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Thursday, December 31, 2009

#10 - Closets

I don’t know what to do with the rest of this day. I retrieved (if only temporarily) my car from the mechanic, took a trunk full of things to Goodwill,
schlepped my recyclables to the dumpster at the fire station. I washed my hair, defuzzed my legs, exfoliated, polished my skin and smeared my lips with something this is supposed to make them soft and healthy.

I struggled with two poems I am working on for Zona Rosa, my writers workshop that meets once a month in Savannah. I sat beside my fountain listening to its soft gurgle, hoping for inspiration, but that just made me start thinking about My Dead Husband and how much I miss him on days like today - dark and rainy and sad. There’s a rock in the fountain that he picked up at the river one day when we were running around behind his first wife’s back 36 years ago. I am stuck on these poems, sick of them, but they have potential, so I will go at them again tomorrow.

Yesterday I attacked closets - My Dead Husband's and mine. My closet was easy. I got rid of 8 purses, 9 pairs of shoes and some clothes I haven’t worn in a year.  Behind my shoes, up on a high shelf, I found some old soft porn tapes we used to watch sometimes when we could still have sex.  I left them there.  Just looking at my closet gave me a smug pleasure. What a good girl I am to give away things I don’t use. That is, of course, bullshit. We should ALL get rid of what we don’t use because there are way too many people out there who don’t have anything, or they don’t have enough.

My Dead Husband’s closet was a different story. I have been gradually giving things away for some time, mostly to the children, things that make them feel close to their father, like his sweaters and golf shirts and pajama bottoms. Have I mentioned that he was so spoiled he slept in a cashmere sweater every night of the year? He was always cold after he got sick. Yesterday I finished the closet, and it was not as hard as I imagined it would be. It was hard, really hard, but I didn’t cry until I had everything organized and in baskets to go to Goodwill. I spread out my jackets and sweaters all across the bar in his closet so it wouldn’t look so empty.

That’s when I went to the corner of the closet where I put The Things I Cannot Live Without: his cocksucker suit (remember the line from Sophie’s Choice)? and his United States Closed Golf Association uniform (long story interesting only to the participants) with the crest on the breast pocket of the jacket, his Tabasco ties and a few others I bought and one really ugly one he bought one time when I wasn’t looking. There is the ridiculously Latin-looking white knit shirt he bought one day in New Orleans and his Old Navy long sleeved tee with the American flag on in and his Newport tee and his tux. I could not part with his belts with fish and boats on them, nor could I give up his alligator belts or his daddy’s cashmere overcoat. I tried but was unable to remove his trousers hanging on the silent butler that have been there since the Wednesday before he died. They will have to hang there a while longer. I unzipped the garment bag with his cocksucker suit in it and pulled out a sleeve and cried on it for a while. I did not wipe my nose on it.

Last night I ate the last of the mini Mounds Bars in his candy box, but I couldn’t make myself move the box.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


When I logged on to post my last entry, I discovered I have A Follower, a real writer with a blog of her own that I am following. I smiled for the first time today, and wanted to tell Clint.


"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love."
Washington Irving

After surviving Christmas day, (a feat I would never have accomplished without Cuz), yesterday morning I strutted around, a peacock wearing makeup and feeling strong and enabled. A friend wanted to stop by. He came to pick up some cheese straws I made for him before Christmas. I had a call from the cleaners that I left a shirt there for two years and I should come and get it so they could do inventory. My friend offered to pick it up for me on the way here, and he walked through my back door with one of Clint’s shirts, the navy and white one with the tiny checks and the red polo player on the breast. That’s when I started to fall apart. But my friend never knew. What is wrong with me that I sat in my living room making small talk and acting as though the shirt were just another piece of laundry? What is wrong with me that I cooked supper for Kristy and Robert when all I wanted to do was cry?

I put on the shirt this morning, and the sleeves are nasty from me wiping my nose on them all day, but I won’t take it off. I repotted my orchids and went for a walk with one of Clint’s fleece vests over the shirt and I knitted on a lace shawl. I started to organize baskets of clothes for Goodwill and none of it did any good. I’m awash in tears and have been for hours, that hollow feeling back at my core, my nose gross and runny, my eyes puffy and stinging.

I’m trying to get a job and I called about it and no one called me back and that has happened before and I’m discouraged and beginning to have uncharacteristic self-doubt.

I’m finished spending energy trying to hold back tears. I even searched until I found the quote from Washington Irving so I could read it over and over for as many time as I need to. My tears are okay. They are mine, and I can let the flow any time I want. It hasn’t been 7 months since I lay with Clint as he died. Goddamnit, that is not enough time for me to be able to stop crying.

I just wish I had the guts to live up to my own words.

I'm going to sleep in the shirt and wear my pearls.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

#7 December 27


Yesterday it was just Cuz and me and the dogs. We slept until 11. It was cold, but went to Lowe’s to buy a new light fixture for my deck and Cuz installed it for me, saving me many $. I wanted a new fiber-optic tree, since the one Taylor gave me a long time ago died, but at Lowe’s there no trace that Christmas ever happened. Eerie.

