Thursday, September 3, 2015

Dear Alan: 3-Month Update


Dear Alan,

Today I am 32 years old, and in so many ways, I don't feel it. I still get excited about going to the candy store. I have a tendency to dress like I'm five. And I have no idea how my 401k works. Then something will remind me of you and I feel a hundred years older. The door to my grief swings open and I am swept away. I am like the 75-year-old widows in the bereavement group the hospital set me up with. Except we wear different shoes. Theirs are thick-soled and unabashedly comfortable-looking. They cover every inch of skin. My shoes are strappy and offer no arch support. They're not the most comfortable, but they're not terrible either. The ladies in the group talk about their 50+ years of marriage, their kids and their grandkids. I tell them that you and I were married for a year and that we really wanted kids. It's clear that I'm not 75 either.

I don't plan beyond the next two weeks. I struggle with verbs. I say things like, "My husband is a software engineer." I don't know how to answer when new people ask how long we've been married. I look down at my hands so they won't see me cry.

I think about all the times I asked you if you would still be with me if I was a zombie, and the way you always said yes without a moment's hesitation. I'm sorry I told you I wasn't sure what I would do if the situation was reversed. In the movies, staying with your zombie lover is always a futile effort. But now that you're gone, I get it. I would still be with you. It would be worth it to be together.

I kept my promise. I didn't sleep alone in our apartment for the first three months. A different friend stayed over each night. Sometimes we'd go to dinner, sometimes we'd just watch TV. When I'm alone, sometimes the silence is deafening. I miss the sound of us. I miss hearing you eat five bowls of raisin bran. I miss hearing your mechanical keyboard at the desk next to mine. I miss hearing about Project 1999. I would take zombie youany youany day.

I used to joke that it didn't matter if I died in a car accident because then I'd get to be with you again. Sophie told me at some point she'd have to start worrying and taking that seriously. So I stopped saying things like that out loud. I try not to even think it but sometimes I can't help it.

I know I promised I'd keep living my beautiful life for you, but it's hard. I've gone hiking a bunch and I've been swimming and eating good food. I pretend like you're still going to bust me when I'm in the kitchen late at night eating chips. It makes me laugh. Oh, and I wore the skirt you liked to Lu and Jesse's wedding. We still have to get them a wedding gift. I want to sign the card for the both of us, but is that weird?

Anyway, I'm trying my best. Over the past three months:

Sophie and I took the meepy parents to Hawaii. They never thought they'd get the chance to go in this lifetime (their actual words). That would sound so dramatic if I didn't know they truly meant it. They loved sleeping by the ocean and would wake with the sun and run out to the beach. Oh, meepy parents!
We went to a luau. You would have been so disappointed in us! (Tourist trap!) You were right, it ended up being pretty terrible, especially the food, but the sunset over the water was nice.

I drank a bajillion lava flows because did you know they taste like delicious milkshakes? The fact that I could drink a bajillion (read: two and a half) and not feel anything makes me think they were, in fact, milkshakes.

We went to the Twin Falls. You would have loved it. Before you get to the water you walk through (landscaped) jungle. Your two favorite things: water and jungle!

The water was chilly but you quickly forget because you're swimming in a waterfall and you feel like you're in a Disney movie.

paia hawaii
I tried to watch the sunset every night. This one was eerily beautiful.

mama's fish house
We got this for dessert at Mama's Fish House. You wouldn't have liked it because of all the chocolate, but isn't it pretty? p.s. I've had better fish at Nick's.

crop top and skirt
Lu and Jesse got married. I wore the new skirt I showed you. You called it a "fun" color. I love how everything is fun to you, from car rides to colors.

Everyone coincidentally wore petal pink nails and nude shoes. It was fun.

We celebrated the Fourth of July on the Leclair's new rooftop deck. The view of the fireworks was great, and we didn't have to deal with any crazy crowds. Grace brought sparklers because they reminded her of you. What a sweetie. 

I visited Roy in L.A. and we ate so much food. We also spent a lot of time looking at cute things. You would have been so happy for me. I wish I could have shown you the Venice Canals. Roy and I both saw them for the first time, and he's lived there his whole life!

One morning we had brunch in a greenhouse which I know you would have loved.

Petrie stayed with me for two months because the meepy parents "wanted me to have a friend." At first I was scared I would forget to take care of him and he would accidentally die, but it was nice having him around. Do you know how many weird people stop to talk to you when you have a dog? So many! One lady kept talking to me about the guy that pulled out a chainsaw and was threatening everyone in her apartment complex. At first she made it seem like she just wanted help finding this karate studio, but I think she needed a lot more. Petrie and I got out of there real quick. Anyway, he kept asking where you were.

