Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rain, Rain

I usually hate rainy days.  Unless you're in The Notebook, making out in a storm, the rain is not romantic.  It makes me moody (i.e., moodier than usual), and it makes even simple things (like grocery shopping) more difficult.  It makes people drive 5 mph as if they have blindfolds on.  It's messy.  It's gray.  But sometimes, it's a good excuse to be lazy, to be sad, to be pissed off at the world, and to let all the things you normally push out of your mind, seep in.  

Today, my mood matches the rain.  I know I'll be totally fine tomorrow.  I know later I'll read this blog and think how whiney I sound, how dramatic.  But today, I think this weather is perfect.  If it were sunny today, maybe I'd write about all the AMAZING things going on in my life.  My rapidly-approaching, beautiful wedding, the impending marriage to the man of my dreams, my adorable dog, my supportive family, my ethereal wedding gown, my less than 9 months of school before becoming an NP, my super fun friends who keep me smiling, my health. . . Yes, I have tons to be thankful for.  But let's be honest, no one really wants to read about that stuff.  And I'd be a liar if I said rainy days make me smile and think of how lucky I am. 

No, today is a blah day.  Today, I'm not going to feel guilty about feeling sorry for myself.  I feel like being sad, and I think I'm allowed to be.  Those who are close to me know there are a lot of things going on in my personal life, and today, for once, I'm not going to pretend that it's all easy.  

Rain makes me think of living in Manhattan.  You know, that other life of mine that wasn't too long ago, but seems like a lifetime ago.  Nothing is worse than trudging through city puddles of brown water.  I've come to believe that almost every single girl in Manhattan owns Hunter rain boots.  They are a necessity.  Out in Suffolk, I'm usually one of very few people wearing them . . . and sometimes I smile to myself, as if I know something they don't.  Pssh these people clearly never had walk through the West Village in a downpour.  These boots were my armor as I fought my way to the nearest Starbucks.  There was no hopping in the car to drive two blocks.  Ahh how 50 miles away can seem like worlds.  

Rain also makes me think of tears.  Obvious, right? But I mean, c'mon.  Had to throw that one in there.

I remember when Jon was sick, I prayed for rain.  I hated waking up in our shoebox bedroom to the sunshine. For a split second when I first opened my eyes and felt the sun on my face, it felt like everything was ok, until reality set in.  I remember being so angry that the sun was still shining even though he was dying.  It didn't seem right.  And during his burial, why was it sunny? Why wasn't it thundering, the way my body felt it should be.  Why wasn't it freezing? How could I feel this warm? How is it that the world lost someone so bright, yet the earth was still turning? I imagine anyone who ever lost someone (or endured the process of losing someone) can relate to these feelings. 

Because of what I've been through, I find my newest determination in life is doing everything I can so that the people I love never have to experience this.  I know how damaged parts of me are, and I just want to protect others from ever feeling these things.  From ever having to carry bad memories.  It's like a secret club I don't want to be a part of.  Sadly, add this to the list of things I cannot control.  

When Danny and I first started dating, believe it or not we talked about our losses.  He let me cry about Jon, while I listened to his experience losing his father.  Though very different, there was enough similarity that I believe, it brought us closer on a deeper level.  I would do anything to protect him from ever feeling anything even remotely like that again.  But I'm only human.  What I've learned over the years is that although there's little I can control, I'm really good at loving the crap out of people.  So that's what I'll do.  Just love him, more and more every day. . . that parts easy.  :) I like to think love forms a protective barrier.  That although it can't change what obstacles come our way, it can shield us, even if it's slightly, from the hurt and pain that life throws at us. 

I know that being loved is what got me through losing Jon. . . the love I knew he had for me surrounded me even in the toughest, hope-crushing moments.  My mom --  well that's another blog altogether -- but her love has always been a cushion from the blows of the world.  Countless others. . . I won't sit here and say "I wouldn't have survived" because, I would have.  I'm not a quitter.  But it would've been an even harder battle, and I'm not sure how well I would have come out on the other side.  

