A few weeks ago I was home alone Friday through Sunday and managed to totally creep myself out. It was almost as though I’d watched an episode of Criminal Minds all by my lonesome, and it was like the worst episode ever – like the one (or one of the ones?) where the sadistic serial killer is holding his victim in the basement, removing said victim’s organs one by one and selling them on the black market. Or switching his/her organs with those of other victims.
I think these episodes are the worst. But I guess a lot of them are pretty sick and twisted these days. Because how else are the writers supposed to keep generating original ideas? It sometimes makes me wonder if writing for such shows is just a healthy outlet for some otherwise very effed up people. But I try not to think about this.
Rather it’s preferable to think about how Derek Morgan and Penelope Garcia’s inappropriate relationship mirrors many interactions I witness (not to be confused with partake in) at work on a daily basis. And about how if reincarnation were real, I’d enjoy being reborn as Spencer Reid, or someone with his high level of intelligence. Maybe. Though he does have a low EQ, which comes with its own set of problems. And about how Shemar Moore is an exceptionally good looking human.
And the quotes that sandwich the show are a nice touch. (Or are those just at the end?)
But anyway, that Saturday night it all felt kind of eerie as I spooned with my fuzzy animal (Howie) on the chaise in our living room. And it felt like this killer could be in my basement waiting to take out my organs in an “I know he’s not really there, but I just watched this scary show” type of way.
Except I hadn’t turned on the TV at all. Rather all the eeriness was self-inflicted.
Until this point, it’d been a peaceful, quiet weekend. And it made me chuckle a bit. Because although Mark and I miss Matthew together, and I think our lives are equally enveloped by darkness, sometimes I think I get the especially shitty end of the stick, through no fault of Mark’s, of course, and this weekend kind of evidenced all this.
On this particular weekend Mark was skiing in the Pacific Northwest, alongside Mt. Rainier, Washington, in the crisp, white, powdery snow. And I was, by contrast, home alone as a result of some extraordinarily exciting plans being cancelled, watching some slush (yes, slush) fall to the ground and melt almost immediately. Though I think some of it stuck long enough for Howie to go shit on top of it in our backyard, which in turn melted whatever was left of it.
So it was one of those weekends it’d be okay to just stay in. And stay in is exactly what I did, with the exception of running to our swanky, overpriced neighborhood grocery store to buy some egg rolls, Ramen noodles, and grapes. (I eat weird things sometimes when
my chef Mark is out of town. But don’t you think Ramen noodles sounds like a high class, yet easy substitute for lo mein? Yeah. I thought so too. So you can thank me later for the brilliant life hack.)
But back to the moment when I freaked myself the eff out… It was Saturday night. I’d just awoken from a nap. And I picked up my iPad, which I hadn’t used in some time. But I was using my computer to write for my blog, and I needed a separate electronic device to look up a quote I’d recently seen (or heard), which I thought would be perfect for one of my posts.
But instead of finding the quote, I was sidetracked when I noticed Mark’s Facebook page open. So I clicked on it hesitantly, wondering, “Should I venture into this foreign land? The one from which I exiled myself so long (months) ago?” (By the way, the answer should have been a resounding, “F#CK NO,” but sometimes I listen to the devil sitting on my shoulder rather than the angel, so I proceeded against my better judgment.)
I looked at Mark’s profile cautiously, as if walking through a field ridden with landmines. Would I see something I didn’t want to see? Like a trigger that might turn my sort-of-melancholy-but-kind-of-okay weekend into a complete fuckory?
So I clicked on notifications, which seemed safe. And I noticed a couple friend requests. They seemed innocent. Except the one from a person we hardly know, but know well enough to know she has a baby. So I, of course, hit ignore. And I judgmentally accepted/ignored others, not worrying whether Mark would agree with my decisions figuring he isn’t super married to Facebook anyway.
Then I noticed some activity notifications, most of which appeared to be related to the Facebook group page for our local support group. And this seemed safe. So I clicked on the group page and started browsing. And the posts, as expected, were in fact non-triggering things like, “Who’s going to support group next week?” and, “Who wants to grab dinner sometime?” and, “Anyone have recommendations for therapists?” and, “Everyone should check out this article.”
