Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Beginning of the Last Year

I took down my 2006 wall calendar today and I read all the notations I had scribbled in each little square beginning with January. Clueless me, innocent me, poor widow me was completely blind to what was to come.

I turned over the January page to the February page to the March page and I felt my left eye twitch as I tried to stare at April. January was filled with fun stuff and mundane happenings "Home from Atlantic City" (January 1st) or "Eyebrow consult 2PM" (January 12th) We saw Jersey Boys on the 10th and had dinner with our friends Jade and Gary on the 28th.

Hair was a big item on my calendar for January, February and March. If I wasn't cutting it I was coloring it or having it blown out or straighened. Admittedly, by May I was pretty much back to the same schedule. I just had no one at home to tell me how pretty it looked or

"What the hell did you do to your hair this time?"

There was a wine tasting at the Friars Club on February 7th that I dragged him to. I'm sure I dragged him to see Jersey Boys, too. I was the dragger and Jimmy was the draggie.

We rarely acknowledged Valentine's Day with anything more than a card but this February Jimmy bought me a gorgeous diamond necklace. I remember thinking, "hmmm...Could he be feeling guilty about something?" Now, of course, I wonder if he sensed something.

"Leave for Florida" is written in on February 24th and I am grateful for this because he loved Floriduh and this time he was the dragger. I agree with comedian Paula Poundstone who says, "Florida juds out too far on map. It makes me want to chop it off and let it drift off into the ocean."

I dragged him home on March 1st. In between, we really did have fun, visiting his brother Robert and our friends Blondie and Barry and my cousins. He seemed fine. He sheepishly bought another horse while we were down there. Maybe that's why he got me the diamond necklace. It turns out I was jealous of a filly.

I went to an Oscar party at a restaurant with my gay nephew on March 5th. We were thrilled. After all, to women and gay men the Academy Awards is the Superbowl. Jimmy was thrilled to stay home. "Go and have fun. You know I hate award shows and anyway I don't feel that well."

First doctor appointment is marked on Thursday, the 9th. His brother Charlie's 65th birthday party was that Saturday, the 11th. He was tired, but he drove the 45 minutes. He didn't feel up to going out for our traditional dinner with the kids on his birthday. That was the 14th of March. I thought he had a virus.

The next day Jimmy had a cat scan. After that, less than a month before he died, I stopped writing in the calendar. I stopped making plans for us.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Day After Christmas

The holiday I dreaded is over and I feel sadder than I have in weeks. Today it hit me that I didn't only need to get through this Christmas without Jimmy. This is forever. I need to get through all my remaining Christmases without him.

I tried to make it easier by having no tree or decorations in my house. It kinda sorta worked in a way. This is the first year I don't have to concern myself with poinsettias that refuse to die until President's week. Jimmy couldn't bear to discard a living thing so by the end of January I'd begin to sneak them out in a hefty bag along with old newspapers and chicken bones. They had to go. Red leaves don't belong in a house full of earth tones.

Two weeks before Christmas the cemetery people mailed me an ornament in the shape of a wreath and in the center in gold it read James Scibelli 1950-2006. Being treeless I hung it over a framed picture of Jimmy. It felt right, respectful, my only decoration and easy to put away.

It's a strange feeling to be done with Christmas as soon as Christmas is over. I even left Christmas Day leftovers at Jackie's house although there wasn't much to pack up. Jimmy's brothers vacuumed up the lasagna and the beef tenderloin and the shrimp in a valiant effort to make up for the portions Jimmy would have scuffed down.

We all claimed we forgot our cameras on Christmas Eve. The truth is we went out to dinner with our heads down because no self respecting Italian family dines out on the 24th. Even Skylar covered. When the waitress said "Merry Christmas" she responded, "And, Happy Hanukkah."

As a Jew, I'd go anywhere for a meal, but since becoming a Scibelli 30 something years ago I've been inundated to slave over a stove and then set the table carefully with the good china reserved for the four main events - Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and Easter.

In between the unusual quiet and the palatable sadness Skylar would squeal for joy to remind us that all this was new to her. Yesterday was the first of her Christmas memories and we struggled to stay in the moment to make them with her. Next year will be easier. And, next year I'll put up a tree.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Taking A Bullet For Each Other

The last session I had with Jean she used a word I didn't know. I did my best imitation of an intelligent person, but I'm afraid she's smart enough to realize I'm not.

I confessed to her this week. I had to. I had missed the complete content of her wisdom by not understanding that one word.

"Uh, I have to ask you, used a word last week. I know it started with an 'm'."

Jean looked at me blankly until her expression told me to give her more.

"We were talking about how people react and respond on the basis of how they've heard they're supposed to..." This was stupid. Now, I'm was wasting today's session.

"Oh, you mean market place thinking?"

"That's not a word."

"Who said it was a word? It's my own expression. It means the way the masses think they should think."

"Market place thinking. That was it."

Jean has nice straight teeth. She showed me all of them when she laughed in my face. Nice reaction from a bereavement shrink.

She's had thousands of 'patients' over the years and became a widow herself some 30 years ago when she was 43. She's acutely aware of the many paths grieving takes. Her market place thinking phrase was in response to my rant.

"About three years ago we were with my cousins and somehow the conversation
became 'Would you take a bullet for your spouse?' Everyone said they would, but Jimmy. Can you believe that?"

Jean shrugged.

"No, no...listen to what he said. He said, "Why would I take a bullet for you? I've got a lot of living to do."

Jean smirked. I thought the smirk meant the irony wasn't lost on her. Nooo... she was smirking at me. In just a few moments this became clear.

"I remember saying, "We don't exactly live in a neighborhood with drive by shootings every other day. Lie to me! Then, Jimmy challenged me, 'Come on, you would take a bullet for me?' And, I said, 'Of course, I would. How could I live with myself if I didn't?"

Finally, Jean jumped in, "Well, here you are living, aren't you?" she said.

It wasn't a drive by shooting that killed Jimmy and I didn't skirt my opportunity to save him, but Jean explained that while Jimmy's comment would dim his chances for getting laid that night he was the most honest person in the room.

"I've worked with thousands (that's how I knew this) not hundreds of people who have lost their husbands or wives, even parents who lost children. The market place
thinking is that they can't go on. Guess what? No suicides in all those years."

Okay. So, I can live without him, but I didn't know this until I had to. How come Jimmy knew he could live without me?

I comfort myself by fantasizing if I had died he would have become Jean's first suicide. Romantic, eh?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Shrinking About It

At first I was embarrassed to mention here that I've been seeing a bereavement shrink because I had such a negative experience and hated everyone in my first group. And, then again in my second group

I took a shot with Jean because I liked her no nonsense attitude on the phone. I cautiously told her I didn't make it past the third session in two bereavement groups like I was confessing I flunked out of high school. I immediately saw that going one on one with her would earn me my G.E.D.

She bad mouthed my first group (she knew organization by reputation) This took the heat off me and we were instantly aligned through mutual hate. And when I told her my second group was comprised of people 150 years old she groaned and said "Their experience is nothing like yours."

I knew that deep down, I told her. I knew I was fooling myself when I said we were all the same age in grieving years. I felt her rolling her eyes and now after three sessions I see that she rolls them often.

In between rolling her eyes Jean gives me analogies. I love analogies. Easy to remember and it all sinks in. The first analogy she put out there was to think of my family like a boat. The captain has fallen overboard and drown.

Me, the first mate is to step up to the helm - not the son (which often happens if you let it) and not the son-in-law because well, because he's the son-in-law and could be digitally removed from all photos and replaced with a plant.
Jean didn't go into such detail but I did and she rolled her eyes.

Jean told me about the thousands of widows she has seen over the years and how different each person grieves. (she didn't list them) I told her I feel like Jimmy just disappeared and shouldn't I accept this by now? (8 months today)

She gently explained that for all of my adult life he was the one I shared everything with. There is barely a memory that he's not starring in and each day for decades was ours and I looked ahead a future with him in it. Eight months is a blimp on the screen.

I knew all of this. Of course, I did, but hearing it made me see an awful picture almost like it was someone else. This is why this therapy with Jean may help. She insisted I take the helm, but she also gave me permission to treat myself kindly and steer slowly.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

How Do I Do Christmas Eve?

Doug lives in Manhattan now and he came home today as he does most Sundays. I told him it's fine not to, but he says he wants to - sweet - until he smirked,

"Because you have the football package."

Later in the day Jackie and Glenn and Skylar popped over for dinner and the house got loud and frantic as we all played hide and seek and crawled around being puppies thrilled to be taking silly orders from a 2 and a half year old.

The toddler that Jimmy knew 8 months ago is a little girl. The passage of time is undeniable as she helps me make the salad with the finese of a midget Martha Stewart. I just hope jail time isn't in her future.

We talked about Christmas Eve. That was Jimmy's holiday - he cooked and prepared for more than 20 people and did it with the ease of a pro. Each year he had a theme. One year he made a volcano with shrimp and calamari overflowing.

Another Christmas Eve he had little carrot bundles that were supposed to be boats and he arranged the shrimp in the shape of a tortoise. All this was on a blue foil to symbolize the water.

He was proud and there was a lot of oohing and ahhing and applause. He wore a chefs hat and apron and moved the macaroni out of the kitchen onto the plates and into the dining room with flawless rhythem.

