Blog Post

Grief is

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Grief Is 

(by Dale Miller) * I changed his use of “her’s” to “him’s” in the poem (he is a young male widow who lost his female spouse) – I did this so it would be more symbolic of the loss of well, my everything. Without Jacob, I am no one. A body without a soul. A zombie in a haze with constant command thoughts circling in my brain of “just end this misery already”. My dear dear friend Élise who I love deeply sent me this poem. I have never found words so relatable in my grief. There is no “time heals all wounds” bullshit in this poem. There is no happy ending or moving on like all the grief books emphasize. This poem is real – it is “The Real McCoy” as Jacob would say. This is my suffering. This is the suffering I feel every moment. This is the pain Élise feels with every breath. And I want you to read this and try to understand how torturous it is to lose everything. Your spouse, your best friend, your soulmate (since 7th grade!), your future, your children. All gone. And on May 4th, 2019 I will be turning 27. Jesus Christ. That is the age Jacob died – and I have been bedridden hiding from the world (literally frozen, psychotic, and crumbling in sadness) for the past 19 months. My birthday will be exactly 20 months since Jacob was taken from the world. My birthday, a day Jacob made so special, is forever magnified in horror. Jacob would call it a “birth month” instead of “birthday”. He would surprise me with something special almost every day of the month.  The little things he did were so full of love and devotion. I remember his touch on my skin and the hours of cuddling. One birthday while Jacob and I were home from school at my parent’s house- Jacob said to my mom “Thank you so much, Mrs. Griffith” and my mom responded, “For what, Jakey?” “For giving birth to my Kaitlin. May 4th is the best day of the year.” Then he gave me a giant hug from behind and said: “I love you so much baby girl.” This day with so many beautiful memories will forever be a mark of his death. 

 

Grief is

Feeling great joy and unbelievable sadness

In the same moment

Grief is

Feeling like you’re breaking apart

But knowing you can’t – you’re already broken

Grief is

Realizing you don’t go to hell from here

You’re already there

Grief is

Waking in the morning

And crying because you did

Grief is

Fake plastic smiles and sad puffy eyes

Grief is

Hiding yourself away

So no-one else need suffer

Grief is

Going through the motions

And not knowing why

Grief is

Not knowing how to explain

Anything

Grief is

Listening to people say they understand

But knowing they don’t

Grief is

Feeling absolutely alone

And smaller than small

Grief is

A hole inside that no one can see

Exactly the shape of him

Grief is

Never ending

Grief is

Not wanting to eat, sleep, work, dream, or face today

Grief is

Feeling like you’re going insane

And realizing you already did that last week and the week before, and the week before that

Grief is

The worst feeling ever

Sadness far beyond sad

Grief is

Visiting a grave to try to feel better

Trudging through knee-deep snow to clean off a headstone and have a talk

Grief is

Trying to figure out

Why you’re still here

Doing everything you can think of

So you’ll finally be allowed to be with him

Grief is

Getting it out

Only for it to fill back up

And doing it over and over and over

Grief is

Dreading the holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and tomorrow

Grief is

Friends leaving your life

And you not knowing why

You ought to see them run

Grief is

Feeling guilty for things you didn’t do

Wrongs you didn’t commit

And for not being able to save him.

Grief is

Counselors and medications

That don’t really help

Grief is

Anything but peaceful

Grief is

Learning to drive

And cry at the same time

Grief is

Being told to get over it

Or suck it up, buttercup

Grief is

Shaking uncontrollably

For no apparent reason

Grief is

Not being able to enter a room

Our bedroom

Grief is

The willingness to do absolutely anything

To try to feel better

Grief is

Being kicked while you’re down

People can be so cruel

Grief is

Being taking advantaged of

Grief is

Having to hang up the phone

Because you’re crying too hard to be understood

Grief is

Writing stupid poems

That no one will ever read

Grief is

Memories

Both painful and good

Grief is

Packing up his belongings

To send them to the vultures that are circling

Grief is

Laying out his coat on a table

And watching as the cat’s fight over who gets to lay on it, it still smelled like him.

