Tag Archives: goodbye

Girls Gone Wild Memorial

1 May


The narrow wooden gate opened and we fell silent for a moment. Stepping through the gate and onto the huge deck, we took in the view, the ocean, the caldera, the little white houses on the slope of the mountain, the breeze, the birds that chirped all around and wandered along the breakfast bar, in search of breadcrumbs. It was almost too much. It had been very, very long since I’d seen something so beautiful. Long enough to forget that beauty like this existed.

Twelve hours earlier, I had taken my Boy to see the fireworks. It was his first Independence Day that he could really grasp and might actually remember, now that he was almost three. He was so happy and excited, and he fell into a deep peaceful sleep on our way home. Straight to bed. No shower or teeth brushed. That could all wait.

On tiptoes, I made the final arrangements. Washed the dishes. Checked my bag for passport and ticket. In a couple of hours my mom would be coming over to stay with my son and I would be off to Santorini, a place that my only connection to was M. It was the money she’d left us. It was the directions she’d given. To go to where she was at 18, when everything was possible and there was no glass ceiling to life. To where she’d been hoping to go with J, between treatments, before she ran out of time. It was a carefree spring break. It was a trip down memory lane. It was our Girls Gone Wild Memorial.

Like he was synced with my plans, two minutes before my alarm went off at 1:00 am, my Boy woke up with a bad dream. And that was that. He remembered suddenly that I was leaving. He was beside himself, clinging to my shirt, hysterical. Finally I had to go. So I did, and left him crying with my mom, telling myself to trust her.

Taxi with E. Picking up J. Meeting G and the airport. Us four. We used to be five.

Tickets, passports, security, duty free, overpriced coffee. The excitement was building up. If only my mother would text me to say things were OK. They’re sleeping, I told myself. And then the flight, laughing hysterically, talking way too loudly and being inappropriate. Landing in Athens, layover, freaking out since my mom hadn’t texted yet. Finally hearing from her. Everything’s fine, I shouldn’t have worried. Boarding. More inappropriateness. Landing. Finding our driver. More inappropriateness… And then traffic, and lots of it…

By the time we got to the hotel, we’d been on the road for almost ten hours and were exhausted. But then that gate opened, and from that moment on, there were no worries. No crying children and fretting over them. It was just peaceful and lovely. And by lovely I mean beautiful, but also full of love.

black sand

If I could possibly be less cynical, I’d say she was there with us, M, laying on the black sand, drinking smoothies and cocktails, dipping her feet into the frozen infinity pool, enjoying the out of season weather, assuring it would never get too warm, rolling her eyes at the look on my face when I saw a lobster on my plate for the first time, and had to ask J to “deal with it”.

She would have chatted endlessly with Vicki, the almost over friendly receptionist that made it her life mission to assure we had the best possible time, ate the best possible food, and sweetly joked about her tendency to eat too much. “There is no moderation in Santorini!” She’d said. M would have loved that.

The end of the last day, standing on the deck again, looking at the water glistening in the sun, I wanted to cry. It was an end to our trip. And though I knew there would be others, I couldn’t be sure that M would be there for the rest. So vivid in my heart, the way she had been in Santorini. Please, I thought, stay with me. Don’t fade away into a distant memory. As we stepped into the taxi that would take us to the airport I clung to her, like a child clinging to his mother’s shirt. But it was time to part, again. And I realized that I could probably continue parting with her forever. Saying goodbye again and again, just as it had been when she was still here.

Her birthday is coming up on Tuesday. Will I be saying goodbye once more? Maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe instead of saying goodbye, I should welcome her memory into my life, as a permanent tenant, that lives forever and never goes on vacation.

I should.

And I will.

But not just yet.


Sleep well. Sweet Dreams. I love you.

17 Jan

I sat beside you, and looked at your eyes, almost entirely closed, and listened for a while to your heavy, steady breathing. I said, “It’s me.” And I thought I could feel you breathing more heavilly, and I imagined that you could hear me.