We had a Santa suit and for many years each of us took turns being Santa. After dinner the designated Santa and half a dozen of us elves would go two doors down to Marie and Dick's house and bring a pillowcase filled with toys to their little grandchildren. These grandchildren are older now and I always expected to use that Santa suit for our own.

The other day I saw Marie and Dick putting up their Christmas lights and I remembered that the last time I saw them they were knealing by Jimmy's coffin.

So, how do I do Christmas Eve? I can't.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Winter Cleaning

This weekend the weather felt like Spring so while neighbors put up their Christmas lights Doug dragged the outdoor furniture into the garage. Until last week the '64 Avanti was in that spot. So many changes.

It was impossible to look at the furniture without thinking that a whole summer season has passed without Jimmy stretching out on the chaise lounge and telling me,

"No. We don't need new furniture. Just relax here with me. I heard
all the outdoor furniture stores are closed."

My mother-in-law has been (or should I say, my has been Mother-in-law?) nagging me to find her old photos from her wedding and 'the early years' Jimmy and his brothers were growing up. Jimmy's brother's wife had volunteered to put them all in an album.

It must be nice to have extra time like that. I have better things to do. Namely, Boston Legal, Medium, Heros, Desperate Housewives and Deal Or No Deal." Oh, and of course, The Office.

Somehow, years ago we ended up with Fanny's life in our basement. I have no problem tossing it back to her except that her black and white photos are no longer in a separate box. They got mixed with my life - in color - but not in living color - if you know what I mean, so I put off going through them.

I shook my head and wanted to tell Fanny that although my house is filled with photos of Jimmy I know they're there but I don't need a fresh rendition of "Through The Years." I wanted to tell her that. What I actually said was "Okay. I'll try to get to it this weekend."

I lied. I had no intention of going through those photos. I keep the winter coats in the same closet downstairs so I had to climb over the overflowing boxes of pictures to get my coats to bring upstairs to the coat closet. Jimmy had many more coats and jackets than anyone would have thought. He tended to wear the same one or two all the time. I guess, that's typical of a guy.

I remembered bringing his jackets downstairs last Spring after he died and thinking there's no reason to ever bring them back up again. There they were again.

A box of gloves and scarves had to be hoisted up and spilled out to change over the upstairs closet with more winter stuff. As I lifted I looked and saw a photo of Jimmy at Disney slapping five with Mickey Mouse.

I was hooked for the next four hours looking - often with a magnifying glass -how did that get in my hand? And, I saw our whole lifetime of events jumping out at me. We were happy in every one of those pictures and of course, we weren't always happy. But, when it's a bad time or a sad moment or a serious event only the paparazzi snaps a picture. For some reason they never followed us around.

When I was done I had Fanny's photos isolated in one box for her. I gave her the Jimmy photos from before he and I met. After that, I rationalized he was mine. Three boxes captured our 33 years of marriage and several before that - our engagement party at my Studio apartment in Queens, many years of opening presents at Christmas with the kids from infants to footie pajamas, around the table with family and friends at holidays, some dead, some dead to us... the kids with us on vacations, the usual times that make up our usual lives. Most moments only I'm left to remember.

Damn. All I wanted was my winter coats.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Photos from Thanksgiving 2006

Me and Sky.

Jax and Glenn - 30th birthday cake

Uncle Doug eating Sky's foot

Hosts - Connie and Trif

Photographer & God-daughter Katharine & boyfriend Pete

God-daughter Kristi and fiance Matt

Me and 93 year old Yai-Yai singing away...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thank Heaven For Little Girls & All The Grown-ups Too

It's the day after Thanksgiving and I lost a pound. Every time I sat down to eat Skylar pulled me up to play. This granddaughter diet is terrific.

Maybe it was the steady diet of good friends on Thanksgiving that helped me lose that edge of sadness that weighs heavily, too. As we laughed and joked and teased each other I felt lighter.

The dread of spending the first holiday without Jimmy became something else. For me, if turned into exactly what Thanksgiving is all about. I doubt if the pilgrams had me in mind when they made a turkey dinner and all the guests showed up ready to give thanks wearing those silly buckle shoes.

Still, as the pilgrams bowed their heads to count their blessings, thankful that they didn't poke someone's eye out with those weirdo pointy hats they were definitely on to something huge and I owe them big time. I never really got it until now. It took losing my husband to be grateful for all the wonderful friends and family members I have.

Before I get too sickeningly sweet let me add that not all friends and family members are included here. Oh, pleeez...I lost Jimmy - not my mind. Tragedy brings out the best and the worst in people. Although I lost a pound, I gained clarity and clarity is what I am grateful for.

Seeing that traditions are fragile, my kids and I broke from traditon and spent Thanksgiving with old old friends who knew and loved Jimmy best. He was there with us on everyone's mind and in every one's heart. We just had a little more room at the table and several servings of apple pie left over.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Why The Long Face?

Jackie and Doug with 'Skypa' our future triple crown winner.

My father-in-law would bet on two cockroaches crawling up a wall. Anything for action. Jimmy inherited the gambling 'bug' and after our honeymoon in Las Vegas
I caught it, too.

Big difference, though. I can spend hours in a casino but horse racing is stupid. In between races it's just twenty minutes of waiting around with nothing to do. Oh, right. I could 'handicap' like Jimmy did - calculate past races, figure in if the jockey is having a good day, blah, blah, blah.

My method requires none of that. I choose a horse who has a cute name. Sometimes he catches my eye to psychically send me a message.

"Pick me - I feel frisky today."

Guess who won more often? Actually, neither of us. That's why betting on horses is stupid. More stupid than betting on horses is owning horses.

Jimmy inherited that obsession from his father, too. Charlie owned a few horses and loved them so much that growing up he told Jimmy and his brothers,

"I fell for your mother because she had ankles like a filly."

When we started dating I would check my ankles. Do I have ankles like a horse, too? Before long it was clear that Jimmy liked me from the waist up...whoe... since my children are reading - enough said.

Over the years we had several financial ups and downs. When we were up Jimmy bought horses. This quickly brought us down again. He would shake his head and say again and again,

"I love this game, but I have no luck."

Really? I hadn't noticed. In 1990, we actually had "Country Day" entered in the 116th Kentucky Derby - I have to admit that was a thrill - until the evening before the race when Country Day took a bad step and had to be scratched from the race.

Derby week in Kentucky is magical when you're an owner. Our family was treated like royalty until the foot incident. The next morning we were already old news with nothing to show for it but a lame horse and an printed program to prove we could have been contenders.

It's silly to list all of the horse disappointments and disasters, but there were plenty - To me, horses = disappointments. And, horse people seem to make excuses for everything.

"My horse would have won if it wasn't for those other two who passed him." Duh.

Today, however, I am the sort of proud owner of James Scibelli Racing Stables, Inc. I inherited four two year olds - a hobby/business that I groaned and moaned about all these years. Each month I pay exorbitant fees to trainers and vets. My hand wobbles writing these checks as I realize these freakin' horses get more new shoes every few weeks than I get in a year. They have four feet and they're running around (literally) a lot more than I am, but still...

Why don't I just sell them? Because I promised my son Doug who loves the track and spent so many memorable moments with his Dad in the paddock and actually in a few winner circle photos, too that we will play out his father's dream. One of these four two year olds that we're left with may be 'the one.' (at least champion enough to earn his keep and pay for his own shoes)

So now that Doug and I are 'partners' he explained a few papers I've found and phone calls I've gotten these past months. He confessed that

"Dad had 50% of this horse - Oh, and 25% of that horse. He would tell
me, 'Don't tell your mother.'

Nice. Some widows find jewelry meant for another woman or love letters - I find a half a horse here and a quarter of a horse there.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 25th Skypa, the first of our two year olds will be running his first race at Aqueduct. Jimmy had named him Skypa because his father was Stravinsky and his mother was Garopaba. It fit perfectly because 'Sky' was for Skylar our granddaughter and she called him 'Pa.'

I'm so much more excited about this race than I ever could have imagined. I wish I could have had this enthusism for racing to share with Jimmy. I know he was hurt that I wasn't one of the wives jumping and hugging their husbands as they watched their horse glide over the finish line.

Here I am, though, caught up with the possibility that as strange as it sounds just maybe in death Jimmy's luck may have changed. Friends say he will be there with us at the track. Just in case his bad luck lingers I hope he stays away until the outcome and meets us in the winner's circle.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Carrie Fisher Says It Right

This morning I read that Carrie Fisher is opening a one woman show this Wednesday in Los Angeles. I'm a fan, but I'm not about to rush off across the country to see her.

Still, the article quoted her and I felt it was spot on.

In her show she sums up:

"If my life weren't funny, it would be just true. And that would be

I can't believe I'm quoting Princess Leia.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Some Things Never Change

So, I went to Atlantic City. I didn't go with my girlfriends. I went with my good friend Marty...who Jimmy and I have known for more than 20 years. Am I spelling out p l a t o n i c loud enough? Along with us was George and June who grew up with Marty.

What do four old Jews do when they walk into a casino at noon? They head straight for the brunch. After we piled up our plates like we were being executed in the morning we dug in and it got real quiet. My stupid mind began to wander...

"What am I doing here?"

"Jimmy would have gotten the omelet."

"This is banana cake? Ugh. I thought it was vanilla."

"I don't think I brought enough money."

"There's always the ATM machine."

"Last time I went over to the ATM here Jimmy caught me. Oh, God...I remember actually
looking over my shoulder and being nervous - like I was stealing."

