I started writing about Rob exactly one month after he died, so I thought I’d check in with myself on the 6th of every month just to see where I’m at.
Me: It’s been a while, Lar. How the hell are you?
Lar: Not a good sign that I’m struggling with the first question. I guess today I’m feeling okay. Yesterday wasn’t the best and tomorrow, who the fuck knows?
Me: Well, grief isn’t a problem to be solved. It’s a process to be lived.
Lar: Grief seems to be a lot of things. It’s a process, it comes in waves, it comes in stages, it can’t be controlled, it can last for months or years, it’s incredibly personal and also universal. All I know is that it sucks, and when you add it all up, none of it makes any sense.
Me: Why does it need to make sense?
Lar: My natural inclination is to search for answers, but I’m not even sure what the questions are. Trying to make sense of what Rob did isn’t going to bring him back or make me feel any better.
Me: What are you doing for yourself that makes you feel any better?
Lar: Not really a whole lot other than hanging with friends and talking about Rob. I stopped eating like a pig, so I guess that’s a good thing. I still feel like an open wound. What do you do for an open wound?
Me: I’d say give it time to heal.
Lar: Yeah, I knew you’d say that.
Me: Well, I’m you.
Lar: Duh. You know what it feels like? It feels like I’m the naked guy lying on the table in the old game Operation, and every time I think of Rob, I get this intense electrical shock throughout my entire body and then my nose lights up.
Me: Anything and everything you’re feeling right now is perfectly okay to feel. There’s no right way or wrong way to grieve.
Lar: I know, and like I said, it all sucks. Rob not being here sucks. I fucking miss him every day. Some mornings I’ll wake up and think How can Rob be dead? Like he’s Andy Kaufman pulling an elaborate prank. Some days all I want to do is cry.
Me: Would you say it’s getting easier to accept that Rob’s no longer here?
Lar: I don’t think I’d ever use the word “easy” about Rob—in life or death. In the first few days and then weeks, I was crushed, numb and in shock. The whole thing was surreal, there was no sense of time, and nothing made sense. I was in a state of disbelief. And then little by little, the fog of anesthesia lifted, and everything became very clear and very sharp and very painful and very real—Rob is dead. End of story.
That just made me think of watching “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” with him. “Bring out your dead!”
Me: Ha! I remember. He loved that movie. But what you just said before, that sounds like a type of acceptance.
Lar: What other choices are there?
Me: Have you noticed any sense of relief? They say the tidal waves of emotions eventually diminish and the crying also becomes more intermittent.
Lar: Hmm…I guess I didn’t get the emotional tidal wave report this month. As for relief, do you mean the fact that I no longer have to worry that something terrible is going to happen to Rob? I’m aware of it, sure, and I no longer fear answering my phone, but I can’t say I feel any respite.
Me: Have you thought about grief counseling?
Lar: I’m on two different waiting lists. Although you wouldn’t know it on the surface, grief is apparently very popular in L.A. I’ve been making this shitty joke: Who do I have to blow to get a little camaraderie and understanding from people who’ve suffered a similar tragic loss?
Me: It was interesting to me that both of the therapists you initially talked to asked if you are or have ever been suicidal?
Lar: I thought it was an odd question at first, but then I realized that depression and mental illness can be genetic, and they didn’t know Rob was adopted. And the devastation of losing a child to suicide could also tip someone over the edge. And of course, they don’t know me from Adam. How could they possibly know that I’m the polar opposite of suicidal? That I’m a fucking cockroach who can survive a hundred nuclear winters?
Me: I know, dude, I know.
Lar: Sorry, man. Lost it there for a moment.
Me: No apology necessary. By the way, sorry about Wallace. He was a good little boy. One last question: Are you reading anything that provides any comfort or insight?
Lar: I’m rereading “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion. It’s beautifully written and brutally honest, but I’m finding it to be very dispassionate. For some reason, I remembered it being much warmer. Maybe it’s just me. But there’s one line from it that I keep repeating to myself: You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends. I can’t get it out of my head.
Me: Sounds like it maybe belongs there.
Lar: Thanks, Dr. Melfi! My head is already crowded with enough shit, especially at night. As soon as I close my eyes, I see Rob the day before he killed himself. I see us walking around the Del Amo Mall, me with my arm around his shoulder, thinking that everything is going to be okay because it always worked out okay. Even when things were at their worst with Rob, shit always sorted itself out. And then I hear: You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends. And then I fall asleep.
Me: Okay, man. I’ll check back in with you in another month. Oh, I almost forgot. Here’s your 60-day chip.
Lar: Thanks. I couldn’t have done it without you.