Grief is

Being angry at God

Grief is

Picking up the pieces of your life

Just to put them down again

Grief is

Trying to figure out

What grief is

Grief is

Trying to learn about grief

From people who have never felt it

Grief is

Crying in your sleep

Grief is

Hurting this bad

And still being alive

Grief is

Having to explain to someone

Who hadn’t heard he was gone

Grief is

Being told to remember the good times

And knowing those are the memories that hurt the worst

Grief is

Crying so hard

You throw up

Grief is

Having to fight with family members

For his last wishes to be kept

Grief is

Finding a trinket that once made him smile

Grief is

Feeling like you did a week after he passed

Four years later

Grief is

Love doesn’t die

Just because he did.

Blog Post

Children everywhere

 

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Jacob at one of our favorite breakfast spots in Tallahassee “Bread and Roses Cafe” he would always order the Blue Plate – two eggs, two pieces of toast with local jam, garlic kale, veggie sausage and a biscuit for 7 dollars even.

*when I say “people” or “no one” I am excluding (obviously) my dear dear two widow friends, mom and dad, mother-in-law and sister-in-law, they know this but to make extra clear*

Rabbi Steve Leder once spoke about a lecture he heard by the youngest child to survive Auschwitz. He said there were no children in Auschwitz (he was six then), you became an adult as soon as you walked through the electrified barbed-wire fence. There were no children in Auschwitz.

He went on to say that one does not become a grown-up until they have suffered excruciatingly deep and horrible pain. This means that some children can become adults at 8 or 25 (like myself) or you could have adults that remain children well into their sixties – maybe their parents die, their own body fails in some critical way, or their child – the light of their eyes succumbs to disease or death, or their life crumbles down in some other way… but they are still a child until this deep suffering occurs.  THIS IS HAPPENING EVERYWHERE TO ME. All I see are children walking around in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s. And of course everyone my fucking age is a child. A bunch of ignorant assholes. With no empathy – no idea of the suffering anyone is going through. No insight that the world will bring everyone to their knees – even a young six-year-old even a young 25-year-old widow. Soon to be 27… the age Jacob was when he left this world and our future was destroyed. People are cruel, man. I haven’t left my bed in ages and I went to ONE yoga class to see if it would be a nice distraction of the misery of my life. I went with my mom, and we were casually talking before class (like everyone else – and not loud) and this woman who looked to be around 70 or so looked to me right in the eyes and said: “why don’t you just shut the fuck up.” Yes, this really happened. Then we left. I don’t even want to go into what an evil bitch she is – it just demonstrates how the world is filled with children – I am surrounded by them (especially in my age group.) Well – will be surrounded by them when I go back to school – and it will be unbearable. I just chucked to myself because currently I am really surrounded by no one but me and Jacob’s cat, but in a months time, I will be thrown into the real world after almost two years in hiding.

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Dad, Jacob, and mom 2011

How can I give a shit about a coconut milk cold brew and a lavender scone when THE LOVE OF MY LIFE IS FUCKING GONE? Just predicting my future grad student cohort’s vapid interests and knowing my millennial generation’s obsession with the chewed up bowl – the empty – the smoke and mirrors – you know, nothing real. The record player because it looks cool – the cassette box because it looks cool – needs approval to like movies rather than form their own fucking opinion – refusing to watch Woody Allen or Alfred Hitchcock because of their personal lives WHO GIVES A SHIT? LOOK AT THEIR ART YOU WANNA BE INTERSECTIONAL FEMINISTIC INTELLECTUAL. Or whatever new word you want to call whatever you all are. EVEN ONE OF HITCHCOCK’S sexual victims said everyone should watch his films and that he was a genius, just a sick man. Ugh. Form your own goddamn opinion. Nothing authentic anymore. Nothing genuine. The last human on earth so fucking authentic and genuine it was holy was Jacob. And people that never knew Jacob? Robbed of blinding light. There are people now that will never know “Jacob and Kaitlin” like my dad said once- it was always “Coo and Jacob” (coo my nickname). People will now never know that. And that breaks my soul. This is why I have asked my two widow friends to send me some of their favorite photos of them with their spouse so I can hang them on my wall, so they will be remembered every day together – that is one of the greatest things someone could ever do for me, but not one person has asked for a photo of me and Jacob so we will always be remembered together. After I asked them for a photo, they both said they had the same thought recently and wanted to do the same thing: to have me and Jacob’s photos around. We always save each other’s photos and videos we send on our phones. But having a physical copy is special. We get it, but the rest of the world is just cruel and stupid. Yes – I am being lazy with my words today by saying “stupid” a lot.