"Everyone took care of themselves. Jimmy always brought a surprise back for the

"Oh, there are the people who stroll around and play music - I hate that."

"A request? Yeah. Go away!"

"The flute is right in my face."

"Are we supposed to stop eating?"

"The guitar player is looking at me with pity. Cindy said it's like I have 'widow'
stamped on my forehead."

"Wait a minute. The guitar guy sees us as two couples. He doesn't know. Wow. Maybe
when I see people give me that look - they're not. I feel like a fifth wheel.
That's where it's coming from. It's coming from me."

After that brilliant epiphany I told Marty and he said "The guitar guy WAS looking at you with pity. He assumes you're with me."

Walking through the lobby, passing the statue and getting into the casino was hard. It wasn't harder than I anticipated, though. In my mind, I had already gone through all the possible 'triggers.'

Lots of people sound like Jimmy in a casino. Loud booming voices come at you from everywhere and big guys hunched over a blackjack table or crap table are a major part of the scene. I was braced for that, but I wasn't expecting was to feel
fine at the blackjack table and the three card poker table and the slots. (I try them all and lose at every one of them -every time)

Jimmy was a bigger player and so most of the time we gambled separately and then met up and entertained each other with stories about fun dealers, lucky hands, weirdo people at the table, etc. Of course, that part was missing, but, I realized this still can be my enjoyment, kind of a hobby. Zipping over to a casino now and then is not like dancing alone.

The casino enviroment brings such a variety of people and many of them are elderly.
Seeing older people out and about doing what Jimmy loved so much brought home again how Jimmy was cheated. It makes me want to go back in time and let him know -

"You won't be old. You don't have much time. Do what makes you happy."

Those of us who loved him and are left here are doing just that these days. This is why I'm glad I went. Of course, if I had won I would have been more glad. Some things never change.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Into The Closet

I have a running conversation with Jimmy in my head that only stops when I'm asleep. I doze off and we both rest in peace. This is not all that different from our marriage.

I'm sure his version of heaven didn't include hearing me whine, "Why can't you help me find my keys? Wait a minute...are you deliberately hiding them so I can't go out? Will something bad happen to me if I leave the house today?"

Then I wonder if he's protecting me from harm so that he doesn't have be with me again so soon. That's my theory for my mother-in-law's longevity. Fanny's husband's been dead for almost 25 years and he's probably up there whooping it up. Our loss will be his gain...or the end of his fun (for all eternity)

When I really want to have a heart to heart with Jimmy I go into the closet. Surrounded by all his shirts and slacks and shoes I am more with him than anywhere else. It's easier to find than the cemetery. And, let's face it, there's no pressure to bring flowers.

The other day I needed to talk with him about whether or not I should go to Atlantic City to gamble. Casinos have always been our playground. On our honeymoon we went to Las Vegas. Just last January we spent New Year's Eve in Atlantic City and two weeks later we were in Vegas for a few days.

In July I made plans with Barbara and Judy to go for my birthday and I cancelled a week before. It just didn't feel right. I couldn't imagine walking by the familiar statues at Caesar's or seeing a heavy set guy leaning over the crap table. Jimmy's voice would be the voice I'd hear each time a "Yo - Eleven!" would ring out throughout the casino. And, okay - I felt guilty that I was still here able to enjoy what he never could again.

The day we had chosen to go was July 6th - the day before my birthday and only day in the history of New Jersey that they closed the state for 24 hours including all casinos. I don't remember the reason for that political move by the governor, but I do remember getting the heebie jeebies thinking if I hadn't cancelled I would have been convinced Jimmy was pulling some strings saying, "Oh, no you don't. You're not stepping into a casino without me!"

Now it's seven months and I stood in the closet waiting for permission. Defensively, I told him I was pretty sure he would have gone by now if I was the one who died. I promised him I wouldn't bet more than I usually do. I knew as soon as I said that it wasn't true. I took it back.

"Come on" I said - "You know I'm going to bet a little heavier without you to answer to." I felt his exasperation. He was sensing that I was experiencing a new kind of liberation, something a wife never feels within a marriage and if it's a good one, shouldn't.

So, now I'm liberated. I'm standing in the closet explaining myself to four rows of neatly folded sweaters.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Celebrity Baseball

At Yankee Stadium - Jimmy holding 'the duck' and me.

Each season brings it's own memories. This year's World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers made me react as I do every year...."Who cares?"

True, I'm not a baseball fan, but even New Yorkers who ARE baseball fans had zero enthusiasm this year, too. If a New York team’s not in it we’re not into it. Jimmy was a Yankee fan and I'll bet he wouldn't have even watched.

Seeing glimpses of the World Series on my way to another channel and closing the paper on the Sports page did bring back the memory of game two of the Subway Series in 2000, though.

I was sitting next to my husband in a seat he could have scalped for big bucks or given to one of his begging buddies. I felt unworthy.

“I know you don’t care about the game, but if I come home and tell you I saw celebrities you’ll kill me!” he said.

When Jimmy died this Spring so many fellow Yankee fans told me that his antics at the seats were more fun to watch than the game. I nodded remembering my first game with the man they called “The Duckman.”

Yankee Stadium was vibrating inside and out. It was the first time two New York teams faced off since the Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series. Even I could see this was a big deal and it would draw a Kodak crowd.

From the second we parked our car in the lot for season holders and ball players I was on high alert for a celebrity citing. Famous people start and end at this point and I was ready for the fake bump in, a little system I invented, but never had the nerve to do. Basically, you inch towards a celebrity pretending not know it’s them and then stumble into them. This forces them to say “That’s okay” to your “I’m sorry” which qualifies as a ‘conversation.’

Jimmy’s seats were the legend seats, first row behind the blue wall, with an incredible view of third base straight ahead if you want to see the players run home or an even greater view of the Saturday Night Live seats to the right, if you wanted to see what Jack Nicholson smears on his hot dog. Guess which way I faced the entire game?

Jimmy’s loud heckling voice had been known to rattle the opposing team as they warm up just a few feet from us and because he was funny he got the crowd laughing and hooting along with him. At crucial games he brought out ‘the duck’ a tiny (one inch high) yellow rubber duckie. He waited until the Yanks really needed help and then he’d stand and show the fans his good luck duck, but also as he put it, “I want to show the duck the crowd.”

We never named the duck. He was always simply, ‘the duck’ and superstitious fans near ‘the seats’ would yell to Jimmy “We need the duck!” Jimmy told me once, an employee of Yankee Stadium came by and with a straight face said, “Mrs.Torre would appreciate it if you bring out the duck now.” I never believed him.

This day we sat near P. Diddy (then known as Puff Daddy) who sat next to the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Jimmy yelled over,“The two best rappers in New York!” They smiled and waved and I’m sure I heard the Reverend say, “That’s The Duckman.”

Penny Marshall, a huge Yankee fan, was nearby, too. She posed for a photo with me and as she whined about the score Jimmy leaned over and used Tom Hanks line from her movie “A League of Her Own”, “There’s no crying in baseball.” She laughed. Jimmy made Penny Marshall laugh. Then she said, “Yeah, I knew I should have cut that line.”

My husband was having a conversation with a celebrity and he didn’t even have to do the fake bump in. Suddenly, I was loving baseball. I had no idea the game was so much fun.

The best was yet to come, though. The game was over and the Yankees had won it 3-1. People in all variations of Yankee and Mets wear were bopping out of the stadium to the piped in Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” The parking lot was a maze of cars, vans and limos and one frustrated policeman was attempting to direct the traffic.

Jimmy jumped out of the car and ran over to help him. As I rolled down the window to yell “What are you doing?” I saw Paul McCartney hop out of his limo and heard him say in that adorable English accent, “I’m going to help the big guy.”

There they stood side by side, my husband and my favorite Beatle, waving their arms and getting the cars moving. I watched Adam Sandler run over to shake Paul’s hand. Because Jimmy seemed to be Paul’s pal he shook his hand, too. Bill Murray appeared and did the same.

My mouth hung open as Paul McCartney strolled back to his limo, slapped five with my Jimmy, and said to him,“I think it was the duck.”

I went home with a celebrity that day and of course he got lucky that night. These days I keep the duck on my night table next to my bed and the night when David Eckstein of the St.Louis Cardinals, (a bird team a duck may prefer) drove in the game winning double I held the duck up to Jimmy and told him in Paul's English accent, “I think it was the duck.”

Thursday, November 02, 2006

What If We Lived Life Backwards?

Okay, I admit it - the following is not original - It was sent to me by my ex-ex bereavement counselor (yes, I quit group number 2 - if only it had been this easy to give up smoking)

I've racked up three sessions in two groups - if I join another I'm hoping to get credit for the six I suffered through, but I have a feeling I'll be told it doesn't work like that. Yeah, well, so far it hasn't worked PERIOD.

Anyway, the source of the little ditty is "A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative" by Roger von Oech. If you have a moment, check out his amazing website.
I'm going to put it on my blogroll .


The life cycle is all backwards. You should die first and get it out of the way. Then you live for 20 years in an old-age home, and get kicked out when you're too young.

You get a gold watch and then you go to work. You work 40 years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement.

You go to college and you party until you're ready for high school.

Then, you go to grade school, you become a little kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating, and you finish off as a gleam in somebody's eye.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Fear is all around me. Friends and family watched Jimmy disappear within a month. How could they not be frightened?