So love someone.  You never know when they'll need that little forcefield of protection.  Your love might make all the difference.  It just might be the thing that reminds them that, soon, it will stop raining.  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dear Jon


Last week, I was on my way to the gym (which is way too far from where I live).  I got stuck in traffic and missed the class I wanted to take.  For some reason, I kept driving.  I had this thought that came out of nowhere that I would drive all the way to NJ to the cemetery to see you.  I haven't been to the cemetery on my own.  I've only been there for your memorial, and I admit, my wall was up as high as it'd ever been that day.  I didn't let myself really feel the depth of what I was seeing that day -- your name, your dates, beloved son, brother and perhaps most bittersweet, SOULMATE.  I don't know what made me want to go there.
I never understood people who take comfort in visiting a headstone.  I just don't get it.  I'd rather sit on a bench in Riverside Park where we spent countless afternoons, or stop on the Palisades overlook, or listen to a song you wrote.  There's comfort being in places you've been, places you've touched.  
I never actually made it to the cemetery.  I got all the way to the bridge and saw bumper-to-bumper traffic.  Something inside me decided you wouldn't want me to spend a sunny day in traffic just to visit a headstone. . . one I'm not sure I'd be able to find on my own anyway.  

You've been on my mind a lot lately.  I know I say this in every blog, but I still have a hard time letting myself believe this all really happened.  I know how unhealthy that sounds. What makes it even more difficult is the juxtaposition of my life right now.  I'm so happy.  I'm so excited for my life with Danny.  But that doesn't diminish how happy I was.  How excited we were. And all that has happened in the last year and half. 

It's so hard to explain, but somewhere deep down, I know we weren't meant to spend our lives together.  I mean, we should have been able to, but somehow, without really knowing, I know that it just wasn't meant to happen that way.  I'm not sure who decides what's meant to be and what's not, but I strongly feel in my heart that things happened the way they were supposed to.  Not that that changes how angry I am about it.

I read this quote the other day and it really hit home.  We always said we were soulmates.  People always think soulmates are meant to be together forever.  But maybe this makes more sense.  We were meant to meet exactly when we did and spend the exact amount of time we did together.  Though I know I will always wonder what would've happened if we had made different decisions -- chosen different treatment or gone to a different doctor -- deep down, I know there were no wrong choices.  In the end, you enjoyed your life.  You were home, with me.  No hospitals, no residents surrounding your bed, no abrupt wake ups for examinations.  We kept as much control as we could.  I can say with complete certainty that every touch you felt was love.  Every word you heard during your last hours, was love.  That's more than so many people get . . . and so much more than most people get to give. 

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave. A soul mates purpose is to shake you up. . . break your heart open so new light can get in. . ."

Not sure how two people can be so unlucky and lucky at the same time. I do know that you changed who I am . . . down to my core, I am a better, stronger, calmer, more loving person. 

I miss my best friend.  Katie and I talked about you the other day.  We laughed a lot.  You always had that effect on us.   I know you must be so proud of your baby sister.  She is turning into such an amazing woman.  I credit a lot of that to you.  You always had that effect on people, too.  I will always be grateful for the family you brought me into.  A family that continues to support me, not to mention two of the bravest women I know.  I can't thank you enough for bringing such amazing, truly good, people into my life.  

I don't feel weird telling you how happy I am, and how in love.  I talk to Danny about you quite often.  He knows that you will always be in my heart.  He knows I believe you brought him into my life.  

I've been doing pretty well in school.  I think I even figured out what I want to do when I graduate.  I hope I make you proud.  

I know you'll be smiling down on my wedding day.  That may sound weird to some people, but I don't think you feel jealousy or bittersweetness... I think, wherever you are, you know that this is how things were meant to turn out.  And though part of me will always mourn the life we didn't get to have, I feel peace knowing you are with me every step of this beautiful life I'm going to get to have.  

Chickens 4L.
Love you. 


"I want it all, some kind of wonderful... " <3>

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Jon's Memorial

“There is an ache in my heart for the imagined beauty of a life I haven't had, from which I had been locked out, and it never goes away.” 

I wasn't going to say anything today, but I kept having this nagging feeling inside that I should.  Jonathan always had the right words.  He would've thought of something so profound to say.  He also probably would've hated the idea of us standing in a cemetery a year later, but I'm sure he appreciates all of us coming together one way or another.

