Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

August 3, 2010


April 15 was the last time I wrote here. Let's call that "Before."

Before, I was me. A 37-year old woman with a live-in boyfriend she wished would propose already, a dog that made us a family, a mom who's intensely watching while my maternal clock winds down, an ex-fiancee who just got married, too many married friends with kids, and a few treasured single ones who are still free on the weekends.

I also had a budding writing career, preparing to turn this blog into a memoir and, as I hinted at back in February, a new opportunity that seemed too good to be true (it was and it wasn't).

April 16 was when "After" began. It started out as a crappy day already, having received an email from Only Child (the ex that just got married), who was not happy about my recent blog post about his nuptials. I knew he read the blog, but he always said I could write whatever I wanted and it never bothered him before. But in hindsight, I admit I was just feeling hurt and regret writing it.

After emailing Only Child with a guilt-ridden apology, I went out to a long-awaited dinner with Wine Guy and two friends in San Diego's version of Chinatown- my favorite place to eat. We ordered far too much food and began chatting in happy anticipation for the feast that awaited us.

Then the phone rang. It was my brother Pat-Hole and I ignored it. Two minutes later he called again. And I knew.I quietly excused myself to take the call outside, a deafening pounding in my ears. My friends kept talking, oblivious.

When I answered I heard Pat-Hole authoritatively state my name - but then nothing. "What happened?" I asked, trying not to sound too hysterical. He made some noises, maybe said a few words, but nothing came together.

"Just tell me! Oh my God what happened?!"

It was my sister. And my 7-year old nephew. On their way to my mom's house for another nephew's 20th birthday gathering. A one-car accident on a rural highway. They're gone.

This was the same day my sister had put her beloved 14-year old Labrador to sleep and she was devastated. My brother insisted she drive up for the party. Family would make her feel better.

I somehow ended up back at the table and when I sat down, my friends looked at me like I was an alien. I was. This is "After." I'm not me anymore.

It's been 3 1/2 months and I'm only now starting to experience brief flashes of what "Before" might have felt like. But it'll never be the same. I never would've guessed that I'd miss Before once it was gone. It always felt like something I was trying to escape, like something better was supposed to come After. But it's not better here.

The freelance gig I landed at the local daily newspaper has become a regular thing and I just recently started to enjoy it again. Between that and my day job, I'm often too busy to indulge in self-pity, and I am thankful for that. And the extra money goes right in to the new house down payment fund. I give myself a pat on the back with every deposit.

In between the grief, the writing, and the desperate attempts to fall and stay asleep, I've also had more disappointing setbacks with my hip. Since my surgery in March 2009, I've experienced complications that have worsened to a point that even my normally overly optimistic surgeon was sympathizing with me. It's eventually fixable, but I have to wait it out- indefinitely. The pain is chronic, often intense and entirely exhausting. I've got a medicine cabinet full of painkillers that have my pill-popping friends drooling. But trust me, they're no fun when you really need them.

Wine Guy has stuck with me through it all. Remind me that I said this when I complain about it later, but...Fuck marriage. This guy is already my "husband" 100 times over. Better, he's my family. Things aren't perfect, but he is here and loving me as best as he can (and I'm trying to return the favor).

So you can understand why I haven't written. I feel guilty for even burdening you with this now. I shared what's been going on with a kindly co-worker last week and she burst into tears. (Better than another another friend who unwisely launched into a "Wow, that makes me really grateful for what I have in my life" speech.)

But this blog, for the most part, is about me. And I don't know how to be anything but honest in everything I do (a strength and, more often, a weakness), so there you have it. For all I know, nobody reads this blog anymore. And that's fine. But after I received a comment from a concerned reader checking in to make sure I was OK (thanks Elizabeth), I wanted to reach out to her and anyone else that might still be dropping by from time to time.

So I'm here to say this:

My world has shifted. My coordinates are off. But I'm still standing.
Right here, in this AfterWorld.



Jaclyn said...

I am so sorry to learn of your recent loss.

I do not feel any sympathy for Only Child, since it was hugely insensitive for him to get married at the same location as your cancelled wedding.

You may have quite a few readers who added you to their Google Reader feed, and although they might have gotten out of the habit of checking here they will all be happy to see your blog appear in their feed.

I hope that you can find peace and comfort soon, and am glad that you have Wine Guy by your side.

Loverville said...

Sending you a big hug -- just emailed you -- I'm so, so sorry to hear what you've been through this year.

Ruby said...

This was heartbreaking to read. I am so sorry.

Your readers who have suffered profound loss will understand the silence, and know that sharing your grief isn't a burden. I'm six years in the AfterWorld, and while I can actually breathe again it isn't the same as Before. (Of course, it wouldn't be.)

I am so glad Wine Guy is with you through all of this.

DiaryofWhy said...

You are still in my Google Reader, and while I was glad to see your post pop up, I am so, so sorry to hear about your loss.

kristen said...

i'm so, so sorry.

Anonymous said...

Oh god. That's is so much worse than I had feared. I am so very sorry.