"What are we waiting for?" they say, "Let's take that trip to Italy NOW." The NOW, of course, is 'before some horrible disease creeps into our bodies and puts an end to us.'

My husband's influence on people throughout his life was big. NOW, it's huge. Jimmy and I spent lots of time making fun of all the people we knew. We made a hobby of it. Some couples play golf and some play bridge. We would sit around and pick apart our loved ones.

"He doesn't reach into his pocket for spit. They just can't be embarrassed" we'd nod and giggle.

I wish Jimmy could see them NOW. NOW, they not only spend more on themselves. They buy me dinner. They offer to take me to a Broadway show. Who are these people? I always loved them, but NOW they're actually lovable.

The same people who are proud that "I never go to a doctor" are NOW makeing appointments for body scans. A freckle that was always there NOW looks suspicious.

Those of us married more than 25 years buy new towels for the newlyweds and joke about needing a bridal shower of our own. NOW, we throw out the old and restock the linen closet. Who's more important than us?

The other day even my 88 year old mother-in-law, known for 'stealing' Sweet and Low from restaurants broke down and bought a box.

My friends who were on a continual diet NOW suggest going out for ice-cream. My world, my small circle, feel a little like many did the months following September 11th. We NOW know we're fragile and we're scared. In some ways, it's not a bad way to live, if only it didn't hurt so much.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bereavement Group 101

I've never had much patience or tolerance for old people. Society tells us to expect age to bring wisdom and a clear perspective on life, but most people approach the end of their lives fearful and bitter.

My friends and I spend lots of time promising each other that we "won't get that way" and if we do "please kill me." We laugh a nervous laugh knowing there's a good chance we won't even remember those conversations.

On Tuesday afternoons from 2:15 to 4:15, though, I sit in my bereavement group, younger by at least 20 years, yet I'm 'one of them' in a sense - a widow struggling to reframe my life.

Within the group I'm a an insider, a contemporary hearing about their troubles. Outside the group I'm their trouble making daughter. Life sure does spin us around.

I'm amazed to witness their powerful determination to hold on to themselves and not allow their 'well meaning' children to control them and become their parent. I'm touched by the love they carry for the wrinkled man they shared a half a century with. As they reminese about their husbands we are all the same age.

Now that the old people and me are beginning to mesh I'm thinking maybe next week when the group ends at 4:15 we can all go out for an Early Bird Vodka. Grey Goose?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Right Place At The Wrong Age

As I thought about returning to my new and improved bereavement group something very odd happened. I noticed I'm sort of kind of looking forward to it.

It's not the kind of eagerness I feel when my little granddaughter Skylar is on her way over or when I open the freezer and realize "Wow. I forgot I bought vanilla fudge ice-cream!"

But, something safe and close to belonging is waiting for me there and even my resilient self can't deny that I'm needy for others who can genuinely know what I'm going through. Not to be overly dramatic, they know my pain. They're experiencing so much of the same.

Afternoon groups attract the elderly. I knew that. Somehow, I wasn't prepared for my fellow group members to be 150 years old. Still, as I said in my last post we're all the same age in grieving years.

Sitting among women and men who could easily be my parents made me uneasy in a situation where it's not the most comfortable to begin with. I stood out. I have one (okay, one and a half) chins, not seven. For the first fifteen minutes waiting for Linda, the leader to come into the room and begin the group I talked to myself:

1. "What am I doing here? It's like I got on a bus to Atlantic City by

2. "Why do these people need a bereavement group? What did they expect,
that their spouse would live forever?"

3. "At least I'm young for something."

4. "If Jimmy is watching he's shaking his head and trying to send me a signal
to get out of here fast."

5. "If I had died Jimmy wouldn't be caught dead here."

6. "Yeah, caught dead...very funny. I'm never going to believe he's gone."

7. "Six months. How could it be six months? And, I'm still stuck in

8. I hate these stupid stages. Denial, anger - sounds like a textbook. No
body knows anything."

9. "Oh, God...I think I'm going to cry - nothing even started yet...those
stupid tissue boxes around the room..."

10. "This is going to be horrible."

11. "All of a sudden I'm antisocial. That lady smiled at me. I'm not even
sure I smiled back."

12. "Who cares?"

13. "They're all talking to each other. This seat is good. I don't have to
deal with them."

14. "I should spit out my gum. Jackie says I chew like a cow."

15. "Two men. Why are men alone so pathetic? But, they both look neat and
clean and the men in the other group did too."

16. "Why am I surprised? Maybe, their wives were sick for a long time. They
got used to fending for themselves."

17. "I guess, without me Jimmy would go to the cleaners, he'd do his laundry.
Then he'd realize it's no big deal. He'd see I didn't take such good care
of him. Yes, I did. I did. I could have been more nuturing..."

18. "When he got pissy I just didn't want to please him. That's normal. It

19. "This is good. Old men. They're well into their seventies. No chance at
all they'll misinterpet a friendly smile. The other group was tricky
like that. Especially the one with the beard. The dork. Oh, God. Kill me

20. "That lady is kind of shakey. No one really looks too good here."

21. "Well, I guess it didn't matter what I wore."

Linda appeared to cut off my thoughts. The group began. One woman's husband was 90 when he died. She seemed shocked. I repressed a laugh. Was it a nervous laugh or a mean laugh? I'm not sure. Probably a little bit of both.

They were married over 60 years, longer than I'm alive. I hear her now. She expected him to always be there, live forever.

Damn. I'm becoming so empathetic. What's happening to me?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Another Day, Another Bereavement Group

I went and did it. I joined another bereavement group. I know. I know. After reading my previous post "I Hated Everyone In My Bereavement Group" even a really dumb person would figure I was done with group grieving and my plan was to go back to feeling sorry for myself in private.

This was true until I got a call from Linda my future new group leader. Someone had given her my name and apparently that someone had failed to mention that I was an immature trouble maker who will make fun of everyone in the group and then write about it on my blog.

Linda voice sounded so soothing over the phone and I was practically sucking my thumb as I told her it's approaching six months since Jimmy's gone and that I'm over whelmed by loneliness and paperwork and some days I'm not sure which comes first.

She told me I was a 'perfect candidate' for a 'group experience' and I guess
I was so flattered to be thought of as 'perfect' for anything I found myself saying "Yes! Yes! Sign me up!" like I was volunteering to bring cupcakes to a bake sale.

So, this past Tuesday afternoon was my first group. I got stuck joining an afternoon group from 2:15-4:15 because I had tickets to see Barbra Streisand the first Monday night of Linda's evening group. By the way, yes, as reported, Barbra did tell a heckler to "Shut the f%#k up." That was my favorite part, actually.

Linda warned me that afternoon groups are generally older people since they are retired and don't drive at night. She said the important thing is that we are all going through the same time period of grief - anywhere from 3 months to a year. Apparently, Jimmy died right on time.

More about THE GROUP when I return...must go babysit for Skylar, my little granddaughter. Isn't she beautiful? All I have to do is look at her and I feel blessed.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

File Cabinets Aren't Used To File Your Nails

I needed a place to put all the files and papers and bills. For thirteen years Rae, Jimmy's assistant had a fine tuned system. His office hummed (and it wasn't from one of those fluorescent fixtures) In cracker jack time Rae could put her hands on correspondence from 1994.

Jimmy would have been lost without her and Rae was content to carry on for me, too but in a manic moment after listening to "I Will Survive" I made a unwavering decision to take control of my own life and turn my dining room table into one huge pile of papers. One look and you know a crazy person lives here.

I knew I needed either a file cabinet or a hefty bag and yet for weeks I circled the heap too panicked and overwhelmed to do anything but yell up at Jimmy,

"How could you leave me with this mess?"

No answer. Finally, Rae came to the rescue. She came by to dive in and give me back my dining room table. She made files and piles and now I look like an organized crazy person.

And, yesterday I made a purchase that I never thought I'd make - two file cabinets. Now I have four new drawers and I'm thinking

"Oh, good, now I have extra room for sweaters."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sex & Jewelry

It's late and I'd like to get to sleep, but I can't. I can't because this evening I wore that stupid bracelet that's impossible to take off by myself. Damn. Why didn't I remember that? Jimmy used to bargain with me,

"Okay. Hold still. I'll get it off, but how much is it worth to you?"

Some wives have sex to get jewelry. I had sex to get the jewelry off.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Killing Me With Kindness

Everyone wants to help the widow. On line at the supermarket if I happen to be wearing black and I happen to let it slip that my husband recently passed away it's a sure bet that I'll be ushered to the front of the line.

Perks of widowhood are a double edged sword like losing five pounds by way of an intestinal flu. A perfect example is from an episode of one of my favorite shows
"Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Larry's mom passes away and he discovers that he can get out of going places by just hanging his head and saying,

"My mom just died."

People genuinely want to help me in any way they can and it isn't an empty gesture like in real life (which will probably begin again when it is a full year) when your sister offers to pick you up at the airport and she's praying you'll say,

"Don't be silly, Barbara. I'll just hop in a taxi."

Women like me who have never dealt with finances (except for spending, of course) are
approached by our husband's financial friends, the ones he did business with and they patiently explain that a balance sheet does not have a thread count.

An extra car needs to be dealt with. Do I sell Jimmy's car? Should I sell it on eBay or Do I really want crazy people coming over to see the car and then killing me and putting me in my own trunk?