Then he got really loud and really mad when he found out you were gone...

...and then just really sad and quiet when I told him it was for forever. He's still trying to make sense of it.

We went on our annual trip to visit Stacy and Rob at the Mouse House in Capitola. This would have been our fifth year in a row.

The clouds dotting the sky were beautiful.

And then the sun set and the sky turned pink and purple and blue. It almost made me cry.

I've been swimming a lot at PJ's. And Omeida took me swimming at the SJSU pool a few times. I'm getting so much better at relaxing; you'd be proud of me. I wore my snorkel a couple of times. Really nerdy, but I saw someone else do it and it makes swimming way funner.

montage portland
I went to this late-night restaurant in Portland for mac and cheese. They bring your leftovers wrapped up in aluminum foil shapes. I really wanted the three-foot sword (as I know you would have too), but I got a bunny. Lame.

Omeida showed me a new trail at Quicksilver. I can't believe how big the park is! She didn't know about the trail we always do, so next time I'll show her that one. It was really hot and sunny that day, but I loved it. It felt like summer was seeping deep into my bones.

I don't know what I'll do when the days are shorter, the light slips away faster and the darkness comes quicker. That's further than two weeks away, so I'll think more about that later.

I still can't believe you're gone.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Riding Off Into the Sunset

handsome man
beach selfie
drinking coffee in the woods
giant pizza
My friends, I have sad news to share. On the morning of May 22, my husband Alan passed away in peace at home. Never one to leave you without a visual, he called it "riding off into the sunset." Writing about it now brings a giant lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. We are so touched by the many people who have reached out and cared for us during this difficult time. We had people praying for us every day, people driving around town to pick up Alan's favorite foods and personally delivering it to our doorstep, friends from near and far coming to visit and cook for us, bosses that allowed for flexible work schedules, our favorite restaurant whipping up complimentary, off-menu items catered to Alan's tastes, friends and family helping us at home and in the hospital in whatever way we needed. We are so blessed. I cry every time I receive a card or an arrangement of flowers. Some are from people I've never even met. Please know that I've read every note (and I'm sorry if I haven't responded) and have been encouraged by your words. You are all so, so sweet.

Alan once told me, "It's easier to be brave when you have someone to be brave for. I try to be brave for you. Maybe it would help you to be brave for someone." I didn't really understand what he meant at the time, but when he was gone, I knew. I would be brave for Alan. I would live the beautiful life he'd made me promise I would.

One day I will share more about his last moments. I feel honored that he chose to share the end of his story (at least the one here in this world) with me. Until then, I'll continue to blog about delightful things to eat, see and wear and live my best life possible. Because that's what Alan wanted.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

On Being Ready/Not Ready

It's been a hard week. Last Friday, Alan had a 106 degree fever and was hospitalized for severe infections. His sodium levels dropped so dangerously low that the doctors were surprised he didn't have a seizure. When we got back home, Alan's nurse Iris came over to check on him. She asked a really hard question that really threw me.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Sweetest Thing

It’s been hard for Alan to eat lately, so whenever he finds something he likes, he’ll usually have it a few times in a row. Recently, he’s been really into food from The Pastaria, our favorite Italian restaurant. Even though we love it, we stick to our safe, albeit slightly boring, game plan of always ordering the same thing. Then one day, Alan made the exciting decision to throw caution to the wind and try all the pasta dishes on the menu. Our dear friend Sashee has been taking his order and delivering the food to our doorstep. Since she’s been popping into the restaurant so often, the Pastaria owner learned about our story. Sashee told me, “She’s so moved by you both and said it would be their honor to take Alan through the entire menu complimentary. And then when he’s finished, they have off-menu dishes they’d like him to try.” Isn’t that the sweetest?! I was already tearing up but lost it when I saw the card everyone at the restaurant had signed for him. We're so touched!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, Pastaria! We love you and your delicious food. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Magical Jumpsuit

how to style a jumpsuit
If there’s one trend I’m excited about wearing this spring, it’s the jumpsuit. At first I thought they might be too trendy or that I’d end up looking like a J.Lo-wannabe, but then I tried one on and I instantly understood. Jumpsuits are one of the rare things in life that seem too good to be true but aren’t. They’re just good. And so, so comfortable. Wearing one feels like you’re getting away with something. After all, how is it possible to wear what are essentially onesie pajamas out to dinner and still get compliments on your outfit? It’s mysteries like this that are made possible with jumpsuits. The most magical jumpsuit of all is this one from Target. It’s under $30, comes in two colors and fits tall and short people alike (I just roll up the pants when I wear them). My stylish friend Alyssa wore it one day and set off a chain reaction. So far she’s inspired three other friends, myself included, to buy it (and wear it every day (okay, that might just be me)). As she says, it's an all-in-one outfit that you don't have to think about; just throw it on and go.

