Addiction Is a Heartbreaker, Part II

(If you're seeing this post first, go back and read Part I before continuing on.)

A few days later, on my birthday, he texted me late in the day: “Happy birthday. Hope you had a great day!”

Was he serious?  Sarcastic?  I mean, I had an awful day.  Well-meaning co-workers kept asking me about my special plans with my boyfriend!  I went for dinner and drinks with my mom and didn’t see the message until late.  I didn’t respond until the following morning and all I said was “Thank you.”  I’m not a jerk but I wasn’t taking the bait either.

He also announced on Facebook a day later (he was still set as a “priority” notification which I didn’t realize since he rarely uses Facebook) that his endocrinologist said he was eligible for an insulin pump. I’m sure he wanted me to see that, too.

A few days later, his sister-in-law texted me that she was sorry to hear about it and if it was any consolation she and his brother had broken up a few times (they’ve known each other since high school and have been married for several years) and so had their (now-married-a-year) cousins.  So if I needed to talk she was available.

After initially just thanking her, I wound up taking her up on her offer a few weeks later.  I hadn’t heard from him and the whole thing just bothered me.  I didn’t know how long a “pause” needed to be or what one does in the meantime.  My counselor had been encouraging me to set a length of time for the “pause” and let him know but I just kept starting to write an email and then scrapping it, repeatedly.  I met his SIL for coffee on a Sunday afternoon.  It basically confirmed my fears.

He was still camped out on his parents’ sofa  (she even witnessed a “ridiculous” fight over the remote between her BIL and her FIL!).  He goes to work, goes to outpatient therapy, and goes back to their sofa.

He had a frightening episode in the ER where he went in for stomach pains and wound up in respiratory distress during prep for testing. (That had me up in the middle of the night and in tears once that fully hit me.)

He was pretty much right where I left him. No change.

About two weeks later, I finally worked out what I wanted to say and emailed him the Friday before Thanksgiving.  I told him that I was praying for him, I cared about him, and I wanted him to have a good recovery.  And I reminded him of everything he told me he needed in order to have a good recovery.  I reminded him he said how much he longed to be married, and a father. If that’s still true and he still wants a relationship with the person he said he was going to marry, he would have to show me he’s interested and willing.  I was his biggest supporter and saw the amazing progress he made in treatment and I knew he can do it if he wants.  In the interest of fairness to both of us, if after three months apart there’s no indication of change or interest, then we go our separate ways.

I never received a response.  I don’t even know if he read it, even after I also mailed a (small, nice) Thanksgiving card with a note saying I wrote an email and hoped he’d read it.  I endured a nightmare of a Thanksgiving compounded by Younger Sister’s ending up in the ER after dinner and hospitalized another day and a half (she’s fine; it was just cautionary because she’s due with her first baby in March).

Well-intentioned relatives who didn’t know the news kept asking where Chef was. I actually had started the week feeling more at peace than I’d ever been, and after all the questions I thought I might lose it and have to leave the dinner table.

Friday morning, my maiden aunt (in case you don’t know about her here’s a typical exchange) called for an update on my sister which then became a half-hour lecture welcoming to the Spinster Club.

I’m not there yet.  In fact, I resent her enthusiasm. (My mom joked that I should’ve pretended the kitchen was on fire and I needed to hang up--I’m just not good at those things. Mom is far more clever in dealing with her baby sister.)

But, I thought he was the love of my life. And it hurt to find out from his SIL (we had coffee at the beginning of January) that in November, probably even before I sent the email, he told his SIL, “When I was in rehab, they said if you’re in a relationship and you go through it, your feelings might change. So yeah, I guess my feelings changed.” It would’ve been nice for him to inform me of that.  Maybe it would also be good of him to follow any of the other advice the counselors gave him, because he really hasn’t done anything they advised for him to have a good recovery.

I have moments where I’m angry, because he went from “I love you so much and I can’t wait to marry you” to nothing.  Because I gave so much and he just took.  Which was not like him during the majority of our time together.  And because our relationship was his “normalcy,” and he threw it away. 
He hurt me deeply.