On the way home we ate fried shrimp for lunch at The Players Club , and when we got here, Cuz put up the fixture and we piddled around. We tried to listen to the entire Beatles collection, but we only made it through Rubber Soul. I still have The White Album, Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road, Let it Be and Magical Mystery Tour to go. Maybe I’ll listen to them today. Maybe I won’t.

We thought about making linguine with white clam sauce for supper and I started the olive oil and white wine reduction but we ended up sitting around, with the occasional trip to the garage for a cigarette. It was too cold on the deck. I worked on my blog and he did some stuff on his laptop. He’s the kind of friend with whom I can enjoy a comfortable silence. The soothing splash of my fountain took the place of the Beatles, and it was peaceful and right. Instinctively, we each in turn got up and stirred the sauce.

We smoked some more expensive tobacco and ended up eating a chocolate covered cherry before supper. Cuz breathed in a chunk of cherry and choked on it and I had to do the Heimlich maneuver on him. No shit. He was in real trouble and I’m not big enough to really get my arms around him but somehow I managed to dislodge it on about the fifth try. I was just before putting him on the floor and starting to breathe for him when it came out. Better aspiration pneumonia than death. I can’t make myself imagine what would have happened to me if another of the Men in My Life died, especially in my kitchen on the day after Christmas.

The sauce and clams went into the refrigerator. Having lost our appetites, we had another drink and made periodic trips to the garage for a cigarette. We stayed up way too late, and Honey, my Lhasa periodically scolded us for being up when she wanted to be in bed.

I slept like a baby.

And now it’s today, and I am alone again but I don’t feel lonely. I wish My Dead Husband were here, but the best I can do is kiss the top of his urn and tell him about my Christmas. He would be happy, I know.

# 6 Christmas

I could have gone to see my brother Paul or my sister-in-law and my nephews . They both invited me but I decided to stay home on my first Christmas without Clint. I stayed in the red sweater, in which I had slept, slipped into ridiculously “Holiday-ish” pajama bottoms and my old Uggs - bought back in the early ‘90s. I brushed my teeth and applied makeup and glued a smile to my face with lip stain.

For days I worried and wondered how it would be, how I would manage. Then they came, first Cuz. He had sent me a calendar from the printing company where he works, and his painting (September) is of a scene of the creek and our neighbor’s old dock from the back of our house at the beach. This year, I will have September every day because I’m going to hang it on his page.

Then Deidra and Taylor came, and we sat on the deck and talked and drank and smoked and told stories about My Dead Husband in the sunshine while it lasted. They made me happy and they made me laugh and want to cry for the sheer joy of the miracle that I was surrounded by them. I gave Cuz a bottle of vodka and Deidra a pink ruffle scarf of pale pink wool and silk knitted late into the night before with my very own fingers. She squealed and wrapped the scarf around her and admired herself in the mirror and hugged me and said she loved me. She liked the redecorating I have done, and I loved her for that.

Deegie and Taylor went to Seminole about 2:30 and he forgot to take his cheese straws so will probably give them to someone else or eat them myself. Cuz is staying until tomorrow so maybe I’ll send them with him for a snack in the car.

I prepared food for the family, who came about 4:30. Everything was good except I forgot the Madeira cream for the croutons was on high, and I sat too long on the deck and the bottom of the pot was scorched and I didn’t care. The cream was okay, just a little intense tasting which no one noticed and I think they may have even liked as much as the regular kind.

They all poured through the kitchen door in a sort of human flood. The twins at first were afraid of the dogs, so there was a screeching and whining until they got over being scared. Countng Cuz and me, there were 11, including th Debutante’s boyfriend. Everyone was tired and full and I wondered why they weren’t all at home. They were here because it was “the thing to do.” We say that in the South. We take family obligations to heart, or at least we pretend to.

Now, to contradict myself, they were also here because they wanted to be. It’s not their fault that I am the last stop. My Dead Husband was their father. Before they arrived I was terrified that I would feel the way I did on Thanksgiving when the room suddenly opened up and there was a hole where Clint should be. It didn’t happen. I think it’s because Cuz is here and because I got a Deegie fix. She brought me a box of Kiehl’s products, one of which is supposed to polish my body when I bathe in it. Others are to guarantee I have shiny moist lips and hands soft and holdable.

There was a fire in the fireplace, the first of the year. We shifted places for a couple of hours, some going out in the cold to smoke, others changing seats or wandering around the table to snack or see what the 18 month old twins were doing. The outside crowd would break off into to pieces, one wandering back into the house, maybe to escape the cold, maybe to escape the prattle of the Debutante when she broke the beads on her wrist by twisting them, then blamed her grandmother, from whom she had just received them. Even this family is not immune to inconsequential talk. So we walked around and ran from it and fed ourselves food we didn’t want. By 7:00 they had all departed for home or for better company.