It's been 449 days since Jonathan left us.  I know this year has been hard for all of us.  There were some dark places along the journey this year, but what keeps me pushing forward is Jon's attitude.  He would never have wanted any of us to dwell on our loss.  Just keep moving... let yourself be sad, cry... and then fight to be happy. Fight to do all the things he would have done but didn't get the chance to.  That's all he would have wanted... all he still wants for all of us.  When I stop moving for a second though, and close my eyes, the thought of Jon not being in this world anymore still has the ability to shake me to my core.  It will never feel right that he's not in this world, brightening it with his smile, calming it with his words, and igniting it with his talent.  

What I've learned is to take him with me.  I am forever-changed for having had Jon in my life... for having been loved by him.  The reason we miss him so much is because of how much he brought to our lives.  We are lucky to have that piece of Jon as a part of us, forever.  We are better because of him, in every aspect.  Every person we meet will know a better part of us, because we are truly better people for having had Jon in our lives.  

Right before he died, Jon was worried about being forgotten. I'm sure he is smiling down on us as I say this now, seeing how silly that was.  Mostly what I think he was afraid of was being remembered in the wrong way... in a sad way.  Yes, losing Jon is probably the reason all of us know first-hand how short life can be, and how tragic, but (and I struggle with this myself) that's not what he would want us to remember or learn from his time on earth.  Make him the reason you know that amazing people exist.   Make him the reason you never settle because you know all he would have done if given the chance.  Let him be the reminder that true love, true friendship exists. That a person can be stronger than we ever imagined to be possible.  That we are all stronger than we think.  He was able to do so much in such a short time... to teach us all so much.  It would be so wrong to not live these lives we've been blessed with to the fullest.  

He lives on in all of us.  He is the warmth we feel on sunny days.  He is a silly joke that makes us smile to ourselves.  He is in our old memories, and we take him with us on every new experience, on every occasion or event he would be at if only this universe made sense.  He is the spark of an idea, or a song.  

He is the fight inside me, the strength I've built.  He is the heart of me, the reason I believe in love.  The reason I refuse to settle for less than wonderful. He is the faith I have in myself.  Jon is the best part of me.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Good Stuff

When I met Jon, I swear the earth stopped moving for a moment.  I'm not trying to be completely sappy and romantic.  That's actually not how I mean it at all.  I don't want to say it was love at first sight.  The only way I can describe it is like getting hit in the face.  My world stopped for a split second, and though I could not put my finger on it at the time, it was like hearing a voice in my head say, 'He's going to be important.  This moment  is important . . .  life-changing."  I'm not sure if that makes sense.  I had experienced moments like that to a much lesser degree a few times before that.  

I was watching Forest Gump the other night while Danny and I were both sick, and at the end, Forest talks about how some people believe in destiny and others say we're just floating around 'accidental-like' on the breeze... and how he believes it's a little of both.  I have to agree.  The only way I can really explain it is that the moment I met Jonathan (and the somewhat similar moments I'd experienced previously) was a "destiny" moments.  Moments like that are rare and they serve almost as a reminder -- as if to tell us (in case we were wondering) some things are NOT coincidences . . . the choices we make are life-altering, and this one right here, well, it's is a BIG one.  You're gonna remember this one. And maybe, just maybe, there is something bigger than us guiding us along, at least for the important decisions. 

I believe without a shadow of a doubt, that I was meant to love Jon.  That I was meant to enter his life at that EXACT time I did.  And though it pains me to say, perhaps, I was meant to lose him.  I'm not sure why I was part of that plan, but as painful of a journey as it's been, I feel nothing but blessed.  Someone or something chose me to love him, when he needed to be loved the most.  And yes, my loss is profound, but I share it with the hundreds of other people who miss him every day . . . and we share the common despair over what he could have done with more time, as well as the pride in all he accomplished in the time he had.  I feel lucky to have been one of the lucky ones who got to know him and be a part of his life.  The people who knew him, grew up with him, loved him . . . they will always hold a special place in my heart.  More than anything, I know how lucky I was that he chose me to love back.  

