I recently told our old landlord (from our favorite house (see the post here) in Tallahassee that Jacob had passed away, I had been missing a few random things and I wanted to know if she still had them. Unfortunately, she sold our little house. After she started to cry and talk about how much she loved Jacob, she also said something that I forgot people used to say to us, “You two were the cutest couple.” I hadn’t heard that in over a year, and I forgot that was something people told us often. I bursted into tears (as usual) because I knew that I would never hear that expression in the present tense ever again. It also made me unbearably sad because I felt like people will forget about our life – that we even had a life together – without being told – never to be seen in real time. No one knew of our intimate day-to-day life (except me and Jacob) so of course, I will never forget – but everyone else, it seems they will. How could they not?
The way he did the dishes and aligned the mason jars perfectly stacked and always to the left of the plates – the way he would keep “fun cereals and snacks” on the counter instead of in the pantry because he didn’t want to forget about them in the morning. How much we loved to buy the tub of Nestlé Toll House cookie dough. But he always would burn them and say “coos, can you make them please?” How much he loved the holiday Pillsbury cookies and each new holiday there was a new shape – ghosts, pumpkins, snowmen, Christmas trees. He would call me and say, “should we get the ghosts or the pumpkins???!” He would burn those too – so I always made them. “Thanks baby coos!” He got very frustrated when he would burn them – I would say “You are far too intelligent to deal with these simple matters, I got you covered baby Jakes.” It was a huge tradition to get those Pillsbury holiday cookies – we realized though that when we were kids they would come in a log form and now they come in a tray form. We liked the log… How excited he got when we would get whole milk. Sometimes he would come back from a gas station with some sketchy whole milk and I would say, “Jakey – this is uggos, please let’s go get you some real whole milk.” When we lived in Olympia, Washington they had the best whole milk, according to Jacob. He was the whole milk expert. If anything was in the fridge, he would forget. It was so cute how he kept things out on the counter – always in a particular way. Never haphazard. Now, that day-to-day living is just a memory. I want to go back. These realizations are not easy. I never thought I would lose the love of my life- so when people would say, “you two are such a cute couple”, I always said “aw, thank you”
but never thought twice about it, because I knew how perfect we were for each other and how lucky we were. Now, I know that no one will ever know “Kaitlin and Jacob” as a couple again, and I will never hear these words again. I am going to start using my real name in these blog posts*. For us, there was/is no Kaitlin without Jacob and no Jacob without Kaitlin. I am nothing without him. I am truly a body without a soul. I mean, Christ, our old landlord, and my old boss, Carla knew more of our life together than anyone else. It will all just fade… and time will do nothing but encourage the haziness of what we shared. I feel like we were a clear photograph
and now it is entering into an out of focus blur. This is why I write and write in journals, I voice memo memories into my phone, I write in word documents every day so that my memories of Jacob will never fade… but the day-to-day living without him will become farther and farther away. And that is always clear when I wake and he is not cuddling me.
This time of year fucking sucks. Okay? September Jacob died last year. We were supposed to get married in October 2018 – Abe as the ring bearer (Jacob’s idea, of course), November- a holiday we both loved and spent exclusively together since 2014, because we were each other’s family – now, completely gone. We had a routine of playing Charlie Brown’s Christmas on vinyl and Bird and Dizz (Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie) – on loop- all thanksgiving long on our record player. Man did we love listening to those two albums on Thanksgiving. I can still see Jacob walking into the living room to change the side of the record. Like yesterday. We would watch Plains, Trains, and Automobiles. “Baby, John Hughes movies are perfect for Thanksgiving.” We cooked my mom’s casserole she made us in college. ***By the way – every time we came home from college (2010-2014), Jacob spent the night before at our house, and woke up with us – the first time he ever did I said “You will wake up to the smell of my mom’s casserole and the sound of the Macy’s Day Parade on television.” As we slept together in my childhood room every year in college before the Fall holidays, we started to bring our own traditions such as our Thanksgiving vinyl – especially Charlie Brown’s Christmas with us. Jacob would always trim the tree with us shortly after. Me, my mom, and my dad haven’t put a tree up since Jacob died – no holiday decorations – and it will be the same this year. Jacob was part of this ritual. I remember the first time he trimmed the tree with us, my dad introduced him to eggnog and sprite. “Mr. Griffith I always hated eggnog but with the sprite, wow, it is so good- I mean, how good is that?” So, I know these traditions are jumbled and all over the place (welcome to my brain) but these are some of the early things me, Jacob, my mom, and dad did for those four years in college. Last Thanksgiving (2017), Jacob and I had plans to take the train from Boston to NYC and meet my parents for the Macy’s Day Parade. Tickets already booked – Airbnb already booked – and Jacob was so excited to take a train. “Baby, I love trains – I wish they were more common here in the United States, I am so excited (emphasis on the SOOO as he came to hug me) to take a train for Thanksgiving.”