“I’ve been thinking about you. And not sad thoughts, happy thoughts. You are constantly in my mind. Everything reminds me of you. Things I eat and wonder if you would approve. Clinking glasses with friends and looking them straight in the eye, as you would. A song you like on the radio. A stupid thing someone says that deserves an eye-roll. You are present in my thougts, in my everyday life.

I wanted you to know that I’m OK. We’re all OK. You don’t have to worry about us. We’re taking good care of eachother. Even your father. Even your brother. They’ll be OK. They have people they love taking care of them. And J, she’s going to be OK too. E and I will look after her, I promise.

And I’m OK. I got the divorce agreement and it’s fair. I know you were worried for me.

I hope you’re sleeping well, and having sweet dreams, and remembering all the wonderful places you’ve visited, and all the delicous foods you’ve tasted, and all the people who love you, and always will.

It was a gift to have you in all of our lives.”

I paused and closed my eyes.

“And I’m going to read that book by Terry Prachett you recommended, Small Gods. E gave it to me. It’s about time I got to know Terry Prachett.”

I was silent for about ten minutes. And I imagined that your breathing became slower. And I was certain you couldn’t hear me any longer. I said, “Sleep well. Sweet dreams. I love you.”

And a couple of hours later I got the call.

And you were gone.

Neither Here Nor There

1 Jan

It was Sunday that I said goodbye to her. Not really goodbye, only almost, because she is still here, but will have no visitors. I miss her so badly. I want to grieve her loss. But she is not really fully gone. Sleepy, under the influence of vast quantities of morphine (vast enough, I keep hoping), she’s neither here nor there, and so are the people who love her. If she were gone, there’d be a funeral, I’d be skipping work to sit at home and cry, people would ask me “how’s your friend” and I’d whisper she’s gone and break down. It would feel OK to break down. It would feel a duty to break down. It would feel respectful to break down. 

It does not feel OK. It does not feel a duty. It does not feel respectful. It feels like weakness. It feels like an inconvenience to everyone who’s counting on me to keep a stiff upper lip. 

December 31st. Class field trip to the dessert. Seventy rowdy children screaming and shouting with joy. I put on my happiest face. I made it thought the day heroically. Got back in the evening and picked my Boy up from the babysitter’s. Supermarket (because milk and eggs still need to be bought). Shower (because, you know). Bed time stories, back patting. I sat in my dirty kitchen eating pasta and thought about 2014. Jesus Christ, what a year.

Here’s a recap: I don’t need no man. Maybe I do. Getting back together with BD. Breaking up with BD. Getting used to M’s cancer and its routines. Deciding to move. Meeting A  and chatting for two weeks. Moving. Sleeping with A on first date. Dating. Boyfriend. I love you? Potty-training. Talking! New Day care. Becoming beighbors with one of my closest friends. End of the school year, report cards & play. Cancer getting worse. Three magical days in Budapest. Breaking up with A. War. Sirens, shelters, hooking up with BD. Trying to get back together. Surgery. Montessori training. Writing Papers. Trying to break up with BD. Promotion. More Sirens. Trying to break up with BD. War over. New school year. Excitement. Exhaustion. Breaking up with BD. Liberation. Wanting to date. Cancer getting worse. Meeting a guy. Magical evening playing music at the park. Rushing too quickly to like him. Getting disappointed. Cancer getting worse. Attempting to date. Cancer getting way, way worse. Lonely. Depressed. Hitting rock bottom. Morning after pill. Wanting to never date again. Cancer steadily getting worse. Talking to boys online and scaring them off by telling them my friend is dying. Meeting a man who doesn’t scare easy. First date. Second date. First kiss. Fuck you cancer. Third date. Fourth date. Sex. Fifth date. Boyfriend. Telling M all about him. This can’t be the end of you. I love you. Freaking out. Pulling myself together. I love him. Freaking out. Pulling myself together. Hospice. Fuck-shit-stack. Parent teacher conferences. I can’t, I can’t, I must, I will. Seeing M every day. Saying goodbye. Saying goodbye again. This time goodbye for real. Falling apart. Pulling myself together. No more visits. Missing M like crazy. Allowing D to comfort me. Knowing she’s still with us. Falling apart. Not able to pull myself together.