I also have moments where I think about how he and his family are still very sick.  His parents attended the same required counselor-led session I did before we could visit Chef.  In fact, his parents had more counseling phone calls and meetings in addition to that.

And yet, when Chef got out of inpatient treatment, they all went right back to the exact way of living they’d been doing before he went in.  Heck, before he admitted he’d relapsed.  It’s the addicted lifestyle, only without the substances involved.  That’s not really sober living.  And I can’t be around it.

Part of me wonders if his mother prefers him this way so she can control him.  Or at least think she’s being a great mother for doing so much for him that she believes will keep him from using.  I realized how much she had done to keep me around—he was incapacitated and she was covering for him, frequently cooking dinner on our “date nights” because he was too “tired” (drinking) and “trying to save money” (I thought for a ring; now I know it all went to his substance abuse).  After she turned down my repeated offers to go to meetings with me, I gave up.  I left a final message asked her if she was tired from having to do so much for him—wondering if she hadn’t done so much for our relationship, where we’d be right now.  Maybe that was wrong to say and for all I know she told him what I said, but I don’t care.  It’s the truth.  Whether they choose to believe it is up to them.

And that makes me sorry for him, and angry with her.

But still, they’re all adults and have the power to make choices.  But maybe they’re blind to the choices they’re making right now.  Maybe it would take a miracle for them to see that what they’re doing, isn’t working.  Maybe it would take a miracle for him to realize he made a huge mistake, throwing away the one thing in his life that made sense.

Still, that realization would not be enough for me to take him back.  I want to be fair to myself.  I still long to be in a happy marriage, and be a mom.  I thought he wanted to be married and a dad.  He can’t take any steps in that direction, because he is buried deep under a load of mental illness--still hasn't gotten that insulin pump probably, because he's terrified to use it even though it would improve his life/health--and we need to go our separate ways.  I cared about him, and I hope he gets better someday.  Maybe I just needed to be there to be the catalyst to start him on that path--where unfortunately he seems to be standing still--but I’ll be O.K. with that. 

And while I’m scared that I wasted yet another two years of possible childbearing (and for all I know these are my last years), I know that there was a reason for all this and I’m trusting that God’s plan is beyond my understanding—but also beyond anything I can design for myself.  I’m not going to tell Him the way things should be.  Sure, I’ve complained that I don’t deserve this.  But I’ve also gone to His Mother and reminded her (nicely) of that novena I prayed in July and that she needs to finish what she’s started.  And that I’ve placed Chef in her hands.  I can’t do any more for him now.  I am grateful we had some good times.  That he was there for me when my grandfather and The Cat passed away, and that I had someone to dance with at my sister’s wedding. 

Now, I’ve closed the door and walked away.

In the meantime, I started sleeping through the night again.  (And if I can’t sleep, there’s a rosary nearby for me to pick up and pray myself back to sleep, asking Mary to handle my anxieties for me.)  I finally bought a (new-ish) car to replace my ailing 14yo one, I’m still teaching close to 600 children every week, and at the beginning of December I even went on a Christmas tour of Philadelphia with some co-workers.  (All of whom asked about Chef, of course.  It hurt at first, but in the end it created some closeness with them that I’ve been longing to have since I started my third year working there.)  I’m cleaning out my apartment, trying new recipes, and hosted a kick-ass baby shower for Younger Sister.  As much as it is painful to feel left behind again—because I’d hoped I’d at least be planning my wedding before she had her first baby, and my photo at my parents’ house wouldn’t be on a separate table in the living room because the photos of my siblings are from their respective weddings (I’m trying to not to take it personally, because I’m sure it was purely subconscious and unintentional on Mom’s part)—I’m looking forward to having a new niece or nephew in a few weeks.

I’m also giving serious thought to adopting a cat after over a year without my dear Cat.

