144 Things I Want and 20 I Don't

I don't want to be alone.
I don't want to be an inspiration because I meet grief with grace.
I don't want to have to be brave.
I don't want a new chapter.
I don't want to learn these lessons.
I don't want the sound of sirens to give me flashbacks.
I don't want the talk of death to remind me of you.
I don't want to be jealous when I see love.
I don't want to walk into our house and remember you're not here.
I don't want to see a picture and be saddened by the memory.
I don't want you to be past tense.
I don't want to avoid places because we went there together.
I don't want to hear songs and cry because the lyrics remind me of my loss.
I don't want hugs of pity.
I don't want to be the woman who was with that amazing man who died.
I don't want to have to be looked after.
I don't want to be worried about.
I don't want to cry myself to sleep every night.
I don't want life to look bleak.
I don't want the word angel to remind me of you.

I want you.
I want to see the flecks of sunshine in your eyes.
I want you to kiss every curve of my body.
I want you to ride me like you rode the mountains.
I want to hear your laugh.
I want to see your smile.
I want to sit next to you.
I want to marry you.
I want to be your wife.
I want to be the mother of your children.
I want to watch you be a father.
I want my babies to look like you.
I want to make you a pie. 
I want to work around each another in the kitchen.
I want you to take a picture of me doing a handstand.
I want to you to rub my belly when my stomach hurts.
I want you to write me a love note.
I want to make cookies with you.
I want to you to cook the eggs.
I want to sit next to you on the couch.
I want to curl up on your lap.
I want you to bring me tea with three ice cubes.
I want you to hold my hand.
I want you there when I'm hungover.
I want to lay my cheek on your chest.
I want to you to order the sushi.
I want to throw a party together.
I want to listen to your new favorite song.
I want to you to remind me of that person's name.
I want to make memories together.
I want to see you.
I want to touch you.
I want to smell you.
I want to lick you.
I want to taste you.
I want to turn you on.
I want to watch porn with you.
I want to make you come.
I want to gaze into your eyes.
I want to watch the sunrise with you.
I want to grow old together.
I want to do yoga with you.
I want to pick out a lamp with you.
I want to go on a hike together.
I want to take the dance classes we signed up for.
I want you to give me more crystal hearts.
I want to choose an outfit for you to see.
I want you to tell me I look beautiful.
I want my phone to light up with a text from you.
I want to shovel snow with you.
I want to pick out a Christmas tree together.
I want to get in the hot tub together.
I want to go to Jamaica with you.
I want to go on our honeymoon.
I want to make the bed with you.
I want to fold your laundry.
I want us to eat almond butter on strawberries.
I want to take a shower with you.
I want to see you in the bathroom mirror.
I want to buy you a new shirt.
I want to unbutton your new shirt.
I want your new shirt on the floor.
I want you to bend me over the bathroom counter.
I want you to remind me to take my vitamins.
I want you to drum on my butt with your hands. 
I want to see you in the crowd.
I want to watch you laugh.
I want to pull you close.
I want you there when I'm at a party.
I want to take your clothes to the dryer cleaner.
I want to hear you sneeze.
I want to play dress up with you.
I want to admire the view with you.
I want to walk the dog together.
I want to raise teenagers together.
I want you to finish the book you were reading.
I want to see you naked.
I want you to tell me I work too much.
I want to watch a sitcom with you.
I want you to leave me a voicemail.
I want you to buy me flowers.
I want you to drive.
I want to put our hand prints in wet cement.
I want to smoke a joint with you.
I want to stay up all night with you.
I want you next to me when I wake up.
I want to have a glass of wine together.
I want you to tell me a joke.
I want you to tell me I loaded the dishwasher wrong.
I want to hear you playing the drums.
I want to watch you on stage.
I want to pop champagne together.
I want to watch the turkeys with you. 
I want you to tell me my products are taking up too much room in the shower.
I want you to tell me a fact about apple cider vinegar.
I want you to feed the cat.
I want you to clean her litter box.
I want to make you a whiskey sour. 
I want to take a bath with you.
I want to make fun of our feet together.
I want to look at Playboy with you.
I want to hear your opinion.
I want to agree with you.
I want you to tap your finger on my belly button.
I want you to ask me what color I got my nails painted.
I want to clean out the fridge with you.
I want you to ask me how my class was.
I want to double check for pine nuts and sunflower seeds.
I want to make you fresh juice.
I want a bite of your food.
I want another bite.
I want you to tell me to slow down.
I want you to put concealer on the scars on my back because I can't reach.
I want to use your body as my plaything. 
I want you to pack us a cooler.
I want to wash the dishes with you.
I want to set up the tent together.
I want to make salad dressing with you.
I want to eat organic with you.
I want to keep trying to get you to like sweet potatoes. 
I want to go back to Canada with you and your family.
I want to grow a garden together.
I want to complain about my headache to you.
I want to take the dog for a walk with you.
I want to sit on the deck with you.
I want to climb things together.
I want to go back to the Playa with you.
I want us to play Yahtzee.
I want you to make a fire in the fireplace.
I want you to remind me not to use so many paper towels.
I want to watch you watch music.
I want you to teach me to ski.
I want you to teach me.
I want you to go on a date with you.
I want you to pay.
I want to snuggle with you.
I want to have hotel sex with you.
I want to have birthday sex with you.
I want to make love to you.
I want to fuck you.
I want you to tell me you love me.
I want my future to include you. 
I want to know where you are.
I want you to kiss me at midnight.

Quartz Mountains

Since arriving back in Colorado I've been subject to the magic that is this place. I'm so glad you brought me here. If anyone were to have to go through the pain and loss that I am dealing with, doing it here, in these mountains, in grounding nature, in this beautiful house, and surrounded by these magical people is the best possible option.

As I sit in our home and look out on the acres of pines cascading down the slopes, the beauty is sublime. It has been snowing since I arrived home. I watch the snow cover surfaces, spilling white peace over all that's both alive and nonliving. The powder reminds me of softness and of femininity. Grief is a feminine process. It requires a deep vulnerability, a chasm of emotions, gentleness, a willingness to come apart, and hope. There is no fast forward button, there is no fight that will help one win, and there is no way to bully through it with toughness. There is simply unraveling, opening, and letting grace shine in. This morning, I see that grace in the cool and camouflaging snow. It tells me, "Sami. Things may look monotone now. You may only see one element of this world – loss. But when I melt away, in time, after this frigid season, life will reappear. In time, dear one."

Magic is bred in the mountains. I've been witnessing its reveal since I've been home. Seeing enchantment or maybe even your supernatural hand in my life is heartening. On my first night back in the house, I said my gratitudes and prayers and drifted off to sleep. I was supine in our bed, nestled into the middle, because I no longer have a side. At some point in the night, I woke from my unconscious, yet still in a dreamlike state. I realized I'd awoken because I felt the weight of your body on top of me. I still was laying on my back, but you were laying on top of me. I heard your breath in my ears and felt it on my body, you breathed calmly and deeply, as if trying to relax me. Although I was lucid, I couldn't see you. I knew it was you, but the vision was so real that I became scared. There was someone in my bed with me. I could feel the hands holding me, fingers pressing into by torso, hair near my face, and legs down near mine. How could this be? You rolled to the side onto your half of the bed, taking your weight off of me so my breath could deepen. You spooned me and cradled me in your arms, but I'd become frightened. What if it wasn't you? What if this was a stranger in my bed? I still couldn't open my eyes and felt trapped even though I wanted to feel comforted. Once you sensed my fear, your body drifted away from mine. I felt it lift up into a plane in space over me. With my eyes still closed, I heard and felt what I can only describe as the flapping of wings over my body. It was as though a fan was turned on above my body. Cool air spilled onto me, chilling me enough to allow me to open my eyes and gasp. Awake, eyes open, I saw black and white swirls above me, your pixie dust. I watched the stripes circle on our ceiling for about a minute until they drifted off, and I was alone again. I closed my eyes, shaken up but thankful for your clumsy visit. I think you visited me for both of us. For me, so I am reminded that you are here. And for you, to infuse some of yourself in me. Because since that visit, I've felt different – I've felt a bit more like you.

Wonder continues. As I paced around our house last night in hazy stride, I found a stack of greeting cards that I've received over the past couple months. I went through the stack again, because many of them I'd been too devastated and shocked to actually take the time to really read when I'd received them. I found one that had been sent from Spoons and Daren, an old Vail roomie of yours and her husband. I studied the picture on the front of their card – it was a snowy scene with a smiling bear and a smiling fox in the foreground. The inside of the card was blank and a typed message had been glued into it. I had received that card along with smiley balloons just days after you passed. The bear and fox have carried such poignant symbolism through this journey, but I hadn't noticed them on the card prior to yesterday. I sent Spoons a message, telling her how much I appreciated the card she chose. I know they live overseas, so it couldn't have been easy to find one so perfect and get it to me so quickly. I woke up this morning with a response waiting from her. She told me that they hadn't chosen the card – the local flower shop had. It was just a coincidence that the shop had sent a card with a smiling bear and a smiling fox. I don't know if I believe in coincidence anymore. So I will take the synchronicity as a grinning 'hello' from you.

Last night I watched the String Cheese Incident's show on the internet. The show was nearby, but I'm headed there tonight and tomorrow and felt that three nights is more than I can handle in my current state. I've never watched a show from home before. However, I felt a need to be a part of it last night. I knew if you were going to be around, you would be there. And as I said, I think you've infused yourself in me. It was as though there was no other option than to watch the show.