So here we are, as stupid fucking morons feel compelled to holler “Happy Thanksgiving” to everyone on the street, it makes me break down, cry, and then get angry that the world stole our life away. I woke up this past Thanksgiving morning sleeping with Jacob’s ashes and talked to him about what we would be doing. If I would be pregnant yet… what music we would be playing and how we would be cuddling and easing into our morning. How he would have probably surprised me with coffee. Or that I would have made him an Irish latte (half Early grey with honey and half frothed whole milk- you can froth milk like at a coffee shop if you heat it up over the stove and then pump it in a french press.) He loved this! “Baby, can you make me one of those… um, um, Irish lattes?” In a cute little voice.
Just – please – please- please – stop saying “Happy Thanksgiving” “Happy Holidays” and the worst of all for me – “Happy New Year”, because it is another year that Jacob will not see. I am truly terrified for next year because I will turn the age (27) Jacob was when he died – and I do not want to live past his life on this earth. This time of year is just adding salt on the endless goddamn wounds. And you do not need to tell everyone “Happy” anything. Just shut the fuck up and keep your happy cheer to yourself.
I WILL NEVER MOVE ON
Any widowed person will tell you that we have heard, time and time again (except for recently as I just isolate myself in bed all day and shut off my phone as to not hear them), the endless parade of well-intentioned, thoughtless comments that come our way within MINUTES of losing our soulmates – Everything happens for a reason/ Time heals all wounds/ God never gives you more than you can handle/ It was God’s plan/ We all choose our own death (some stupid pseudo-Buddhist shit)/God needed another angel/ I know exactly how you feel (UGH UGH UGH UGH)/ You need to get over this. That of course, as you have read in previous weeks is not the full list of “fuck you’s” in the chest. The truth of the matter is, nobody could ever know what we are going through (thank God) or what it IS until they themselves have gone through it. Yes, people want to help – but they don’t stop to think about how insensitive these clichés can feel when heard by someone who is in tremendous and VERY REAL LIFE OR DEATH KIND OF PAIN.
Kelley Lynn Shepherd said the king of all insensitive comments is: “You Need to Move on.” And I have to agree with her on this. Completely.
… I am going to summarize some of the things she said:
Let me say this as simply as possible:
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS MOVING ON.
It is a lie
It is a fairy-tale concept, invented by those who don’t know what to say.
It is invented out of ignorance and fear.
They want you to move on so that they can feel more comfortable with your presence. (yes I know – I am awful company – completely aware).
It is as if they are saying to us, “If we can all just pretend that this scary death thing never actually happened, then it would simply go away.”