Not that I’m giving in to the “unmarried Cat Lady” thing.  However, it is difficult to come home to a lifeless apartment.  I’m continuing to connect with other people.  I joined my friend’s trivia team and we won a tournament last month with plans to play in another one this month.   I’m having drinks after school tomorrow with one of the Kindergarten teachers.  And I’m trying to give back—at least attempting to—joined the board of a local symphony with Library Elf;  ran for a seat on the board of directors with the state school librarians’ association.  (The latter one is iffy.  While I was flattered to be asked, when the election email came out I saw three other people running for the two open spots. . . and I was the only one who didn’t use his/her official school photo and instead had a friendlier, more relaxed one in front of my library’s shelves.  I feel like a foil.  And a bit of a fool. But I guess I’ll find out in about a week if it worked in my favor.)

I also have hope that God didn’t plant this deep longing in my heart to have a family of my own, only to leave it unsatisfied.  I have re-read Meeting Your Half-Orange.  I have revised my “Big Love List” (actually a poster that hangs over my bed. Under the crucifix).  I’ve put my health on the front burner because some lingering problems from diverticulitis need to go away.  I’m working on getting back to the good place in my life that I felt I’d been in at the time Chef walked over to my restaurant table and said hello.  Possibly even a better place.

And from time to time, I take a moment and imagine how I want to feel in a great, honest, giving relationship with a very good man who wants the same things I do--what we’ll say to each other, what we’ll do together, what we’ll plan and hope for together.  And I pray I’ll be able to identify that man when he arrives.  For real.

Addiction Is a Heartbreaker, Part I

I have spent months trying to start writing a post, only to throw it out and start it over, repeatedly.

It’s hard to write in a way that won’t make readers think Chef is a bad person or a loser, because he is not.  So please try to keep that in mind as you read these two posts.

My summer came to a crashing halt when Chef became very ill in mid-July. At a family party.  Because he had been drinking beforehand. And not taking his insulin.  I spent a scary afternoon in the ER and watched his parents walk out on him because they found out he’d been drinking. (Leaving me stranded as I’d left my car at the party to go with Chef’s cousin, a doctor, who drove him to the ER.)

The next morning, when the ICU woke him around 7AM to take blood, he looked over and did a double-take when he saw me sleeping on the chair beside his bed.  He was still woozy from having his super-high blood sugar brought down carefully overnight, so he went back to sleep for a little bit longer.  The next time he woke, he sat up and acknowledged me.

I sat on his hospital bed and held his hands in mine.

Him: I’m sorry. [He probably did not remember how many times he said that over and over, as he cried in the waiting room of the ER.]Me: I needed to hear that.  [Deep breath.] Listen, I’m not going anywhere right now, but I’m not going to watch you die.  I have enough self-respect not to stay around and watch you kill yourself.Him: I needed to hear that.Me: So, when you leave here, you’re walking out with a plan to manage your diabetes and get help for your addiction.

He agreed.  He liked the endocrinologist who’d handled his care in the hospital and made an appointment to see that doctor.  His family doctor referred him to an in-patient treatment facility, because he admitted he had been struggling on and off with addiction on his own for nearly TEN YEARS.  No wonder he had been able to hide it so well.

He did great in treatment, made amazing progress.  I gave up hours at my side job and Pilates classes I’d paid for in advance, because the visiting hours naturally were at the same times as those.

In between visits and two-minute daily phone calls, to keep busy I cleaned out my bedroom closet (which I hadn’t done since the organizer came a few years ago) and donated tons of clothing.  I binge-watched Big Love (weird but well-acted).

He’d said a few times towards the end of in-patient treatment that he was afraid of going back out into the “real world.”  Shortly after finishing in-patient treatment, he told me that he “wasn’t going back into the kitchen, because it was too stressful.”  He’d gotten the idea that he would make a great counselor based on the praise of those around him in treatment but had no real plan for what it would require to take up that kind of career change.  And it seemed as if the fact that he was turning his back on his lifelong passion of cooking had no impact on his consciousness whatsoever.  He was going to increase his hours at the grocery store and that would be his full-time job.  End of discussion.