Right after he died, EVERYthing was a sign.  I like to think that at least some of the little things I noticed or small coincidences were in part his doing . . . his way of reminding me that he was thinking of me.  But, now it takes a hell of a lot to get me see it as a sign.  Maybe it's because I've experienced REAL, life-changing, world stop spinning moments.  I think when you know, you know.  And there will be big and small reassurances that you're on the right path.  

Take the moment I saw Danny for the first time, for instance.  It felt like my brain emptied of all it's thoughts, except that I wanted to know him. And not just because I thought he was attractive.  It's hard to articulate, but it was so much deeper than that.  There was that "he's important!!" sign flashing in my head.  And little did I know just how important he would turn out to be . . . or how wonderful.  

And now, every important future moment that I see in my head, has him in it.  I know without question, that I'm where I'm supposed to be and I'm loving who I'm supposed to love.  The hard part for me is letting go of the irrational thoughts in my mind that say, what if I lose him, too? At least I know I'm being crazy.  It's just that Jon and I made plans that never happened.  Yes, Jon had cancer.  Yes, there was a constant, realistic threat to all of our plans . . . Unfortunately, the possibility of losing him was always a rational thought.  But I'm still scared.  Mainly because I think a person's heart can only take so much.  I am afraid to dream sometimes.  But little by little, as pieces fall together, I can breathe a little easier and recognize how silly I'm being.  I don't know if I'll ever let my guard down completely though.

I've given this man my heart . . . and he holds it, ever so gently, knowing how fragile it is.  Jon and I used to say, "Only good stuff from now on." I hear that in my head sometimes when I'm sitting next to Danny on the couch and I look over and can't help but smile.  I know Jon would be happy about all the "good stuff" in my life . . . and all the beautiful, sparkling moments yet to come. 

" The heart is made of the only substance in the universe that gets stronger after it has been broken."

Sunday, February 3, 2013

To you, Love, me

Dear Jon,

At around 1 am tonight, I know I will wake up.  I don't want to, but I know I will.  My heart and my subconcious mind will force me to.  They will force me to remember that exactly 1 year ago, I heard your very last words: "I love you more than life itself."  And too soon after that, I heard your very last heart beat.

I obviously think the year anniversary deserves a blog post, but I couldn't stand the thought of sitting here, saying how difficult it is, and explaining my saddness to nameless viewers.  They've read it all before.  It's hard to explain but venting to them isn't what I really need.  Because it's about you.  It's about losing you, losing a huge part of me, losing the life I thought I'd have.  And as heartwarming as people's sympathies are, they are not what I need.

What I need is your voice, your words.  I want to know what you think, where you are, what you're doing.  I want to sit and talk shit about everyone around us like we always did.  I want you to finish my sentences, agree with me that it sucks that you're not able to be with me anymore, and then I need you to tell me it's going to be ok. I need you to flash me one of those million dollar, twinkly blue-eyed smiles, squeeze my hand, tell me you like my "love" tattoo that I got in your handwriting, and that you'll always be with me.

I miss my best friend.  It's bizarre, but I guess I never really let the finality of it all truly sink in.  I obviously recognize that you died, that we can't be together.  I just thought I'd somehow still be able to talk to you.  It sounds ridiculous, I guess.  But to think that the world will never see your face again or hear your voice...to think that I will never be able to hug you... just all seems so final.  Even 365 days later, it makes no sense.  So I'm writing you this letter.  And I do know that you'll find a way to respond... somehow, some way.

Is it vain of me to think you know what's going on in my life? I like to think you watch over me, that you sort of guide me, and probably also critique a lot of my moves. I also partially blame you for pointing me in some wrong directions shortly after you left.  Or maybe just not doing anything other-worldy to intervene.  I know you just were trying to help me feel better.  But where I am now, I love.  And I know you brought me here.  I also know you have a bunch of people to look after, so thanks. :)

Is it weird for me to talk to you about Danny? I know you sent him to me.  You knew he would love me, and more importantly, that I would love him more deeply than I ever imagined I could love someone.  I know you must be sad that you and I didn't get to have the life we wanted, but I imagine you have complete clarity now...that it somehow makes sense to you. There was a time I was so convinced I'd never be happy again, and Danny has changed that entirely.