The second song the band played was 'Sirens'. The lyrics are nearly a literal explanation of what happened the night you died. Members of the band played the song at your memorial. Also, when you were living, you and I had cried and danced to the song. It was a very special moment to witness. I had wanted to be at the show if they played that song. I'd wanted to be held in a blanket of love. I stood in our bathroom and watched the song on my computer screen, alone. I was crying. Beats came into the room. She tends to ignore me most times. She was really your cat. She loved you, mostly. But as I cried and watched, Beats pawed at my leg and meowed repeatedly until I picked her up. It was unlike her. She stared at the screen, watching the lights, listening to the rhythm of the music and my sobs, and purred for the entire song. It's probably the longest she's ever let me hold her. She offered support in a moment when I needed it most though I believe you helped her out with that. The band never finished the song. Maybe at some point over the next two days they'll go back to it and I'll be surrounded with the camaraderie and love from our loved ones when they close it out.

Beneath Boulder lies a layer of natural quartz. In crystal lore, quartz offers balancing clarity, healing, and energy. Quartz also offers third-eye access to psychic vision. It can help manifest ancient wisdom and channeled communication with spirits and other worlds. It also is useful in dream recall. I'm grateful to be nestled into the powerful earth here in these mountains. Life and connection with the spiritual realm feels more intense and unavoidable here. Your signs may be obscure, they may be mistaken as synchronicity or serendipity, but I choose belief. I also think you have a lot to learn in your new dimension. Knowing you, you are figuring it all out, you are pushing the limits, and you are enjoying the ride. I hope that you continue to visit us and you learn to do it less mysteriously. But I will take what I can get. Even when on earth, your love was magic.

Roots run deep, rock deeper, and fire deeper yet. Snow appears as a guise on the surface. We know what is below, but above us is the unknown. Just because we can't see it with our naked, human eye does not mean it doesn't exist. In fact, in my mind, I believe that means it really exists. It exists in a way that is beyond our understanding and it is godly.

Home Alone

It's been 62 days, 20 hours, and 36 minutes since I saw you take your last breath. Each day creeps slowly onto the next. I've settled into the knowledge that my only healer will be time. I've heard it, I've read it, but now I feel it, I know it. As of now, the wound remains open and raw. I think in some ways it's more open and raw now than it was 62 days ago. The adrenaline has left my system, the support is softer and less immediate, and the reality is vivid. Life without you is sinking in, it's desolate.

Tonight is the first time in 62 days that I've been at our house by myself. I've been alone for six hours now. I made a plan for myself. I would stay busy and 'not have to think about it' too much. But as I've learned, no matter what I'm occupying my body with, my mind is still longing for you. There's absolutely no distraction from grief. So in the past six hours, while I worked through my checklist of distractions, I still managed to cry in nearly every room of the house.

I thought that since I was alone in our home tonight maybe you would come to visit. You'd make a paranormal stopover just to check in with me, give me a kiss, and tell me you're watching over me. You'd wrap your angel wings around me. But, the house is quiet. There are so signs of angelic visitors. Kira and Beats are sad with me. They're curled up in little balls in their waiting spots. They've been waiting for Daddy to get home for 62 days now.

Our pets would occasionally follow me from room to room as I moved through the house this evening. I unpacked from the last six week's travel. I put my things away around all of your stuff that is everywhere. I did yoga and meditated. I thought of how much you would have loved to be practicing next to me and how proud you would be that I've been meditating. I took a shower and shaved my legs. I thought about how I would tell you, "Feel how smooth my legs are!" You would stroke my shin and say, "Oooh, yeah! Niiice!" I streamed the String Cheese Incident show. I now know over half the songs I hear, including their names, and sometimes who wrote them. You would be so proud. You would be so stoked to hang here with me tonight doing all these things we loved to do together. If you were here, then I wouldn't have had to cry through it all.

I cleaned my engagement ring tonight. I used a little brush to wipe its facets clean while it soaked in liquid. I watched the wear from the past couple months rinse off the diamonds like. When I took it out it was more sparkly than ever. I stared at it for a long time wishing I could wash myself of everything that easily, going back to my pure form, not carrying all of this weight. I admired the ring. It is perfect. It is just what I always dreamed of. We were supposed to be married. We were supposed to be happy. We were supposed to live long lives together. But instead, this perfect ring represents an broken promise. I thought about how badly I wish that you'd been able to propose to me before you died. How badly I wanted to tell you 'yes'. How I wanted to be able to call my best friend and tell her the news. I wish that the ring had been completed just one-week earlier, then maybe I'd have been able to hear those words. Maybe it would have changed something. When I called my best friend that morning 62 days ago she answered brightly, thinking I may have exciting news – then she heard my sobs. She couldn't even understand what I was saying, but she knew the news was not what she was expecting. The news was not good.

So today begins a new phase. A phase of being back home, without you. A phase of rebuilding. A phase I'm not ready for. I am not ready to rebuild or to leave the world with you that I wanted more than I ever wanted anything in this life. I'm not ready, but I have to go, because I have to contend with time – my healer.

Back Home

For the first time in six weeks, I'm back in our home.

I walked into our house in the middle of the night last night after an eighteen hour cross-country drive. The last time I drove that length towards Colorado was when I was moving in with you just over a year ago. But this time, when I pulled down the snowy driveway, I knew you were no longer inside the house.

The reality of your death has more or less sunk in (I think). When I go about my day, I no longer think you might pop out of nowhere and surprise me, telling me this was all just an elaborate joke. I know you're gone. At least I do most of the time.

I walked into our house. I took a deep breath in and I smelled the scent that only this house has. The aroma unique to this place, these floors, these walls, this furniture, these people, these pets, these memories – it's a bouquet that's distinctive because it belongs to just our home. The house smelled the same when I walked in this time as it had all the other times, even though I knew the main component was missing – you. I didn't expect you to pop out of the pantry, or be practicing drums in your studio, or be lying in the bed this time. I knew you were gone from this place. But I can still smell you.

I walked upstairs immediately. It was very late and I wanted to climb into our bed without getting wrapped up in the overwhelming emotions of being back in this house. I went into our bathroom. All of your toiletries still sit on your countertop. While I can't see you, I see what was yours. Your electric razor is blinking on its charging station, it's ready to trim your beard. Your mouthwash is here wondering why you haven't been swishing twice daily. The little display of knicknacks in your windowsill – a rubber duck, a paper crane, a few heart-shaped ornaments, and some special crystals – they're all still sitting precisely where you arranged them, a little altar commemorating what once was. I brushed my teeth with your toothbrush and kept my eyes down. Reminders of happy times can brutally hit like a baseball bat to my jaw, but even in the pain – it's comfort.

I climbed into our bed and realized I was freezing. Our thin duvet was fine when we were curled up together, but alone in this big bed I was cold. I went and got my favorite blanket. It too, still smells like you. The sheets are still unwashed since you last slept in them. I nestled in, curling up in a ball and settling in like a rodent burrowing into its hole. The warmth and the familiar scent helped me drift off to sleep. My dreams were distorted. I was confused about where I was, where I was supposed to be, and who was there. Dream, or reality?

When I awoke, I was met with a sense of peace. I was happy to be home and to be in our bed. I knew you weren't there, but I still felt close to you. Through air, I can smell you. Through objects, I can see you. I felt protected for the first time in many weeks. I got out of bed and opened the blinds. I gasped at the view out of window. My absence and my pain had distracted me from the sublime beauty of the mountains and nature living just on the other side of the window pane, our view. The scene is no longer Midwestern grey or international but unfamiliar. The same view that was ours just months ago, that we shared, it is unchanged. While so much in my life has changed, the view out the window reminded me that much is still the same. I felt grateful.

I walked into my closet. In order to get there, I walk through yours. All of your clothes still remain hung. Your socks are still matched into pairs of fun colors and patterns, wool socks, athletic socks, gig socks, dress socks. Your boxers are folded on the top shelf, they're all clean. I reached out and ran my fingers across your t-shirts, hoping to somehow touch you and feel you. I felt nothing except fruitless cotton. Once in my closet, I dress slowly. I pull on corduroys and a cardigan sweater. It's the same sweater I bought to wear on our first visit together. It has hearts on it. On that trip, a girlfriend said at the end of the night, "I just noticed your sweater has hearts in the design!" You cut in, "I didn't. I noticed them right away." You said it with a slight blush and a happy smile. I buttoned the sweater deliberately this morning, recalling that first time I'd worn it with you and how carefully you'd unbuttoned it later that night.

I walked downstairs and found Beats. I pet her for a long time until she clawed at me to let her go. I gave her treats and made myself coffee. I opened the refrigerator. I started to clean out what was old and no longer good. In vain, I tried not to think about all of the products we'd bought together, the conversations we'd had in the aisles of the grocery store, the recipes we had planned to make, or the game of credit card roulette we'd played to see who would pay for the groceries. I cleared out the fridge and filled it with fresh food – food that I'd tried to buy for one, but couldn't. I still shopped for you too.

I wandered around the house in awe of its magnificence. I realized how caught up I'd been in all the work we were about to do to the house that I'd completely lost sight of how incredible it is. I walked through each room and admired our castle. I tried not to think of what would become of it, of the questions that fill my mind about the future, about the empty dreams that sit on shelves and rot in the bedrooms. I saw the house for its beauty and its comfort. A home is more than just walls around us. Its walls contain the love we created. Our home makes our love ours. It safeguards it with walls, a roof, and a place to house memories. I love this house.

I spent a lot of time moving through our home today with no real direction. I admired what we created here. I smelled the memories of you. I leafed through books you loved or ones I've since been given. I saw you in the their stories. I looked at the objects we'd chosen to fill shelves with – candles, vases, flowers, statues, rocks, music, photos, plants, and art. I read the words on a framed drawing you'd given me on my first trip to the house. It said, "Feels like some kind of ride, but it turns out it's just life going absolutely perfectly." I wished I could teleport back to those moments, just months ago, when life was going perfectly.

The term "out of sight, out of mind" dates back to at least 1562. I don't think John Heywood had dealt with the loss of his soulmate when he wrote it. You are just as ever-present in my mind here as you have been every moment of the past six weeks that I've been gone. There isn't a minute that goes by where my heart isn't heavy, my spirit isn't dwindled, and my body isn't exhausted from all the grieving and all the missing. I am learning to mourn with more sense of reality, but that doesn't make it even a tiny bit easier. Your absence leaves a black hole where my heart once was. I know you aren't physically here, but I won't call off the search party anytime soon.