It's hard to be a woman alone. We're vunerable. I know if I had died 'broads' would be knocking each other over to bring Jimmy casseroles and lots and lots of cleavage. He would have been a great catch. I know. I broke him in.

My men are pure and they only want to help, though. No agenda. They loved my husband and they reach out to me with no funny business attached. They imagine themselves the deceased husband and would want their widows taken care of.

Fair enough, but, sometimes, I'm doing them a favor when I let them do me a favor. This is why I 'allowed' Pete to help me clean up Jimmy's 1964 Avanti Studebaker that had been sitting in our garage for years and years and had collected so much dust that I knew it was red only from memory.

I love Pete. He's known Jimmy since they were five and me since I was eighteen. His wife, Bonnie is my best friend. He was aching to do something for me because he was aching period. But, the Avanti wasn't really bothering anybody. It was just sitting there used to being not being touched or washed.

Pete arrived Sunday morning ready to tackle the job armed with his own special soap, sponges and some kind of three way attachment for a hose that made the water soft so that it would dry on it's own or something. I'm not sure. I wasn't really paying attention. I zoned out. It was kind of like when Jimmy would attempt to explain a football play to me.

Anyway, that car sparkled. That car smiled. That car was definitely red. Wow. Pete and my son Doug had pushed it out of the garage into the driveway and there it stood in the sun, shiny and proud.

Suddenly, the sun went away and it began to sprinkle. I sat in the drivers seat as instructed and Pete and Doug struggled to push the car back into the garage. They were a man short. Jimmy may have been watching and smiling, but he was useless.

Pete, who has a 1960ish Corvette and drives it a few times a year decided we should do what he does to get his car started - add a thimble full of gasoline. So, we went to the gas station - got the gas and I watched Pete put just enough gas in to drive it into the garage. Thrilled that it even started we closed the garage went inside to have lunch.

A little while later Pete left for home beaming with pride. I was happy and grateful and Doug went back to his apartment in the city. I was left alone with a shiny, red car in the garage. Good times.

About 11:30 that evening I had to go down to the basement (now I call it a playroom because I fixed it up for Skylar, my granddaughter, but that has nothing to do with this story) and I smelled something awful as soon as I opened the door. Then, I opened the door to the garage and it was stronger. Before I knew it the bathroom on the main floor that shares a wall with the garage was kind of stinky, too.

I imagined myself being affixiated in my sleep so I went on line and googled around until I found a 24 hour poison or odor control number in my area.

"We'll send the firemen over right away, Mame."

Ten minutes later I stood by my front door in my flowered pajamas and slippers as the fire truck with lights twirling around and siren blasting pulled up to my house.
Five giants in fireman costumes jumped out and before I knew it I was opening the playroom door and asking,

"Do you smell something funny?"

One whiff and the biggest guy said,

"Are kidding lady? It reeks."

I was sort of happy about that - I was afraid it might have been like going to the doctor, your symptoms disappear and you look like an idiot. I looked enough like an idiot in those pajamas.

I led them to the Avanti and they looked under the car before I knew it they were pushing it out of the garage and showing me a huge puddle of gasoline where the car had been. It was like looking at an outline of a body at a crime scene.

They explained that even though Pete had put only a teeny tiny bit of gas in the car since it hadn't been started in years there must have been old clumpy gas in there and that little turn of the key got the gas moving and there must be a break or hole in something to cause it to all leak out.

I asked them

"Is this like not eating in a long time and then having a tiny taste of something and getting sick?"

I think they nodded. Anyway, they put some white pads to soak up the gas and then all five of the firemen ran around the house opening windows. One came down to the playroom and told me how nice it was - I beamed.

"You wouldn't believe what we see, Lady. People call us and have no
time to straighten up. This is some basement."

I was a little disappointed that it wasn't clear to him that it was a playroom, but I let it slide. He got busy setting up and turning on a huge fan that they use in fires to get out the bad air and pull in the good so we just stood there together waiting for the bad air to leave.

And, soon they all left, too, but not before they asked if there was anything else they could do for me - is there a place I could stay overnight? I said I was fine.

And, I guess, I will be. After all, I have so many people around me to help out.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Business As Unusual

I was a spoiled brat of a wife. I was. Bills? What are they? I've heard about people who get the shakes when they open the mailbox. They anticipate the bills overflowing and swallowing them up. Not me, not then. I just handed them off to Jimmy and never looked back.

He used to joke that I assume there's money left in my checking account because I have checks left in my checkbook. That wasn't far from the truth. 'Daddy' was always there to refill so why worry?

These last months have been a shot of reality. I've actually sat down and written checks to pay for credit cards that I used to think of as magic plastic. Apparently they have this silly new system where you have to PAY the credit card people.

As I sit in the kitchen writing out check after check I know Jimmy is watching me and laughing his ass off. I guess, if I had died and I saw him doing the laundry I would be smirking, too.

I Hated Everyone In My Bereavement Group

I'm one of those people who can just look at a stranger and hate her like she stabbed my best friend. I've always been grateful for this ability to weed out the boring and annoying.

This is why I after two sessions I decided not to go back to my bereavement group. I hated them all. Even for me, a group hate is unusual. Most of the time I spare somebody. I even hated the new member, number eleven who claimed he was put in the 'over 70' group last week by mistake. Trust me, it was no mistake or else losing his wife has made him age a decade in three months.

I kept thinking, "Jimmy would hate them, too." I wanted so much to be able to come home and tell him about how stupid and ugly they were. I wanted to sit beside him on the couch and and giggle immaturely with him as I immitated Laura, who insisted on keeping her husband's voice on the answering machine, totally not caring that she was weirding out everyone and then wondering why no one was calling her anymore.

Jimmy would have loved to hear about Dave who threw out all his wife's clothes the day after her funeral. I nicknamed him 'Brave Dave' because this is an unpopular move among the bereaved. I watched them cover up their horror with phoney reassurance

"Whatever is good for you is the right thing."

You have to hate these people! I'm so relieved that my anger has now been redirected from Jimmy to eleven grieving strangers. I guess, the bereavement group did help me.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hard To Bereave It

My friend Barbara told me I should join a beweavement group. I said, 'I'm not really into arts and crafts.'

'BeReavment!' she said louder, but not too loud because everyone is very very gentle around me lately. I appreciate this and at the same time I feel pathetic, like a poor pampered puppy. Some actually reach out to pet me.

I always think, 'Boy, if I was the one who died and Jimmy was left here being bereaved he would love being petted.' He was much more touchie feelie than I am. Just sitting on the couch watching TV he was content as long as I occasionally reached out and squeezed his foot. (and even more content if that led to squeezing other things)

Anyway, I should appreciate the kindness while it lasts, I suppose. I figure I have until it's a year next April and then people will go back to treating me like a normal person. I know I'll never be normal again, at least not what I recognize as normal me. It will be a new normal. Pretty wise, eh? Well, actually I read that in one of my 'How to Cope With Losing A Spouse' books. (not a real title...don't go looking it up on Amazon.

I decided to take Barbara's advise and join a group because according to grievers in the know I have a small window of time to do this. It seems from 3 months to 13 months is ideal. Before 3 months it is extremely hard to focus on what others are saying (and listening to others has never been my strong suit anyway) As Fran Liebowitz,the brilliant humorist said,

"The opposite of talking isn't listening - it's waiting."

I signed up quickly realizing I am five months in. Reading the newspapers and watching the news made me panic. So many tragedies every few seconds each day probably adds up to a long waiting list of grievers. I didn't want my window to close. Lucky me - They squeezed me in. I guess my check cleared.

On the way to my first group I was nervous, until I realized everyone else would be nervous, too and I have this ability to fake being comfortable when I just want to jump out the window. This made my nervous feeling fade and I started to feel superior. I tried to shake that off remembering the last time I was in a group this attitude did not endear me to the other group members. A snotty superior air does not win Miss Congeniality.

Wait. I'm not going to win friends and influence people. I'm going there to...hmmm, seems I couldn't finish that sentence. Why am I going?

My last group experience was as a member of the mothers' center. My almost 30 year old daughter Jackie, was 18 months old then so I suppose it's been awhile. I didn't expect the bereavement group to be the same. And, as it turned out it wasn't. Back then we introduced ourselves like this,

"Hi all! My name is Annie and I'm married to Brad and we have 2 wonderful children,
Jennifer and Jason. I used to work in the deli, but now I'm a stay at home Mom and
I love it! I no longer get a discount on the cold cuts, but I still get to make sandwiches! In my spare time, if I have any, that is ('snort-snort') I enjoy making placemats."

You have to hate Annie, right? I know I did.

As expected, the bereavement group had a way less perky atmosphere which normally I would prefer, but I wasn't prepared for the introductions like,

"I'm Eva. It's been six months. My husband, Charlie wasn't well for some time
and the doctors put him through all kinds of tests and when pancreatic cancer was discovered we knew he would have to have chemo. He lost so much weight and was really really weak, although he managed to come to our son's wedding, but wasn't strong enough to dance. His mother told me...wait, I'm sorry, am I talking too much?"

"YES, Eva - Just shut up already!" I said to myself. The group leader told her, "Of course not. Go on. That's why we're here."

Is that why we're here? I thought - to hear horrible stories? I sat there cringing realizing that soon it will be my turn and my story is pretty horrible, too.

Where are the young moms? Why aren't I hearing them confess that they laid awake the night before because they were guilty that they told their two year old,

"Your bottle ran away from home and now it's time to drink from a big girl sippy cup."