It's hard to believe a year ago today I was saying goodbye to you.  This year has changed me so much.  I feel like there's so much to tell you.

You know what makes me laugh sometimes? I hear your silly voices in my head.  Or I crack up at a the 1877 Cars-4-KIDS radio commercial.  Bc we both freakin' hated it.  I listen to "Better" and all I can picture is you playing it on your keyboard in your room...and me video taping it...and you getting mad...and making me delete it.  I wish I still had it now.

For the most part, I have a hard time watching videos of the two of us.  It forces my heart to feel too much...to remember what's been lost. I am one big barrell of defense mechanisms.  I can sit here and write about the bad memories and even talk about them, but I have severed the connection that tells me all of this stuff actually happened to us...to you...to me.  The worst part is my brain has a hard time letting me remember good stuff, too.  There's too much emotion, too many memories.  It's like it only allows me to remember so much before my attention span makes me focus on something else.  Yeah, yeah I know...you're a big believer in therapists... but you know how you just get tired sometimes? Tired of making yourself talk and remember?

I started school this week.  It was probably the hardest thing I've had to do in a long time.  Besides my usual nerd-anxiety, it was just hard.  Being there, remembering last year and the last time I ws there, was just really really hard.  I know you wanted me to finish school.  I like to think you're proud of me.

I want you to know I never forget you.  You are on my mind so much, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of you.  I think we both were really lucky to have had the time we had together.  That doesn't mean I'm not pissed as hell that your time was cut short.  If anyone could have changed the world, it was you.

When I think of exactly 1 year ago, the main thing I remember about you dying, is that all I kept saying over and over in my head was that I needed to make sure you weren't afraid.  And also asking God, if he was listening in those moments, to please not make it drag out too long.  Because you at least deserved a peaceful exit...and for the selfish reason that I didn't think I could handle much more.  I wish you could tell me I did a good job...that I made you feel safe and loved and as fearless as you could have been in those moments.

I will never truly get over you..  I will always talk about you.  I will always carry you with me.  You will forever be the bravest person I've ever known.  You will always be the person who impacted my life the most.  You will always be with me.  I promise to always make up silly songs.  I promise to never stop laughing at our inside jokes.  I promise to try to use correct grammar.   I promise to try to be the person you saw in me. I promise to try and like the Super Bowl. I promise to love the way you taught me to...intensely... unconditionally...and live the way you showed me...without fear..

I will always love you.

Till the year 4001.


Thursday, January 10, 2013


Winter is a difficult time for me.  The holidays were obviously difficult with Jon no longer here, but it's more than that.  I mean, every part of the year is difficult knowing Jon isn't with us.  Winter is just particularly brutal.

As happy as I've been, I can't help but remember how difficult last winter was.  Not only was it sad because Jon and I didn't do much celebrating, but the winter itself seems to spark vivid memories I wish I could erase.

The cold wind reminds me of trying to bundle Jonathan up for our trips to the clinic.  It reminds me of struggle.  Struggling to get him out of bed and dressed.  Layer after layer, hoping to shield his frail body from the bitter Manhattan wind.  Struggling to walk down the steps with him leaning on me while simultaneously trying to hold the door open.  Struggling to make sure he was sitting or leaning somewhere steady so I could get us a cab. Struggling to get into the cab.  Struggling to get him out of the cab.  Struggling to run and get a wheelchair or try and arrange a nurse to meet us with one.  I would often push Jonathan to try and walk the few steps inside.  Looking back, I feel incredibly guilty for that.  I was just so sure he'd get better, I didn't want him to stop trying.  It seemed like a small feat... just a few steps into the lobby, but I know now it must have seemed like a daunting task for him at the time.  And he usually was willing to try, just for me.  It makes my eyes well up with tears just thinking about it.

Part of me thinks if I had known, maybe I would've been easier on him.  Maybe I wouldn't have EVER mentioned how hard things were for ME.  Maybe I wouldn't have let him see me cry as much as he did.  But then I stop and think, he knew me better than that.  I have to believe in my heart of hearts that he knows I only wanted the best for him, that I only wanted him to have the life he deserved, and that when I seemed upset or frustrated, that I was so angry at cancer, not at him...  never at him.

