George passed away on November 8th, 2019, a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving and a few weeks before my birthday and the holidays.
Yesterday, February 8th, 2020 marked George being gone for 3 months. His birthday is on February 10th. He would have been 30 this year. Valentine’s Day is coming up. We adopted Babbs in February. This is the month we launched our audio business full-time 3 years ago and we started producing the Dirty Bits Podcast.
The last three months have been exhausting and overwhelming, to say the least.
I’m sitting in his recliner writing this. I can still feel the imprint he left. I can’t begin to describe how grateful I am for this chair, so I’ll just say that it’s reminiscent of hugging him again. That’s no small gift when you live alone and your best friend is gone.
It’s raining and gloomy, which is both of our favorite weather (being from San Diego, it’s an event when it’s anything besides hot). He would have been so happy for “cuddle weather” on his birthday.
George had always assumed he wouldn’t live into his 20s, let alone his 30s. I assumed since he had always defied medical expectations, he’d get better and we’d enjoy life into our 40’s together.
We both assumed I’d be a young widow.
Then, I assumed grief would look a certain way. I assumed I would react a certain way. And I assumed my life would follow a certain trajectory.
Out of all of those assumptions, the only one we really got right was that I’d be a young widow.
In many ways, I was more prepared than most to lose a loved one. I’ve been in trauma therapy for years and was taught no less than a thousand skills and coping mechanisms.
I still wasn’t prepared to cope with grief and loss like this. For some reason, those were skills I had not thought to develop and go get help for ahead of time. It’s embarrassing to admit, considering I knew my husband had a condition that meant his heart was at risk to just stop beating at any moment.
George was very upfront about all of his health conditions with me the night we met, so I wasn’t completely unprepared. He talked about being terminally ill openly and he was very clear about what he wanted to happen after he died. He told me how he wanted everything handled and I wasn't able to fulfill most of his wishes. I'm still grappling with that a lot.
So now doing what I can with what I have. He wrote a memoir that I’ve been slowly editing over the years in my spare time. George led a fascinating life and he knew he could help other people with his insight. He wanted his story told and I’m looking forward to helping him share it now. It’s the only thing I’m really able to do for him after dropping the ball so monumentally in many ways.
What we didn’t really talk about was how to cope. We always kind of glazed over that part.
George was eternally optimistic in the face of many uphill battles. He was human of course. He was the first to admit he was far from perfect and there were some days he struggled more than others. He wasn’t always chipper. And that was ok. I remember telling him many times that it was ok to be sad. It was a normal human emotion that would pass and it was ok to feel that way right now and he wouldn’t feel that way forever. He was going to get better, his surgical site would heal and so would his infections.
I’m reminding myself of those same things now as I’m missing my husband on this weird day in between the three month anniversary of his death and what would have been his 30th birthday.
It hurts badly right now. It’s normal to feel this way and it’s ok to feel this way. It hurt this bad forever.
I think that’s one of the more unexpected parts of grief- not being the same person anymore.
I’ve spoken to many people over the last three months who have lost loved ones. One person I connected with, Heather,* lost her best friend when they were hit by a drunk driver on their way home from a high school sports game. Heather’s best friend passed away in her arms.
Not only did that event inspire Heather to pursue a career in criminal justice, but she also said it changed who she fundamentally was as a person. And she told me that her entire circle of friends changed.
Thus far it’s been a universal theme- tragedy changes who you are. All of the women I’ve spoken to have mentioned a hardness and coldness to them that wasn’t present before they experienced losing a loved one. It seems like an odd thing to say because these are some of the most caring, loving, warm, and giving people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing.
And yet, I know what they mean when they refer to that hardness or coldness inside. After the worst thing that can happen actually happens and you’re still standing, how can you not have lost some of your tenderness and caring?
That’s another reason I turn to comedy.
When I was about 13, while watching a movie with a large group of people in someone’s living room, I made a joke that landed really well and everyone laughed. The feeling that spread throughout my body was life-changing and I’ve been trying to make people laugh ever since.
One of my favorite things to do was make George laugh. God, he had the goofiest and most contagious laugh. We both enjoyed wordplay and writing, which is one of the reasons we loved working together on our podcast The Dirty Bits.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for his birthday. The thought of visiting his grave personally still sounds like the opposite of comforting anytime I think about it. I don’t know when I’ll be ready to do that.
I think for his birthday, I’m going to listen to George’s favorite comedians. I’m fortunate enough to have access to some of his playlists and watch history throughout our various synced devices.
I made a list here from what I found on our accounts.
David Cross - Starts getting good at the 7:00 minute mark
ThugNotes With Dr. Sparky Sweets PhD
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