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“Jacob and Kaitlin” written by my sister-in-law (sister) Barbara. One of the greatest things anyone has done for me since Jacob died. I love you, Barbara.

I have read the work of many rabbis in an effort to find some insight or wisdom into my suffering or make sense of this horrible existence that has been thrown my way. I am even meeting with a rabbi at Harvard for Shabbat dinner in May. One reason I am doing this is because of Jacob and how he embraced the Jewish culture and often looked to the writings of rabbis such as Abraham Twersky for spiritual guidance (this is one of Jacob’s favorite videos by Twersky). The second reason is out of sheer and utter desperation. There are only two young widows I know of that understand my pain – and some other widows don’t even get it because they either want to stay alive and get going with their lives or they just didn’t have as deep of a love as me and my other two widow friends. I have said this before, but it is such a chilling realization in the early hours of the morning as I have awoken from another horrible nightmare that leaves me exhausted – almost no one had a love like me and Jacob. No one. And it is gone forever. This reality makes me cry the whole cold night through and weep as the sun emerges. By the way, fuck you, sun.

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Christmas 2010 with our eldest niece Lily who is now in high school! We would always come down and do fun things with her – beach, ice cream, hikes, Jacob was THE BEST UNCLE. No bias. But in all seriousness – he was amazing with children. Best Uncle.

I haven’t posted in a while because March 4th was the one and a half year mark of Jacob’s death, I didn’t hear from anyone – no surprise, I barely heard from anyone on the one year mark. Not like I wanted to – I just wanted people to tell me they were thinking of Jacob. But, it is a hard thing to face when no one loves or knows Jacob more than me – just like no one knows or loved me more than Jacob (even my parents can testify to that). And I have this enormous love and personality and beautiful soul in my head all the time, but without him earthside. We didn’t want any friends, we didn’t need any friends… it was just us. Now – just me. And I stopped posting because my depression was getting out of hand and I was back to sleeping 18 hours a day. I am not much better but I can at least try to post a little more. My posts might get shorter and turn into small memories of Jacob or a “story from my ___ dad, mom, a street corner, etc.” type segment. Speaking of a story from my dad, he was just reminding me yesterday of when they (my mom and dad) came to visit us in 2013 or so and we were all hiking at Leon Sinks Geological Area, a place Jacob and I spent a lot of time in the winter. As we were walking there was a big sinkhole in the middle of the trail and a long log to cross it. Jacob and my dad said, “yeah… we are going to go walk around”. Smart move. I decided to cross the log and I told my mom to come with me – mind you she had her purse with her keys, wallet, phone, etc. in it. Well I made it over and held my hand to let her know it was okay and that I would help her but she kept looking down and down and boom. She fell right into the water. Huge splash and screaming. “I don’t want to get sucked in!!” Man did that make Jacob laugh later when I told him she was screaming that.  My dad said that as he was walking with Jacob from afar they heard a loud thump and a scream – they met us at the other side and my mom took her purse and flipped it upside down and tons of water came pouring out. Jacob went up and hugged my mom and said “poor cringes poor cringes” and shook her shoulder. She frowned and said, “jakessss I fell jakees”. She was a good sport about it and laughed. We all did. But I had forgotten that memory until my dad brought it up. We were talking about how many times they visited us over the years and different things we did and that memory got buried in my subconscious somehow.