I have to remind myself I am only human.  Last winter, my life shattered piece by piece... I think I was allowed to cry.  I think Jon would've known I was faking it if I hadn't broken down in front of him.

Starbucks in the winter reminds me of my small window of free time where I'd run to get a latte while Jon's parents or friends would stay with him.  CVS in the winter reminds me of the daily visits to pick up new prescriptions.  Coats with fur lining remind me of Jon's awesome jacket I bought him for Xmas (and gave him early).  Slippers remind me of the slippers he insisted on wearing inside and outside of the house. My plain back heels just remind me of the cemetery, the sunny February day of Jon's funeral.  I have, without a doubt, some form of PTSD.  The hardest part is people.  Certain people remind me of last winter... certain people bring me back to a place I just can't bear to go all the time.  And I hate it, because it's not their fault or intention.  Then again, I'm sure I am the trigger for some people as well.  I hope someday that will change.

Last year for Xmas eve, Jon couldn't come with me to see my family. Last year on New Years Eve, Jon had a seizure.  Last year, my birthday came and went.  And I was such a brat... so pouty that he wasn't feeling well for my birthday.  That he wasn't "with it" for my birthday.  Never really letting myself believe the reality that was before me -- that at some point in the future (which came more quickly than I ever imagined), I'd wish to never celebrate my birthday again if it meant Jon would be alive.

There are little things I've come to miss that seem sort of silly.  Almost a year without Jon, and yet I dialed his phone number the other night.  It just rang and rang and this silly, hopeful part of me wished he would answer.  I would've even been satisfied with hearing his voice mail message, but obviously that's gone, too.  I know it doesn't make any sense, but I just wanted something concrete, something real to make me remember that he was here, not too long ago.  Pictures help, but as I've said before, sometimes when I look at them I feel like I'm looking at someone else's life...like that's not me in the photos with him.  What I find myself mourning more and more as time goes on, is the life Jon will never get to have.  Even if you take me out of the equation, there's a part of me that wishes he was off living some great life like he should be.  It would make me smile to know that he's happy somewhere.  I tell myself he is.

I know this post is heavy and I apologize if it brings you guys down. The truth is, I feel pretty torn.  On the one hand, I am UNBELIEVABLY happy...so in love... and grateful for an amazing Christmas and winter so far. I think about last year and how it felt like things would never get better.  And then Jon didn't get better... but somehow, my life has gotten better.  Little by little the pain has lessened and I feel like I've found myself again.  I feel calm and excited at the same time for everything to come.  I finally feel like I'm myself... like I am capable of making rationale decisions again (haha)... like I'm getting my life back together.

 But there's always this little part of me, pulling, tugging at my heart, bringing me back and flooding my mind with painfully sad memories.  And most of all, forcing me to remember who I was and the life I had... as well as the life I'll never get to have. I imagine it would have been a beautiful life with Jon.  I KNOW it would have been.  I grieved his death and with it the death of that imagined life we might have had.

 I also have come to realize, for reasons I might never understand, it is not the life I was meant to have.  I also know without a shadow of a doubt  that the one I WILL have will be equally as beautiful.

With the one year anniversary of Jon leaving this earth coming up, I know the rest of the winter will be hard.  I am grateful for the beautiful life I had with Jon, the beautiful memories that I know will someday soon overshadow the sadness.  I am grateful for the beautiful life I am living right now.  RIGHT NOW is amazingly perfect, honestly beautiful, warm and sparkling.  I am surrounded by love every single day... on earth and from up above. I feel lucky.  I feel like what I have experienced, what I've gone through, has only made me stronger and able to love more deeply. I am also so lucky to have someone who understands why I'm sad sometimes, listens to me talk about Jon, and even laughs at some stories.  He loves me completely, even in my fragile moments.  I'm honestly not sure if the tables were turned I'd be strong enough to be that unselfish.

 So when the cold wind blows, I will close my eyes and remember the love that surrounds me and keeps me warm.  I will try to remember Jonathan smiling at me for that always warms my heart.