Me: Is there anybody celebrating six months of losing their child today?
Lar: I’ll take my chip, but only if it’s chocolate and in a cookie.
Me: How you doin’, my dude?
Lar: I feel like a broken record—literally and figuratively. I’m broken and this blog is a record of my feelings, which haven’t really changed all that much. It’s been six months and we keep having the same Groundhog Day conversation. You ask me how I’m doin’ and I tell you that I’m feeling like shit, and you tell me that that’s the way I’m supposed to be feeling. And then I say something about how I thought grief would get easier and you tell me that it’s only been a very short time since Rob passed, and then we go back and forth with whatever has been going on in that month (my visit with Fleur the medium, hanging out with Zach and Caryn in Tampa, missing Maura and kintsukuroi), and then one of us ends this check-in with a Joan Didion quote, which we think will make us sound smarter than we really are. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends. Everything’s going along as usual and then all shit breaks loose. A single person is missing for you, and the whole world is empty. Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. And blahdy blah blah. It’s been the half year of magical thinking, or in my case, stinking, because nothing has really changed.
I’m still fuckin’ heartbroken and can barely function as a human being. I still miss him every day, every hour, every minute. I don’t cry as much, but when I do it still hurts like a motherfucker. When I hear a song or watch a TV show or when something else flies into my head that reminds me of him, it feels like the giant ball in the box is smashing into the pain button again. Nothing has changed and everything has changed. I am changed, Caryn is changed, and Zach is changed and none of it has been for the better. What’s changed the most is that we feel so much more—because without Rob—we are so much less.
Not only did we lose him, but we also lost an essential piece that touches the core of our being. He drove us fuckin’ crazy and was a major pain in the ass, and yet we’re the ones with the space in our hearts that will never close. You said it, Rob. You called it a long time ago.
I keep saying the same things to you, month in and month out—grief sucks, Rob not being here sucks, missing him sucks, feeling like crap sucks, talking to you sucks. Everything I say and feel has been said and felt before. Speaking of which, here’s yet another, as the kids like to say, “on point” Didion “Magical Thinking” quote: “The power of grief to derange the mind has in fact been exhaustively noted.” Truer words were never spoken, Joanie. I’m exhausted from all of this. You must be too!
After six months without him, there’s nothing left to say yet every few days, I find new ways of saying these bittersweet nothings. And I do it because I can’t imagine not doing it. I do it because I don’t want to go through this alone. I do it because it keeps me connected to him. I do it because it keeps him close to me. Writing about Rob is the closest I can get to feeling that he’s still here.
So how am I doin’? I go to a therapist once a week and I’m in a grief group that meets every other Tuesday. I can’t sleep without a little piece of Xanax and the last things that tasted any good were the soup dumplings I had with Rob the day before he died. Nobody knows what to say to me anymore because there’s nothing left to say. How am I doin’? I’m doin’ fine, I’m great. I’m excellent, thanks for asking.
That was my grandfather’s standard answer to that question. I’m excellent! It always cracked me up and I once asked him why he didn’t just come out with the truth. “People don’t want to hear about the problems of an old man,” he said.
Rob will never have to worry about that, and I no longer have to worry about Rob. So what am I supposed to do now? As his friend Jacob so movingly put it, “He was definitely a handful, but now that he’s gone, I don’t know what to do with my hands.”
He was such a fuckin’ idiot! He was my little boy. And I loved him like I’ve never loved anyone else because there was no one else like Rob.