Last night I dreamt that I was at a carnival. I am there with Kevin. You had broken up with me via a phone call. You had rang and said "I need some space." And that was it, you and I hadn't spoken in a week. Kevin and I are wandering around the fair together. I am being social and chatting with friends. I am eating carnival food, riding rides, trying to enjoy nature, and distract myself. After finishing up a ride, I run into a guy friend who buys me a very pretty dress. I walk into the dressing room and try it on. When I see myself in the mirror, I am hit with a wave of devastation. You are the one who is supposed to be admiring me in dresses. I realize I am not OK. I can't fake happiness. The carnival is no longer a distraction. I start panicking to Kevin. I tell him, "I must call him! He can't just break up with me over nothing by the phone! It doesn't make any sense? I need to know why. I need to talk to him." I headed off to call you and then I woke up before hearing your voice or your reason.

The dream is a thinly veiled metaphor for my reality. Last night, Kevin and I went to a casino with a bunch of old friends in my hometown. While no one bought me a dress, I did win some money. I strapped on a smile and I kept my chin up. But when I got home, washed off my makeup, and climbed in bed – the truth was still spread on thick. I can't get away from it, no matter how much stimulation I layer on.

I've found that I've been drawn to certain people who remind me of you. When I interact with someone, I'll find solace in their gentleness, their sensitivity, their kind smile, their humor, or maybe their generosity. It's nice to see glimmers of you in friends. It feels familiar and nurturing. I'll feel a bit of warmth in my being, then a wave of sadness. I realize that even when there's tidbits of you in others, it magnifies a glaring reminder of the parts that aren't like you. I love all of you. Wholly and fully. It's the larger aspects of your personality that create the shell of who you are, but it's the little quirks that give you texture that makes you stand apart. Today, I've been thinking about the little things about you that I love so much.

I love how you remembered everything. In my experience, so many men (some women too) can be idiots when it comes to memory. But not you. You had the memory of an elephant. You would remember to call me when you said you'd call me. You'd remember my schedule. If I said I had a class or a deadline, you would consider it in our planning or communication, and later, you'd ask about how it went. You'd remember tickets to the show. You'd remember your keys. You'd remember to pack a corkscrew in the cooler just in case we had a bottle of wine. You'd remember where you'd stuck our boarding passes after going through security. You'd remember to take out the recycling. You'd remember to bring a fresh water bottle in the car. You'd remember where you put the bottle of Aleve the last time we used it. You'd remember what we needed from the grocery store: how many kombuchas were left, if we were low on hemp seeds, if we ran out of a supplement, or if we needed avocados because the ones we had weren't ripe. You'd remember to come and check on me if I went to bed early and you stayed up later. You remembered birthdays. You remembered to get your oil changed. You'd remember to tell me you loved me, nearly hourly, every day. I love your memory, your awareness, and how much you care.

I love your transparency. You never played games. When it came to communication, you were direct and to-the-point from day one. There was never a guessing game: Does he like me? Will he call? What is he thinking right now? Is he upset? I never had to wonder, because you simply told me. Your honesty was beautiful. I remember one time when I still lived in Austin, I went out to a show and then came back to a friend's house around 1 a.m.. My phone had died. I plugged it in at her place, but then fell asleep on her couch before it turned back on. When I woke up, I had multiple missed called and messages from you. When I called you after waking, you were nearly in tears. You told me, "I was so nervous you had gotten in a wreck or someone had assaulted you! I've been awake all night assuming the worst!" Understandably, you were concerned and a bit upset. In fact, it was probably the most upset you ever were at me. You weren't mad, you were scared. But the way you handled the situation was so transparent. You told me you were upset, you explained your fears, then you were happy I was safe, and you let it go right there. We never had to talk about it again. It was in the past. There was no passive-aggressive 'I'll show her what it's like not to call me' payback, there was never a rub-it-in-my-face comment made again about making sure I call you, nothing – you explained your perspective, we both understood, and we grew from it. We communicated like consenting adults who respected and loved one another, every day.

I love that you weren't a big drinker or a bad drunk. I don't know if it's just my relationship history, but nearly all of my serious partners have been heavy drinkers and pretty terrible drunks. After rocky roads, I've learned it's not a habit that works for me. I am down to have a drink of wine with dinner a few nights a week and knock back a few cocktails at a show or a party, but when there's a need to drink in order to have fun – it doesn't jive with me. You chose to drink alcohol cautiously which was incredibly attractive. In addition to that, when you did get drunk – you were adorable. You weren't mean, you weren't aggressive, you weren't spacey, you weren't curt, you weren't obnoxious, you weren't blacked out, you weren't stumbling, you were just more silly than usual.

I remember the one time I got a bit irritated with you when alcohol was involved. It was at an Umphrey's show at Red Rocks on a Saturday night. I was the designated driver and was trying to round up our crew after the show. Trying to rally five people post concert can be a chore to a sober person. I had accumulated everyone, but strangely, you were the one who we just couldn't coerce to head to the car. The reason you wanted to stay was so you could give your friends more good-bye hugs. You were running back and forth from one side of the Red Rocks Amphitheater to the other shouting farewells, 'I love you's', and giving hugs to Chris, Cassie, Frenchy, Rey, Jelly, and more. Red Rocks is wide, but back and forth you ran, one side to the other, spreading love. Now that's a cute drunk.

I love how affectionate you were. You understood the power of touch. If I needed a hug, you would notice from across the room. You would hold me for seconds longer than I expected you to. You'd pull me tight, and press your whole chest into mine. You'd stop what you were thinking to give a embrace, all plans aside. I loved your kisses. We kissed as often on the last day of your life, than we had at the beginning of our relationship. We never had a lull in kisses. Whether it was a kiss of passion, friendship, salutation, sympathy, custom, love, or just because – there was always a kiss. Even if a hug or kiss wasn't involved, you still showed affection in many other ways – a brush of the arm, a slap of the butt, a gentle pinch, a tickle (even though I hated it!), a game of footsie under the covers, a hold of my hand, fingers through my hair, a wink across the room, or simply eye contact – you always stayed connected to me. I am searching for that connection now, I know it's here somehow. I can't see it, I can't feel it, and I can't hear it – but I know it's here.

I love how open you were with bodily functions. When we started dating, it took about six months before you farted in front of me... which I was fine with, trust me. But once you crossed that threshold you let it rip. In addition to your own flatulence, you had an open mind about women's stuff too. It's a relief when a man understand that the same stuff, minus a couple things and plus a couple more, come of out both men and women's bodies. It's surprising how many thirty-year-plus men I know that don't want to accept that. Women can have tummy aches too. They get cramps. They fart. They purchase tampons, put them in the garbage, and carry them around in their purse. Women pee and they poop too. They fart occassionally, and maybe after Indian or Mexican just like you. Women can get stinky after a run just like a man. They can even have diarrhea. The ignorance of women's bodily functions can be ridiculous. But not with you, you made it easy and a non-issue to talk about how we were feeling – whether it was emotional or physical. While we may have still peed with the powder-room door closed and given one other personal space with our hygiene, we still respected what was going on behind closed doors.

I loved your dirty mind. I have the mind of a fourteen-year-old boy with a thirty-year collection of sexual innuendos and vocabulary. You had met your match when you met me. If we heard, saw, or read something that could be played off as a dirty joke, it was on. Between us, there were probably as many "That's what she said's", "Dzzzzts!", and "Giggity's" as there were kisses, which is a lot! Now, as I'm moving through my days like I am made of wet cement, when I hear a funny innuendo or see something slightly sexual my stomach drops instead of my eyes lighting up. My joker is no longer here to joke with. It's creepy to make dirty jokes with yourself all of the time.

I miss the whole you. I miss the physical you. I miss the spiritual you. I miss the friend in you. I miss the lover in you. I miss the things that carved out the large facets of your personality. And I miss the little things, like some of what I've mentioned here: the texture, the quirks and curves that made you so special. There's no hiding from your absence. There's no carnival fun enough to distract me. There's no friends that fill the gap. There's just my love, waiting in space, to give back to you someday, somehow.

Grief Etiquette

I've never learned very much about etiquette. I've gotten the basics over the years: elbows off the table, proper placement of silverware, don't sneeze on someone's face, no farting on airplanes or in elevators (both of which you rarely followed), what's appropriate cocktail attire, no white after Labor Day unless you live in the South, don't talk on your mobile at a restaurant, chew with your mouth closed, don't cuss in front of children – I mean, I can get by. Sometimes I can really fake it and appear quite classy. Other times, I can break the rules with the best of them.

As I've involuntarily climbed aboard this journey of mourning, I've noticed how uncomfortable my pain can make others. What is the etiquette for grief? When someone is suffering, does one say anything or not? What is appropriate? What is not?

Previous to your death, I would have no idea how to address a grieving friend or acquaintance. Most likely, I wouldn't have said anything at all. I'd be concerned that I'd say the wrong thing, I'd offend and look bad, I'd make them think about it more, or worse, make them cry! Everyone's situation is unique and every person deals with pain in a different way. But I've thought of some tools that I think may help others. As a disclaimer, these are only my opinions. While my aunt went to Miss Porter's School, that's about the extent of etiquette training in my extended-family. I've done no research, this is simply advice from me.

Say Something
Saying nothing is the wrong thing. Get me alone, or in a small group, and say something.

For me, two things are getting me through this process right now: love and faith. Because I am a preschooler in faith but have a PhD in love, love is the big one. I have lost my lover. The man who loved me most, supported me fully, is my best friend, and my biggest advocate is no longer here to make me feel whole – what I need, first and foremost, is love. One easy way to show love, or even give it because it feels like the right thing to do, is to support someone. Support doesn't happen through the silent treatment.