Limbo is a bad place for me to be. It’s a bad place for anyone, but me especially. I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up.      

The 6 a.m Cry of the Other Woman

20 Dec

I hadn’t seen D for five days, which felt like forever. It’s only been five weeks since we started dating, but we’ve been seeing each other three or more times a week so it’s been pretty intense, the way it always is with me, I guess.

Ever since I blurted out the L word a couple of weeks ago, things have returned to normal, and I’ve been able to enjoy my time with him and languish over every sweet word or nickname or embrace. He’s Russian, and I’ve been called zayka, and slatkyia and krasaviza. He’s been saying that I make him feel alive again, that I’m special, that he loves being with me, that he misses me, that I’m fun, that he wants me. He even used the words “corrective experience” to describe our relationship. Moreover, we’ve begun acting a little more couple-ish, which I’ve been enjoying. And we’ve been talking a lot and sharing stuff. I’ve even talked to him about M, and he’s been asking, cautiously, how I’m doing and saying things like, “I know this is a rough time for you.”

Still, it will be a lie to say that I’m not anticipating his first “I love you” or dreading the notion that he might never say it. All signs clearly state that things are going well between us, and 90% of the time I am able to let go and not think about who likes who more and whether or not that presents an issue. My friend R suggested that I think about it like a gift that I’ve given him. It would be weird if I’d bought him a gift, like, cologne, and the next day he’d buy me perfume. I’ve given him a gift, saying that I feel love towards him. That’s a big gift. But he is constantly giving me gifts as well, other gifts, and that should be OK. And it is, most of the time.

I was discussing these five days apart. He was called in for reserve, and had a really crappy week. He was placed in a base up in the mountains where it’s freezing cold, and they had no warm meals or coffee or heating anywhere. While he was freezing his ass off, writing me texts about his fantasies of what he would do to me if he could have me then and there, I experienced one of the hardest weeks of my life too.

With the background of parent-teacher conferences, with 34 sets of parents to meet and talk to and be presentatble with, all the while keeping my classroom functioning as they rehearsed preformances for Grandparents Day and got into the types of fights and arguments that only 9-12 year olds can get into, I was busy attempting to say goodbye to one of the people closest to me in my life. It’s been 20 months since I first realized that we might not get to grow old together. But my mind seems to have that unique ability to only take in what it wants to, and completely ignore all the rest, so I think it’s only been in the last several weeks that I’ve begun accepting the fact that M has very little time left to share with me, with us. And this realization is devastating.

So on Monday, I was so easily agitated in class, that one of my co-teachers asked me to step out for a breather. When I did, I began crying and could not stop for a full hour. I walked around campus, hoping I would not run in to any children, and tried to calm myself down.

I recovered eventually, and I’m back to acceptence now. I feel better about it actually, like I really needed to let all of that out, and despite the unfortunate timing of my meltdown, I am glad it happened.

When D came back though, it felt like these five days, which objectively are not a long time, created a huge void between us. I hadn’t called him to share what I’d been going through. We texted a bit. I’d said encouraging stuff to him. I’d mentioned I’d had a few rough days. But I couldn’t talk about it. It was too personal, too powerful, and I was afraid I’d break down again if I mentioned it. I was also afraid that he might withdraw, because it might be too much for him to handle.

So seeing him again, feeling his embrace, it was comforting, and at the same time it felt a little like the beginning again. Which was not neccessarily a bad thing. Now, as the weekend progresses, and having spent some time with him, things are beginning to unwind. He came over to spend the night last night, after we each went to our separate dinners with family/friends, and when we met, close to midnight, we cuddled under the blanket and fell asleep at once. And for the first time in what felt like a long time I felt like everything was going to be OK, or more specifucally, like I was going to be OK.

Until 6 a.m.