Of course, he also said that in addition to the outpatient therapy he attended, he was supposed to go to meetings, get a sponsor, and put some space between him and his parents. . . and none of that happened.  About a month and a half after returning to life outside treatment, he spent a week barely talking to me.  He’d wake up in the morning, text me his standard greeting, go to work (and/or therapy), and then go to sleep.  At his parents’ place.  I’d try to text back and get no response.  Or I’d call and there’d be no answer or return call. It almost felt like when he was using, and it was upsetting.

After a week of that I’d had enough.  He got home from work (I didn’t know he was working Sunday but how could I when he wasn’t talking to me?) and was napping at his parents’.  I called his mom and got her to wake him up so I could tell him I was coming over to talk.

I met him at his place because there was something of my parents’ my mom had loaned him months ago and she wanted it back.  When we sat down to talk, I asked him what was going on.  He said he didn’t know but he just didn’t feel well.  

For how long? I asked.
About a week and a half, he said.
You let yourself not feel well for over a week? I asked.  You can’t mess around like that when you don’t feel well.  That’s unacceptable.

He tried to argue that he’d been clean for 79 days—that’s only part of being sober and in recovery, I said—he insisted that I don’t understand it’s really hard.  (Maybe I don’t know firsthand, but I had gone to the informational session required before visiting him in treatment.  And I been going to Nar-Anon meetings for months.)  I said I know how difficult it is and that’s why he needed to do all the other necessary things, to have them in place to support him when it gets hard.  I reminded him of my words in his hospital room.  “If you’re going to lie around feeling bad for over a week and not do anything about it, you’re passively killing yourself.”  Then I asked for a pause in our relationship.

He was quiet for a second, then mumbled something which I asked him to repeat.

I was going to ask for a pause, too, he said dully.  Not one part of me believed that.

I told him I’d never asked for something like this before but I told him I loved him and only wanted good for him.  I begged him to take the time he would spend worrying about how to please me and use it to give himself the time and attention he needed to get better. 

He said O.K. and then asked for some time to be by himself.  I said bye, and he said see ya.  I walked out.

I found out that night from a friend that he’d changed his Facebook status to Single.

Retaliation, I guess, but I don't understand why.  Unless I was the “bad guy” for actually following through on my word.  Or he just figured I gave up on him and he might as well break up with me before I did it first.

I went from his place to his parents’ to return a borrowed container from one of those dinners his mom cooked.  His mom asked if we could still be friends and I said sure—then she wailed, “We’ve done everything to help him!”

I said, “You want to help him?  Set boundaries, go to meetings—don’t enable him!”  (Well, those words fell on deaf ears. More on that in Part II.)


Summer Stories

A "progress report" on my Summer Plans (as set forth here) is on deck after this post.  But as mentioned previously, I'm working on cleaning my home thoroughly and so far have tackled the dining room.  On the floor was a box of The Cat's few remaining things--mostly, her expired medication.

I know you're not supposed to just throw meds in the trash, and while my dad's work has a drop-off box he kind of demurred for some odd reason. . . starting to think my dad's getting to be an odd old man in general, honestly. . . so on the floor this box has sat.

Thursday, I cleared off the dining room table and when my eyes went from there to the floor, I remembered what was the box and that it needed to go.  I had a vague recollection that maybe the administrative office for my little boro had a drop-off box, so I added a stop there to my list of Friday errands--put gas in the car, get a new battery in my watch, go to the post office, etc.

It kind of hit me when I parked the car that it felt like saying goodbye again to The Cat.  That there wasn't much left around of her anymore.  Plus, it was stinking hot out.  Which makes me wonder how beat I looked when I walked into that office.  I was greeted by the secretary, a kindly-looking older woman who asked what I needed.

Me: "Um, is there a drop-off for old medication here?" (I didn't see a box.)

Secretary: "The police have one, next door."

Me: "Oh, O.K., I must have gotten mixed up.  Thank you."

Secretary: "You're welcome."  She picked up a bowl of candy that was on the counter. "Do you want something for the road?"

I did wind up taking a Dum-Dum taffy in a question-mark wrapper with the aside that "I could use a little mystery in my life."  She laughed a little in a surprised way--later, as I thought about it, I figured maybe she was trying to be kind because she'd noticed I was carrying two bags, one of which had pet photos and a veterinary logo on it.  Maybe I seemed a little bereft, because I was.