It Doesn't Matter What
I'm not judging what words people are saying to me and they shouldn't either. I mean, they can, but it's a waste of energy. Just saying something and being honest is what's most important. Most likely there will be someone who said something more eloquent and much less eloquent too. But it doesn't really matter. Every word of support is hitting from a different angle and every breath of love is contributing to re-inflating my heart.

The easiest thing someone could say (instead of nothing) is to look me in the eye, and say "I'm so sorry for your loss." If there's more they need to say, I am open to it. But don't pretend like it didn't happen.

I Won't Be Offended
My grief process is not about anyone but me. That's not to sound selfish, but really, it is selfish. It's not self-righteous/selfish it's self-preservation/selfish. Right now, so I don't drive off a cliff or sink into a pit of depression I'll never get out of, my main focus is on myself. Then next up is family and faith: staying connected and building hope. Beyond that, I really have no energy left.

My grief is not about the person on the other end of the conversation. It's not about the last time we spoke, or how close we are, or how much they knew you. Though I have no energy to judge what others are saying, I know there's an emptiness when someone who knows you've died, says nothing at all. Grief isn't eloquent. No matter what is said, inarticulate or not, as long as it's an attempt at support, I will not be offended. I'm not offended by people who are silent either, I simply wish they weren't.

I'm Already Thinking About It
When people avoid saying something to me out of fear of broaching the subject, I think it's important to note that the pain NEVER goes away. Your death is always on my mind. It will be for a very long time. I've heard it's like carrying around a boulder in your pocket, then eventually a stone, then a small rock, and someday a grain of sand. But it will always be there. My love for you is vast and unbroken. I will always have you in my mind, even if I'm thinking about other things too. So I would recommend to others: don't avoid addressing grief for fear of reminding me about it, I haven't forgotten.

I Might Cry
People shouldn't be concerned with making me cry. I will cry anyway. And that is OK.

I have learned how to cry without shame in every public place possible. Last week, your mother and I went to run errands. We went to Churchills, Kazmaier's, Home Depot, Bass Pro Shops, and PakMail – and we cried in every store. We cried in parking lots. We cried in the car. And that's OK. We are in so much pain. Last week in Chicago, I walked home to Berk's from a yoga class and I sobbed for six blocks straight: tears, sounds, snot, kleenex, nose-blowing, gasping, the whole ordeal. And I didn't hide it. Because I don't have the energy to and because I don't need to. To be honest, it's healthy for people to see that it's not all unicorns, roses, and rainbows. Just because I'm devastated, doesn't mean I should hide it, or stop it, or plug it up with a pill. Where there is joy, there is sorrow.

I'm Not Doing Well
If someone asks me how I'm doing, I will not say "good". Don't get caught off guard. We're so programmed to say "good" or "fine" or "well, thank you". I'm not doing well. And truthfully, I shouldn't be! If I was doing "well", that would be pretty fucked up. I'm hanging in there. I'm putting one foot in front of the other. I'm alive. I'm here.

Don't Expect a Response 
So many people have reached out to me on so many forums. I want to respond to each person accordingly and with the same amount of love that they have given to me, but I simply can't. I'm trying my best. It will take a long time to move through this process. I'm overwhelmed with the support and I'm so grateful. I don't know how I would have made it this far without all of the love I've received. I suck at thank-you notes even when everything's peachy. So in this case, I hope no one is offended, but that they don't expect a response. I got their flowers, I received their message, I saw they called, I read their letter, I listened to their song, I received the cookies/fruitcake/soup, I love the memento, I am grateful for the ticket, I heard their prayers – I thank them.

Don't Compare the Death of a Human to the Loss of a Pet
I'm not going to elaborate on this one but it's happened many times already. Just take it from me, it's not the same pain.

A Christmas Poem

As I awake this Christmas morning,
I am met with a mood so blue.
Because all I asked in my time of mourning,
was to wake up next to you.

Children's toe are tapping and pitter patting,
as they wake up bright with cheer.
Today is the day, for my whole life,
it was the happiest time of year!

Families laughing and gift unwrapping,
a trip home from afar.
I never considered that someday soon,
today's joy would be a scar.

Those who are blessed, be grateful this fest,
and hold your loved ones near.
Be thankful for toys for little girls and boys,
some brothers and sisters aren't here.

Chestnuts popping and missing stockings,
all isn't merry and bright.
As you gather around the tree,
remember that some can't see the light.

Hold your loved ones, kiss them and hug them,
if you think they don't look so cheer.
Because today will bear the weight,
of ones who are no longer here.

Head hanging low under mistletoe,
Christmas comes but once a year.
Let gentleness thrive cause some live and some die,
and grief hardly stops here.

Course in Miracles

"The miracle comes quietly into the mind that stops an instant and is still."
- A Course in Miracles 

This afternoon I got to thinking about miracles. According to a statistic from NPR in 2008, 79% of Americans believe in miracles. This number remains consistent with a stat from USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll in 1994. Today I sat at a lunch with seven adults and one three-year-old: five believed, two did not, and the remaining one kept quiet on the subject (it was not the three-year-old).

Today is Christmas Eve. As a Jew, I celebrate Christmas because of a pre-nuptial agreement my parents made before they married (dad: Jew, mom: Catholic). My father could raise us Jewish BUT we would always celebrate Christmas and have a Christmas tree. And so it went. We got Hanukkah and Christmas, a beautiful collaboration of two religions and American Capitalist excess.

Embarrassingly, today I actually had to Google what the "miracle of Christmas" is. Yes, I forgot we are celebrating Jesus's birthday. (Mind you, I've been tuning out all holiday cheer this year.) But now I remember, Jesus Christ was born to Mary, a virgin, as the son of God on December 25th. Honestly, this is not a miracle that I have ever really believed in. I tend to take the Bible's stories as metaphors and I also don't think women's words are very trustworthy, perhaps even saintly ones. They don't like to kiss and tell. In order to avoid pushing buttons, or maybe to push a few more, the miracle of Hanukkah celebrates oil burning in the Beit HaMikdash for eight days when it was claimed it would only last for one night – I don't know if I believe in that miracle either.

But over the past two months or so, I've been led to question all my beliefs – miracles, life, death, love, faith, and more. I don't know what I believe anymore. Maybe both of the miracles mentioned above are completely true! I mean, I can't tell you how many times over the past two months I've wished that I could be pregnant with your child despite the fact that you aren't here to make that happen! Why shouldn't I trust that if God or a higher power deems something like that to be possible, then it be possible? I mean, this whole universe thing is quite a miracle. Where did that come from? Something put it there. And I'm confident I saw a male figure standing in my living room the other day when no one was home... I barely thought twice about that miraculous vision. Through this grief, I've realized I need to believe in something. What has pulled me out of the darkness over the past week is the creation of faith. And when I say creation, I mean building something from relatively nothing.

Prior to this tragedy, religion was a part of my identity, rather than a belief system. Unlike so many, I was not pushed to put my faith in a God with a certain name. I was raised with an awareness of the stories but a choice to follow whatever path I was called towards. And to be honest, being raised in a house with mixed messages probably didn't help guide me one way or another. As I watched some friends follow their prescribed religions somewhat blindly (in my opinion, at the time), I became rather cynical about faith in general. It was kind of a dirty word. That being said, I was incredibly active in my Jewish youth group, to the extent of being an international chairwoman. Judaism gave me a social network, leadership training, the knowledge of a cool language not many people can read and write, and a sense of identity. But faith? Not so much. I have always been one of those people who says, "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual." But really, I wasn't that spiritual either.

Now, as I've been pushed to my emotional edge: raw, bleeding, and hopeless – one of the primary elements that's pulled me through is faith (the other main element is love). Faith in what? I'm not sure yet. I'm open to it all at this point. In fact, I've been reading about a book a day. Some are about quantum physics, a scientific methodology that explains 'the theory of everything'. Some are about reincarnation, samsara, past lives and future lives. Some are about the power of love. Some are about spirits and mediums. Some are about New Age mysticism like Kabbalah, the Jewish ancient wisdom that 'reveals how the universe and life work'. Some are about yogic philosophy. Some are poetry. Some are about miracles. Some are about Christian methodology. But what they all have in common is having hope and faith in something bigger than just this thing we call life – what we can see, touch, and be aware of through our five senses. I've been given the courage to choose to believe in the unknown.

In the past I've thought faith was blind – a blanket statement that I'd say I subscribed to. Now, I still believe faith CAN be blind. If we believe in the stories in the Bible verbatim and follow the words we are told without question, I maintain that those choices are blind and uneducated. But if faith is built through study, through questioning, through being able to have an open mind, and not say "I'm right, and you're wrong," I now believe faith is quite courageous. It's not easy to stand up for your faith in this world, I felt that today at my lunch!

I told my therapist this past week, "I wish I'd had a strong sense of faith instilled in my life. At least I'd have something to turn to now." She told me, "Yes, that would be easier. But now you have to build one. That is much harder but very beautiful." It will be a beautiful process. It already is. 

I've opened to stillness. I've put down the remote control. I've turned off Instagram and Words With Friends. I've picked up the decision to learn. I've decided that what I thought was "right" is not necessarily "right". I've come to terms with the hard knowledge that I may never really "know". But, I have choosen to have faith in a few unknowns. I choose to believe that there is a truth beyond death. I choose to believe that I will see you again in some form. I choose to believe that you are still a witness to my life in some way. And I choose to continue my belief in miracles, no matter how bleak life looks.

"Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. They are performed by those who temporarily have more for those who temporarily have less."
– A Course in Miracles


This week in my therapy session, we talked about anchors. Anchors are stimuli that trigger certain states of mind - thoughts and emotions. They can be brought on unconsciously without knowing what the anchor is. They can be triggered by memories, like the smell of a rhubarb pie making me hungry, the sound of an old favorite song making me nostalgic, or the love I feel from the unconditional kiss and wagging tail my ten-year-old dog greets me with whenever I come home. An anchor can be a scent, a sight, a taste, a feeling, a person, or a sound. People develop hundreds of them as we grow, unconsciously.