Cuz and I went into the garage where it wasn’t so cold and sat in canvas chairs, the kind people take to ball games and we smoked some expensive tobacco and relaxed and talked on and on. The dogs were unhappy to be left in the house, so we put them in the car, where they curled themselves into balls and snoozed until it was midnight and we all went to bed.

Friday, December 25, 2009

#5 Christmas Day - so far

Christmas Morning 2009

The rain has stopped, at least for now. I sent animated Christmas e-cards to some of my friends. The house doesn’t feel empty - yet. That will happen when everyone arrives and the hole in the room where Poppy should be will get wider and deeper. My wonderful and understanding Deidra is coming to see me this morning. She is the only person who can make me laugh today, she with her animated personality and infectious laugh and her heart full of love. She loved Poppy intensely, and she loves me, too. Maybe she love me too much.

I have had visions of something happening to her, being hurt or killed. When Belle got out of the house yesterday, I immediately assumed the worst - that she was dognapped or dead under a car. Everything is a potential crisis for me. I don’t want these negative and depressing thoughts but they come into my head and I have to shake them away.

Cuz is coming to see me, too. He’s my artist friend from Valdosta whose watercolor masterpieces hang in nearly every room of my house. Clint loved Cuz. He told Cuz good-bye before he died, said he would miss him. Cuz nearly fainted with grief right there on the spot. He will hold my hand and help me through this Christmas thing.


This whole Christmas thing has me worn out and sad. I don’t know how to act happy right now. Oh, I smiled at the wonderfully animated and gold-toothed Salvation Army bell ringer, and I said Merry Christmas and told her how cool she looked in her sparkly red earrings, hoops that must be 3-1/2 inches in diameter. She was tall, maybe six feet, and thin and she was wearing a Red Sweater with an even redder scarf around her long cappuccino colored neck. I want to be her, standing at the door to Wal Mart ringing her bell and saying hey and how are you and bless you and Merry Christmas to everyone who comes along and meaning it. I didnt put any money in her bucket and now I am sorry. I put money in other buckets. Why not hers?

My shell has cracked a few times today. I am a walking talking dichotomy, wanting to be sad and glad at the same time. It doesn’t work, so I plow along, living from minute to minute, looking over my shoulder to make sure the monster’s not there, ready to strike me down.

Monday, December 21, 2009



I take pills for depression and a heart rhythm thing. Today, I forgot to take them, the ones for in the morning. (I did remember to brush my teeth). I did’t notice until I got ready to take the ones for night. I think my heart would beat okay if people would stop dying and breaking it. I smoke cigarettes and I have a heart thing, which makes me a clear example of a person being intelligent and stupid at the same time. Smoking is stupid no matter who does it but it is really stupid if you have a heart thing.

The sun came out today, and I sat on the deck in the cool afternoon and knitted a ruffled scarf for my friend and I smoked and drank coffee the whole while. Crazy people smoke and drink lots of coffee.

On Mondays, I have dinner with my Dead Husband’s children. The restaurant was filled with fat families with fat crying babies and there weren’t enough servers and the food wasn’t right and none of us wanted to be there anyway.

I came home and pulled on the red sweater and climbed into bed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I sit in the cold wind, chain smoking Virginia Slims and wishing I could molt, shed this fragile skin and grow a tougher hide, over and over again until I’m a statue, inpenitrable, impervious to this infirmity. I take an extra pill, light another cigarette and wait.



Every night I sleep in my Dead Husband’s red sweater, cashmere worn and soft and filled with pockets of warm air. Sometimes I wear it for days, rattling around my little house alone save for my two dogs. They love me like He did, without conditions or demands. I don’t want anyone to love me that way again, just my dogs. It’s too much to lose, that kind of love. It leaves poison in its wake, toxins flowing in my blood and brain. Some days I shower and put the sweater back on, others I don’t bother to shower at all. Sometimes I forget to brush my teeth and others I just don’t do it on purpose. In fits and starts, I obsess about the dust that builds up, sometimes attacking it as though it were an enemy to be beaten back, other times just looking at it and going to back to bed. I cook, but not for me. I cook to stop thinking about my Dead Husband and the dust. The dogs don’t care what I do. My hair is filthy and they don’t care. Why should I? I drink gallons of coffee and don’t eat except for yogurt and almonds. I smoke, sometimes in a chain, and evenings I drink vodka, sometimes too much. I want to stay here in my little house, but sometimes I have to dress and leave and act as though everything is okay. I’m very good at it. No one knows how I’m rotting away inside, not even my shrinks. It’s Christmas, and I don’t give a shit. I have 4 decorations out and a wreath on my front door, but they are not for me. They are for the children who expect some evidence that I am really who they think I am.

Sometimes I obsess about my looks and wash my hair and get my nails done and visit a young woman who sandblasts my face to take away any little imperfection I can find. I wear red cowboy boots and tight jeans and makeup. But there is no satisfaction or comfort in it. It’s a show, a farce, bullshit that the others expect of me. They need to believe I am okay, not crazy and sad and inconceivably lonely.They need to think I want to hold babies and smile as they open their gifts I bought from the internet. They need more than I can give, so I pretend.