I went to the next door for the building.  No one was in the police's lobby, and I actually felt grateful for that so I could do this quickly and privately and get out.  The box looked a little like a mailbox, only with signage about what they could and could not accept.  When all was said and done, I put everything in the box except some liquid pain meds and a bag of sharps (from her steroid injections, ugh).  

The sharps went back into the cabinet; I'll figure out what to do with them later.  The liquid pain meds? Well, #sorrynotsorry but I put them in the dumpster.

I'm done with bringing things into my home that have no place there.


Report Card Grades, Colds, and Other Routine Matters

In spite of not being as dreadfully sick as I was at this time last year, I still managed to catch something horrible that has overstayed its welcome, and so I am blowing my nose and doing report card grades.  Yippee.

I had the second of my two required observations last month, and after several postponements finally met with my principal for post-observation remarks.  It's nice to hear from her that many of my co-faculty have told her I'm helpful and they can depend on me to get them the materials/information/assistance they need.  Well, not just nice--I do have frequent attacks of "imposter syndrome" and I need reassurance that I actually can do my job.

Might treat myself to some awesome (and full of attitude) stickers as a reward when it's all done.

I need something to tide myself over until I'm DONE FOR THE SUMMER FOR REAL, which is not until mid-June.  Then, my reward is a more flexible schedule, because right now it's not working for me.  I need time to. . .

--sleep (definitely not getting enough as my FitBit likes to scold me),

--clean (no, seriously, CLEAN.  As in thoroughly, to the point of getting rid of one-third to one-half of what's in this apartment, because I obvious spend more time moving it around/moving around it than using it),

--see Chef or even at least have a phone conversation regularly (horrible, frustrating, exhausting schedule conflicts right now),

--get my health in order (because feeling well most of the time is still elusive),

--work on getting a new car (14yo car has had TWO MORE trips to the mechanic since Easter and after the muffler falls off during a road trip to a conference I'm thinking this car really can't give any more),

--take a proper, REAL, out-of-town vacation.  Maybe see the beach for more than one day, even.  That sounds lovely.

But until then, off to work on report cards.  Pray for me.

And for my students.  Just kidding, I'm pretty merciful.





(Alternatively titled: When Your Schedule and Your Significant Other's Schedule Do Not Match Up. At All.)

We haven't had a "real" date since I made dinner for Chef the Sunday after Easter, a few days after his eye surgery.

His eye is doing all right but he won't know the degree of its success for at least another month.  Additionally, he has to wear a protective eye patch.  He is sick of the pirate jokes.

Nevertheless, he works hard at both his jobs, six days a week.  As a result of circumstances at his full-time job--which is not his permanent position but rather a transitional position as the restaurant prepares to open a new location whose kitchen he will run (exciting!)--his schedule has changed.  He no longer has Sundays off, which we used to call "Date Day" (no offensive to Our Lord--we still honor Him, too, and make plans for after church).

Text messages by day and phone calls at night (most nights unless he's practically sleepwalking by the time he gets home) sustain us, but barely.

I started getting plaintive text messages like this: Come see me.

Now, I'm still getting to know the very large town in which I've been working for nearly two years.  My school sits on kind of the southeasternmost edge.  So, the first time I mapped out where Chef's work was in relation to my work, I discovered that the restaurant is a seven-minute drive from my school.

Seven minutes.

In the wrong direction from home, I might add, but still.

It's not as if I have anyone waiting for me at home (sob).

So for most of the Thursdays in the past month or so, I've been going over after school and treating myself to dinner, expertly and lovingly prepared.  I have a book and my cell phone to keep me company.  I also people-watch.  (It's an introvert thing, I guess.)

Sometimes Chef can come out and sit with me for a couple of minutes; sometimes it's a little too hectic for him to do more than say hi from the kitchen apologetically.  Like this past week, for example.  When he called me Thursday night, he opened with, "I'm sorry I was too busy to say hi, but Baby, what did you have?  Was it a tuna club? Because I only made one the entire night."  