I'm back in Toledo, Ohio – my hometown – for the holidays. I've been thinking about the anchors that draw me back to this place. For me, the smell of a Gino's pizza, extra crispy with pineapple and banana pepper makes me feel like a salivating seven-year-old. The Christmas Eve tradition of spaghetti dinner with our best family friends brings me back together. No matter what's happening in my life, on that night there will always be meat sauce, paper crowns, and lotto tickets on every seat. Even tomorrow night, despite all my pain and holiday cynicism, there will still be hot spaghetti and those dear friends.

Tonight, I'm in my bedroom, sitting in the same bed I've slept in since I was ten years old. My bed is an anchor.

I remember lying here when I was in the sixth grade listening to Love Phones on my alarm clock radio. It was a late-night hotline style radio show where callers rang in to ask about sex-related questions. I would listen to it for hours before falling asleep with the radio volume as low as possible, so my parents wouldn't hear. I was certainly not supposed to be listening to such content. I learned much more about sex than an eleven-year-old should have ever known.

I remember being in this bed when I was a junior in high school and my on-again/off-again boyfriend came over after school. He was just supposed to be dropping me off, but when we saw that my parents weren't home, he came in. Mid-session, my father came home. He saw my boyfriend's car in the driveway. We could barely pull ourselves together before my red-faced and furious father, stormed into my room, doors slamming. The boy had one leg out my bedroom window. He was trying to make a dash for it, Dawson's Creek style. Until that boy became a dear and platonic friend a decade later, he was never the type to enter or exit through the front door. I was grounded immediately and from that point on (until very recently) my parents had a very mean nickname for that guy.

I remember this bed when later that same year, I was recovering from a major back surgery. I had been diagnosed with stenosis and two herniated disks in my low spine. After eight months of major pain killers, physical therapy, and unrelenting numbness and pain – I was operated on at the University of Michigan. A couple weeks after the surgery, I had my preview night for my senior year of high school. I went to school a shadow of my former self. The once fun-loving, social, impressionable cheerleader could now barely put on a pair of pajama pants and had no desire to see any of her friends. It was that night when I realized the months of overly-prescribed medication had resulted in an opiate addiction. Wanting to reconnect with my true self, I went cold turkey that night. My mom had to sleep in my bed with me for days while I sweat, shook, and had visceral nightmares while I detoxed from the dosages the doctors had prescribed me. (To this day, spare a near-death motorcycle accident, I haven't gone near painkillers. That shit is poison.)

I remember this bed when I was twenty-five and got laid off of my job working with the Olympics and broke off a five-year relationship all in the same week. I moved out of the condo I had shared with my partner and came home. I stayed home that summer trying to piece back together who I was. Or maybe I was trying to figure it out for the first time. That summer, 2009, I had no plan. No man. Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. Nothing. That summer, it felt like freedom. It felt like anything was possible.

The canvas has drawn a blank again for me in a way now. But this time, it doesn't feel like freedom. It feels like a noose has been tightened around my neck. It feels like the floor has been ripped out from beneath me. It feels like I can't breath. It feels like emptiness.

You and I slept in this bed together just two times. You were a part of this anchor too. The first time was about eighteen months ago. We came home for a wedding. We stayed half of the time at my parent's house and the other half at your parent's house. We liked that. We thought it would always be like that when we would return home for holidays and trips over the course of our life together. The second time was less than a year ago. My grandmother had died and I flew home immediately. You had a gig that night, but joined me in Toledo just a day later after her memorial service. Your flight came in very late and I was exhausted and worn out by the time we made it home from the airport. I was beyond emotional at the loss of my grandmother who had served as a beacon of class and generosity for me as a young woman. You cradled me as I cried myself to sleep. Of all the times I slept in this bed, that was the most comforted I had ever been. You held me tight, just like my mother had when I had sweat out painkillers a dozen years before. But that night last year, there were no nightmares. There were beautiful dreams of the beautiful life we would share. It was just the dawn.

This morning, I got out of the shower and walked into my bedroom. I dropped the towel that I'd had wrapped around my torso and I stared at my naked body in the mirror on the back of my door. 'The mirror is an anchor too,' I thought. That mirror has seen my body morph more than any person. It has seen my reflection grow over decades with many backdrops. It has seen an adolescent swimmer of ten with creamy pink walls behind her, jumping on one foot, head cocked to the side, trying to get water out of her ear. It has seen a nervous thirteen-year-old ballerina trying to pin up her bun perfectly with bobby pins while popping a zit; behind her the walls are now wallpapered with pages of fashion magazines and a collage of sixty-nine photos of Leonardo DiCaprio is taped on the mirror's glass surface. It has seen a naive young woman of sixteen trying on the outfit she'd wear to school the next day, grey pinstriped polyester pants her crush said made her butt look 'hot' – the walls are now neon green and orange. It has seen a high school senior, in her cheerleading uniform practicing herkies while lip synching to Britney Spears's remix of "I Love Rock and Roll", the walls now a more mature palette of brown and tan. It has seen a woman leaving her hometown for the second time for Austin to find herself and a new career, dressed in Banana Republic slacks because now she's grown up – the walls have finally been taken over by her parents after a remodel, they are off-white.

The mirror in my childhood bedroom has seen me more over the past month then it has in years. I looked at my thirty-year-old body. I noticed how it's changed over the decades. I noticed places that were softer, larger, firmer, or smaller. I moved my face up-close and ran my finger across the thin wrinkles on my forehead. I searched for a grey hair amongst the blonde, surely one has sprouted over the past two months. I turned the edges of my mouth into a fake smile and looked at the laugh lines that had been starting to form because of all the smiling I did with you. I started to cry, a woeful sob. I watched the tears drip down my cheeks in the mirror's reflection. I saw the tracks that the tears took, my face now recognizing the path of salty sorrow. I saw an ugly woman staring back at me. She had my eyes, but they were sadder now. She was so much older than I remembered her. In a way she looked like a stranger.

That mirror has witnessed a lot of tears over the years. But of the decades of tears it's seen, lately, they've been the most sad. There is no comparison to tears of grief. They even look different than other tears when studied under a microscope. They are sharp fractals without any order or pattern. They look painful to touch. In fact, they look an awful lot like they feel. These are not tears from a boy who didn't call a fifteen year-old girl. These aren't tears because I'm pissed at my parents for grounding me for sneaking out. These are not tears from belly laughing at a funny punchline so hard that my eyes water. These aren't tears because I was cast as the ugly step-sister instead of Cinderella. These aren't tears because I got wait-listed at my first choice university. These aren't tears because of a breakup that is sad and hard, but instigated by me. These aren't the tears I cried when my grandmother died peacefully at ninety-plus years.

These are tears of deep, deep devastation. These are the tears of loosing the father of the babies I couldn't wait to have. These are the tears of not being able to call my best friend. These are the tears of shattered tradition. These are the tears of loosing the life I'd always dreamed of. These are the tears of a second family slipping away through my fingertips. These are tears of questioning the value of life without you. These are tears of confusion. These are tears of loosing faith. These are tears that really have no words to describe them.

The anchors remain. The ones here in my bedroom remind me nostalgically of childhood. But in my current state of grief, retreating to memories of the past, before these tears, is comforting. The anchors pull me in and ground me. They remind me that while you aren't here, there was something here before you and there are still things that remain here now. This is your hometown too. And in your absence I wish I'd had the time to learn more about what pulled you back to memories, what rooted you. I am not sure how it will be when I return to our house in Colorado next week. There, the anchors all bear the weight of memories of my life with you. I want it and I fear it at the same time. So for now, I will lay in this bed. I will curl up and try to remember what it was like to sleep peacefully like I did as a child.

Innocence Found

I was a swimmer as a child. Swim lessons from the age of two – paddling from mom to dad in a  waterlogged diaper, living on the beach in Jamaica at six – running up and down the shore, topless and smiling, bleach-blonde hair and my face painted. By the time I was seven years old and back in Ohio I was on the swim team. I remember the YWCA pool very well. Monday, Wednesday, Friday in the off season – six days a week, sometimes twice a day, in the winter season. The water was always a touch too cold with suspicious warm spots as you moved through. I remember the scent of chlorine meets AquaSwim shampoo in the locker room shower. I can still feel the athlete's foot, in fact to this day, it never quite entirely cleared up. I can hear the shouts of our coach, Cheryl, commanding us to swim the next 100m faster. "Kick harder! Harder! Harder!" I'd hear her yells on every inhale when I turned my little cheek to breathe in. She moonlighted as a swim coach, her daytime gig was across the street as a warden for the inner city youth jail. Let's just say she knew how to get results in kids.

At the end of practice, we'd swim our cool-down, maybe 4 or 8 lengths of the pool. That was when I had my favorite moments. You see, when I was a child I used to believe that I had been mermaid once. I had complete faith in life under the sea. The Little Mermaid was my bible. I eventually got teased for it. Anyone who knew me in elementary school will remember taunting me with the nickname 'Mermaid Girl'. But then, I was full of wonder.

During my last few laps of the pool, I would take a deep breath and dive down into the water. I would channel my inner Ariel and dolphin kick my legs as I dove deep. I would open my eyes, letting the chlorine into burn my retinas and gaze at everything there was to see down there at the bottom of the pool. Mind you, there was not much to see: stray hairbands, a swim cap, a lost fin, a dead bug, a hairball, maybe a shiny coin if I was lucky. I would strap on my imagination and pretend I was back in the ocean waters I had explored in Jamaica. I would imagine colorful fish swimming effortlessly in sparkling schools, bright red and blue coral that grew so quickly you could almost watch it rise towards the heavens, large rays that gracefully slid across the ocean floor casting shadows on the sea floor like clouds from the sky. Maybe there would be a treasure chest, spilling over with gold coins and colorful rubies and emeralds. While I was reasonably fast, the pool was far too distracting for me to be taken too seriously as a competitor in a race. Instead, the water was my world, my secret garden of underwater adventure. A blue or red ribbon was just bonus points.