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Me and Jacob at Joe Mama’s for his 23rd birthday

 

I am “lucky” that I have my parents and some of Jacob’s family who wants to talk about Jacob – one of my widow friends who has no real friends like me, has a family that doesn’t even mention her spouse’s name. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE!!! I will say it again. STOP. STOP. STOP. YOU MORONS. Stop tip-toeing around their name and existence. Don’t avoid talking about our soulmates. ALL WE WANT TO DO IS TALK ABOUT THEM. IT WAS NOT A DIVORCE, IT WAS A TRAGEDY. WE ARE IN LOVE. WE WILL ALWAYS BE IN LOVE. GET TO KNOW JACOB. THE ADULT, TRUE, COMPLETELY INTIMATE JACOB. The one I only knew, just like he only knew me. I know my parents would want to know every memory Jacob had to share with them if I died.  The only two people who ask me questions like “what did you and Jacob like to cook together?” or “Did Jacob ever do this…” or “Tell me how Jacob changed from middle school to 27” or “What was your funniest moment?” “What was Jacob’s favorite vinyl or most played vinyl?” ” How did you know you liked each other in middle school?” “What was Jacob’s go-to first song he put on in the car?” “What book did Jacob read over and over?” “Who was Jacob’s favorite author?” etc. etc. The only people who ask these questions are my two young widow friends. No one else gives a shit. Or rather, it is kind of an inconvenience for them to give it the time of day. Another realization of almost 19 months now (jesus christ 19 months…) is that everyone is selfish. Me and Jacob have been robbed of our future, I have no home, I have boxes of our things collected from a decade of living together, I have no job,  I have no routine, and I am utterly lost without Jacob. He influenced everything about me since I was in 7th grade.  I AM DROWNING IN FLAMES. And people just want to continue their lives and give their shit advice in the comfort of the nice home they share with their spouse and children. Well, guess what? That was our plan and why do you get it? Why do these people around me who have been together for barely 2 years (even 5 years is honestly laughable given how long Jacob and I have been together) why do they get it all? They aren’t soulmates like me and Jacob. There love isn’t unconditional. Jacob would try to hang out with someone (like I said he had many man crushes, everyone wanted to be his friend) and he would text me an hour in and say “I am making up an excuse and coming home! I love my coos and I want cuddle times! Pick out a movie cutie!” We literally couldn’t be apart. Now his physical touch and his warm body are missing from my arms and my bed… I am in my childhood bedroom we stayed in so many times while visiting my parents. I cry out for him in my sleep. I haven’t lived anywhere without Jacob since I was 18 years old…

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One of Jacob’s favorite Bukowski poems, we had it in a frame on the wall at almost every house we lived in.

 

Back on track to the rabbi books I have been attempting to save myself with. My mother-in-law gave me one of them, thank you because I know you are reading*! Love you! Anyway, one of the lines I keep seeing some form of or iteration of is something like this – “Nothing would ever be worth your suffering but neither would your suffering be worthless.” I just cannot swallow this. I am sick of all the “you get wiser and learn from your suffering”. Um, no thank you. I would rather be more stupid, please and have Jacob. Of course, to be human is to suffer, and I have always realized even as a young child that pain is a great teacher. However, the loss, PTSD, depression, endless torture, debilitating grief and the trauma I am enduring daily does not match up to anything I am reading or seeing. Except for art, and especially music – the thing me and Jacob shared together perfectly in our souls. But I am too far gone. In the deep end. I am colorblind in a world that once was filled with color. I am too far gone. One of the few songs that perfectly describes my pain (almost) is “If I could only Fly” by Blaze Foley. “If I could only fly, If I could only fly – I’d bid this place goodbye to come and be with you”. A song of grief and loss and you can listen to it here… I cry and cry. But it is the only thing that I hear that matches my pain.

So, let’s see.. a lot of changes coming up that I don’t feel like talking about because I have been frozen in time for 19 months and want to remain frozen. I am forever in 2017. So, I would rather not think or talk about them. But, basically, as I struggle to stay alive – I also must speak intimately to Jacob in my personal journal and voice recorder. And that comes before this blog. But my goal, as you all know, is to share Jacob with everyone which I plan to continue doing as much as I can until … well. I don’t know how to finish that sentence so how about we leave it as “just until…”

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Me and Jacob napping at his dad’s house summer 2012