April 7, 2017

Another birthday

Our Amir should be 41 today. This whole week has been difficult and I wonder if I should just hibernate the first week of April every year? Sigh... I still have so much trouble with the sad fact that it just does not get easier. In fact, at times it feels more difficult and heavy now than it did two years ago. The more time goes by, the longer he's not here, the more lost I feel without him.

Two of his favorite bands released new albums recently (Spoon, a few weeks ago, and The New Pornographers, TODAY) and fuck if he wouldn't love them. He turned me on to Spoon years ago and would be thrilled at how much I like their new album. I'm so shredded that I can't talk to him about it. And he was so crazy about Neko Case and TNP... he'd surely be raving about that album, too.

That's really the thing about grief. Of course, we all feel destroyed that Amir's life was cut short, that he didn't get to accomplish so much of what he wanted to, that he didn't deserve to die. And of course, we all miss him in different ways at various times and constantly. But the hardest part is just the longing to have one more conversation, one more late-night phone marathon, one more hug. The constant longing to simply hear his voice and his laugh. The longing to hear his opinion on something mundane like a movie or album or on something important like what's happening in the world.

A few weeks ago, my family celebrated my cousin Arik's wedding in Mexico. The joy and love and happiness was so full and tangible... we all love Courtenay and were so thrilled to be there together to celebrate their love. And yet, for me, Amir's absence loomed so large and heavy and painful. I hate that my longing for him diminishes every family gathering, but how could it not? He should have been there. He should have been part of the celebration. HE SHOULD BE HERE WITH US NOW. That feeling will NEVER change.

I don't believe in mediums or seances or things of that nature, though I put aside my skepticism when friends or family who are grieving decide to try it. Who am I to tell them I think it's bullshit? If it gives them comfort, I fully support it. Even though I'm skeptical, I must admit I'm curious and I can understand their reasoning--it comes from something I do understand: the overwhelming longing to have some connection with our lost loved ones. What I wouldn't give to tell Amir we all love him and miss him and to hear he's at peace. If I had any real indication that a medium could offer me that, I'd try it. Skepticism goes out the window when grief takes over.

Anyway, I've gone off on several tangents--it's because I haven't written in a while and I'm overflowing with thoughts... I just miss Amir so much. Not only on his birthday but every single fucking day, my thoughts are never far from him for more than minutes at a time.

March 10, 2017

The Greatest Potential

Two weeks ago, during the Oscars ceremony, Viola Davis said this in her acceptance speech: "There's one place where the people with the greatest potential are gathered. And that's the graveyard."

That hit me like a punch to the chest. Indeed, one of the most difficult things about the death of a relatively young person is the lost opportunity to witness that person's true, full potential. This is certainly the case with my darling younger brother--he had so much left to achieve, to prove, to offer the world. He had so much he wanted to show all of us. Sadly, the same is true of my husband, Jason, and countless other young lives lost. What could they have accomplished given more time? What could they have contributed to the world?

Amir and Jason were both extremely gifted writers. Jason embraced the opportunity to study creative writing at NYU, where he excelled as a standout in his program. He wrote beautiful poems, plays and prose. Amir spent years jotting his clever thoughts in notebooks, always dreaming of writing professionally but never gaining the confidence to pursue it in spite of my encouragement. Both Amir and Jason wrote hilariously witty letters and emails, piles of which I have saved in boxes and will cherish for the rest of my life.

But, apart from the love and wisdom they imparted to friends and family and the many laughs they gave us, what undiscovered potential did they take with them when they died? We will never know, a fact that I find incredibly difficult to process and accept.

More on this later...

January 15, 2017

Neko the Hunter

From the time I was about 8 years old, we always had a family pet (or three). The first was a street-smart calico who wandered into our yard not long after we moved to CA from NY. Amir had noticed her first. He began requesting American cheese slices more and more frequently from my mom, who didn't think twice because that kid loved cheese more than oxygen. Eventually, my parents realized he was feeding cheese to the stray cat who'd been hanging around our yard. Thus, she became ours. We named her Brown Kit, or Brownie for short. (I cannot account for our lack of imagination in coming up with a name.)

Later, there was Buba the mutt, who, in spite of the love rained upon her in our house, ran away every chance she got until one day she didn't come back. Then, we got Skylar, our beloved golden retriever, who was such a part of the family for two decades that we still talk about him often and photos of him still line my parents' hallway, 20 years after his death. After Brownie, there was Henry the rockstar cat, who lived fast and died young, and Calvin (aka The Fatbox), our cuddly orange tabby gentleman.

As adults and (mostly) apartment dwellers, Amir and Yael and I all went on to adopt cats of our own. For years, Amir's feline companion was the fickle and finicky Neko, named for one of his favorite singer/songwriters, Neko Case. That cat worshipped Amir and rarely, if ever, let another human near her. The three of us talked often about our cats' antics and personality quirks, including exchanges such as this one between Amir and I:

Postscript: We were very fortunate to find a wonderful new home for Neko with a work colleague of Amir's who was heartbroken by his death. She and her husband had also recently lost their cat. Neko's lovely new owners provided gentle reassurance and waited patiently for her to learn to trust them. They'll never know what peace of mind they gave us, knowing Amir's beloved girl would be well cared for.

January 7, 2017

Scooby Snacks

The other night, I found myself scrolling through old texts on my phone. These made me smile and laugh, recalling Amir's unique humor. I miss our text chats like crazy. What I wouldn't give for another round of pop music minutiae.

New Year... Trying for Happy

Anyone who's lost someone close to them knows how difficult and heartwrenching it is to turn that calendar over to a new year. Another year they won't see or experience. For those of us still mourning, it's another year of grief and loneliness. I'm getting pretty fucking sick of feeling this way, yet I don't want to "get over it." I will never get over it. I have become a fantastic actress (or at least a clown). Most days, no one would detect the sadness and pain I feel. That's not to say I fake being happy--I am lucky to have many genuine moments of happiness, fun and laughter in my life. But the underlying sadness is always there. And I cover it up like a fucking boss. Usually.

December was a wretched month in many ways. A friend and neighbor of mine and Jason's died on New Year's Eve. Another young life lost. Cathy was a bright light around our neighborhood--always smiling, joyful, spreading laughter and warmth. Everyone within 10 blocks knew her face and her smile. She had a wicked sense of humor. I admire her joyful spirit even more knowing her life wasn't all rainbows and I strive to live life as positively as she did. She helped Jason with his business, she and her husband had us over for epic summer nights in their backyard and she tried to be there for me as I struggled to cope.

I will always be sad that we had not talked much since Jason's death. And these terrible things that happen only make me miss Jason more, as I long so badly to talk to him. He would have been so saddened by Cathy's death and would have joined me in lending support to her husband and family.

When you lose someone close to you, you naturally miss their physical presence--their smile, their voice, their laugh, their arms around you. But what I miss even more with Amir and Jason is their insights and ideas and thoughts about everything. I miss talking to them so much I feel I can't stand it sometimes. I am not myself because I cannot share things with them. I often feel like half a person without them in my life.

So, I move into a new year with a heavy weight on my shoulders, but one that lightens with support and love from my friends and family. I remain sad but optimistic. Grieving but positive. I strive to find happiness and purpose, even when both seem unlikely. I truly appreciate what I have and what I'm capable of, even when I dread the thought of a future without Amir and Jason in it. No matter what, I will do whatever I can to make 2017 a happy and productive year.