When I was nine, we moved to Belize for a year. Again, the ocean was my oyster! I would play in the water for hours. I'd watch fish soar through underground playgrounds with an easy sense of cooperation. Did you know that an entire school of fish vote on which way they'll go by a simple turn of the head? After 51% of the fish look one way, the whole school switches direction instantaneously and without missing a beat. (Imagine if people were like that... but I digress.) I remember jumping off of a motor boat to go snorkeling. Once submerged, I turned back towards the boat to catch the eye of my mom who was about to jump in. I noticed the shadow of something under the boat. It was a huge nurse shark. But it was a time in my life when I was fearless. Until I wasn't.

Two occurrences on that trip broke me and my innocent, imaginative relationship with water.

We went on a day trip to a tiny island with only three palm trees on it. The adults, armed with mediocre weed and coolers of beer, had a beach party. I decided to catch hermit crabs and organize a race for the party goers. Each person chose a crab. I drew a circle in the sand and put all the crabs in the middle. The first one out of the circle was the winner. I was the maestro supreme! Later that day, we went for a snorkel. As we swam along the reef, I remember watching a barracuda and a huge mantra ray swim by. I was still fearless. I understood that I was a part of the whole ecosystem. We are not a drop of the ocean, we are the entire ocean in a drop.

We began to swim over a huge bed of coral. The guide, whose English was not great, instructed me NOT to touch the coral. "Fire coral!" he yelled. He pointed at the coral all around me. It appeared to be centimeters from my skin. The objects in water are closer than they appear, but I did not know that at the time. He continued to yell at me, "Fire coral! Fire coral! Do not touch. Will burn!" He pointed to a nasty scar engulfing his leg. It looked like a parasite joined up with a shark bite and then the infection festered on his calf. In my mind now, I know there is no way he got that injury from fire coral. But in my nine-year-old brain, I was screwed. I hovered over the water, regressing from freestyle to a doggy paddle immediately. I was paralyzed by fear mid-snorkle. My parents had to lure me out of the water. I have been frightened of coral ever since. I can hardly swim in the ocean without fear of the coral grabbing me in it's rocky mitts and burning my body while it pulls me down and drowns me.

Later that year the other event happened that scarred me and destroyed my blooming career as a mermaid. Again, I was on the beach catching crabs. Let's face it, I liked to catch crabs as a little girl. All jokes aside, they were sand crabs. (Let it be known that I have never actually had crabs.) I had made friends with an older boy, Mario, on the beach. In Belize, many of the young girls were encouraged to help their mothers in the home, so much of my outdoor roaming time was either alone or with boys.

Mario convinced me that there would be more crabs in the brackish water of the mangrove swamp down the beach. It was further than I was aloud to go and my parents weren't around to ask, so I was wary. He convinced me it would be quick and bountiful. I was a bit of a rebel, so I went along with it.

Inside the mangrove forest, the floor of the ocean was almost like quicksand. My little legs were getting stuck in the sticky, muddy earth. I was distracted from the hunt as I tried to un-stick myself from the ground. I thought Mario was setting a trap from a crab, but apparently, he had a different intention. When I looked up from my battle with the sediment, moments later – he had exposed himself to me. A small, brown, uncircumcised, erect, teenage penis pointed at me. Pants down, he started towards me. All in one swift inhale, I felt confusion, surprise, curiosity, guilt, excitement, anger, and fear.

As Mario sludged his way through the mud to me, I felt the mud floor free my ankles. It was as though the earth had taken my side in the battle. I braced myself by grabbing onto the distended roots of the mangrove trees that surrounded me and lifted my body up out of the water. Without much forethought, I used one of my free legs to swiftly kick Mario square in the junk, hard. As he cowered in pain, I took off running. Suddenly, the floor of that swamp was as solid and buoyant as the turf on a track. I had the distinct feeling that something greater was helping me fight back and run away. When I escaped from the mangrove swamp, there was a golf cart driving by with a small search party on it. They had been looking for me. I hopped aboard and zipped my lips.

You were one of the first people I ever told the full story to. I buried it deep down, a secret tale of shame with a splash of fiery bravery and divine intervention.

But I no longer felt innocent. I no longer caught sand crabs and painted messages on their shells with nail polish. I didn't imagine I was a mermaid anymore. I stopped believing in buried treasures and hermit crabs that sang and had names like Sebastian. When I came back from Belize and joined the swim team again, I swam to win. I didn't dive down deep and explore the bottom of the pool anymore. I didn't pretend that the stray pennies were silver dollars or that the drain pipes led to secret caverns. I swam in a straight line. I closed my eyes on my flip-turns. I kicked harder. I moved with a sense of purpose instead of a sense of wonder.

It wasn't until I met you that I really began to peel back that guard I'd put up. I let go of stifled fear when I fell in love with you. I found my sense of marvel again. You had a naturalness for being like a kid. I used to watch you sleep and when you would wake up, I'd tell you about how you reminded me of a little boy. You were always searching for wonder. You always wanted to dig deep and climb high. You reminded me what it was like to live in the light. With you, I set the innocent, little girl inside of me free again.

Not many thirty-four year old men have an entire drawer dedicated to stickers. If anyone ever had glitter, your words were, "Yes, please!" You liked to play dress up with neon colors and fuzzy fabrics. You spent over a hundred dollars on fabric and materials to make our Burning Man scooter look like the cartoon character, Tigger. Your penmanship was as perfect as a fifth grader who wanted to ace his handwriting exam. Your favorite shows were animated. You barely flinched when thousands of pieces of 80's themed confetti were thrown all over the floor of our house at my birthday party (I'm looking at you, Larson sisters). You were famous in the jam band scene for secretly tagging friends and strangers with dozens of sparkly smiley face stickers. And just your being in general, you were a kid at heart.

When reality and adulthood loomed, you'd face it. You weren't immature by any means. But, you'd balance being a man with mischief and fun, with a silly pun, a high-five or a somersault, and a broad grin with dancing eyes. You were never going to let go of that wonder. You never did.

I lept into the water with you – eyes wide, heart open. Me, armed with authenticity and big dreams. You, armed with innocence and a Scorpio tattoo. When we fell in love, I believed in fairy tales again. I believed in hidden treasures and I knew for damn sure there was such thing as Prince Charming. I'd kissed some toads and I'd gotten you. My own boy to hold hands with and jump in. You made me want to open my eyes again. You made me feel safe: no burns, no attacks – just wonder.

So now, I will take my all past experiences, including this terrible loss, and I will strap them onto my back. Though the load with bear me down, I will not fall. And if I stumble, I will use my fiery, strong legs to get back up. And when I'm scared and lonely, I will think of our memories and I will smile, though at first it will be fake, maybe someday it will turn honest. I will trust in the signs. I will remember that energy that lifted me up out of that quicksand and helped me escape when I was a child, and I will know that now I have you up there too. In whatever way, I know you will guide me through and you will in some way, some day, show me again what it's like to dive in, wonder, and not think have to worry about the next breath.

Acts of Kindess

I had the best in you. Through our relationship, I went on a deep expedition of self-discovery. You were a launching pad for the unknown. You encouraged me to leap, with the promise that you'd be there to catch me with open arms when I came down. When I look back and examine the time we spent together, I am overwhelmed by all of the lessons you taught me in such a short period of time. One of them was the importance of generosity.

I remember early on in our relationship you told me of an investment you were making in a friend's restaurant business. You had faith in the project, but more-so, you had a deep love for the friend. You wanted to make his dreams a possibility and knew that you had the opportunity to help by being a financial benefactor. Investing in your friends gave you great joy. It wasn't about making money in the long end; you were never a shrewd businessman by any means. The few times that you came on as an benefactor for various projects, you told me verbatim: "I think of it as a contribution, not an investment. If the money comes back, great. If not, that's totally fine too." The money for the restaurant investment did come back to you. Just a few months before your death, you received a check in the mail and told me about the return with a big smile on your face. I knew the smile wasn't because of the money being back in your bank account, it was simply that the cycle was complete. You had helped and you felt rewarded because your generosity was not forgotten.

When I turned thirty this past summer, I decided to begin the new decade of my life by completing thirty acts of kindness. I hadn't come up with the idea myself or taken it from the web – I had borrowed it from you. On your thirty-third, you had set out to do thirty three acts of generosity. You had shared some of those acts at different points throughout our relationship. One day, we'd be walking through the park, and you'd joke, "I handed out Bead For Life to people in this park on my thirty-third birthday. Even the vagrants LOVE those necklaces!" We'd be walking down Pearl Street, and you'd say, "I handed out Drunken Hearts CDs here on my thirty-third. You'd be surprised at how many people are still psyched about free music!" It was truly inspiring.

So on my thirtieth, I followed your lead and did thirty acts of kindness. When I think about why I set out to complete the tasks, I don't think it was entirely honest. I wanted to give back, sure. I wanted to feel in my body and spirit what I could tell you had felt when you'd completed your acts. And also, I wanted to distract myself from the milestone birthday that was looming. Maybe I could take the attention off of myself turning thirty if I did something for others instead.

After we took a yoga class together that morning, I began my acts. Some were as simple as smiling at a stranger or complimenting someone aloud when I usually would just do it in my mind. I gave a rose to a policeman and thanked him for his service. Even though his expression told me he thought I was a weird hippie, his body language was appreciative. I picked up trash I saw along the road, like we would always do at Burning Man, but in the real world instead. I wrote you a love letter and left it on on your bathroom sink for you see when you woke up. I left my favorite book, Shantaram, on a park bench with a note for a stranger, "I hope you enjoy this adventure as much as I did!" I handed out socks and peanut butter to the transients in the street and learned how thankful and also how picky some of the Boulder homeless are. I donated copies of the magazines I work for to the library. I gave a bone to a street dog. I left a lottery ticket on someone's car door. I stuck post-it-notes with messages of kindness on windshields. I sent my best friend a snail mail card. I broke the law and paid people's expired parking meters. After listening to NPR for free for years and years, I finally donated. I refrained from gossip all day. It was easier than I expected. In that moment, I realized since that I'd been with you I had both matured and become a kinder person – gossip no longer came naturally (though, maybe that's a side-effect of being in my thirties).