His phone rang and with half closed eyelids I saw him fumble for it, saying, “at this hour, it could only be L”. L is the ex. Ex-wife and mother of his two girls. And indeed it was her. Having a melt down, crying on the phone. One of their girls won’t stop coughing, and she doesn’t know what to do. I could hear her desperation through the phone, her sobs and gasps. I remembered a time when I called my ex at 1 a.m. sobbing and gasping the same way, because our son had a high fever and I was freaked out. It was too much for me to handle so I went to the bathroom, and brushed me teeth, and drank some water, and then I basically sat in the kitchen and waited until I couldn’t hear his voice responding calmly and assertively to her hysteria any longer. I stepped back into the room. He looked at me with troubled eyes. “It’s OK.” He said, “She’s just coughing, It’s nothing. L panics easily. Her mother is right across the street, I told her to call her. She always calls me when something is wrong. She expects me to drop everything and go be there with them. And I can’t.”

I thought about telling him that he should go be with her. But I didn’t. “She’s adjusting.” I told D. “There will come a time when she doesn’t call every time something happens.”

“I hope you’re right.”

There was no point of going back to sleep. D works every other Saturday and he had to get ready. So we got up and had some coffee. And I tried to put the other woman’s 6 a.m. cry out of my mind. But I couldn’t help but remember my own meltdown of the week, which I hadn’t shared with him, and ask myself if there would ever come a time when he would love me and I would allow myself to lean on him.

Once Upon a Tuesday, Six Months Ago

21 Jul

“Have you heard of Margaret Atwood?” He asked. He was holding my credit card in his hand, tapping it repeatedly on the counter.

“No.” I answered, feeling uncomfortable, like this was some sort of test.

“And Haruki Murakami?” Now I realized that Margaret Atwood was a writer, and I immediately felt at ease. A bookworm like me, with a Masters in Literature, this was my territory.

“Sure.” I answered bravely.

“What have you read by him?” He asked inquiringly.

“The Windup Bird Chronicle,” I responded a little too quickly, please don’t ask me about specific details, I begged in my mind. It had been ages since I read it.


“It was good. Though weird, I mean a little too weird, for me that is.” Apologetic smile.

“Weird is an understatement.” He answered to my relief. “I’m going through a Murakami phase right now. I’m reading everything he’s ever written. Have you read Hardboiled Wonderland? You should. I mean, it’s even weirder than the Windup Bird, much weirder. But you’d love it. I think.” A thin dark haired boy, who seemed barely 20 to me took my credit card out of Skating Guy’s hand.

“Two tickets?” He asked, looking at D who smiled and nodded beside me. A minute later my card was back in SG’s hand, and he was writing the closing time on the receipt and explaining to my friend and I where to pick out our skates. He was shorter than the dark haired boy, and seemed older. His hair was light and drawn back into a tight ponytail. He had enormous brown eyes, with long auburn lashes drooping over them heavily, which matched his oversized lips, the bottom of which I found especially tempting. Despite his overgrown features there was a softness to his bristly face.

“Have fun.” He said with a smile, and just as I turned to leave he added, “Maybe I’ll come skate with you later, if you want.”

“Was that guy hitting on me, or was he just being friendly?” I asked D.

“Hitting on you.”

“Geez, I’m so out of practice.” I smiled. “He was kind of cute, wasn’t he?” It was exciting to be noticed, and even more so by someone who seemed intelligent, someone who seemed to be interested in someone intelligent, and much more so now that I was single for the first time in thirteen years.

We stepped on the ice, our legs wobbly, attempting to stabilize ourselves, grabbing onto the rail. A few rounds later we were a bit more confident on the ice, and that’s when T joined us, sexy and energetic in her skinny jeans, tight top and perfect hair, bouncing about, giggling like a school girl as she stepped on the ice. Behind her was my guy, with his hair, and his lips and his Margaret Atwood.

“Huh. I guess he found T.” I told D, only slightly bitter.

“Actually it looks like he found you.” She laughed as the skating instructor popped up behind me with a “Hey.” I nearly lost my balance, which made him ask, “You OK there?” He’d be asking me that same question in the future, and the answer would be no, but right now it was “I’m starting to get used to this, but I’m counting on you to show me a few tricks.” Which he did. He had the appearance of the shy-quiet type, but he was actually rather talkative. We discussed books we liked, and books we despised, and books by Margaret Atwood that I promised to read.