I am glad you are still standing. (Even if your damn hips are giving you a hard time - they have some nerve! And completely awful timing)

I never found a way back to "before" - things simply are never the same. But I did learn tremendously powerful lessons about life, and love, and priorities that have changed me (and the way I live my life) for the better in infinite ways. I would far rather not have had to learn those lessons, but several years after my equivalent life changing event, I am glad that at least I can honor my loss with valuing every day I have with the people I love a bit more fully and openly than I did before. I hope that, in time, you will feel that there are a few small elements of the AfterWorld that are your tribute to your sister and nephew.

I am glad you have Wine Guy by your side. And thank you for sharing your nightmare with us. Whenever anyone shares this kind of thing w/ me, I consider it anything but a burden. It's an honor to be trusted, and an opportunity to return some of what was given to me at horrible times in my life. I know your readers will want to do nothing but send you strength and good wishes so I hope there is some tiny comfort in that for you.

I am so very, very sorry.


Eve said...

I'm a long time reader (I used to write the blog, Bewitched in LA) and I will never delete your blog from my Google Reader. I promise it will get better. I know this because my only sister died in 2002, during my first year of law school. It changed me and it made me aware of the strength I never knew I had. You will survive and you will figure out a way to live with it and be ok and eventually, be happy. I promise. When you wrote about the before and the after, my breath caught in my throat, because that's exactly how I describe my life to people - before her death and after, and the before seems like a dream and the life of a different person. Anyways, I just want you to know that you are in my thoughts and in my heart and that you have a kindred soul up here in LA who is sending love down the coast to you. It will never be the same, ever, but life will get better and you will be happy again. I promise. xoxo, Eve (fka Samantha)

Amanda said...

The only thing I can think to say is I am so sorry. How absolutely horrible.

SoCoDivka Designs said...

I am so terribly sorry and you're in my thoughts. Even though I am a stranger halfway across the country, I've been a regular reader for a while and I get emails when you write. I am very saddened about what you had to write about today.

I don't think it matters what moniker Wine Guy carries anymore if he's there beside you supporting and loving you.

Land Mines said...

I'm so sorry...I've been checking to see if you had written and I had been getting worried about you. Never would I had imagined you would have been going through the "AfterWorld."

You're in my thoughts.


John Mack said...

Your in my thoughts through this terrible time. I track your blog through Google Reader and it's always pleasant when there's something from you.

I know things are rough now, but you'll make it through. Strength is taking it five minutes at a time until you can handle more than that.

lizriz said...

These seem like such small words, but I am so very sorry for your loss.

Desi said...

there are no words... but i would gladly sit in silence with you and hold your hand... sending you warmth.

mimi of sexagenarian and the city said...

I just read this - 18 August -- DT I am so, so sorry to read that news. I am very sorry; it's really terrible, and I know you'll feel it, always. I'm glad you have Wine Guy to be there with you and comfort you, because it would be terrible to be alone with this awful loss. -- And I know entirely what you mean, that he already *is* your "husband." That's the way I feel about Funny Guy, who is still here; we've been living together for about a year now. -- So I'm glad to read you again, but distressed at the very sad news. Hang in there. -- And if you need distraction and feel well enough, you and WG should come to NYC and meet me and FG.
xoxoxox Mimi

frommylefthand said...

This is my first visit to your blog. I'm very sorry for the pain you have from the death of your sister and nephew. I am all too familiar with the Before and After of life. My mom died in a car wreck when I was 17. Ten months later, my boyfriend and I were hit by a drunk driver while riding a motorcycle. He died. The car amputated my left leg and one-half of my pelvis bone. I've learned to accept the amputation and have gone on to have an active life. My mother was buried 30 years ago today, which also happened to be her 48th birthday. I cry as much or more for her today than I did 30 years ago. Life will go on. You must live well because your sister would be heartbroken otherwise. That's how I've gone on in life. I have no family living. Please take care of yourself and treasure the man who loves you. Know that it's okay to laugh. It's okay to feel joy. It's okay to have a good life. I will pray for you. God bless you.

Deidre said...

I stop by from time to time. I am so sorry for your loss. you're very brave.

Statlady said...

I'm just chiming in to say I stop by to read how things are going, and I will be keeping you in my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I am so very sorry about your sister and nephew.

Louisa said...

Oh, I am so sorry that you lost your loved ones. I just read your post for the first time and you have deeply affected me. Please know that people are thinking about you and wishing you peace and comfort.
Love, Louisa

healy said...

I almost cry. . So sorry for your lost. I'll help you pray. I know they are all happy now with God. Take care of yourself:(

single parents dating said...

Sorry for what had happened. Life must go on no matter what. You may loss someone very dear to you but you have to continue to go on living.

Carrie Joseph said...

This is so sad. I have to say that I've been there. I've lost both my parents and my brother. Luckily I have my wonderful husband of 34 years beside me. I'm sorry for your loss. The world will never be the same without your sister or nephew. You can never pick up the phone and call her again..I understand. Keep living and appreciate life.

KleineJax said...

It's been awhile but I stumbled upon your blog today. I'm so sorry.

Chin up! said...

I hope you are alright. I am so sorry to learn of your recent loss. Take care of yourself and share your pain through writing to make it easier.