Later in the day, after nearly all my tasks were complete and after a sushi lunch (of course), you joined me to do the final few together. We held up a "Free Hugs" sign and offered embraces to those on the street. We stopped at Conscious Alliance and donated canned foods. We took flowers to a nursing home and asked them to be delivered to someone who hadn't received any in a long time. We went to a school for children with autism, took a short tour, learned about their program, and donated a basketball for the kids to play with. We went to a coffeeshop drive-through and got dirty chai's for ourselves and paid for whatever the person in the car behind us wanted as well.

The most challenging stop for us both was the hospital. On that day in July, we found the children's ward and left crayons and coloring books for sick kids. It took us a while to find a staff member, the floor was thankfully, quite empty. But wandering around and seeing the beds with cartoon wallpaper and kid-sized hospital apparatuses was heart-wrenching. We thought of Kevin's nephew, Bennett who struggles with an incurable disease. We thought of other friends, Lyndsey and Josh, who had recently struggled with a premature birth and near-death of their baby girl. We thought of little Jane. The nurse who accepted my donation had tears in her eyes. We embraced one another and cried in the elevator on the way out. Right then, we prayed together that our children would never have to stay in a hospital. They wouldn't, because little did I know at the time, I would visit that same hospital again less than six months later on the worst night of my life – the night you died.

When I had woken up that morning on July 23rd – the first day of my thirties – I had been in tears. I was flooded with self pity. I remember feeling sorry for myself and thinking about all of the things I hadn't accomplished yet. I was unmarried. I was not a mother. I could see the beginning of the decline of my metabolism. My belly wasn't as flat as it was in my twenties. I whined to you, "Next thing you know I'll be covered in stretch marks, cellulite, and I'll be all dried up. You'll need to replace me for a younger model before we even get started!" Without a hint of sarcasm or recognition of my shallowness, you lovingly told me how ridiculous I was being. But I was consumed with ego and distress because of numbers on the calendar.

By the end of the day, in some ways, I had blossomed. Through reaching out to others and being benevolent, I was able to get out of my own way. I'd gone from self-involved to self-sacrificing. It was because of your spirit that on that day, and especially over the course of our relationship, I became a better woman. You taught me to be generous with my self: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You taught me about human purpose – on how generosity can reap change on an individual level which in effect will change lives on a global scale.

From what I know of you, your generosity came naturally. Giving was the only option. Selflessness was paramount. For me, it's a harder task. Sometimes, I find self-preservation and ego to be my initial routes of actuality. But with your affection, philosophy, and gentle teaching – you elevated my intrinsic kindness. You changed me. You made me become more at ease by being friendly instead of defensive, by trusting. You deterred me from gluttony and impatience and carved out a more beautiful path of altruism. This is just my story. I see the effects of your generosity continuing to spill over both those you touched directly, and more. You are an alchemist.


I believe that we are all sent to this physical realm to learn a lesson. Each incarnation of our life offers us a new opportunity to learn something about our true nature – something that will bring us toward the light, reality, or nirvana – different words for the same theory. If we learn our lesson, we move forward towards an easier life that will offer us the opportunity to learn another great lesson. If we fail, we will have to take our issue with us into the next life, it will bear down on us, and cause us to live out that life karmically.

As I am confronted with this devastation, I wonder what my lesson in all of this? What is my lesson in this life? And what was yours? Did your death have to do with you learning a lesson, with mine, with someone else's lesson, or with them all? What can I do to prevent further suffering in the future? Was your death a matter of free will or destiny? Had you done everything you needed to do to learn? Were you leaving this incarnation so you could come back as my child, like you promised me you would, just days before your death? Will I ever know?

I have been meditating on the question, 'What is my lesson in this life?' I've run through a gamut of options: guilt, self-worth, desire, patience, and will continue to search and discover. My learning is no where near done in this life, as far as I know. My demons are present within me, just as your demons were there until your last breath (and who knows, maybe beyond).

We both wore our weaknesses on our sleeve. I think that's one reason why we fell in love with one another so deeply. Even though we were transparent with our emotions, we treated each other compassionately. We never used those weaknesses as weapons. We were gentle with one another's soft spots. But while we each had our struggles – we both shared deep empathy and compassion.

Thank god for empathy. Thank god for the compassion that you taught me and others, and that you're still teaching. Thank god for the support I've received over the past two months. Thank god for the love your family has gotten over the past two months. The empathetic source in humankind is beautiful. It's the tears that you get in your eyes when a kitten is saved from a tree by a fireman. It's the lift in your chest you feel when you see a man meet his wife at the airport with a bouquet of flowers. It's the increase in your heartbeat when you see a solider arriving home from war to his young daughter. It's the nostalgia that arises when you sing the national anthem. It's the excitement that breeds when you watch a video of an animal struggling and then another animal comes over to help. Scientifically, this act of empathy can be triggered by the mirror neuron, which allows the observer to feel as though they're in the role of the observed. Experientially, this is compassion – a beautiful side effect of being human.

While I wouldn't want anyone to feel the pain I have been dealing with over the past two months, at the same time I'm so thankful that others are witnessing the pain that's taken shape. Maybe it's self-preservation, I'm thankful other people are helping me make sure I'm safe. Maybe it's cooperation, being able to see the goodness in people, despite our world of competition and domination. Maybe it's truth, allowing myself and others to witness that the true joys in life are the simple ones, life and love.

Without love, we as humans, will be lonely. No matter how much 'stuff' we pad ourselves with to try to avoid feeling emptiness, it won't help. We will suffer. And when one person suffers, others will too because we are truly connected at the root of who we are. The pain of one person will ripple out onto a community or even global level. The offering, 'You are hurting. Let me love you,' is intrinsically good. Empathy is a true and divine power within humanity. It should not be only adapted for a grieving widow or family, but used for helping mankind at large. As Darwin said, 'Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature.'


Today I read your obituary in the newspaper.

I can't imagine the difficulty it took for your parents to sit down and write their only son's obituary. Their handsome and healthy son, who was just 34 years old. The son who they were planning on celebrating the thirty fifth birthday of just five days later. The son who they'd never seen so happy. The son who they were expecting a call from any day with the joyful news of engagement, not their worst nightmare, a three a.m. call from the emergency room announcing his death. And yet, that is now the reality, the reality that we are all facing every day in new ways.

Just when it feels like the news of your death has sunk in, a new discovery proves that it has not. The pain is so raw.

I remember when I wrote my eulogy for you. It was just three days after your death. I had barely slept. I was traumatized by being witness to my worst nightmare. I hadn't eaten anything and what I'd tried to eat, I'd thrown up. I was in shock. I was being held on my feet only by the sturdy arms of friends and family. I was on the brink with every breath.

I had my father go out and buy me a new notebook. I simply requested a "nice" one. I couldn't open a computer to write, that seemed too official, like work. And if I had used a computer, I knew I would be stimulated by all of the other material on the screen, like the show I had been watching just minutes before on that night you seized. So, armed with my notebook, I sat down on our bed and began to write.

As I wrote, I felt as though my hand wasn't doing the writing. I felt like I was being channeled by something larger. Maybe it was simply adrenaline. Maybe it was your help. But just like your incredible family and the obituary, I made it through. I strung sentences together and wrote down everything I needed to say out loud to a crowd of witnesses. I wrote the vows that I'd intended to write to you on our wedding day. As I wrote, it became more real. My new notebook wrinkled with dried tears. Words on paper seemed to make your death more concrete.

I heard the obituary had been printed today. I had already read the text before press with your sister Berkley. We had both cried and talked about how beautiful it was. We had chosen the final photo to be used. But today, when I asked my parents to bring me a copy of the newspaper, it became real all over again.

I saw my mom's hesitation as she handed the obituary to me, a single page already separated from the rest of the issue. I reached for the paper with an outstretched hand, fingers trembling. I felt it between the pads of my fingers, grey and thin. It is the same newspaper I read the comics in as a young child. Peanuts made me smile with anthropomorphic pets and witty punchlines every Sunday morning. The same newspaper that I saw a picture of myself in when I was eleven and in the Nutcracker. I had red cheeks, a heart painted on my lips, toe shoes on my feet, and the tight fitting red and gold trim jacket of a solider. The same paper that I would look up movie times in when scheduling teenage co-ed excursions with a boy I might hold hands with. The same newspaper I would help my grandma clip coupons from. The same newspaper that featured the firm I was at when I worked with the Olympics as a young professional. The same newspaper I dreamt would someday house our marriage announcement. The newspaper had arrived every morning to our doorstep without fail for the past thirty years. My dad would go fetch it in his robe while the current family dog would run out alongside him and take her morning pee in the front yard. But today's newspaper was different. Today, in the obituaries, alongside nine strangers who all looked so old, was you – my Ted – looking so handsome, so young, and so ready to take on the world.

Obituary can be found here.

Messages from Masters

Today I reread a book that was pivotal to you and I, Many Lives, Many Masters, by Dr. Brian Weiss. After I read the book initially when we were just starting our relationship, I sent it to you and simply said, "You must read this." You did and you told me it changed your life. I was glad, because it had changed mine too. More or less, the philosophy discussed in this book provided more peace than any religion or spiritual concept either of us had studied. It also changed our views on death. After reading the book, we had shared with one another that we "no longer feared death." And then I watched you die. I was VERY afraid.