Except, guess what? It never goes away. Not for me. Not for us. Not for the person living inside of it. It becomes you, and you become it, and you become wrapped in each other. Death and life become one and everything is different forever. The death of a spouse or partner is different than other losses, in the sense that it literally changes every single thing in your world going forward. When your spouse dies, the way you eat changes. The way you watch TV or movies changes (for me, I am unable to watch movies at all because I never watched ANY movie in the past 7 years without Jacob. At night or out in the theatre. So the fact that his eyes cannot see what I know he would love makes me want to vomit.) People disappear from your life entirely. Your job changes (graduate school for me- a career? seriously? the whole reason I even wanted to be a teacher is so I could financially support Jacob and I both so he didn’t have to work a shitty job and he could focus solely on his writing – collect a body of work, which he never got to do – like Stephen King’s wife did for him). It was a family decision between Jacob and myself. Your self-esteem changes big time. Your self-worth. YOUR DAILY FUCKING RITUALS. Your mentality. My mental state altogether… The way you breathe. The way you walk (or the lack of walking). The mornings – the constant reminder Jacob is not there when I wake up. Your physical body (I can only eat toast… literally.) Your hobbies and interests change (none for me anymore). It all seems so futile and empty. EVERY. SINGLE. THING. CHANGES. For me, our apartment/house is gone – for the first time since 2010 I am back living in my hometown, with my parents, in my childhood bedroom and not with Jacob. Not in our little safe spaces we created together. Not with our mini Christmas tree and stockings for each other and then finally in 2016 a stocking for our cat Abraham with a fish on it. Jacob loaded it with tons of treats “cheese middlez” and “tuna temptations” and little mice toys. Jacob worked as an assistant manager of a toy store for a while in Tallahassee late 2016 – March/April 2017 (funny story about when my parents came to visit him there one day I will get to it) and anyway, right next door was a locally owned natural pet store that always carried new products from Japan for cats – like full fillets of salmon and cutting-edge new treats Jacob would come home with. I remember he got Abe two huge fillets once and I gave Abe the whole thing and Jacob said, “Baby, we were supposed to give them to him together!” I said, “Okay, I’m sorry but he was jumping up and down wanting the rest of it – you give him the other one!” After Abe got both he was meowing and meowing jumping on the kitchen table, following us from room to room – it was quite adorable. Jacob was like “Jesus, buddy – there is none left! I will get you more tomorrow!” He would pick him up, “Oh my little fish breath wonder.”
Anyway… I was handed a new life I never asked for and DO NOT WANT. Jacob and I wanted marriage-so often we just were like, “let’s just go to the courthouse and get married and have a small reception later on… ” That was me and Jacob’s style for sure. All of this future robbed from us, especially that I will never bear his children and grow into parenthood with him – I mean- this is the hardest, most gut-wrenching, horrific, and life-altering reality to live with.
To top it all off, people with their partners beside them and social support (once again, I only had Jacob… so no real friends for me.) People like to think they suddenly know what is best for you. They treat you like a child. They want you to treat it as if it were a divorce instead of a death. EXCUSE ME? I did not fall out of love! THE LOVE OF MY LIFE WAS TAKEN FROM ME. They want you to put that person in the past – like some “ex” – um no fucking way, I still say “we” every time I talk about Jacob – we did something or we liked something or we watched something, or we love this etc. etc. These type of comments from people are beyond hurtful. And so what ends up happening? I feel / we feel more alone and isolate further and further. Just like I have done. I am doing. For me, it is a very scary place to be because… I do not want to live – I do not see a purpose without the love of my life – a whole life without Jacob? My one true love? The best father there could ever be? The most amazing human being the world has ever known. The love, compassion, creativity, curiosity, intellect, beauty, on and on the list can go…The man I dreamed of having children with since I was like… 13. And you want me to keep going? Nope. Count me out. So these comments people “offer up to you” feel like more blood dripping when the dagger is already deep in the chest. Yeah, I am angry. I am sad. I am in a horror film. I have run out of words to describe the miserable pain. And the only thing there is to help me? Bring Jacob back. But that is impossible.
The drill drills on. Grief gives life a permanently provisional feeling. It doesn’t seem worth starting anything. I can’t get up. I sleep, I lay in bed, and I am always restless in my sleep. I used to smoke too many cigarettes to stop the trauma and visions boiling in my brain but now I can’t even muster the strength to walk outside. Up until this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time, empty successiveness.