(Top and bottom photo via WhoWhatWear.com, middle photo via PopSugar)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Our Cavallo Point Weekend

cavallo point
A few weeks ago, Alan and I spent the weekend in Sausalito. We stayed at Cavallo Point, a lodge we've visited before and loved. It's in Fort Baker, a former 1905 U.S. Army post. While they have contemporary guest rooms available, our favorite place to stay is in the converted historic army buildings. (My sister Sophie says they look like they're straight out of The Walking Dead, ha!) Alan came down with an infection right before we left and was pretty wiped, so we spent our time just knocking around. It's not too shabby of a place to be a bum :)

In our room, we'd open the windows, lie down on the bed to take a nap (or watch Gilmore Girls, if our names started with an S) and feel the bay breeze on our faces. 

I was reading in this awesome leather chair one afternoon, when a wedding took place on the grassy hill right outside the window. What a pretty place to get married! (Case in point: this wedding).

Before our trip, Alan and I picked up a few books from our favorite book store. I started reading this bookwhich Alan made fun of me for, but how can I not read a book that's called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It was, as I had expected, enthralling.

When we first checked in, I'd read a sign in the lobby advertising free house-baked pastries and coffee in the mornings. The next day, I woke Alan up and made him go with me, promising goodies galore. I'm not gonna lie, I was expecting a pretty nice spread. If not an entire room dedicated to breakfast treats and beverages, then at the very least, a nice long table with a few generously-stacked mounds of croissants, muffins and danishes. I mean, we were staying at a self-billed luxury resort. When we walked in, I spent a few good minutes looking around. Were we in the wrong place? There were no croissant stacks to be found. Maybe everyone else had beaten us to it and all the kouign amanns had already been devoured. I started to tailspin into panic and disappointment, when a man in the corner of the room finished putting a lid on his coffee. He walked away, revealing the tiny table his body had previously been blocking. It held two coffee urns and a small plate of croissants. The travesty! I couldn't decide if I was rightly outraged or if I should continue pretending like we regularly stayed at luxury hotels. In the end, I chose wanting to belong, so I sucked it up, calmly wrapped an extra croissant in a napkin for later and hurried out of the way for the line of people who had formed behind us.

One nice thing about the Saddest Breakfast Spread Of All Time (one day I will let that go), is that there's a long porch in front lined with rocking chairs. You can look out across Fort Baker, see the top of the Golden Gate Bridge and feel the crisp morning air.

There was a pier a short walk away from our room that's popular for fishing and crabbing. And the views! On one side, there's the Golden Gate Bridge, which looked as majestic as ever (it's cheesy, but so true) and always makes me feel small and hopeful at the same time. 

On the other side, you have a clear view of the San Francisco skyline and the Bay Bridge (see it on the far left?) 

restaurants in sausalito
One night, we ventured out to the bar for dinner and sat outside people watching. All the hotel guests we'd seen so far seemed to be of the older, Tesla-driving crowd. Then Alan spotted a couple that looked about our age. I was excited to see some young people and imagined befriending them. Maybe they'd be plebeians like us, a commonality we could bond over. But before I could offer them some of my napkin-wrapped croissant--a gesture of friendship I was sure they wouldn't be able to resist--they got into their Maserati(!) and drove away. On another note, if you ever visit, get the truffle parmesan popcorn!!! It's three-exclamation-points amazing.

fort baker
Fort Baker would be fun to visit, even if you're not staying at Cavallo Point. You could hike the trails and grab a drink (and that popcorn!) at the bar afterwards. There's also a free kid's museum, too!

Friday, April 10, 2015

On Stopping Treatment and Choosing Hospice

This past February, Alan stopped taking chemo. Together, we made the difficult decision that he would stop all treatments altogether. No one really talks about why young people with terminal illnesses stop treatment and choose hospice, or what it’s like to make that decision. At least, no one talked to us about it in terms we could understand. Although it feels like it happened in a single moment of clarity, everything that had happened in the months leading up to the decision were all part of the process.

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