Over the past couple weeks, I've been experiencing a deep depression in my grief –  one that is definitely darker than anything I have ever felt or ever witnessed in someone else. The worst part of this phase of grief is that with it has come faithlessness. Before you died, I thought the world was at my fingertips, love was on my lips, and life was beautiful. I thought the universe was on my side. And since you've been gone, I've been cursed with suffering, uncertainty, and the loss of the man who knew me better and loved me more than anyone.

So this morning, as an attempt to remember what I once believed in, and moreover, what YOU believed in, I reread the book that had impacted our lives so intensely.

The book tells the true story of a psychiatrist, Dr. Weiss, and his patient, Catherine. Catherine had come to see Weiss because she struggled with intense phobias that prevented her from living a normal life. Dr. Weiss, who is rooted in the scientific method and rational Western medicine and thought, is used to prescribing medications and using general therapeutic procedures for treatment. The doctor's philosophy and perspective is shattered when he puts Catherine under mild hypnosis to help her unleash childhood memories, and instead, she regresses to a past life where she lives as a Nubian slave in ancient Egypt. She remembers details from that life and facts from the era that are so specific they could only be identified by historians who specialize on Egypt. It is her death at the end of her life in Egypt thousands of years before which plagues her and causes one of the irrational fears in her current life.

Dr. Weiss works with Catherine over the course of time and she regresses back to parts of 87 different lives that she had experienced on the physical plane. She was a solider in what is now Ukraine in the eighteenth century, a male teacher in Japan, worked in a monastery in Switzerland hundreds of years ago, she was a young Moroccan boy who died in his youth, a slave in the South who was the illegitimate daughter of her owner, a prostitute in Spain named Louisa, an American Indian who lived on the Southwest Florida coast, a very ancient cave dweller, and many more. There are many texts and stories out there that discuss reincarnation. In fact, reincarnation was prominent in the Old and New Testament, but was removed by Constantine at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. for fear that is would disrupt political stability. I have personally believed in reincarnation for as long as I can remember. But my main root in this philosophy is that a world of immortal souls is more hopeful than a destination of Hell or even nothing at all. But isn't hope what faith is all about anyway?

But what sets this book apart from the rest in its class is that Catherine goes on to convey information from in-between lives. She unleashes secrets and messages from the Masters – ascended spirits that exist in seven different planes in the spiritual realm. We learn about the purpose of life, karma, debts, and deaths. We learn about how groups of souls often travel together. While you may be my soulmate in this life, you could be my mother in the next, for example. We learn about what happens after death and between incarnations. We learn about if loved ones have the opportunity to connect with us from beyond the grave. We see information gleaned from the collective unconscious that Carl Jung spoke of. We learn about faith. Well, we learn about all of this if we're open to it. In the book, even Catherine has her doubts.

Dr Weiss writes, "The conscious Catherine, when awake, was much more anxious and limited, much simpler and comparatively superficial. She could not tap into this superconscious state. I wondered if the prophets and sages of Eastern and Western religions, those called "actualized," were able to utilize this superconscious state to obtain their wisdom and knowledge. If so, then we all had the ability to do so, for we must all possess this superconscious... I would become increasingly frustrated by the uncrossable gulf between Catherine's conscious, awake intellect and her trance-level superconscious mind. While she was hypnotized, I would have fascinating philosophical dialogues with her at the superconscious level. When awake, however, Catherine had no interest in philosophy or related matters. She lived in the world of everyday detail, oblivious of the genius within her."

What restores my faith is the hope that there is a purpose in this suffering. That maybe it will teach me, or you, or someone a lesson that will make the next step more peaceful and less painful. It gives me the hope that all is not lost. It gives me the hope that you are overseeing me and all of those who miss you so deeply.

The subscription to the beliefs addressed in the text allow me to think you are both conscious and blissful right now. Perhaps you are even nearby. One of the most painful aspects of my grief is that you are somewhere hurting and alone. Even worse, is the fear that you are completely gone, physically and spiritually. But why would I trouble myself with these fears when I didn't believe them two months ago? Why would I cause myself more pain by believing the worst now? I'm trying to get back to my core and remind myself that just because there has been a nightmare in my life, it does not mean I need to rewrite my belief system to be a nightmare too.

When Dr. Weiss is talking to a Master via Catherine in hypnosis, he asks, "Why do we come back [to the physical realm] to learn? Why can't we learn as spirits? The master responds, "Those are different levels of learning, and we must learn some of them in the flesh. We must feel the pain. When you're a spirit you feel no pain. It is a period of renewal. Your soul is being renewed. When you're in a physical state in the flesh, you can feel pain; you can hurt. In spiritual form you do not feel. There is only happiness, a sense of well-being." 

While the book gives me tremendous hope at a point in my life where I've never needed it more, it doesn't relinquish the work. While I am clinging onto the faith that there is more than just this life and that we may meet again someday, I still have to live this life without you by my side. And while the big picture provides some solace, the short term is my whole life as I know it, and that's not to be taken lightly. Uncertainty, patience, and time are still the enemies I need to befriend and the the lessons I need to learn. But in the meantime, I am fueled with a bit more belief, faith, and connection today than the skepticism and isolation than I have been living with in the past couple of weeks.

A Master says, "Patience and timing... everything comes when it must come. A life cannot be rushed, cannot be worked on a schedule as so many people want it to be. We must accept what comes to us at a given time, and not ask for more. But life is endless, so we never die; we were never really born. We just pass through different phases. There is no end. Humans have many dimensions. But time is not as we see time, but rather in lessons that are learned."

Fallen Queen

We were so in love.

Our hearts exploded all over one another like stars scattered across the Milky Way. I kissed every inch of your body. I ran my fingers through every strand of your hair and I sucked on each one of your toes. Your tongue discovered every wet place of mine that had never been reached. You even pressed it to my wisdom teeth and while you licked you siphoned poetry into my soul. You made me come alive with your touch. Your hand fit into mine like the latched lock on a buried treasure on the bottom of the sea. When clasped, our hands had a priceless secret between them. A knowing. A truth.

You made me feel like a princess. No, you made me feel like the queen. The queen of the universe. A universe where peace reigns and freedom is the only option. Where marching soldiers shoot arrows of compassion. A universe in which broken hearts don't exist because there is only love. Where tears aren't recognized as sadness because they only come from laughter. Where a child never dies. Where every woman is beautiful and every breast is a perfect handful. Where the soundtrack is the cry of passion and everyone wants to hear it. Where all cities are like New York in the sixties. Where every day is a good hair day. Where every photo is a keeper. Where tumors cause longer eyelashes and smaller pores. Where every family lives in a luxurious home with heated floors and everybody has a swimming pool with a slide. Where sleep arrives effortlessly and only puppies and kittens snore. Where the band is always awesome. Where the coffee is always hot, but not so hot you burn your mouth. Where goldfish have the memory of elephants. Where the vegetables grow from real seeds and you don't have to kill an animal to eat meat. Where the dress always makes my ass look fantastic. Where the biggest argument is over who pays the bill, but there – everyone actually wants to pay. Where babies always sleep through the night. Where bouquets of flowers in vases keep living infinitely. Where farts are always funny and never smell. Where everyone likes to dance. Where every game is won by the underdog. Where no one ever has to be alone and even if you want to be – the space will still give you a hug. Where the good guys always finish first. You made me the queen of that universe.

When we were together, our souls shot out of our fingertips like magic from a wizard's wand and connected like two beams of lightning. We became one. The wrinkles around our eyes grew deeper because all we did was smile. We could have powered all the energy needed for the world with our laughs, magic, and rainbows. Our love caused mountains to grow taller. The peaks swelled up from the earth with the Heavens as their magnet and gravity as a forgotten foe. When I was sad you would rock me like a baby in the arms of my mother. And then everything was perfect. We were learning how to fly.

And then we fell. And then you evaporated. And then I crashed. We wanted to make love in the moonlight but instead, it fucked us. You died in the moonlight. When the executioner slaughtered that day's sun it took you with it. The darkness was supposed to be our dance floor and it ended up being a cemetery. And our bedroom is the morgue. Now our memories don't even rob my dreams instead they are drained from my brain like innocence from a child. You disappear into stardust or sawdust or nothing… I don't know.

I am bound. I'm trapped in this world because I believe if I take my life I won't get to go to the same place as you. I'll be captive on the wrong side of a one-way glass window. And I'm too scared to leave. And I don't really want to. I just want you back.

I want you back so we can press our hands into wet concrete and leave an impression for the future. I want you back so when I do my yoga, I can reach for your outstretched fingers instead of a box of tissue. I want you back so I can hold your sisters in a hug of love rather than needing them as a brace to hold me up from crumpling onto the floor as my knees give out. I want you back so we can talk to your mother on Bluetooth while we're driving through the mountains. I want to hear her smile on the other side of the line call you Bubs and you call her Mud. I want to hand her a grandchild in a polka-dotted blanket that looks half like you, half like me, and one-hundred percent like an angel. I want to watch you play catch in the front yard with our little boy and not know who is actually the kid because you will always be my Peter Pan.

Now I imagine sixty more years of life with my head looking backwards over my shoulder remembering the time I carried pixie dust. Dreaming of the treasure I once had, the man I got to touch every night and was supposed to still be touching. At what was supposed to be. I imagine trading in our castle in the sky for a windowless, basement studio apartment with dingy carpet and yellowed, linoleum countertops. I imagine a future of boredom and faithlessness. A future of stumbling steps because I'm too busy straining my eyes at what once was. I imagine kissless love and touchless nights. I imagine sex that's governed by ovulation dates and once in a while maybe too much tequila. I imagine divorce. I imagine searching for a time machine so I can go back to the day before that night. I imagine looking for God in everything and never being able to find him. Hidden beneath my clothes, I imagine scratching the skin off my bones and ripping my nails out of their beds just to try to feel pain worse than loosing you. But it never comes.

And then someday I'll die. Alone. And disappear into stardust or sawdust or nothing… I don't know.