sharp, quick, dry wit. In fact, it’s one of the first things that Brian loved about me. I very rarely miss a beat, I very rarely miss an opportunity to make a comment. I love words and I use them well, but I never ever try to hurt anyone. These words that I say now come from a very dark place. I’m in some sort of endless hole of inky blackness and my words can’t help but reflect that. For me, I think it’s part of the anger and acceptance of this fucking grief thing. I don’t mean to worry people, I don’t mean to make people feel uncomfortable, I don’t mean to shock. It’s just that I am worried, I am uncomfortable, I am shocked. I have no patience for flowery language and imagery because when I close my eyes, I see fire. When I close my ears, I hear screams, and often they are my own.
I don’t mean to shock and scare and freak people out, but I have always spoken my mind. I have always spoken my truth. The fact is that my truth right now is dark. People hear me say these things and remind me to be compassionate with the people I’m talking to. Believe me, I have compassion. I know that they have no idea what to say. I’m not sure what to say, either, so I do what I have always done. I tell the truth and the truth is helping me. It is exhausting to pretend to be something I am not. In fact, my therapist agrees with me, these dark comments are kind of healing for me because they get it out and into the light. Light. What a concept! I remember light. Right now I am a creature of the night, most comfortable in the dark, and that is okay. I won’t be here forever, but I’m here now and there is no point in pretending I’m not. I’m okay with it. After all, the jokes down here are pretty damn good.