But then I started burrowing deeper into the dangerous Facebook wormhole that is scrolling aimlessly back into time until you’ve lost your mind in some disturbing oblivion.
But for a while the posts remained innocent, still like, “Who’s going to support group next week?” and, “Check this out.”
Until I’d scrolled all the way back to July 7, 2015. And on this date the monthly, “Who’s going to support group next week (on July 15)?” didn’t seem so innocent anymore.
Instead it seemed dark. And sinister. And it took my breath away. And I broke into goosebumps. (Not in a good way.)
Because apparently I’d be going to support group, if not for a conflict – Matthew’s memorial service, held in the hospital chapel just yards away.
Except on July 7, 2015, I of course didn’t know any of this yet. Didn’t know my world would soon cave in. Didn’t know life as I knew it was about to meet its bitter end. Didn’t know the future I’d so vividly pictured would never come to fruition. Didn’t know that one week later I’d be saying goodbye to my precious Matthew. Didn’t know in the days and weeks and months following I’d be saying goodbye to so many other things (secondary losses).
Didn’t know I’d be responsible for rebuilding a new life, one I’d never envisioned, from the rubble and the ash left from a life I once described as “together” and “stable.”
Didn’t know that on July 13, 2015 I’d join this support group. And this club – the shittiest club in the world. This club with some amazing members, to be sure, but a club with no waiting list. The club to which members are drug in kicking and screaming and reeling in pain. Because the entry price is far too high. Far too gruesome and horrific. And a club no one can ever leave.
As hyper-aware as I was to the brokenness of our world, I was completely oblivious to this.
But here it was, etched in Facebook history, “Who’s going to support group next week?”
A physical reminder that apparently I was. But I just didn’t know it yet.
And I continued scrolling back, a couple years even. And then I scrolled forward again. And I noticed some further down the road, some who continue to be some of my greatest support and inspiration, join. And I thought about how days prior to these posts they too were oblivious to their fates. And I thought about the ones who joined after me. And about those who’ll join this week. Or next week. Because, to be certain, it’s inevitable.
And I thought about how we’re all irrevocably changed. Once happy and carefree, we’ve all been hardened by such an awful tragedy. Life will never be the same. And even if/when things get “better,” never again can we reach one hundred percent, which is a devastating realization to process.
Each one of us has this date etched in time – the date separating then versus now. Before versus after. A line separating distinctly dissimilar lives lived by markedly different individuals. Each of us has an “old self” who died in a very specific moment.
For me, it was July 13, 2015 just after 6:00am.
Life can change in an instant. And scrolling through this Facebook group page history was the starkest reminder of this. So I sat there, again paralyzed by fear. Fear of knowing how bad life can hurt. Fear of what else might lie ahead. And wonder as to whether I’d been duped by the universe as I lived so joyfully on July 7, 2015, blind to my eventual fate. Or was it my eventual fate only in hindsight? Was I not actually doomed until the moment Matthew died?
Chilling thoughts and questions.
But unless I could’ve changed the outcome, I wouldn’t have wanted to know either. Because knowing would’ve robbed me of any moments of pure happiness remaining in a life soon to be devoid of opportunities to feel any emotions in all their pureness ever again. (Except for maybe sorrow and devastation.)
But even though I wouldn’t have wanted to know, sometimes I look back and I feel sorry for that girl. And I wish just some small part of her could’ve known something. Not truly known. But known just enough.
Known just enough to realize these were her last moments of unbridled happiness and genuine smiles. To realize she should always “smell the roses,” and that there’s no such thing as saying “I love you” too many times. To realize life will never again be uncomplicated. To realize she should dream big, because someday soon concepts like hopes and dreams would feel far too risky. To realize she should find a way to soak up every moment of her relatively charmed life.
I feel so sorry for her that I still almost can’t even look at her before pictures. And I don’t know if this will ever change.
I feel sorry for her, and I wish she could have known. But I’m also glad she didn’t.
And I wish the shattered girl from the afternoon of July 13, 2015 could’ve known some things too. Like that although life feels nearly unlivable, it will get just a bit easier to breathe. That although the pain is excruciating and all seems lost, the potential to salvage some beauty out of the brokenness remains. That although the darkness is so often all consuming, there are still some reasons to keep living.
But we can only know what we know in any given moment. Which makes life so damn difficult.