It’s a new year and a new decade, but some things never change, which means it’s time for another monthly check-in with myself.
Lar: You know, we don’t have many more of these to go.
Me: This is the penultimate episode.
Lar: I’m dying to know how this ends.
Me: Jeez, dude. Must we?
Lar: Sorry, it just came out.
Me: I get it. We are indeed in the home stretch. How were the holidays?
Lar: Everyone kept telling me that the holidays would be difficult and I was like, Why should they be any more difficult than the previous months have been? As it turned out, everyone was right.
Me: What were you feeling?
Lar: Oh, nothing really…except for the unbearable loneliness of Rob not being here. Wherever I looked, it was joy to the world. You know, the most wonderful time of the year and all that crap. And everyone was blissfully running around, buying presents, listening to shitty Christmas music, and all that happiness just amplified my sadness and made me miss Rob even more than usual.
Me: You were a regular Scrooge McGrinch until Tiny Tim came to town. It was a Christmas miracle.
Lar: God bless us, everyone! My small heart grew three sizes that day! All kidding aside, we had the best time. Zach has come to L.A. for the last few Christmases, but this time was different. Maura was in Boston visiting her family, so it was just the two of us. And last Christmas, was…well, you know.
Me: The last happy day. Did you guys talk about it?
Lar: We actually didn’t. I told you last time that I can’t be sad when I’m with Zach. He’s my baby, my one true source of happiness—he’s always been and always will be. And maybe before Rob passed, I took that for granted, but now I cherish it more than anything on Earth. When I dropped him off at the airport last week, I told him that there’s no one in the world I’d rather hang out with, and I meant it from the bottom of my heart.
Me: I know, dude. I feel exactly the same way.
Lar: And the thing is, we don’t have to be doing anything in particular. It’s just us being together. He did kick my ass in H.O.R.S.E. again, but to be honest, I kind of like that he did.
Me: When the student becomes the master. Did you guys talk about Rob at all?
Lar: Only when it came up organically. Like when we were in the car and Zach synced his iPhone so he could DJ and the first song we heard, magically, was “Cotton,” one of Rob’s faves. You know, we didn’t have to talk about him because we both felt like he was there, hanging out with us.
Me: He’ll always be there with you guys. So…changing the subject, let’s talk about the new year.
Lar: It couldn’t have come fast enough. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway—last year can go fuck itself! Although I have no idea what will happen next. I suppose my grief will continue to change and the pain will probably/maybe ease up a bit in a “time heals” type of way. But that’s as far as I can see. I’d say that this year has to be better than 2019, but I know better than to tempt fate or annoy God…
Him: Did I hear someone say My name?
Lar: Not again! What the hell are you doing here?
Him: I thought I could be like a special guest. You know, just do a little cameo appearance.
Lar: Ugh. So what great wisdom do you have to impart?
Him: Um…I didn’t really prepare anything. I thought that maybe we could just riff like you do with yourself.
Lar: How very on-brand of you, with the whole “working in mysterious ways” bit.
Him: Love that song. Which reminds me of a joke: What’s the difference between Me and Bono?
Lar: Are you fucking kidding me?
Him: Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing.
Lar: Well, I’m not in a jokey mood.
Him: You know, sometimes you can be a real drag! Okay, let me leave you with this parting thought: Every day is a gift—from Me to you. There’s no guarantee of tomorrow, so find the good in every day and make the most of it. Peace out!
Me: Wow! I didn’t know that you knew Him.
Lar: Well, I always thought that He was you.
Me: Which makes Him you.
Lar: This is giving me such a headache. Can we get back to whatever it is that we usually do here? Thank God we only have to do this one more time—next month, on the one-year anniversary of Rob’s death—and then we’re done.
Me: I don’t think you really want me to thank Him, but what you just said is a perfect segue to what I was going to ask you: Have you heard of the anniversary effect?
Lar: I can guess what it is, but why don’t you tell me.
Me: It’s basically you feeling extra-shitty in the run-up to the first anniversary of the day Rob died. Anniversary effects are like a post-traumatic stress response, but in calendar form. You may reexperience the whole fucked-up thing or it may heighten the stress related to grief.
Lar: I’ll be the last person in our grief group to deal with it. Everyone else says the anticipation and dread leading up to the anniversary is worse than the actual day, and whenever it’s “everyone” saying something, it usually turns out to be right. So the next few weeks should be a barrel of laughs. And let’s not forget the added bonus of Rob’s birthday two weeks before he died.
Me: It’s always darkest before the dawn, my friend. We’ll get through this together.
Lar: I won’t bust your balls for that tired cliché because here’s the thing: It’s not like I’m going to wake up on February 7 and feel any different. When you said “get through this” you conveniently left out the part where “this” lasts forever.
Me: Well, that brings up my next question: How are you going to feel about not writing about Rob anymore?
Lar: I honestly don’t know. All I can say about it is that I felt compelled to write about him right from the get-go. It kept me connected to him and helped me process my feelings. It also became an obsession. Writing about Rob was the only thing I cared about in those early days. It hurt like hell and yet I couldn’t get enough of it. I also knew that if I didn’t document exactly what I was feeling when I was feeling it, I’d never be able to recreate what I was going through.
Me: So what’s changed?
Lar: Everything changes with time, or maybe I’m just running out of things to say, who knows? But over these past few months, it began to feel a little like a burden. Maybe I just need a break from it. Writing about Rob has kept me immersed in my grief 24/7, and I kind of need to catch my breath. Frankly? I’m just exhausted, and it’s time to live—rather than document—my life. It’s time to think about the future. More than anything, I know Rob would want me to.
Me: I hear you loud and clear, Lar. Like He said: “Find the good in every day and make the most of it.”
Lar: I can’t believe you’re quoting Him! We’ve come a long way from Joan Didion.
Me: I knew you were going to say that, so I came prepared with the following advice from St. Joanie’s Magical Thinking gospel: “I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us. I also know that if we are to live ourselves there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead.”
Lar: I agree, and that point for me is exactly one month from today.
Him: Sorry, LC, but I really need to finish my joke.
Lar: Ugh! Sometimes you can be so annoying! Fine. Let’s get this good time over with!
Him: Thank you. Ahem…What’s the difference between Me and Bono?
Lar: Tell me.
Him: Rob has never met Bono.