Actually, I always knew those concerns were stupid. Maybe, that's why I found it so difficult to listen.

Now, I'm listening. I'm sitting in a group of 10 people all between 50 and 60 all who lost a spouse and I'm listening to the other 6 women and 3 men. I'm getting more nauseous by the minute and I wonder what would happen if I dropped dead right there in the bereavement group. The person in the middle of talking might feel really guilty and she doesn't need that now. I'd better snap out of it.

I notice a phenomenon. Each of the three men had wives who were sick for YEARS and YEARS and I watch them tell their story with genuine love and compassion and selflessness - the endless doctor appointments, hospitalizations - "And, then my poor Judy was in a wheelchair - I was her sole caretaker."

To me, these men are from another planet. Jimmy was a wonderful, generous and loving man, but a nurturer he wasn't. Lucky for us both in 33 years I hardly ever got sick, but when I did it was,

"Come on. You can't still be sick."
And, this was after three days.

Several years ago I had liposucsion and I had to wear a tight long girdle.

"But how are we going to have sex with that thing on?"

I wondered about the sex. Did these men have a low sex drive or was Jimmy a maniac?
I wanted to stand up and scream, "What did you do all those years?"

I looked for any teeny sign of resentment - the helping her shower, getting her dressed, the not being able to go to the movies...nothing.

Maybe, I'm still in my angry stage because all I know is I went to the group feeling sad and alone hoping this would help and I left being mad at Jimmy. I know deep down he wouldn't have taken care of me so happily. And, now I can't even go home and start a fight with him. It's still so hard to bereave it.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Jimmy was plucked. That is the best way I can put it. Everyone else is still around but where's Jimmy? It just isn't fair. It isn't fair to him. It isn't fair to me. It isn't fair to our kids, our granddaughter and all of his other family and friends. I hope I'm clear. It isn't fair. Is this my angry stage? Who knows?

All summer I tried to keep busy visiting friends and relatives and I accepted most invitations. Typically, I stood around watching his cousin Frankie and Vito and Saul...Saul? (my cousin, the Jewish side)

These men are still predictably standing around the barbeque stuffing their faces with cheeseburgers, laughing over stupid fart jokes and making fun of their wives.

Not very facinating, true, but they're guys being guys and Jimmy was part of the mix. He was more than just a part. He was the loudest and the funniest and the biggest noise he made was making fun of me. I loved that.

I miss being the butt of his jokes because that was our dance. Those small, silly moments that were unique to us as a couple is gone. Forever. This is how every widow must feel. It must be how every person who has ever lost anyone must feel. We will never dance the same way with anyone else again.

"It takes some getting used to" some people say lightly. Ya think?

Twenty three years ago when my mother-in-law, Fanny was 'only' 65 she lost her husband (who she wasn't too crazy about to begin with) and decided that

"It's a couples world." "I feel like a fifth wheel." "I'm alone in a crowd."

Guess how many times in these two decades I've heard her speak these sentences? I lost count the first few years. It was like a public service announcement. I often felt like handing her a bullhorn.

I hate to commiserate with Fanny, but I've felt all these things in the last few months. Big difference, though...I know that what became a way of life for Fanny, a platform for her, is only a stage for me.

Thank you, Fanny.

Friday, September 01, 2006

I Don't Like Tomatoes

I realized today that I may never buy another tomato. I don't like tomatoes. My kids don't like tomatoes and whoever stops by for dinner can just live without them and be happy they got lettuce.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time this afternoon picking out ripe, but not too ripe tomatoes and then for another ridiculous amount of time I fought with the plastic bag to put them in.

I lay them in my cart next to the box of Raisin Bran and then I remembered...

"Wait, I don't like tomatoes. Jimmy liked tomatoes."

A beat later I removed the Raisin Bran, too.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Avoiding Jane Gould

Four and a half months has passed and it's still hard to be out in my neighborhood because there are always 'the loose end people' - The ones who still don't know that Jimmy has died. (see post "Is That My Husband In The Bag?") I'm never quite sure if they know or not.

Sometimes, I can tell they know. I watch them spot me and pretend they didn't, although this might also mean they owe me and Jimmy money. If they ask me 'How'd your summer go?'it's a pretty good bet they haven't heard. I've considered answering, "Fine" and walk away fast. Hard to do because if they ever find out they'll think I'm a lunatic.

These loose end people have no connection to me or anyone who I'm connected to. Unless they read the obituary - how would they find out? A perfect example of an unconnected person is Jane Gould, the mom who stood next to me several times a week on the soccer field. Let's see - my son is 25 now and he played soccer at ten, maybe we're going back more than a decade.

Jane and I had a good cordial not quite friendship. We'd complain how windy and freezing it was and sometimes sneak off to watch the game from a nice heated car. We'd laugh together and say that we were so cold we wished our sons were gay so they wouldn't be into sports. We never became friends. The boys stopped playing soccer and that was that.

Today I saw her. Actually, first I heard her. Voices are so recognizable and unmistakable. We can picture someone clearly in our head, down to minute features, but their voice is impossible to least, for me it is until I hear it.

This is why several times a week, sometimes several times a day I call Jimmy's cell phone to hear 'Jim Scibelli.' He's alive for me for those two seconds. It only lingers in my head for another few seconds and then I sort of remember his tone, but then, I can't hear it anymore.

So, this afternoon I was sitting in my beauty shop with color on my head. I had my reading glasses on and I was looking down at the book opened on my lap. The voice was unmistakable Jane Gould. Like I said, it's been easily ten years since I heard her, but if there was such a thing as a 'police voice line up' there's no doubt I could pick her out from it.

Her daughter was there, also waiting for her color to take and Jane came in to say hello. Jane stood right in front of me talking to Deborah...yes...she just called her Deborah...that was her daughter sitting there near me all along. She had another daughter, Lisa and David was her son, the soccer player. It all rushed back.

Her husband was Myron and they lived on a street named Byron. We all called him 'Myron from Byron.' From the conversation it didn't sound like they still lived there. Who could blame them? There's just so much taunting you can take. If I lived on Barrel Street I'd probably move, too.

Then I wondered if Myron was alive. Like a thief I moved my head up to check for a ring. There it was. For an awful moment I was disappointed. Why is everyone else still here? It's like Jimmy was plucked.

I felt like I was hiding from the cops or a stow-away. I kept my head down and stared at my feet. My feet were really really close to her feet and I couldn't help but notice she had great sandals on. They went between the toes but also had a back. I need a sandal with a back and they're not easy to find.

Part of me wanted to ask her where she got them. I felt my body so crunched up it reminded me that I was hiding so I'd just have to do without the sandals. It's the end of the season, anyway.

Ding! The bell rang. Someone was ready. Thank God it was Deborah called to the sink. Jane followed her. They were still in hearing distance and leave it to Amy, my colorist to pick that time get chatty. She stood several feet from me blabbing away and I panicked replying in rushed hand signals and ridiculous facial expressions.

I just couldn't take the chance that Jane would hear my voice. She never did. The coast was clear. They left the shop. When I got home I looked in the mirror. I thought I'd feel good. Freshly colored and blown out hair has always perked me up.

Instead, I started to cry.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Last Spouse Standing

In another 45 minutes it will be August 26th, our 34th anniversary. We used to laugh and say that we have a pretty good shot to being one of those couples married 50 years. We were married at 22 so both of us making it to 72 never seemed like a reach.

Jimmy, assuming he'd be old promised the kids "If I feel myself going I'll try to take your mother with me. This way she won't live on to be a burden to you." The kids never objected...hmmmm

We were meant to be married, Jimmy and me. At our ninth grade graduation he pointed me out to his mother, "You see that girl...the blonde with the flip hairdo? I'm going to marry her." Fanny, my future mother-in-law laughed. She stopped laughing when we got engaged. I wonder what that means?

I look at my old wedding album and I actually remember posing for those pictures. I can see my 92 year old granddmother shuffling into the lobby of The Fountainbleu and saying, "What a beautiful apartment the kids have."

I remember the cost was $23.50 a person and that was expensive. My mother offered us $5,000. instead of a wedding and we never considered it. (well, I never considered it)

Jimmy's hair is so long in the pictures and I have no nails - It was before acrillics so my sparkily diamond sat on a smooth young hand with stubby fingers. Today I've got great fake nails and no amount of hand cream can bring back that hand.

My sister, my maid of honor, gone now too, was stoned on grass and I see her giggling in all the pictures. She kept making stupid comments that only the bridal party to the left of us could hear. That side is cracking up while the side to the right of us is standing there nice and composed.

On our way to Las Vegas for our honeymoon the flight attendant (stewardess then) saw us holding hands at take off and she sent over a half bottle of champagne. She told us we looked so in love that she knew we were on our honeymoon. We didn't tell her that we were actually holding on to each other because we were nervous about flying. After that, we always held hands at take off hoping for free champagne. It never happened again.

We landed and I said 'my husband' for the first time.
"Can I take help you, miss?"
"No, thanks. I'm just waiting. My husband is renting a car." MY HUSBAND?

Our last anniversary was last anniversary. No more 'my husband.'

So, what will I do tomorrow? No dinner reservation. No cards to buy, presents to unwrap. No one to share these memories with me anymore. This must be what it's like to be old. Last Spouse Standing. I'll go to the cemetery and do what I always did, yak away and hope he's listening.

I just hope I can find it. (see entry: Lost In The Cemetery)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Could You PLOTZ?

