I’d like to be my old self again, but I’m still trying to find it.
I wish I’d done everything on Earth with you.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
(Spoiler warning for the Open Water movies)
I used to write on more days than I didn’t. But for so long I felt blocked. Like I’d tied myself into this emotional knot that I couldn’t untie and kept tightening.
It still feels that way, but all I know is that I have to write again. I have to be able to speak about my feelings and not worry about people’s approval.
Nearly two months ago, someone I loved deeply died unexpectedly. Our time together was short, but he was someone I admired and got along with really well for years. None of my words can properly convey what he meant to me. My deep admiration of him in every way.
The way that when I found out, I exploded in grief and lost the last bit of hope and sanity that was tethering me to life. I’d been deeply struggling for two years, and to quote a different Taylor Swift lyric, “I’ve been spending the last eight months thinking all love ever does is break, and burn, and end.”
But he made me believe, despite everything, that it wasn’t true. That maybe in our middle age, we could begin a beautiful new chapter together. Mourning the fact that I’ll never be a mom has taken up a lot of my grief space for a long time. He wanted to adopt and/or foster with me. To get me a dog because I’ve never had one and all I’ve ever really wanted was to pour my love into other creatures. I truly don’t care about anything else. Not money, not career, not anything compared to how desperately I’ve always just wanted to love. And to be loved.
Last year, I went through a huge phase where I watched every non-jokey shark movie I could find, and then when I ran out of those, moved on to bear and crocodile movies. “Open Water 2” didn’t even have sharks, but still was about people stranded in a deadly situation, fighting for survival. In each of them, the thing that broke me the most was when one of their significant others dies, and they have to let go of them or leave them behind, or they’ll die too.
Matt and I watched a bunch of movies and shows over the phone, since he lived in a different state. But he visited once — only once, sigh — and we watched three movies together in real life. The last one was “Open Water,” about a couple who miss their scuba boat and get stranded in the sea with sharks. After the husband dies, the wife is left alone. She eventually takes off her scuba gear and slides into the ocean to her own ostensible death.
In the other movies, there’s usually at least one survivor, but sometimes it’s only one. And in the case of the bear movie, it’s not clear whether she’ll make it. But they keep fighting.
I don’t begrudge the “Open Water” woman’s choice to take off her scuba gear. All I know is that I can’t. If for absolutely NO other reason than that he never wanted me to give up. He believed in me more than possibly anyone ever has. I was only just starting to believe maybe he saw something in me that I didn’t, and these past two months, that spark disappeared.
I’ve been so incredibly lost in the sea, even before we became romantic, and since he died, I’ve been drowning. It’s gotten a bit easier and I’ve had amazing love and support from incredible people. I’ve had some really fun nights where I laughed more than I have in months where I literally couldn’t even smile.
One line has helped me a lot, from “Sleepless in Seattle.” Tom Hanks says:
I’m gonna get out of bed every morning … breathe in and out all day long. Then after a while, I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out. And then after a while, I won’t have to think about how I had it great and perfect for awhile.
I haven’t been doing the greatest job at this. Because I did have it great and perfect for awhile, and I knew it. There was never a time that I took him or what we had for granted. He treated me like absolute gold, and I tried to do the same.
But now it’s gone. I’d give absolutely anything to have him back in this world, even if I never got to speak to him again. Just for him to still be here. He was the most incredible person.
That isn’t how it works though. Life is so fucking unfair. He deserved so much more time.
So all I can do now is try to live the way he’d want me to. Not hating myself, not being self destructive, not feeling like I’m walking through a constant nightmare. Until I can do that for myself, I will do it for him.
Part of that means writing again. I have to be able to share memories of him. I have to climb out, keep swimming — all the metaphors.
And maybe one day I’ll even write something funny again. He said I was the funniest person he’d ever known, which was crazy because he knew so many funny people. He WAS so funny.
But that’s how he felt, so I’d love to honor that again. He read all of my blogs. One of the things that brought us together was “Annie.” He loved Little Orphan Annie and My Grandmother and months earlier when we were just friends suggested we watch “Annie Live!” together when it aired. It was our first virtual watch.
He wanted me to believe in life again. I have so few tangible things to remember him by. But I can do this. Celebrate him by trying. Taking my vitamins, going on my Peloton, working even when I’d rather stay in bed.
Breathing in and out.
It’s weird that the last blog I posted was from February 12, 2021. I had no way of knowing that exactly one year later, I’d spend one of the only few days I’d ever have with someone so incredibly special.
He always encouraged me to write again. So I am. Sometimes it will be about him; sometimes maybe about my breakfast. I’d love to do recaps again. I told him I was thinking of making a new blog just for recaps, and he was very encouraging. He was about everything.
For right now, it’s time to force myself to eat something.