I don't order the same thing all the time, but he knew it was mine.

Even if he can't see me, even if he's so swamped with orders (can't complain if that means business is good!) that all he can do is make my dinner, that's O.K.

Just being able to lay eyes on him, however briefly, and knowing he's just on the other side of the dining room wall is good enough for me.

At least, I think I can make it to the end of the school year.



A Post, As Promised, and Hopefully Somewhat Interesting

Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate--and for everyone, happy new week!

I've set the timer for 30 minutes so let's see what kind of thoughts and events I can get down on the page/screen. . .

Thinking about what you already know (previous posts); trying to imagine what questions you might have about what I've been doing for the past few months.

But mainly, I know what you want: stories.  Here is a good one.

A couple days after The Cat passed away, I ran out of hairspray and was picking some up after school at an ULTA store when the cashier asked me if I was interested in a free Clarisonic class on Sunday.  Well, I had one and I really liked it, I had nothing planned Sunday morning (which worried me a little), so I said why not.  I went to Mass on the earlier side and picked up a bagel and coffee on the way.  Right before I went in, Chef called and asked if I wanted to go to brunch.  He had thrown out the idea to go to the Manayunk section of Philly and said he'd call me back with details once he'd gotten a reservation.  
By the time I got out of the class (with freebies like new brush heads and travel bags), he'd left me a message saying, "I got hold of my best friend and he said come to brunch at his place!" 

This is where his best friend works.  WOW.  It was a scramble to get down there at the appointed time, but we found it, found parking, and took the elevator all the way up. . . where we ate the most delicious brunch ever (pecan smoked bacon? heavenly) and I finally tried sushi for the first time.  Sushi isn't bad but I don't think I'd choose it on my own.  We enjoyed the view--O.K., Chef isn't crazy about heights but I loved it--and had an exclusive tour of the kitchen.  We were treated like VIPs and I loved every minute of it.  Plus I met his best friend who is just a genuinely good guy.  

I still cried in Chef's arms about The Cat when we got back to my place, but even that contributed to a balanced day when it came down to it.

Additionally, I totally would have a wedding reception there if I could afford it.

This isn't so much a story as much as a summary of the Easter Sunday Hilarity that happens when you have two families and two places to be.

Chef has been working every day for the past month. No days off.  He started a new job that is sort of a transitional position as the completely new position won't begin until the restaurant's new location opens in a couple months.  So other than last Thursday's night at the movies (attended with two other guy friends of his and it was Batman vs. Superman anyway so while he loved it I maintain Wonder Woman is still the best) we have had no time together.  No dates.  In a month.  I've had dinner at his "new" work a couple of times just so we can see each other.  And late-night phone calls sometimes have been only a few minutes because we're both exhausted.

Yesterday: Easter Sunday Mass at 9:30, then brunch at his godmother's with an egg hunt for his little cousins & niece, quick stop at my place for me to change out of my dress & heels (my aching feet!!!) and bake the Brie en Croute he made to take to my parents'.  We got there just as the egg hunt was wrapping up (which Mom said my nephews did in under ten minutes).  

At the end of the night, after everyone else had hit the road, we helped finish off the cleaning up--I felt bad I couldn't have been there earlier to help set up but there was zero time.

So my mom asked me to wrap up the leftover pie and take it out to the fridge in the garage.  Chef follows along.

And while we're taking a couple of minutes to smooch in the dark of the garage, my dad locks the back door and we have to knock to get back in.

I don't think Dad suspected anything.

(And my mom will kindly pretend she never read this.  Hi, Mom!  Dinner was great.  That's all you need to know.)

 For most of 1988, I was twelve and Chef was nine. 
And we were riding the school bus together every day,
oblivious to the future.  Hee.



Update Coming Soon!

It's the start of Holy Week and it actually looks as if I will have some time off at Easter (unlike years before).  I will have time at last to catch up all of my (remaining) readers on what has been happening.

All you need to know for now is. . .