Some people are just hell bent on outdoing others. I say I'm cold. You're suddenly freezing. I'm hungry. You're starving. I'll bet this is how pnemonia was discovered. One cave man chipped away on his cave "I have a cold." The other banged out "I have a very bad cold" A few verys later - Bam. Pnemonia.

When bypass surgery became popular I was suspecious. I'm thinking there probably is no such thing as a quadruple bypass. It's just one guy needing to trump his friend's triple bypass. I remember mentioning my theory to Jimmy and he said, "Could you get me a glass of ice water?" We often had these deep discussions.

Anyway, I'm leading up to something, here. Grief trumping is big in the mourning process. We all hear about stages of grief, (shock and denial, confusion, emotional release, anger, guilt, depression and isolation and recovery) Got this directly from "Widow To Widow" By Genevieve Davis Ginsberg, M.S.

Great book, by the way. I thought my feelings were only my feelings and it turns out I'm not all that special. For the first time in my life I was glad to know that.

No one, not even Ginsberg (and she has an M.S. after her name) talks about the stage that has no end and that is 'grief trumping.' It manifests itself by the grieving in a million (real number - I counted) of dramatic displays and assumptions - for example - the wider the brim on the black widow hat the deeper the sorrow. (research taken directly from an episode of 'Dallas.'

That said, I have recently become aware that grief trumping is not only widespread among the grieving but it is a big practice by the consoling loved ones. It's usually under the heading "They mean well" which I'm thinking we (the grievers) should rally against and blast back, "Stop meaning so well - I don't want to lie by your pool. I hate pools."

My favorite in a parade of well meaning people are the ones who named their babies after Jimmy. When you get a moment scroll down and read my post of August 11th called "Let's Name Everyone After Jimmy."

Okay. Read it?

This just in: On Memorial Day Weekend of this year, just six weeks after Jimmy died, my friend, Teri's daughter, Daria married a man named Steven Plotz. Daria had considered keeping her name, (duh..) but happily Steven was eager to free himself of the life long abuse that goes with being a 'Plotz.'

They considered Steven taking Daria's name, but this choice was too emasculating. A fresh start was in order. They set out to find a new last name (perhaps from the phone book?) to spare themselves and their future little Plotzes.

Teri called me today to tell me they are down at the court house now legally changing their last name to 'James.'

I plotzed. I know Jimmy is plotzing.

Mr. and Mrs. Steven James trumped them all.

Just One More Time

Jimmy loved a good backrub. He rarely had a professional massage, but when our 6'4 nephew Chuck came over Jimmy would lean over and yell to him "Blood, blood." This, of course, meant 'help get the kinks out.'

Chuckie came over yesterday and we were reminising about it.

"I could barely pass by his chair. He'd make me give him a massage. I always did, but I didn't always want to."

I nodded.

"He was so demanding" Chuck continued. "but now if I could do it just one more time..."

"I know what you mean" I said. "I feel the same way about blow jobs."

Lets Name Everyone After Jimmy

You have to think very highly of someone to name your baby after that person. Yes? No arguement here. It's an honor and it's a tremendous show of respect. Okay. That said...

On June 3rd my cousin Mike named their son after my husband Jimmy. (James) Oh, not the first name, but the middle name. I don't mean to sound picky because it's not my nature, but we all know a middle name is forgotten and unused as soon as the birth announcement goes out.

When the kid is five and he's not cooperating the parents may yell,

"Andrew James - no more drinks of water - just go to bed!"

Andy will know from that that they mean business or more likely he'll have no idea who 'Andrew James' is. For the most part that kind of talk is a Southern thing where they're used to having two first names, 'Mary Jane' 'Carol Ann' 'Jim Bob' - But, then what do they do for emphasis? I guess they add on 'Miss' or 'Mr.'

"Mr. Timothy John - I've had it up to here with you!"

I don't know anyone in the tri-state area who talks like that.

My cousin Mike and his family live in Brooklyn. With the exception of formal documents James will most likely be reduced to a 'J'. Still, a middle initial is a huge step up from 'nmi' which translates to 'My parents were too lazy to think of second name for me.'

In spite of my sarcasism I swear I really was genuinely touched that Mike and his wife thought enough of Jimmy to name their son after him...sort of...

Only six weeks later on July 25th Mike's sister Sue had a baby girl and named her after Jimmy. Her name? 'Samantha Zoe'

Hmmmmm...are you thinking what I'm thinking? Exactly. Is this a sibling rivelry thing or what? I'd better find a moment to clue them in that they're not in the will.

Here's how I found out about Jimmy's 2nd namesake - I visit Sue and she summons me to sit on her hospital bed. I do reluctantly because these days my radar is on high alert. Any one can say anything at anytime that will bring me to a place I don't want to be. Once there, I want to just curl up and disappear.

Sue sweetly takes my hand and looks at me soulfully. mind is racing.
Something is up and something is expected of me. I hope I'm able to respond appropriately because I'm really feeling uncomfortable just being in a hospital. Walking through the halls has brought me right back to Jimmy's last week.

I make a concious effort replace that awful memory with the joyous one two years before when my granddaugter, Skylar was born. Maternity floors are happy and hopeful and this is the facade I am hanging on to until I hear Sue say,

"I want you to know that we named our daughter after Jimmy."

Sue's mom is sitting on the bed next to me and I'm afraid to turn my head to look at her because I can tell by the sound she sucked in that she is holding back tears. I, on the other hand, because I am a normal person am holding back a laugh.

"I'm not sure what to say" I say concerned that the smirk I'm feeling on
the inside is leaking out.

Sue looks perplexed and unaware that 'Samantha Zoe' being named after Jimmy
needs an explanation.

I stammer, "I'm flattered and well, happy, well, not really happy, but you
know...not sure how..."

Suddenly it clicks for Sue that I may be wondering how "Samantha Zoe" and
'Jimmy' have a connection.

"Well, we always wanted 'Samantha' and so we thought about a 'J' name for
a middle name..." she begins.

I'm thinking, 'duh' a J would be good...

"But, we really didn't like an J names and we love Zoe which means 'Life.'"

She left me there, my smirk turning to something else that felt like grief.
I had time to process the irony of my Jimmy who is dead being regarded as

"Jimmy was so full of life. He loved life." she said.

"Yes. Oh, yes, he was. He did" I chimmed in.

Then, my smirk came back as I pictured Jimmy watching this. He'd be

"I loved ice-cream, too. Maybe someone should name their kid
'Rocky Road.'"

People Die Near Their Birthday

I've always been an idiot savant with dates. I remember everyone's birthday even if I can't stand them. My brain refuses to delete that Mrs. Ellenson was born on February 9th. She was my next door neighbor 34 years ago.

Long gone, Mrs. Ellenson was always annoying and she continues annoy me to this day by taking up valuable room in my head. Damn it. Get out! Now, I need that space to remember where I leave my glasses.

My obsession with dates led to my theory that 89% of people die near their birthday.
I made up the 89% part. It's actually more like 'a lot' but 'a lot' that doesn't sound nearly as scientific as a hard number. 89% makes people sit up and take notice. "Really? 89%?" And, then I mumble something, anything. But, it's always hear "She was just 74." "He would have been 81."

Every year I harrassed Jimmy with "Be careful. You're in your danger zone, you know" from a month before, the month of and a month after his birthday. That's the three month window. That's my definiton of 'near' your birthday.

Jimmy's birthday was March 14th so from February 14th until April 14th he was suseptible to falling down a manhole or getting the killer cancer that actually did take his life on April 13th. Some people never get a chance to say good bye. I never got a chance to say, 'I told you so.'

Actually, I tried. I'll never know if he heard me, but I begged him to hold on. "You know how you hate it when I'm right" I whispered to him that last day.

We were only four months apart in age. We were in the same grade and when Jimmy turned 21 and I was only 20 I wanted to be 21, too. (although, the drinking age back then was 18) Naturally, as we got older I held on to every second before I turned "the same age." Forty was huge. "You mean YOU'RE forty" I would taunt. "I'M still 39."

When Jimmy turned the corner this March to be 56, a year closer to 60 than to 50 I smirked. I was still safely smack in the middle and we played our silly back and forth routine. Not so funny, anymore looking back because I had no idea that he was sick and never ever imagined that this would be his last birthday.

On July 7th my own 56th birthday arrived without fanfare, without Jimmy. He wasn't there to tease 'You're catching up.' I had to face that he will never be older than me. His time here on earth is over. I may continue to my next birthday, but he will always be 56.

You'd think I would have realized we're not going to grow old together before that moment. I'm sure I did but not quite in the same gut wrenching way. This date obsession thing puts it all out there for me to see.

And, I had been dreading today, August 7th, the day I am past my own danger zone. If I had died yesterday Jimmy and I would have lived the exact number of days. It doesn't seem fair.

My friend told me I'm feeling 'survival guilt.' Could be...A lot of spouses left behind feel this - exactly 72%.

What Was I Thinking?

I was driving along feeling sorry for myself listening to Michael Bolton belt out "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You" when my accountant called. He told me how much money I owed in taxes and my mood went from 'suicide watch' to 'watch out BMW - I'm about to sideswipe you.'

"Oops" I said into the phone. Then, I promised to call back and I hung up.

I was hoping I had hit a parked car so that I could just leave a note on the windshield with all my information and not deal with anyone or not deal at all and draw a much less incriminating sad little face.