“How old are you anyway?”

“Twenty-five,” The boy answered. “You?”

“Thirty-one,” I answered honestly. Screw it, if he wasn’t into me because of my age, he was welcome to leave. Pop music was blasting in the background, and I was feeling high on adrenalin. Half an hour later I was explaining the benefits of my Kindle to him, and he was defending the old fashioned paperbacks, and the irreplaceable feeling of flipping through their pages. “With my Kindle I can change the font size and read while I do stuff at home, like umm laundry.” And breastfeeding, I thought to myself.

“Laundry is important.” He laughed. Where do you live? I told him. “Roommates?” I smiled. “You could call it that.” He waited for an explanation. “Forget it, we just met. Let’s wait a bit longer before I shock you.”

“Uh-oh, you’re married with two kids aren’t you?”

“Not exactly.” I had a nice time flirting with him, and that’s what counted. It couldn’t last forever. I might as well tell him now, I thought, and go back to skating with my friends. “I live with my son.” I said. “Separated.”

“Ah.” Well? “He must be cute, how old is he?

“Seven months.” Nice of him to stick around and not bolt. So he’s polite on top of everything else, I thought.

“So, separated, is that like divorced?”

“Pretty much.”

“And that’s supposed to shock me, huh?” He smiled mischievously and we continued skating. “He must be grabbing stuff now, right?” He asked knowingly. “I read about that. Or is he putting everything in his mouth?” It took me a second to realize he was talking about my son.

“Both!” I laughed with relief.

It was ten o’clock and we were exchanging phone numbers, and setting up a date for Sunday. It would be my first date in thirteen years. I was as high as I’d been in a long time. I couldn’t wait.

It’s been six months since I first met SG at the Skating Ring. Five months, three weeks and two days since we sat at that bar on our first, magical date, since he kissed my shoulder and told me I was beautiful, and turned me on so bad that I had to follow him home and lie to the sitter that I had decided to watch a late-night movie. It’s been four months since we broke up for the first time because BD wanted to get back together and I was confused. Three months and three weeks since I told him I loved him, and he said it back. Three and a half months since we gave Baby a bath together and made animal noises, making him laugh hysterically. Three months since I cried into his shoulder, after a sick friend was told she’d have to have surgery. Two and a half months since I told him I was going to go to couples therapy with BD. Two months since I changed my mind but continued going nevertheless. Six weeks since I stopped therapy and spent and insanely passionate night with SG. One month, three weeks and six days since he told me he wanted to end it because he couldn’t be in a serious relationship with a woman who had a son. One month since I texted him miserably, desperately, and was answered with a straightforward, though kind goodbye. Four days since I found his email and foolishly wrote him a letter and got no response.

Less than a minute since I last fantasized that I might ever have him back.

Texting Goodbye

30 Apr


“I had a talk with BD today. I agreed to try two months of therapy together. I don’t know if it’ll do any good but I’m giving it a chance. I remember you said that there are no good or bad decisions, only the choices we make and life that follows. I wanted to say thank you for coming into my life at such a meaningful time, and teaching me to be open and trusting again, and reminding me just how happy I could be. Maybe we’ll meet again some day, but in the meantime I’m going to try hard not to call or text, so I can really figure out where things are going, even though I know it’ll be hard. I also just had to tell you that Baby finally figured out how to put the round peg in that bucket you got him. What a clever boy. Goodbye Skating Guy.”

“Remember that therapy is just the beginning and you will have to do all the really hard work on your own. Be strong and eat lots of tomatoes. Only you are in charge of your happiness. In every situation you can choose to be sad or to see the opportunity that the situation brings, and there is always an opportunity. If you look back at your life, you’ll see that everything that happened to you brought new opportunities along with it. You are stronger now, smarter, more beautiful, more aware. Happier. You have a wonderful, clever, happy boy. He’s a reflection of you. You’re a wonderful mother and I learned so much from you. Thank you. Goodbye Sweet.”