  • I still miss The Cat, very much (and no, there's no replacement)
  • I still am dating Chef (Saturday marks one year and three months since our first date!)
  • My work is still challenging as ever (surprise).

Catch you up on more soon!


Missing My Little Furry Friend

On the night of the 10th, I said goodbye to my dear sweet Cat.  She had taken to lying behind the armchair in the living room the week before, and as she came out from there less and less, all signs pointed to the end stages of her kidney failure.  I kind of knew the Saturday before, and we had a heart-to-heart. . . her behind the armchair, me with my head wedged between the chair and the wall.  The day before she passed, she surprised me by coming into the bedroom and sleeping on my feet.  But I had a feeling that was her way of telling me that was the last time.

The vet and the technicians were very compassionate and kind--I mean, I called as they were supposed to be closing and they said bring her anyway--and when we got to the office, I took a couple of minutes in the car to explain to The Cat why I'd taken her there, that it was going to be O.K., and that I was really sure I'd see her again.  My mom was waiting inside which was really kind of her.  (Chef was stuck at work.  He said he didn't even need to listen to the voicemail I left him, because I never call him while he's working, only text.  He called me later and cried with me.)

I walked into the office with The Cat and came out with an empty carrier, an envelope with a little clipping of her pretty fur, my receipt (sticker shock), and a copy of the Rainbow Bridge story (sob).  My mom said to come over for a cup of tea, and after that I went home for a drink and to put in for a day off from work.  Because I knew I wasn't going to sleep well after that.

Honestly, I'm still not sleeping great.  It feels like being in a fog most of the day.  I cry at least twice a day (privately).  I keep catching myself thinking about doing something I would do for her, or even catch myself doing something I normally did for her that I don't need to do anymore.  I also sometimes catch myself operating as if she's still here in the apartment.  

The big, empty apartment I don't really want to go home to just about every night.

My sister sent flowers, people offered condolences on Twitter and Facebook--it took me some time to even get on there and say that it happened--and I got some cards from friends and family.  It's a kindness I'm almost embarrassed about, because she was a cat. . . but at the same time, she was my constant companion for over eighteen years.  We had a routine.  We had a friendship.  A huge friendship I don't know I'll ever find again.

But I did tell her, during that heart-to-heart, that it was O.K. to go.  I didn't want her to feel bad anymore. And even more than that, I reassured her that I wasn't going to be alone.  There had been times in the past that she really was just about all I had, the only one who cared if I was around or not.  (And certainly not just because I was the only one who could open the fridge.)

My friend the marriage counselor said that it's all normal, that when you lose a loved one, you have what's like a big hole in your heart.  There's no way to fix it; you just have to go on and eventually it does get smaller.  The hole doesn't ever close up completely, but a lot of it gets filled up with love from others and the happiness from new experiences.

Just right now--I miss her incredibly.  Napping on my lap (and purring like a motorboat). Eating half my dinner if it was chicken.  Settling down on the other side of the bed as I fell asleep.  I miss talking to her, singing to her, petting her soft fur.  

I definitely miss her "singing" to me.

This past week, I had to go back to the vet to pick up her ashes.  (Mom and Dad said there's a spot in their yard where I can bury the ashes.  I just have to get there sometime when it's actually light out.)  I opened the shipping box when I got to my parents' and the ashes are in a nice cherry-wood box and a brass plate engraved with her name is on the lid. 

I never used her name in the blog, because it's a very distinctive name and I did find at one point people were searching for my blog using her name as part of the search terms.  But, if you're curious, she was named (somewhat) after
  this song.  I think you can pick it out.  But please don't mention it in the comments or I'll have to delete it (sorry). . . Did you get it?  Now you understand about the singing, huh?

Needless to say, it's been a rough couple of weeks and I'm looking forward to having a few days off for Thanksgiving.  (Naturally, I'm working at the public library this weekend! Just like last year!)  But in spite of how sad I am and how much I miss her, I think I still can take a moment on Thursday and be grateful for having such a special feline friend and all the great times I had with her.

I'll never forget you, little girl.