I wasn't tested. I was halfway out of my car when I saw a small, dark middle aged woman standing next to a smashed in front end (of her car) pointing her crooked finger at the shiney black BMW with MD plates.

I stood face to face with her while she hit me over and over again with her words, "What were you dinking? What were you dinking? What were you dinking? What were you dinking?" (I found out later this 'dinking' was an Armenian accent)

I blurted out exactly what I was thinking.

"I was talking to my accountant. He was giving me bad news. And, my husband passed away three months ago."

Boom. That stopped her. I turned away, went back to my car and came back with my information.

I had thrown her a curve ball and she was pissed. She was quiet for a few moments as she began to copy my insurance junk on her persciption pad. Later she tore off a sheet for a calling card making sure to x out the blank I was sixteen and going to run off to score some cool pills with it or something.

Finally, without looking up she acknowledged what I had said.

"Well, okey, I hear you - Your husband passed away (pause) but mine is going to keeel me."

I had to laugh. She didn't. I had to say

"Well, I guess that's a perk. That's something I don't have to worry about anymore."

Is That Your Husband In The Bag?

I feel safe at home. I like being among the familiar things that Jimmy and I bought together or fought about buying. I always won, of course and that's why they're here.

Photos can be painful and depending on the day I conciously avert my eyes as I pass by, but other days I'm able to hold up a picture very very close, often with a magnifying glass and search for any sign of disease or impending doom.

Like a jeweler with a loop checking a diamond for a flaw, I compare the pictures of Jimmy taken just months before to the ones a few years ago. I remember where we were and what we were doing and I close my eyes to visualize if he seemed tired or 'off'? but, wait...we danced and laughed and he was fine.

When I'm home I don't have to worry about running into someone. That's a big fear I have when I leave the house. I've considered putting a paper grocery bag over my head like 'the unknown comic' but decided that might attract extra attention. I entertain myself this way.

I'm uncomfortable seeing people from the neighborhood because there are many ways it could go and none of them are pleasant. It's not pleasant for me or or for the poor soul who had the bad timing to push her shopping cart into aisle 8 just as I am rolling mine in from the other end. Let's face it - A face off like that must be acknowledged. If I ran into me I know I'd be saying to myself, 'Damn. Did I really need those eggs?'

Running into me is a lose/lose situation. Here are a few possibilities:

1. They heard. They never sent a card or called and now they feel guilty. They
react defensively.

"I just heard two weeks ago. We were away. We would have been there. You know
that, don't you?"

I end up consoling them. "Of course. Please don't worry about it. We're friends."
(I'm thinking,'What the hell is her name, again?)

2. They don't know. "How's Jimmy?" is the first sign. Sometimes, I mumble and
move on...and sometimes I blurt out "-------------" This usually results in a
gasp followed by a very very long and suffocating hug. They search
their memory for the last time they saw him and look at me perplexed.

They demand details. They mean well. They're worried about their own husbands.
'Could this happen to Mike? I think he's actually a few years older than
Jimmy...' They ask Jimmy's age and when I tell them they gasp again.

So, this is why I've developed hermit tendencies. I stay home and sit on the couch sadly smirking as I look at the chair Jimmy told me not to buy because it was too expensive, the one he ended up sitting on all the time.

But, I do have to go out once in a while. One day, a few weeks ago,I was dog sitting for my next door neighbor and good friend's chocolate toy poodle, Marley.

Marley is used to be carried around Paris Hilton style by Brooke, his 22 year old Mommy. I had to do a few errands, bank, cleaners, etc. and when I got out his leash to take him along, Marley sat on my pocketbook to tell me that he wanted in. "Ohh, I said to Marley 'You're not that small. I'll go get an overnight bag for you.' So, I did.

Marley and me (like the book) shlepped around town and he was a very good boy content to stay in the bag with his chew toy. Wherever we went strangers saw his little wooley head sticking out and they ooohed and ahhhhed.

Our last stop was the card store. To get there I had to walk past a jewelry store where I go from time to time and have a great rapour with Sy, the owner. He's a man close to seventy who should belong to the Friars Club He's full of life and fun and we are always joking around. He complains that I hardly ever buy anything except a battery for my watch.

I see Sy is sitting outside his store on a park bench. I have to pass right by him. I know he doesn't know. How would he? I hesitate and begin to walk. Sy spots me, a bag over my shoulder, a little curly brown head sticking out and he shouts to me,

"Hey, is that your husband in the bag?"

I approached him and said, "Sy, you are going to be so sorry you asked me that." I told him and then I vowed never to leave the house again.

lost In The Cemetery

I don't have a bad sense of direction. I have zero sense of direction. If I added up all the time spent driving South when I should have been going North or stopping strangers only to hear 'left, right, right, left...if you pass the railroad you've gone too far, blah, blah, blah' What? Are they kidding me? I know that was English, but it may as well been an alien talking. No comprendo. Nada.

Anyway, if I added all that time up it would be not days, not months, but years. Yes, years of circling around and getting nowhere, like a dog chasing his tail. And, like a dog, it always left me wanting to curl up and nap.

My husband, Jimmy was my compass. I don't mean that as a sweet metaphor. I really mean he was my compass especially since the invention of cell phones. At least once a week I would frantically call him and he would patiently (most of the time) say 'Okay, so where do you THINK you are? Is the 7/11 on your right or your left? No...turn around - You're going the wrong way - AGAIN.'

He would stay on the phone with me until I knew where I was and often that wouldn't be until I was in our driveway. Am I exaggerating? Only a little.

The Friday before Father's Day I decided to go to the cemetery. Jimmy had been gone for two months and I hadn't been back since his funeral. Naturally, I didn't drive myself that day and there were plenty of people around me to show me the way once we got out of the cars. I wasn't exactly paying attention to where I was or how I got there which, now that I think about it, was the only thing normal about that day.

I got to the entrance to the cemetary late. They close the gate at 5:00. I got there at 4:15 because I had a pedicure first. The woman who does my toes was running late, then she got a phone call and left me soaking and to be honest, I didn't calculate the drying time.

So, here I am driving along winding paths with my head out the window straining to find 'Serenity East' a section among what seemed thousands of identical sections of
masoleums. The air was soft and quiet and my heart seemed to be beating louder and faster. It leaped when my cell phone rang and my first thought was, 'Oh, good. Jimmy can help me.'

It was my cousin Sharon who may actually have a worse sense of direction than I do. When she asked me where I was I told her, "This will make you laugh and cry at the same time. I'm driving around the cemetery looking for Jimmy."

Now it's close to 4:45 and a security car came by and told me they were closing the gate at 5:00, but if I parked my car right outside the gate I could walk and stay as long as I wanted to. I was so grateful since I was beginning to feel like a horrible person for taking up valuable time getting my toes done.

On foot and especially on feet that have just been soaked and massaged and only want to revel in the lotions, not squish around and be pounded in flip flops it is key to be walking in the right direction. It's one thing to be lost in a car and a very different experience to retrace your steps literally especially when the destination
is what it was.

I passed Nickolas Santana at least four times. I circled Katherine Luck easily three times and noted she died at 41. "Guess you ran out of luck, eh, Katherine Luck?" I saluted her.

I was not leaving until I found Jimmy and I dreaded finding him and seeing his name with the dates chiseled on the marble. How horrible. How real that would make it. Is this why I couldn't find him? Was I keeping myself from this or was I just lost like usual?

I began babbling to Jimmy that this wasn't funny anymore and why don't you just help me out here considering it was quarter to six already. True, I had no reason to go home. You're not there, but still...

I noticed a man. One man alone holding a map. In all of my travels there was no one but me wandering around and there he was. At first I thought he might be a mirage. I approached him and he pointed to where 'Serenity East' was. It was far, he said. He said you're supposed to go to the office first and pick up a map. Yeah, like I could read a map.

I stumbled off in the right direction and to make a very long story a little shorter, by 6:10 I found Jimmy. It was an awful jolt to see his name and date and I collapsed on the cement bench facing him and cried and cried and rubbed my feet.

I stayed about a half hour talking and talking and feeling him listening and I wrote on the back and left a picture of Skylar, then began my journey back to find my car. Don't ask...

Grandfathers Are Necessary, After All... to Grandmothers

I'm not sure how to begin a new entry. It's my first since April. Until today, I haven't had the heart or the focus to post again. Minutes ago I changed my profile. The old one didn't fit me anymore. I'm no longer somebody's wife.

In my post of February 17th I write about grandfathers really not being necessary and I'm not taking that back. I'll just revise it to "Okay, well, all right, to the Grandmother they're necessary." This, I already knew though.

Skylar's 2nd birthday came just two weeks after Jimmy died so we canceled her Jo-Jo party and Jackie and Glenn, Uncle Doug and I went to the Aquarium for the day. Why the Aquarium? Who knows? Now, I'm just the Grandma who sits in the back seat and goes along. What a pathetic picture - and not even true. They tied me to the hood.

About fish... I hate fish unless they're served on a bed of rice. I think they're discusting to watch. Those vibrant colors flickering in the water feels like a freaky LSD trip to me and I never took LSD. (really)

Sky loves fish so she was happy and that was the point. Nothing was going to make my kids and me happy so we numbly watched her run around, put her face up close to the tanks, giggle and tap the glass to say 'hello' to the fishies. All the time I kept wondering if Jimmy was watching us. Now, I'm wondering if Jimmy is reading this. He may be the only one.